Mason’s annual staff honors include new Patriot Pathbreakers Award for innovative teamwork

Move In 2020
All the teams recognized by the new Patriot Pathbreakers Award have found innovative solutions to keeping Mason students safe and operations moving forward during the pandemic. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

For the first time, George Mason University is recognizing specific teams of employees for their innovative work. The newly created Patriot Pathbreakers Award will be presented at an awards ceremony Tuesday, April 13, to three staff teams for their work over the past year. The teams being honored are the Office of Admissions Relationship Management Team, the Housing and Residence Life and Student Health Services Team, and the University Life Emergency Funding Team.

The winners will be celebrated as part of Mason’s annual Outstanding Achievement Awards ceremony, held Tuesday at 10 a.m. and livestreamed via GMU-TV. The complete list of 2021  awards winners can be found here.

“The Patriot Pathbreakers Award acknowledges and applauds the innovative and collaborative efforts of a Mason team, recognizing those efforts have helped us find solutions to larger organizational problems, overcome challenges and support the Mason value of thriving together,” said Shernita Rochelle Parker assistant vice president, Human Resources strategy and talent management.

“The Patriot Pathbreakers Award, established by Human Resources (HR) and Payroll and the Staff Senate, seeks to honor high-performing teams that embody the Mason value of ‘We Thrive Together,’” said Lauren Reuscher, chair of the Staff Senate.

“High-performing teams are active pathbreakers, using the individual talents of team members to overcome obstacles and make progress toward their goals,” said Reuscher.

Reuscher said that the way the Mason community responded to the challenges of the past year inspired a group of Staff Senators and HR and Payroll staff to recognize the work accomplished by Mason’s most innovative teams.

The Office of Admissions’ Relationship Management Team is being honored for quickly pivoting from a primarily in-person service to an online presence to meet institutional enrollment goals.

“This team’s innovation helped them thrive despite the quick changes required in college recruitment,” said Reuscher. “By encouraging team members to bring their unique perspectives to the table, they find creative solutions.”

The staff in Student Health Services and Housing and Residence Life is being honored for establishing a collaborative approach to keep the residential student community safe during the coronavirus pandemic, said Reuscher.

“These two groups worked together to educate students about COVID-19, carry out testing, and ensure proper quarantine or isolation for affected residential students,” said Reuscher. “Their collaboration put our community's health and safety at the forefront."

The third group receiving the Patriot Pathbreakers Award, the University Life Emergency Funding Team, quickly mobilized to distribute state, federal and donor funding through one centralized application for all Mason students, said Reuscher.

“Staff from different units in University Life dedicated their energy and talent to creating a new, effective process,” said Reuscher. “The majority of them volunteered to join this team, ready to go above and beyond to help our students during a challenging time.”