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Mirroring the Mission

Diane Schmitz and Byron Lynch are being honored with exemplary staff awards

Written by Mike Thee
May 25, 2016

Two highly regarded colleagues will be honored with exemplary staff awards this week. The 2016 Excellence in Leadership Staff Award is being given to Diane Schmitz, director of orientation and transition programs. This year's Lee Thurber Outstanding Staff Award goes to Byron Lynch, electrical planner. Schmitz and Lynch will be celebrated alongside Professor Dan Dombrowski, the 2016-2017 recipient of the McGoldrick Fellowship, at Friday's Faculty and Staff Appreciation party. (The party starts 10:30 a.m. in Campion Ballroom and is followed by lunch at noon at the Library Plaza.) 

Both recipients are SU alumni: Rev. Schmitz, a UCC minister, received M.Div. (1999) and Ed.D. (2009) degrees; Lynch, whose father, wife and son are also alumni, graduated in 1973 (psychology/sociology). 

Schmitz, left, who is retiring this year after 18 years of service to Seattle University, "has become an unparalleled voice for equity and social justice," Michele Murray, vice president for Student Development, wrote in support of the nomination. Murray went on to elaborate on Schmitz's contributions in both the scholarly and administrative realms: 

"During her tenure at Seattle University, Dr. Schmitz has raised important questions about the intersections of marginalized identities with the ideals represented by the university's Jesuit-Catholic intellectual tradition. Her administrative leadership raised the profile and enhanced the experiences of traditionally 'invisible' students, such as commuters, transfers, veterans, adult learners and parenting students. The success of her work relies on her knowledge of organizational development, and she is a sought-after teacher, guest course lecturer, content-area expert for professional conferences and graduate student mentor." 

Laurie Prince, director of parent and family engagement, wrote this of her longtime colleague: "(Schmitz) gently and patiently continues to push us to see the complex identities that all of us bring to SU. Diane is not afraid to bring up challenging topics/issues. She calls us to commit to our mission of social justice. She is willing to help us navigate the challenging complexities of diversity, whiteness and marginalization." 

"Rather than take a defensive stance on inclusion, Diane asks us all to consider, seek understanding and welcome diverse perspectives so we can all be stronger," wrote Bernie Liang, director of the Center for Student Involvement. "Her presence may be gentle but her impact has been incredibly strong at SU." 

Many were the praises similarly sung for Byron Lynch, with one nominator after another sharing what he means to them and the wider SU community. 

"Throughout Byron's career at Seattle University he has been a champion for energy efficiency," wrote Cal Ihler, director of operations and maintenance. "He is a strong advocate for the triple bottom line, social, environmental and financial, and consistently gets projects approved by proving that energy efficiency projects are key components to sustainability and economic prosperity." 

"I don't know if Byron is who is he is because of SU, or if SU is the way it is because of Byron," writes another nominator, Mike Mullen, mechanical shop lead. "What I do know is that you can't talk about one without the other. Byron…is one of the kindest, most conscientious, and deep-hearted people you will ever meet on campus. He has literally dedicated his life to his alma mater...His infectious laugh, great spirit, keen intellect and strong faith have led his electrical shop through good times and bad for several decades. He literally built that shop several years after graduating and you won't find another human who knows more about how the campus is wired or loves his job as much as Byron." 

Several nominators wrote about Lynch's commitment to serving others, particularly through the extensive volunteer work he has done through the years in developing countries through Professionals Without Borders (PWOB)-and previously through a student- and staff-sponsored group called Project Concern. 

"Rooted in his Catholic faith, Byron truly lives the faith that does justice and wants to bring students into their own understanding of what that means," wrote Erin Beary Andersen, associate director of Campus Ministry. "Byron shares his wisdom of experience in such humble ways and is always interested in learning from others' experiences and knowledge."


Byron Lynch, far right, on one of his service trips to Zambia