Two Lawrence University staff members who have been instrumental in keeping the campus community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic have been honored with the annual President’s Award of Excellence.
Jillian Drier, director of health services, and Jon Meyer, director of campus services, are the 2020-21 recipients. The award honors a staff person for outstanding support, stewardship, innovation, and teamwork in service to the Lawrence community.
The President’s Award of Excellence Committee and President Mark Burstein announced the honors. In past years, the awards have been presented at the annual Service Award Luncheon, but for the second year in a row that has not been doable because of safety protocols tied to the pandemic. The awards were instead announced in a virtual all-staff meeting.
Staff members who nominated Drier and Meyer say they both have gone to great lengths to keep the community safe in a year in which the pandemic rerouted lives, incorporated an array of new safety protocols, and brought COVID testing into our lives.
Terra Winston, associate dean of spiritual and religious life, said Drier has been a shining light over the past year, providing care while being responsive and calm.
“She does it with thought and care and professionalism,” Winston said.
“One of the things I really appreciate about Jill is that she’s a planner, and that has been really helpful when working with her because, as you all know, this pandemic is constantly shifting. We’re shifting different pieces, the CDC is shifting different things, how we do our testing, when we do our testing, and she’s in every piece of this. And then she’s there for you when you have a cut or a scrape or a stomach ache as well. … She’s doing this work all the time with her whole heart.”
Lindsey Wyngaard, wellness services office coordinator, said Drier really became the focal point for a lot of the COVID work happening on campus. That has meant an exhausting schedule at times.
“She has put a lot of time and work into COVID testing on campus,” Wyngaard said. “Jill also did a lot of weekend work. Sometimes we would get results on Saturdays or Sundays and Jill wouldn’t hesitate to go contact those students, contact the people to make sure they got what they needed.”
Meyer, meanwhile, has led a Campus Services team that oversees safety on campus. Keeping the community safe during the pandemic, including prepping and cleaning public spaces while working with everyone on campus to adhere to the Pledge has been key. And Meyer has done it with the same professionalism he has brought to other roles at Lawrence, including being a longtime assistant men’s basketball coach.
“Talk to anyone who knows him and you know he’s in your corner and cares deeply about your experience … but also cares so deeply about the campus,” said Andrew Borresen, associate director of athletics giving.
Borresen said people on campus are frequently applauding Meyer, “his level of commitment and sacrifice and really the level of humility and work ethic in which he leads and how he influences others and brings his best every day for our campus community.”
That has grown even more pronounced during the pandemic.
“It’s very special to win this award in the midst of this year,” said Zach Filzen, men’s basketball coach. He pointed to the impact Meyer has had while juggling the “variety of hats he’s wearing and the roles he’s playing,” all tied to campus safety.
“He’s done a phenomenal job,” Filzen said. “He’s here to help Lawrence, he’s here to help the individuals who work at Lawrence, and he’s here to help the students.”