Auburn University recognizes four Employee of the Year recipients

Published: August 24, 2020
Updated: August 25, 2020
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Michael Cobb expected to attend an afternoon meeting, only to find his wife sitting in the conference room. She already knew the good news.

When Richard Feuerriegel walked outside of his home, he was greeted with wild applause from about 15 coworkers, along with colorful poster board signs and the “Hey” song blaring from a car stereo. Jenny Sconyers and Janeva Cole were also cheered by coworkers and family members when they walked outside their respective work locations on a recent Friday.

Auburn University Human Resources found a new way to celebrate the Employee of the Year winners for 2019-20. Based on each recipient’s smiles and surprised reactions, the pandemic couldn’t stop a good celebration—or four of them, to be exact.

Previously, Employee of the Year winners were recognized during the Employee Recognition Program—a relatively formal ceremony that was attended by several hundred people. This year, the four winners were honored individually in much smaller and personal events. Several members of Human Resources’ Campus Relations organized and attended each ceremony and were joined by coworkers and/or close family members of the winners.

One thing that didn’t change was the $3,000 check that each recipient received.

The four winners were each nominated by a fellow AU employee or their supervisor and were earlier recognized as monthly Spirit of Excellence winners.

Michael Cobb, Facilities Management

Cobb, assistant supervisor, Service Support, performs his works with an easygoing attitude that his customers appreciate. He often receives thank you notes from those who appreciate his willingness to go above and beyond.

"My attitude, I picked it up mostly from my mom,” Cobb said. “That’s where a lot of it came from.”

Michael Hood, Cobb’s supervisor, describes him as one of the “most pleasant individuals” that he has supervised.

"When faced with a challenge, [he] works to make the best of the situation and to be as helpful as possible,” Hood wrote when nominating Cobb. “He is thoughtful and takes extra effort to assist customers. He performs his duties in a way that projects care for customers and others.”

Cobb also helps others within Facilities as needed. In 2018, he volunteered to assist as the interim manager for Waste and Recycling until a manager was hired.

"During this time, he gained valuable work experience and helped give supervision to an area that needed assistance,” Hood said. “He carried out his duties in the new assignment with the same great attitude and diligence that he always seems to have in abundant supply.”

Janeva Cole, College of Veterinary Medicine

Cole has provided excellent care for countless animals while serving as an internal medicine technician at the Wilford and Kate Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital. One such animal was Stella, a corgi who dealt with serious medical issues.

Aileen Manos, Stella’s owner, was so impressed with the care which Cole provided that she nominated her for the Spirit of Excellence award. Manos wrote that Cole exhibits the “utmost compassion and exceptional care” to her veterinary patients.

“She [met] us early on her shift to admit Stella as a drop-off appointment so she (could) have tests performed that [were] time critical,” Manos wrote. “When Stella was not eating and having complications from her illness, Janeva would give Stella the ‘Janeva Check’—which is a thing the residents, clinicians and interns call it—to cheer Stella up.”

Cole even hand-fed Stella boiled chicken to temp her appetite.

“Of course it worked. She has the healing touch,” Manos wrote.

Manos added that the hospital is fortunate to have caring staff such as Cole.

“I almost feel like she is the face of the teaching hospital in her dedicated service to healing both pet and owner.”

Richard Feuerriegel, Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Approximately two years ago, Feuerriegel played a major role in the successful launch of the new Alabama Extension website. It was just one of many successful projects that he has helped drive for Alabama Extension, the College of Agriculture and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station.

For the ACES website, Feuerriegel worked closely with Information Technology staff, Communications and Marketing and an outside vendor. Jonas Bowersock and Jonathan Davis wrote that Feuerriegel exhibited “extra effort” by working after hours and on weekends to make the project happen.

“When significant problems were identified that could have delayed the project, he ‘rolled up his sleeves’ and worked tirelessly to resolve each and every problem,” they wrote. “Throughout the entire process, even under tight deadlines and enormous pressure, Richard maintained a professional and ‘can do’ attitude.”

Feuerriegel has also been recognized for his excellent people skills. His admiration among co-workers was highly evident on Aug. 7, the day that he was recognized as an Employee of the Year. Numerous individuals cheered as he walked outside his home to learn that he had been selected as an Employee of the Year. They held signs reading “Bravo Richard” and “Auburn [drawings of hearts] Richard.”

Jenny Sconyers, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

Jessica Taylor can think of many ways to describe Sconyers. However, one of the most complimentary is just three words: “an Auburn woman.”

“She makes everyone around her work harder,” Taylor wrote in nominating Sconyers. “She holds herself to a high standard, and I am a better employee because of her.”

Sconyers has been responsible for recruiting “strong, well rounded incoming freshmen” for the College of Engineering.

“Through benchmarking and attending a conference…, Jenny developed new methods to improve our recruiting strategy,” Taylor wrote.

“She significantly improved our marketing efforts by developing Student Scoop e-blasts, postcards, mailings from current students, a high school counselor information sheet and a pumpkin carving contest among prospective students through social media. These marketing efforts had a positive impact on our enrollment numbers. The percentage of students who deposited [secured their place in our freshman class] [was] higher than it has been in the past.”

Sconyers worked with other offices across campus to plan and organize “MADE at AU,” a recruiting event for prospective female high school juniors and seniors. Over 100 students attended, and 77 percent of the seniors who participated secured their place in the freshman class.

“This is a direct reflection of the time and effort Jenny put into organizing this event,” Taylor wrote.

Sconyers also implemented customer service strategies among student tour guides to improve the on-campus experience for visiting families.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to recommend her for the Spirit of Auburn Excellence Award,” Taylor wrote. “You could not select a more deserving candidate than Jenny Sconyers.”

Nominations wanted

Employees of the Year are selected from the monthly Spirit of Excellence recipients. To nominate an employee for the monthly Spirit of Excellence awards, visit aub.ie/spiritofexcellence.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.