2020 USM Regents’ Staff Awards honors two Towson University standouts

August 4, 2020

TU staff members have impact on campus and community through science, social justice efforts

Debra Phillips and Antwaine Smith are the recipients of the 2020 USM Regents' Staff Awards.

The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents is honoring nine members of its system staff, including two from Towson University, as recipients of the 2020 USM Regents’ Staff Awards.

Honorees from TU are Debra Phillips, from the Center for STEM Excellence, and Antwaine Smith, senior assistant athletic director for the Total Tiger Program.

See more information on TU’s Faculty & Staff Recognition page.

The awards are the highest honor presented by the board. They honor excellence in the following categories: Contribution to the Institution; Service to Students in an Academic or Residential Environment; Effectiveness and Efficiency; Public Service to the University or the Greater Community; and Inclusion, Multiculturalism & Social Justice.

“I could not be prouder of our TU honorees for their well deserved and prestigious recognition by the USM Board of Regents," says TU President Kim Schatzel. “It is always an honor to have the excellence of Towson University acknowledged, and it is truly special that these honors come from our governing board.”

Phillips, a nonexempt staff member, was celebrated as an efficient, productive and valued member of the center’s team. Thanks to her efforts, the center has increased the number of lab kits it provides to Maryland’s K–12 schools as part of its science education outreach program—reaching more than 16,000 students. Phillips also serves as a mentor to student interns not only from TU but also from the Biotechnical Institute of Maryland—a nonprofit biotechnology job training program.

Recognized as exempt staff in the Extraordinary Public Service to the University or the Greater Community category, Smith was honored for his commitment to weaving service into the student-athlete experience. TU student-athletes have completed more than 10,000 hours of service for each of the last seven years. Perhaps more importantly, this focus is now a core function of the TU athletic department, with student-athletes embracing service as something they truly enjoy.

Additionally, Smith focuses on social justice issues on a national level, through educational programs around diversity and inclusion, organizational leadership and gender violence prevention. The Baltimore native is helping TU student-athletes become service leaders who will continue to have a huge impact on Maryland and beyond.

Institutional staff nominating committees make recommendations to their presidents, who review nominations and supporting material and forward recommendations to USM Chancellor Dr. Jay A. Perman. The Regents Staff Review Committee makes the final recommendations.

Each award carries a $2,000 prize provided by the institutions and the USM Foundation. Chancellor Perman and Board of Regents Chair Linda Gooden will offer notice of the awards at the Zoom meeting of the full board on Sept. 18, its first regularly scheduled meeting of the 2020–21 academic year.

“During this unprecedented time, we look forward to honoring these nine winners of the annual Board of Regents Staff Awards,” Gooden says. “We await the day that we can safely gather in person and have a more personal celebration, but we are pleased to honor these special individuals early in the academic year.”

Says Chancellor Perman, “I know we’re recognizing our award recipients for their work over a number of years, but the 2020 awards just feel different because they remind us how essential our staff are to a high-quality student experience, a well-functioning institution and a mission that endures no matter what our circumstances. COVID-19 has forced all of us to reexamine and innovate how we do our jobs, how we maintain excellence despite difficulties none of us saw coming. This excellence proves the dedication of our staff—their commitment to their jobs, their purpose and those they serve. This year’s honorees embody that dedication, and I can’t wait to celebrate them in September.”

Nominations are due by November each year.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland.