December 2018


Bobby Smith SLISU Award

Bobby Smith (left) receives the SLISU Award from Dr. Beth McCuskey, vice provost for Student Life. 

Employee Profile

Cary Service Worker Makes All Feel Welcome

It’s not uncommon to see Bobby Smith patrolling the halls of Cary Quad during his work shift, greeting students with a favorite greeting – “How you doing, my brother?”

It’s rare that a student passes without some form of acknowledgment, whether it’s a verbal greeting, a hug or a handshake. His personality creates a boisterous and warm atmosphere that follows him through his routine in the hall. There’s no one not important enough to receive a greeting. 

“These students to me are like family,” Smith says. “I speak to all of them and I try to treat them the same way.”

University Residences serves as the “home away from home” for its residents. Living, studying, eating, and socializing with the same people can create an extended family of sorts, made up of other students as well as staff, administrators and other members of the campus community. Smith, a service worker, is one of the University Residences staff members who best embodies that sense of family and cultivates it through his naturally outgoing and friendly demeanor.

As Elizabeth Hartley, director of alumni and donor relations and a coworker of Smith’s in Cary, says, “Bobby knows no strangers.” 

Added Phillip Andrew, assistant director of facilities for Champion Heights, Cary Quad and Hilltop Apartments, "Bobby extends this same attitude to his co-workers and supervisors. He is a morale booster for the whole work group. My day is always brightened when I run into Bobby at Cary Quad. We all need these bright spots in our day." 

Smith’s kindness extends beyond greeting students and striking up personal conversations. He occasionally prepares food and brings it in for residents who may be experiencing a difficult situation. This Thanksgiving, he prepared and brought chicken to a student who was in need of comfort. His favorite dish to prepare though, is cake.

“I’m a cake man. Instead of Betty Crocker, I’m Bobby Crocker,” he quips. 

Smith’s efforts and kindness are not unnoticed by students. For Service Worker Appreciation Day, he always receives huge banners signed by students as a way of thanking him for his work. When Smith was recovering at home after a stay in the hospital, students visited him at his home and brought well wishes from their fellow Cary residents. 

As Smith says of his relationship with students, “It’s about the love. There are a lot of respectable young men here. I give respect to get respect and they give me respect.”

Smith stays in contact with former Cary residents, including a recent graduate who called him to pass along news of his engagement. The news was sealed when the young woman the graduate had gotten engaged to stopped by Cary, insisting that she show Smith the engagement ring and pass along the news in person. Smith says he keeps in touch with former residents via phone calls and often has former students stopping by the residence hall to see him.

“I think about them all the time and it’s good to know they’re thinking about me,” says Smith. “It’s a good feeling when they come back and see me and call me.” 

Smith’s positivity and impact are recognized beyond University Residences. He was recently presented with the SLISU Award by Dr. Beth McCuskey, vice provost of Student Life, in recognition of the positive impact he has on the experience of residents in Cary Quad. The award honors recipients who show a passion for the SLISU principles – Student Learning, Leadership Development, Inclusion, Stewardship and Unity – and work to improve the Purdue experience for both students and staff.

Smith has been making Cary feel like home for Boilermakers since April 2010. Whether you’re a former resident or just stopping by, he will make sure any visitor feels welcome.  

 Lee Morrison

Above: Lee Morrison (left) receives the Bill Berner Staff Achievement award from Donald Heirman. 

Staff Profile

Morrison Honored with Staff Achievement Award

Students and staff collaborated to recognize the best of University Residences administrators who have transformed the experience of students in the residence hall community. The Bill Berrner Staff Achievement Award annually recognizes a residence hall administrator whose mentorship and personal attention to students and staff reflects that of Bill Berner, a longtime University Residences employee who made a significant impact on the lives of students during his tenure. 

This year’s award was presented to Lee Morrison, interim senior associate director of Residential Life. Morrison was selected from five finalists. Among Morrison’s significant impact areas is his role in managing, planning and executing the Men’s Leadership Series. This four-event program provide participants with an elite leadership experience based on the principles of servant leadership, resiliency and inclusivity. Morrison has also provided leadership and oversight on crisis management for all students living in University Residences.  

“Lee has seriously pushed my limits and allowed me to find my new frontier,” wrote Prithviraj Deshmukh, one of the students who nominated Morrison for the award and a participant in the Men’s Leadership Series. “He has been a huge influence on me, [in that] he has supported me through various tasks and taught me valuable lessons in various aspects of leadership and life. These interactions with him have given me a huge boost of confidence and revitalized my courage and perseverance in all aspects of life.” 

Morrison was presented the award at a reception including student nominators, administrator nominees and Residential Life staff. 

“When I got to do the Men’s Leadership Series, it reminded me of some of the beautiful things that we get to see at Purdue University,” Morrison said. “We get to see some of the students start becoming more of the person they want to be and the skills they gain from that”

Bill C. Berner, for whom the award is named, began his Purdue career in 1955 as a manager of X Hall, later known as Meredith. He later served as the first manager of H-1 (Owen Hall) and H-3 (Wiley). In 1969, he was named the associate director of residence halls. 

In 1961, Berner encouraged the president of Wiley Hall to get to know his bright and pretty assistant. This led to a marriage on campus and a partnership between Donald and Lois Heirman that flourished for 45 years until her death in 2009. Fifty years after meeting Lois, Don created this award to honor the mentorship and personal attention he received from Berner, as well as honor the memory of his wife, Lois. 

Heirman, whose continued support endows the award, was on hand to present the honor to Morrison and give remarks to those in attendance.  

“This award is intended to keep the tradition going and remember that the student is number one,” says Heirman. “It’s as Bill always said – you are first and foremost an educator, not an administrator.” 

Bill Berner Nominees

Award finalists and winner (from left): Rita Garriott, Will Heidbreder, Morrison, Heirman, Jen Bannon and Randi Purvis. 

Bill Berner Student Achievement Award finalists included Morrison; Jen Bannon, associate director of Residential Life; Rita Garriott, assistant director of Honors College Residences; Will Heidbreder, coordinator of landscaping management and design; and Randi Purvis, manager of guest relations at the UR Guest Center. 

Writer: Matt Vader | Editors: Tammy Loew, Renee Kashawlic, Danielle Fawbush

Editorial Board: Barb Frazee, Tammy Loew, Renee Kashawlic | Inquiries Contact:

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