By Greg Russell
U of M director of special events Susan Elliott was at wit’s end. With the President’s
Society’s donor recognition event set to happen last November in the still-incomplete
University Center, Elliott was in a last-second quandary when she was told the venue
would likely be unavailable. Enter Pam Cash.
“When all those around her were ready to say that the event could not possibly be
held in the UC while it was still under construction, Pam, always solution-oriented,
found a way to make it happen,” Elliott said. “I have no doubt that we were able to
successfully host the event in that space because over the years Pam has cultivated
the respect of professionals both on and off campus. The result was a successful event
that positively impacted donor relations.”
Being able to pull-off the “impossible” is one reason Cash, U of M manager of facilities
projects, received the Distinguished Administrator of the Year Award in June. She
has worked in physical plant for 22 years, with the last five in her current position.
Pam Cash (second from left) was honored with the Distinguished Administrator of the
Year Award during a ceremony in June at Rose Theatre. (photo by Susan Prater)
“It is a huge honor and it means more to me than words can explain,” Cash said of
her award. “For so many people who were deserving of the honor to take the time to
send in a nomination for me and to say such nice things is quite humbling.”
Bricks for several new buildings – the UC and new Living Learning Residence Complex
to name a couple — have been laid during Cash’s tenure, but she would be hard-pressed
to zone in on her favorite one.
“To me, the University is always an exciting place to work and the major construction
projects that have been in progress the last couple of years have only added to the
excitement. I don't have one favorite project because they were all exciting and important,
but I do have a favorite moment. At the grand opening event for the new UC, I got
to witness the students enter the new facility as they sang with excited expressions
on their faces. It made me realize, even more than I already knew, that this moment
was the exact reason we do everything that we do.”
Cash said the uncertainty of construction work is the most taxing part of her job.
“The biggest challenge for me personally is dealing with missed deadlines. There are
so many variables involved with construction and renovation projects that quite frequently
predetermined schedules cannot be met, and in turn causes anxiety for University staff
and the end users.”
But Cash seems to always come through.
“I am motivated by the fact that I love this University and I care about what happens
to it. I do not want anything that I do to reflect negatively on physical plant or
the University. And the only way I can ensure that is to work my hardest and do the
best I can every day.
“I am also motivated by the great work ethic my parents instilled in me while being
raised on a farm. Also, Colossians 3:23 says, ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all
your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,’ and this is also a key to what
Cash said she has learned from some of the best while at the U of M. “One of these
people (was) Jim Hellums who retired June 30 after 32 years of service to the University.
Jim was constantly pushing us to be innovative and to think outside of the box. He
encouraged me and others to try and achieve things that we did not think that we could
do. I would like to thank Jim for his years of service, his dedication to the University
and our department, and his many creative ideas.”
Cash, who received $500 as part of the award, said away from work, “I spend my time
with my family, my husband Darrel and my sons, Wesley and Jesse.