The Pillar Award is presented annually to a staff member who understands the Institute’s mission and history, has been a role model for other employees, has shown concern for students and their welfare, has added to the human dimension of the school, and who has played an active role in his or her home community.
A few days after the event, Staats noted that he is still reflecting on what the award means to him. “I feel very honored to receive the Pillar of Rensselaer award, and at the same time, it is quite a humbling experience,” he said. “The award is certainly motivational for me and makes me want to raise the bar higher. I am very grateful to those who put the special effort into the nomination and its support, and the generous words of affirmation from so many since the recognition dinner.”
“The faculty, staff, and students have become an extended family to me, and as such I have thought of Rensselaer as my home for a long time,” Staats added. “I strive to do everything I can to care for Rensselaer and the community through the wide range of projects that come my way. I really enjoy being of service to others. Being part of the RPI community has given me a chance to make a difference in the lives of others, and hopefully in the long run, to have made a small change in the world through the students who have graduated over all these years.”
Staats was cited for his demonstrated understanding of Rensselaer’s mission and history, and was praised as a role model and mentor for other employees and students, and for his active role in the community, according to Secretary of the Institute and General Counsel Charles Carletta. During his tenure at Rensselaer, Staats has completed work for seven of the Institute’s presidents, and was praised for his “unquestionable commitment to delivering the best possible Rensselaer, one project at a time.”
Carletta shared quotes from several of the nominations received for Staats. “[Staats] has a ‘get it done right’ attitude and no detail is ever overlooked,” wrote one nominator. “He is proud to work at Rensselaer, has reverence for its mission and history which is manifested in their work ethic and willingness to support others, and is a person who assumes responsibility to make the world a better place,” said another.
Reflecting on his contribution to the human dimension at Rensselaer, a nominator said “[Staats] has a remarkable combination of competencies, craftsmanship, frugalness, good cheer, intelligence, humility, and humanity.” Another nominator said, “[Staat’s] enthusiasm is infectious. The kindness with which this person interacts with Rensselaer students, faculty, and staff, and their unfailing passion for the work of the Institute already make this person a ‘pillar’ of Rensselaer. By giving this person the Pillar Award, we are only formalizing a title deservedly earned and I am proud to support this person’s nomination.”
“[Staats] has completed countless projects for the Student Union and all Rensselaer fraternities and sororities. He has mentored, advised, and counseled many individuals. And he accomplishes projects with delight and enthusiasm, gentle encouragement, and quiet patience,” said another.
Noting Staats’ commitment to community service at Rensselaer and within the local community, one nominator said, “[Staats] has a caring personality and volunteers year after year for Rensselaer’s United Way campaign. For many years he and his spouse have been weekend coordinators for the local chapter of Worldwide Marriage Encounter. These activities are in addition to this person’s role as spouse, parent, and grandparent.”
The Pillar of Rensselaer Award was established in 1993, through the support of Carl Westerdahl, former dean of students and director of alumni relations. The annual award consists of a gift of $500 and a sterling silver pin by Tiffany & Co. The winner’s name also is inscribed on the base of a Tiffany crystal award that is permanently displayed in the President’s Suite in the Troy Building.
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