June Porter Graham Staff Excellence Award Winner – Shawna Nichols

Posted in: Congrats | People | Porter Graham Staff Excellence Award

The Professional Staff Council would like to congratulate the December Porter Graham Staff Excellence Award recipient: Shawna Nichols! Shawna is a College of Education Program Coordinator for Academic Affairs and MPER.

June 2019 Porter Graham Staff Excellence Award Winner Shawna Nichols, University of Missouri College of Education

Caitlin Rosbach’s Nomination

I am excited to nominate Shawna Nichols for the Porter Graham Staff Excellence Award.  I do not think it is an understatement to say that, without Shawna, the CoE would collapse.  She is dedicated to student success, both with current students in the MPER program and throughout the College as a whole.  She tracks data and meetings for the MPER program, tirelessly making everyone at the College look their best.  She is hardworking and organized, taking on the duties of Building Coordinator and establishing processes for many common issues.  Things that we take for granted like key assignments, room scheduling, organizing commencement, and maintaining College spaces, Shawna handles with grace.  Shawna quietly holds the whole College together, and she is more than deserving of this award.

June 2019 Porter Graham Staff Excellence Award Winner Shawna Nichols, University of Missouri College of Education

Fran Colley’s Nomination

Shawna Nichols must have a walk-in closet for all the hats she wears in her various roles at the College: organizer, task master, den mother, “office wife,” and many more. At the core of all these roles is Shawna’s admirable attention to detail, unfailing ability to multi-task, and constant awareness of the big picture of what needs to happen in order to make things appear effortless for those she is helping. I have worked with Shawna since 2000, but even then she’d been a legendary veteran of getting stuff done. She’s always available and quick to respond to a cry for help as well as quick to respond to intercept one from happening. She epitomizes “grace under pressure,” which is why I think she is more than deserving of the Porter Graham Staff Excellence Award.


John Lannin’s Nomination

Shawna brings a wealth of knowledge and a strong desire (to simplify and organize) to her work. Shawna draws on her strong knowledge of processes and technology and supports others in bettering their work. She has streamlined and taken on many additional tasks in her new role with the Associate Deans. Her organizational skills (and talent for organization!) led to a smooth commencement ceremony in Spring 2019. She has also taken on building coordinator tasks (e.g., finding lost keys), cleaning the Townsend Hall storage room (i.e., the dungeon), and many other tasks that have helped our college run smoothly. Shawna is always willing to problem solve and help others. She loves to sigh (humorously) when given a new task, but then embraces it. She is a joy to work with!


Mary Laffey’s Nomination

Shawna has worked at MU for almost 27 years.  It is hard to find anyone who doesn’t know her or who has not benefited from her expertise, dedication, willingness to learn and loyalty.  She has changed many hats over the years as she has morphed to fill the needs of our leaders, faculty and students. Shawna can be counted on to never allow you to miss a beat and she does it with such grace.  She thinks ahead and is as detailed as anyone I have ever seen to be sure that whatever is occurring is beneficial and special for all involved. Her consistency and exemplary work are always on display which allows trust to be built..  As a side note her sense of humor is always an extra bonus when working on a project.  She doesn’t mince words either so you know you are always getting the truth.


Tristan Halper’s Nomination

I nominate Shawna Nichols for the Porter Graham Staff Award. There is no one more deserving than Shawna for this award! She goes above and beyond her job duties on a daily basis. She brings energy and motivation to everyone. Shawna took over Commencement this year and did a phenomenal job. Everything was organized and ran very smoothly. Shawna is always more than willing to help and never complains about it.  Even when she is on vacation or out of the office she will respond to emails and my text messages when I need something. She is a truly dedicated and committed employee and can bring a smile to everyone’s face. I truly believe COE would not run smoothly without her!


Established by former Interim Dean Rose Porter, the Porter Graham Staff Excellence Award celebrates the dedication, resolve, leadership, and overall excellence of individuals making significant contributions to the MU College of Education. Rose Porter has always been a strong advocate for staff, noting that “they keep the place running.” Jill Williams-Graham (M ED 1990) and her husband Dr. Steven Graham, Sr. Associate Vice-President, UM System, joined Dr. Rose Porter and her husband Dr. Michael Porter, recognizing the immense impacts staff have in the running of the college. 


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