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Phyllis Breland ’80 Receives Ellie Wertimer – Patsy Couper Award


Director of Opportunity Programs and Interim Director of Diversity and Inclusion Phyllis Breland ’80 was honored with the Ellie Wertimer – Patsy Couper Award, given annually to an employee who goes above and beyond in service to students, at the annual service recognition luncheon on May 20.  Three employees were presented with the Tobin Employee Awards and employees celebrating milestone anniversaries of 40-, 30-, and 20-years were also recognized.

Hamilton President David Wippman read from the citation awarded to Breland. “Hamilton College is defined by the care and devotion of its employees, especially people who go beyond the responsibilities of their job description to support and attend to our students. Even among a hilltop full of compassionate and encouraging individuals, you stand out.

“Phyllis has been at Hamilton for 18 remarkable years. She knows everyone, and everyone knows her.  She was a founding member of Student Emergency Aid Society; is our Posse Liaison; served as Interim CDO and Director of DMC; directed the ACCESS Pathways program, and has served on countless committees over her many years at Hamilton. She carries a load that would crush a lesser person.

“(But) no matter the committee, title, office, responsibility or organization, students are at the center of everything Phyllis does. She works with our students well before they arrive, and then does everything humanly possible to support them after they arrive.”

Wippman continued, “A graduate of HEOP (1980), Phyllis often gives credit to the program and community for seeing the potential in her. Phyllis was the first female class speaker at Hamilton and the first African American inducted into Pentagon, and she has been making her mark on this institution ever since.”

Jesse Thomas - David Saxe
Tobin Employee Award recipients Jesse Thomas (administration), and David Saxe (maintenance and operations). Missing from photo: Staff recipient Phyllis Jackson. Photo: Stacey Himmelberger

The Tobin Employee Awards were instituted in 2006 to annually recognize one representative from each of the College’s three non-faculty groups of employees. Visual Communications Associate Phyllis Jackson was the staff recipient; Facilities Management custodian David Saxe received the maintenance and operations award; and Network Systems Administrator Jesse Thomas was the recipient for administrators.

Monetary awards are made each year from an employee-generated fund established in 2003 to honor Gene Tobin, Hamilton College’s 18th president, and his wife Beverly. The fund recognizes the couple’s 23 years of service to the Hamilton community.

Award criteria include making significant improvements in College services; showing innovation, imagination or creativity on the job; taking significant interest in and participating in College activities; demonstrating job performance that consistently exceeds expectations; and exemplifying integrity and dedication to the College mission and goals.

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