By Greg Russell
Janis Lamar receives a U of M pendant during Employee Recognition Day in June. Lamar
also received an ever bigger honor that day: she won a 2011 Distinguished Employee
of the Year Award. (Photo by Rhonda Cosentino)
Janis Lamar won a 2011 University of Memphis Distinguished Employee of the Year Award
during Employee Recognition Day in June for her hard work as an administrative secretary
in the Department of Econonics. She could be equally lauded for what she does after
Lamar volunteers to teach “English as a Second Language” courses at the Refugee Empowerment
Center in Binghamton.
“For the past couple of years, I’ve started volunteering at different places. I’m
trying to find my niche,” she said. “I really like volunteer work. My favorite assignment
so far has been teaching English as a second language. I think I’d like to get involved
in volunteering at one of the local theatres next.”
Lamar has worked at the U of M for 12 years, starting out in the mathematics department
and working in computer science for a short time. She said her current job in economics
has been wonderful.
“My favorite part of working at the University is the opportunity to interact with
students. My department is known as one of the most student-friendly on campus and
I strive to make sure that reputation continues.”
Lamar is a master gardener, too. She said the U of M is “much more beautiful” since
she first arrived.
“I love the landscaping and the change to a walking campus. The community garden is
outstanding as is the small garden plot between Jones Hall and the Administration
Building. The University Center makes me say ‘wow!’ The FedEx Institute of Technology
building, the Holiday Inn, Wilder Tower and Brister Hall — all have been updated or
built since I came.”
Economics professor and interim chair William T. Smith said this of Lamar, “Janis
knows everything and everyone. She is extraordinarily proactive and anticipates problems
ahead of time. Administrative life has become much easier for us since she started
working here. All I have to say is: ‘Make it so, Janis,’ and it is done.
“Janis is also wonderful with students. She goes out of her way to help students navigate
the campus. They adore her and often turn to her for advice.”
Have students changed since she has been here?
“Yes,” she said with a laugh. “They keep getting younger and I keep getting older!”