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Presidential Award of Excellence


Stephanie Higgs

Office Manager
University Counseling Center


“Stephanie shines in her dedication to making UNH a better place to work, not only for operating staff but for the entire University community.”

It is no surprise that Stephanie Higgs has ended up working at a university. "I've always loved reading," she says. "When I was younger, I wanted to teach English, or be a librarian, or work in a bookstore."

Today, she's still a reader (recently, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer). "I read reviews, or learn about books from friends, and add them to the two–page list in my little black book," she smiles.

And she's also Mom to her 12 year–old son, Sam, and loves to go on motorcycle trips to Bar Harbor, Maine, or New York City, with her boyfriend, Brian.

Higgs joined UNH in 2001 after spending more than 16 years in corporate America–working in computer programming, internal auditing, insurance claims operations, and, primarily, human resources.

The UNH environment inspires her. "There's such an openness here to everyone's ideas," she says. "They welcome people's energy and passion. There's a sense that if you see an issue, or an opportunity, and would like to pursue it, people will get right behind you."

Performance and service are hallmarks of Higgs' work. Counseling Center staff call her "friendly, fair, compassionate, organized, and diplomatic." And they say she continually asks herself, "Can we find a way to improve this process?"

She worked with Computing and Information Services to design and implement a state–of–the–art scheduling system for the center, and she also manages the center's Web site. Thanks to her efforts, the Internet is an integral way for Counseling Center staff to reach out to the larger campus community.

As chair of the Operating Staff Council, Higgs has been instrumental in creating the Family Friendly Leave Proposal, the Adopt–A–UNH–Spot proposal, the IDEA Employee Suggestion Program, and the Compassionate Leave Policy. In addition, she has served as a Judicial and Mediation Program volunteer and is a member of the UNH Community Connections Council.

Communication between the OS/PAT/EE councils is a common goal for all councils, and Higgs keeps the PAT/EE chairs connected and informed about the Operating Staff's perspective on issues. As one nominator wrote, "Stephanie shines in her dedication to making UNH a better place to work, not only for operating staff but for the entire University community."

But for Higgs, the Presidential Award of Excellence came as a surprise. "In my mind, I haven't done anything extraordinary. No matter what, I wouldn't do my work any other way."

- Mary Peterson