Tremendous Trio

Faculty and staff to be honored at Appreciation party
By Mike Thee
This Friday, Seattle U's campus community will have the opportunity to celebrate three special colleagues when Phil Thompson, center, Monica Nixon and Matt Vielbig are honored at the Faculty and Staff Appreciation party.

Thompson, chair of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Science and Engineering, will receive the McGoldrick Fellowship, the most prestigious award SU confers upon its faculty members; Nixon, director of the Office of Multicultural Awards, will receive the Staff Leadership Award; and Matt Vielbig, shift supervisor in the Department of Public Safety, will be honored with the Lee Thurber Award, which is named for the longtime assistant of former President William Sullivan, S.J. 

Thompson’s colleagues are particularly impressed with his commitment to service. As faculty advisor to SU’s Engineers Without Borders chapter, he has led service projects in countries such as Thailand, Nicaragua, Jamaica and Zambia. Immediately after last year’s earthquake in Haiti, the chapter sent three water purification systems to the country, and since then they have sent five more. The group is also developing new projects in Guatemala and Ethiopia.  

“Phil has done a superb job providing dozens of our students the opportunity to engage in meaningful service-learning projects on three continents,” says Michael Quinn, dean of the College of Science and Engineering. “He is a great ambassador for Seattle University, and through his tireless efforts our visibility and reputation have been greatly enhanced. He truly lives the mission of Seattle University, and we are fortunate to have him on our engineering faculty.” 

Jean Jacoby, associate dean of the college, seconds that: “Phil Thompson is a most deserving recipient of the McGoldrick Fellowship. His research in several diverse areas of environmental engineering and his mentorship of the SU student chapter of Engineers of Without Borders highlights the contributions that engineers make to improving environmental quality and human health. The scope of Phil’s service to the College of Science and Engineering and university is huge. His deep concern for the environment and commitment to providing solutions to environmental problems is woven throughout his teaching, scholarship, and service activities. Phil exemplifies SU’s care for students and commitment to environmental justice and sustainability, and serves as a very effective ambassador to our broader community.” 

Similarly laudatory words are used to describe Nixon. “Working with Monica is a true privilege,” says Jacob Diaz, vice president for Student Development. “She strives each day to make the university a more inclusive and welcoming learning environment for all students. As a member of the Division of Student Development, Monica has taken the opportunity to involve herself with the divisional diversity committee, assessment, and serves as a mentor to undergraduate and graduate students. Always with a welcoming smile, Monica laughs easily and listens intently to colleagues. She is committed to the mission and values of our university and strives to embody them each day. I am honored to work with her and am glad she is receiving this well-deserved award.” 

Vielbig, for his part, “is a very hard worker and dedicated leader (who brings) a ‘social justice approach' to helping protect the university community, night and day,” says Mike Sletten, director of Campus Public Safety. “Matt is very mindful in care-taking for each individual he is helping at the moment, whether it's giving directions or dealing with a serious medical or other incident. The circumstance doesn’t matter—Matt’s  focus is on connecting with the person he is supporting at that moment. Time and time again, Matt has been there for a student, a faculty member, his peers and (those not affiliated with the university), and especially in times of need to help in some very dynamic ways. He always strives to bring the best comprehensive and holistic solution available into place.” 

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