Professional Staff Award for Excellence

The Professional Staff Award for Excellence recognizes a member of the professional staff whose work has promoted Western's strategic plan objectives to advance inclusive success, enhance academic excellence, and/or increase Western's impact in Washington. This may be through one or more of the following: exceptional communication and interpersonal skills; exceptional integrity, professionalism, and job performance that inspires excellence in others; exceptional dedication to encouraging initiative, creativity, and exploration of new ideas through work and interaction with others.

Selection Criteria

Successful nominees exhibit exceptional communication and interpersonal skills; exceptional integrity, professionalism, and job performance that inspires excellence in others; exceptional dedication to encouraging initiative, creativity, and exploration of new ideas through work and interaction with others. 


The award recipient will be presented with a Western medallion award at the Celebration of Excellence Awards in May.

Award Administration

If you have questions about this award, please contact the Professional Staff Organization at

Nomination Process

The nomination process for the 2024 award is OPEN. Please use the link to the online nomination form that is listed in the award description above. The nomination deadline is Wednesday, February 14, 2024.

Additional Information


Stephanie Norsby smiling while wearing a bright red cardigan and a WWU award medallion on a neck ribbon

Stephanie Norsby - Human Resources

Assistant Director Human Resources Stephanie Norsby has been a source of continuity in during a period of dramatic transition in HR. Her colleagues admire her for her wealth of HR and institutional knowledge, and the tremendous amount of work she accomplishes, all with a factual, positive, solutions-oriented approach. She recently took on the additional role of the HR liaison to Academic Affairs, which supports nearly 75 percent of employees on campus. Norsby meets regularly with college operations managers to solve a wide array of daily and critical issues, such as emergent medical leaves, priority hiring to fill crucial vacancies, and tricky personnel issues. 

Colleagues who awarded her the Professional Staff Award for Excellence put it like this: “With the loss of so many HR staff members in 2022, Stephanie took on extra work tasks, including communicating directly with all the colleges in Academic Affairs to help keep the human resource needs met and moving forward. Stephanie has shown incredible dedication and remains positive in all her interactions. She makes sure we feel we are heard. She is caring and is easy to approach, as she welcomes anyone with a big smile always. The professionalism that she has displayed, coupled with her ability to problem-solve our time-sensitive issues, contributes to Western’s mission and values that include pursuing excellence, and displaying integrity, responsibility, and accountability in all our work. She is just an amazing employee for Western, and we are very lucky to have her in HR.”

Robert Clark smiles proudly with Edens Hall behind him while wearing a WWU award medallion on a neck ribbon

Robert Clark - ATUS Video Services

Manager Robert B. Clark has worked in ATUS Video Services for more than 17 years, consistently bringing integrity, creativity, and professionalism to his productions. During the Covid switchover to online learning, Clark became Western’s “Zoom Czar” and worked long hours with his colleagues to help faculty and students stay connected. After in-person classes resumed, Clark creatively pivoted from producing webinars to managing hybrid events featuring both in-person and remote participants. These new roles were added to his pre-existing menu of services including complex video productions and mentoring students in the media arts. 

Clark enjoys and excels at collaborating and partnering with students, faculty and staff across campus in strategic efforts to keep Western educated and engaged. From field recording to live streaming, Clark’s initiative and creativity are impressive. His position has allowed him to work closely with not only all of our academic colleges, but the President’s Office, Board of Trustees, Alumni, Athletics and Associated Students areas as well. 

Clark also uses his skills to help connect Western and our community to such nonprofits as KMRE Radio, the local League of Women Voters chapter and the Bellingham City Club. When not working, Clark enjoys traveling by train, taking photos, and working on his model railroad. 

Brian Davidson sporting a dapper flat cap, suit jacket, and WWU award medalion on a neck ribbon

Brian Davidson - Tutoring Center, Western Libraries

Davidson is the head of Tutoring for Western Libraries, a graduate of Western’s Adult and Higher Education program, and a recent addition to Western’s professional staff. Before coming to Western in January 2022, Davidson spent 14 years with the community college system supporting students with a wide range of identities and experiences through direct service and program development. He served youth who were unhoused or who were transitioning from foster care, and returning adult students retraining to recover economic independence after a layoff or other traumatic event. 

At Western, Davidson has been working side-by-side with Assistant Head Anika Watson and the 60-plus student staff to heal and learn from the pandemic and to meet emerging needs of students. Together, they’ve eliminated gatekeeping practices that threaten inclusivity in student employment, implemented a coaching model that encourages empathetic, efficient tutoring experiences, expanded capacity for peer coaching to support increasing needs for study skills and executive functioning, aligned with the Hacherl Research & Writing Studio to provide more consistency to students, and redesigned the Tutoring Center to encourage a range of supportive peer-to-peer connections. 

Past Awardees

2 awardee(s) for this year

2022 Awardees

Nara Samuels wearing a WWU award medallion

Nara Samuels - Student Health Center

Nara Samuels is a behavioral health counselor and program coordinator at the Student Health Center. She has worked in college student mental health for 15 years. She joined the Western community in 2017. Nara's career has primarily focused on serving students experiencing mental health crises and post-hospitalization programming. In her role at the Student Health Center, Nara has worked to improve mental health screening and expand access to behavioral health services. With early identification and responsive services students can heal more quickly and get back to the important work of pursuing their goals. It is most important to Nara to create a welcoming, supportive space in which all students feel seen and valued. She is honored to work at the Student Health Center with a team of health care professionals and support staff who are all striving to improve health outcomes for students and to support student success academically, physically, and emotionally.

Terri Kempton wearing a WWU award medallion

Terri Kempton - Outback Farm

Terri Kempton is the first Farm Manager of the 5-acre Outback Farm on Western's campus and teaches food-related classes at Fairhaven College. Terri comes from a background of agroecology, permaculture, ecological restoration, and community organizing. She is also an accessible and engaging mentor for the students who learn gardening and food production skills at the Outback.  

Terri supervises student farm staff of eight, coordinates independent studies and class projects, and engages in strategic long-term planning for the site. But you can also find her cleaning chicken feet with volunteers or leading tours of the forest garden! Terri restarted the Outback Apiary, has assisted students in Bee Campus certification through the Xerxes Society, and on sunny days is often suited up to get in the beehives.  

Thanks to her dedicated professionalism, leadership, and vision, the Outback Farm has made major progress towards inclusive excellence as a resource for the entire WWU campus community. When COVID hit, Terri partnered with a dedicated farm team to continue growing, turning the focus to food justice and feeding students facing food insecurity, including pantry popups and free farmer's market events. With an eye on equity, Terri organized a speaker series on Food, Farming, Justice, and Diversity in 2021 that culminated in a day with Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer.