Tobin Awards, which recognize individuals whose job performance consistently exceeds expectations and leads to significant improvements in College services, went to Michael J. Pommerening, lead horticulturist in Facilities Management in the maintenance and operations group; Tammy Rotach, mail services lead assistant, in the staff category; and Kristin L. Strohmeyer, research and community engagement librarian in the administrator group.
In announcing Pommerening’s award, Wippman quoted a nominator who said, “[He] is somewhat unseen, but his work is visible to all of us every single day. I’ve never seen more beautiful gardens. I would argue that his planning, plantings, and caretaking improves every bit of our campus, from the gorgeous, constantly blooming array at the bottom of the hill, to all the beautiful flower gardens across campus. Every one is stunning.”
Another said, “From the moment you approach campus at the bottom of College Hill Road to numerous spots here and there on the main campus, [Pommerening’s] work makes you smile.”
Reading from Rotach’s nominations, Wippman quoted one that said, “She makes you feel like family, and for students and employees who are far from home, she makes you feel like you belong.” Another nominator said “Whenever I see her, I always feel better — she leaves me with a smile and a bounce in my step!”
Wippman noted that all of the nominations cited [Rotach’s] work ethic, integrity, and expert knowledge of her job, but as one letter put it, “it is her personal touch of asking someone how they are doing or noticing their shoes match their nails that makes her so unique.”
In announcing Strohmeyer’s award, Wippman said, “Every year when I review the nominations for our Tobin Award winners, especially for those who have been part of our community for a number of years, I’m left with one question: How did these people not win already? Such is the case with our next recipient.”
One nominator offered a possible explanation: “[Strohmeyer’s] exemplary record of performance often goes unrecognized for a simple reason. She makes the complicated appear simple. Those who have worked with her more than once are never surprised what she is able to provide.”
Another nominator noted, “For many of these students, this serves as an introduction to what life beyond high school could be like. … Passionate, compassionate, and fair, she never loses sight of the humanity of the students who cross her path.”
In introducing Professor of Philosophy Todd Franklin as the Wertimer-Couper Award winner, Wippman noted he is the first faculty member to receive the honor, which recognizes a member of the community who embodies a spirit of generosity, loyalty, and fidelity.
“[Todd’s] involvement with students does not end when classes are finished for the day or the academic year concludes,” Wippman said, adding that Franklin serves on a number of student-focused faculty committees, including chairing the Opportunity Programs Advisory Committee and serving as a Posse mentor and advisor for the Black and Latinx Student Union, ROOTS, and the Brothers Organization. “In the evenings or weekends, if he’s not meeting or advising students, you’re apt to see him on the sidelines cheering our sports teams, especially the men’s basketball team.”
Wippman shared an anecdote from a student who had recently conducted summer research with Franklin. Frustrated at times with the project, the student initially didn’t think Franklin was helping him. At the end of the summer Franklin asked: “Well, what do you wish you could have done better?” The student replied, “I wish you could have told me that I was going in circles,” to which Franklin responded: “By telling you, you wouldn’t have learned.”
The student came to realize his professor was helping in ways that he didn’t know. According to Wippman, this encapsulates Franklin’s teaching philosophy: “This is student-driven. I just ask questions.”