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Clayton State strikes gold — twice — at Chancellor's Customer Service Awards

MORROW — Clayton State University struck gold twice on Wednesday at the 2012 University System of Georgia’s (USG) Chancellor’s Customer Service Awards, held at Clayton State’s Student Activities Center.

Pat Barton (McDonough), Clayton State director of financial aid, won the gold medal award for Outstanding Customer Service Leadership Award. Clayton State’s IT help desk, The HUB, won the gold medal award for Front Desk Support Excellence.

“We have a campus full of potential gold medal winners,” said an understandably proud Clayton State President Dr. Thomas J. Hynes after the awards ceremony.

Although all 35 institutions in the University System submit nominations for the yearly Chancellor’s Customer Service Award program, only nine were represented among the finalists, and only one other USG institution had two gold medal winners among the six award categories, meaning that Clayton State won a third of the gold medals for 2012.

“We are all so very proud of Pat for receiving this well-deserved award,” says Dr. Mark F. Daddona, Clayton State associate vice president for Enrollment Management & Academic Success and Barton’s immediate supervisor. “She has done an outstanding job developing new initiatives and communication strategies to support our students with their financial needs. She leads a remarkably talented and committed staff. Pat is also one of the most called upon financial aid directors to offer assistance to other institutions as well as the University System Office.”

Barton has served as Clayton State’s director of financial aid for four-and-half years. She is responsible for all aspects of interpretation and implementation of federal and state guidelines for awarding of financial aid for the University, a task requires long hours and numerous resources, especially at Clayton State, where 62 percent of the students receive the Pell Grant, and a total of 79 percent of the students receive some form of need-based federal financial aid.

All Financial Aid offices experience an exceptionally high volume of student contacts via phone, email, and in person. Volume is heaviest during the summer months as students complete the financial aid process for the new academic year. Barton has strategically reorganized the office and has significantly improved customer service to students this past year.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” she says. “The Lord has blessed me more than I ever imagined, and I am most grateful. I am also grateful to work with the best Financial Aid team any director could hope to lead. No matter how grand the vision or creative the idea, if you are leading and no one is following you won’t get very far. This team not only follows, they support, encourage, and take that vision and creativity to the next level.

“I also want to thank the administration for making financial aid a priority. I know a number of financial aid offices that lack the staff and funding needed to do the job well. Our administration has allowed us to meet the basic requirements of the job and then go beyond to offer that excellent customer service.”

The HUB team that shares in the gold award includes: team leader Shannon Thomas, director, client support services; Joyce Sandusky, assistant director of student software support; John Wallom, assistant director of virtual services, Steve Wagner, assistant director of the service counter; Sherry Paul, assistant director of campus support; Chris Baldwin, client communication manager; and Sundiata Kita-Bradshaw, client support manager.

“Clayton State University was USG’s first Laptop University, and for a decade has continued to be a leader in the use of Information Technology for teaching, learning, and 21st Century Information Technology skills,” notes Dr, John Bryan, Clayton State Vice President for Information Technology and Services. “Because of the HUB’s leadership for Information Technology in the USG, it is no surprise that Clayton State’s HUB was recognized as first in the state, winning the Chancellor’s 2012 Gold Award for Customer Service. 

“In 2008, the HUB won the Chancellor’s Silver Award for Customer Service. In the next decade, the Hub will continue to evolve world-class support for new forms of mobile ubiquitous Information Technologies.”

The HUB is the technical support for the campus, including satellite locations. The HUB is comprised of 35 student workers, six full-time staff, and one director under the division of the Office of Information Technology and Services (OITS). The HUB works as Level One and Level Two support for other departments within OITS. Its charge is to provide technological support to approximately 6,500 students and 1,000 faculty and staff.

“All team members at the HUB are humbled, proud, and excited to receive the Chancellor’s Gold Award for Customer Service support that the HUB provides for Information Technology to the campus. This first place award recognizes the outstanding, world class support the HUB provides to Clayton State’s 7,700 students, faculty, and staff,” says Thomas. “The HUB is always looking for new ways to better serve the Clayton State community. The successful implementation of quality assurance and improvement programs, such as `We’re Listening,’ the HUB Certification Program, LANDesk, and the Mystery Client Program helps the HUB to continuously solicit feedback through multiple channels to improve, manage, and adapt services for mobile devices at Clayton State.

“Winning the USG first place Gold Award is testament to the HUB’s long history of commitment to outstanding customer service and support for Information Technology for all Clayton State’s students, faculty, and staff.”

Among the speakers at the awards ceremony were USG Customer Service Champion Deborah Scott, and Carolina Amero, Clayton State’s assistant vice president of Auxiliary & Administrative Services and customer service champion, who struck gold last year as the 2011 winner of the Joseph Greene Award as the USG’s Customer Service Champion of the Year. Amero also introduced President Hynes, who noted the USG’s mandate to interact positively all the time with its customers, and that “customer” also reflected the individual’s responsibility to one another.

Naturally, the Chancellor’s Customer Service Champion Awards wouldn’t have been complete without remarks by USG Chancellor Henry M. Huckaby, who stated that the people deserve the very best every day.

“It’s because of people like you that make me positive we’re doing a great job,” he said to the several institutional customer service champions present at the ceremony. “The theme for the day is, `everybody counts.’ I truly believe that.”

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.