The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) wants four employees to pack their bags.
The four are this year’s winners of the FAS Administrative/Professional Prize, which recognizes extraordinary job performance benefiting the full FAS. Recipients are granted a month’s vacation time and a stipend of $7,100, after taxes, to travel wherever they wish.
This year’s recipients are Roger Banks, senior admissions and financial aid officer in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid; Steven Bloomfield, executive director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs; Janet Hatch, director of administration in the Department of History; and Judith Kidd, associate dean for student life and activities in Harvard College.
The biennial prize is available to exempt staffers who have worked at Harvard for more than five years. To be considered for the prize, an FAS employee must be nominated by two different Harvard colleagues. The number of recipients is determined by the amount of money available in the prize fund.
This year’s four prize winners, with a combined 89 years of service to Harvard, say that it’s the University’s faculty, staff, and students who inspire them to give their all when on the job.
“The students are endlessly interesting and challenging to work with — they have such strong ideas and ideals,” says Kidd, who as associate dean oversees the Student Activities Office, Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub, Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, Harvard College Women’s Center, Office for the Arts, and Phillips Brooks House. “I find my colleagues equally rewarding to work with. The College is really blessed to have the team that is assembled.”
“The most rewarding aspects of my work at Harvard are the wonderful staff, faculty, and students I interact with every day,” says Hatch, who is responsible for all nonacademic administration of the Department of History, as well as staff to the Harvard Australian Studies Committee. “They are extremely warm, engaging, and interesting people and make coming to work a joy!”
All also expressed surprise and joy tinged with humility.
“I was overwhelmed, shocked, and speechless at winning the prize and extremely grateful to all of those who nominated me,” Hatch says.
Kidd described her response as an “equal mixture of surprise, happiness, and humility. I know some of the former winners and I am honored to be in their company.”
“I am sure there are many more FAS staff more deserving than me,” says Bloomfield, who manages daily operations for the Weatherhead Center and works to advance its research mission. “I am very fortunate to live in the midst of a circle of a few highly articulate and persuasive nominators.”
Only a few weeks after notification of their awards, the recipients’ travel plans are just starting to take shape.
“I range from thinking about an African safari to a self-directed tour of the world’s great beaches,” Kidd says.
Bloomfield, who has served for many years on an Office of Career Services committee that annually selects graduating College seniors for a year of purposeful postgraduate travel, said he looked to those graduates’ experiences to shape his own thinking.
“One of the first things I did when I received notification from [FAS Dean] Michael Smith about the award was to speak with a couple of recent grantees, and to read the midyear reports of last year’s grantees to try to gain some insight into what makes a leave — even a month’s leave — essential and meaningful,” he says. “I am looking to allow for serendipity and service, to find something to do and someplace to be that will make me better in my coming back.”
The only requirement — other than that they go away — is that upon their return, prizewinners write a letter describing their travels to the anonymous Harvard alumnus whose 1994 gift funds the prize.
“It is my understanding that the donor very much enjoys reading the letters and learning about what each recipient did,” says Robert Doyle, assistant dean in FAS and associate dean of Harvard College, who chairs the committee that awards the FAS Administrative/Professional Prize.
“My theory is that no one ‘recovers’ from the grandness of winning the prize,” says Doyle, himself a former recipient. “I had a spectacular trip with my wife and daughters in 1996; we still talk about the great fun we had together. This kind donor creates for FAS employees a wonderful opportunity to plan a family trip and to travel to and experience new places. Without his generosity, such adventures would not be possible.”