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Outstanding service recognized with first Sharon Wilhelm Awards
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Outstanding service recognized with first Sharon Wilhelm Awards
By Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant

Roxanne Knudson serves as executive secretary in the Dean of Students office. She began her OU career in 1975.
Two of Oakland University's most dedicated employees have been honored for outstanding service. Roxanne Knudson and Vernita Parker are the first recipients of the Sharon Wilhelm Award.

“Roxanne Knudson and Vernita Parker are outstanding citizens of our university community serving in their respective roles for the benefit of students, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Virinder K. Moudgil, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost.

“Oftentimes, their positions require working long hours or on weekends making sure their offices measure up to expectations of delivering courteous and timely support service. These qualities honor Sharon Wilhelm, who epitomized this work ethic during more than four decades of service to Oakland University. ”

Knudson began her OU career in 1975 as a secretary for the Office of Institutional Research. She later served in the OU Eye Research Institute and the Community Relations and Group Sales department for Meadow Brook Theatre and Music Festival, before assuming her current role as executive secretary in the Office of the Dean of Students. This position, she says, is the most challenging and rewarding of her career.

"I always feel like I am helping someone, whether it's a distraught student, concerned parent or inquiring faculty member," Knudson said. "As strange as it sounds, I thrive on what others may perceive to be chaos."

Vernita Parker is an executive secretary in the Office of the President. She joined the OU community in 1994.
Glenn McIntosh, dean and assistant vice president for Student Affairs, nominated Knudson for the award. In a letter of recommendation, he described her as a "front-line person for one of the most complex offices at the university."

"Most often, our office is considered the crisis prevention and intervention unit for addressing all types of issues," McIntosh explained. "A typical day is filled with a series of unexpected and unintended events of a high priority and sensitive nature."

Despite such praise, Knudson is modest about her achievement.

“What I do every day comes naturally to me and does not feel exceptional, so to be honored in this way is truly the highlight of my career at Oakland."

Like Knudson, Parker has gained a reputation for professionalism during a long and productive tenure with OU. Arriving in 1994, Parker spent six years as a secretary for the Finance and Administration Division before moving on to her current position as executive secretary for the Office of the President.

“I am deeply honored to be one of the inaugural recipients of the Sharon Wilhelm Award,” said Parker, who worked closely with Wilhelm for 13 years. “Sharon was a pleasure to work with. I could always count on her to provide me with what I needed to help our offices run smoothly.”

Parker also shares the same enthusiasm and love for her work.

“I enjoy my position because we work together as a team,” Parker said. “At the end of the day, I feel good knowing that I am able to help others and advance the mission of Oakland University.”

Parker and Knudson will be recognized at a special reception to take place at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20, in Oakland Center Banquet Room B. The entire university community is invited to attend. 

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