When Cal State Northridge's Michael D. Eisner College of Education received the news that it had been fully re-accredited by two important oversight agencies, the college celebrated its success and Associate Dean Arlinda Eaton thought of the behind-the-scenes staff member who had helped make it happen.
To prepare for an intense, five-day campus visit last November, Eaton had turned to her administrative support assistant, alumna Cheryl Atienza, who made miracles happen and worked day and night, weathering a death in her family a week before the visit, to ensure the college's re-accreditation.
For that role and other exceptional service, Atienza was honored by President Jolene Koester as CSUN's 2003 Employee of the Year during the 37th annual Staff Services Recognition Ceremony on Friday, May 16. Atienza received a $1,000 check from Matadors Community Credit Union and had her name inscribed on the plaque listing prior award winners.
"It was truly an honor just to be nominated for the award. When I got the call that I received the award, I was so excited," said Atienza, a CSUN staff member since 1995. "I am so thankful that I have a job that I enjoy so much. But I am most grateful to work with people I admire, respect and consider family," she added.
Eaton credits Atienza with a key role in helping CSUN host 26 education professionals who spent a week at the campus last November as part of a dual accreditation visit by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.
Starting a year in advance, Atienza ultimately orchestrated the arrival and departure of team members; arranged a business dinner for 50 people; prepared individual and team interview schedules; designed banners and printed materials for the visit, prepared 40 storage boxes containing hundreds of files holding documentation for 14 college programs, and coordinated the publication of more than 200 lengthy program documents for the reviewers to read ahead of their visit.
"The contributions she made to the college and the university during the past year far exceed those of any employee I have observed during my 24 years here," said Eaton. "Cheryl is the consummate professional. She is absolutely impressive in her work efforts. She has the strongest commitment to her work and colleagues that I have ever witnessed."
After enrolling in fall 1989, Atienza worked as a student assistant in the associate dean's office in the College of Business and Economics from 1989 to 1992. She then moved in 1993 to the education college's dean's office, and in 1995 was hired on staff.
In her job, Atienza assists with the coordination of special events, commencement, credential receptions, national board certification receptions, and scholarships.
@csun | May 27, 2003 issue
Public Relations | University Advancement
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