maroon wave
Meritorious Staff Award presentation
Sammy Sea Gull and SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre, left, presented SU retiree Kathy Pusey with one of eight inaugural Meritorious Staff Awards.

Eight SU Retirees Honored with Inaugural Meritorious Staff Awards

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University recently honored eight retired employees with its inaugural Meritorious Staff Awards, announced during this year’s Staff Appreciation Day luncheon.

The awards recognize recently retired staff with records of noteworthy contributions or extraordinary commitment during at least 10 years of service to SU and hold a designation similar to a faculty emeritus honor. First-year recipients included Richard Culver, Melinda Khazeh, Jill Leisten, Joanna O’Neal, Tony Pasquariello, Kathy Pusey, Charlotte Rayne and Vaughn White.

“With more than 175 years of combined experience, our inaugural Meritorious Staff Award recipients represent some of the best of what SU has to offer,” said SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre. “In most cases, these men and women dedicated their careers to ensuring the best possible service to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the University community. They spent decades helping to build the foundation for the success we continue to see today.”

Culver retired as SU’s public relations director in 2019. During 33 years with the University’s Public Relations Office, he wrote and edited thousands of stories celebrating the achievements of students, faculty and staff. He also worked diligently to implement positive media strategies and promote SU’s distinction, and guided the campus through multiple PR crises.

“Through his work, he built meaningful relationships with his colleagues across campus,” said his nominator, SU Public Relations Director and University Spokesperson Jason Rhodes.

Khazeh retired as associate director of alumni engagement in 2022 after serving 35 years with the University Advancement Division. She forged positive relationships with countless alumni and earned a reputation as a team player who would assist whenever and wherever needed, including covering evening SU Phone-athon shifts.

“She worked extremely hard to get the job done and always had a smile on her face to make everyone feel welcome,” said her nominator, SU Associate Vice President of Engagement and Development Jayme Block. “She continually put others first.”

Leisten retired as associate director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships in 2020 after 31 years of service. Providing SU oversight for federal assistance programs including Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) verification and organization of federal loans and Pell grants, as well as student financial aid appeals, she adapted and shepherded the office through three decades of policy changes at the institutional, state and national levels.

“Jill’s commitment to SU, the Financial Aid team and federal student aid is commendable,” said her nominator, SU Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships Mason White. “She provided excellent customer service to our students and families, and helped to ensure financial aid processes were running smoothly and efficiently.”

O’Neal retired as a budget analyst in the Financial Services Office in 2022 after 18 years with SU, 14 of which she served as a programmer analyst for the Information Technology Office. She developed processes to automate admissions and enrollment data for a three-year cycle, providing crucial information for the University’s revenue forecasting model. She also developed a tracking system for PIN employee-related expenses to assist with budget projections and operationalized monthly budget tracking reports.

“Joanna’s contributions to the Budget Office reporting capabilities have provided a strong foundation for an increased level of customer service and analysis that we continue to build upon,” said her nominator, SU Budget Officer Barri Zimmerman.

Pasquariello retired as associate vice president of administration and finance in 2021 after serving SU for 28 years, including several months as interim division vice president. Throughout his University career, he conducted extensive research to ensure accurate financial numbers. As associate vice president, he oversaw and managed seven critical departments with a leadership style that provided opportunities for his employees to learn and to see how their efforts fit into SU’s larger financial picture.

“Tony worked diligently with all areas of campus to ensure SU remained in compliance with state, University System of Maryland and federal laws,” said SU Associate Vice President of Administration and Finance Lynn Adkins. “His reputation for helping guide and oversee ‘clean audits’ was impeccable.”

Pusey retired as the University’s photographer in 2019 after serving for 31 years in the Public Relations and Publications offices. During that time, she took thousands of photos showcasing SU students, faculty, staff, alumni donors, families, friends and events, including multiple SU presidents and their families, and countless campus milestones. She also built a robust archive of visual images that help to tell the story of SU from the late 1990s through the 2010s.

“She made it a personal mission to get to know the people she was photographing, and everyone knew and appreciated Kathy,” said her nominator.

Rayne retired as payroll director in the Payroll Services Office in 2019 after serving SU for 46 years. During that time, she evolved with the changes that occurred in her field and associated policies over four decades while ensuring critical deadlines were met to allow employees to receive their compensation on time. After retirement, she returned to the office to assist on a volunteer basis.

“Charlotte provided exemplary service to SU for many years and is still assisting the Payroll Office,” said Pasquariello, her former colleague and supervisor. “I never had to worry about payroll issues when I was supervising her position.”

White retired as the University’s director of multicultural student services in the Student Affairs Division in 2019 after 41 years of service, returning on an interim basis in 2022. While building and maintaining diversity, equity and inclusion programs at SU, he went out of his way to ensure students, parents and others felt comfortable at the University. His influential leadership helped advance SU’s mission and priorities, according to his nominator, Dr. Lawanda Dockins-Mills, interim assistant vice president of student affairs.

“Mr. White consistently made a difference in students’ lives,” she said. “His commitment is real, and he has been a difference maker in the improvement of the University.”

Meritorious Staff Award winners receive a prize package including lifetime privileges to SU’s Patricia R. Guerrieri Academic Commons and Bookstore, a discounted University Fitness Center membership and free campus parking. They also are invited to attend SU employee, cultural, academic and athletic events.

Learn more about SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.