Marvel Whitson, assistant to Dean of the College of Education Jean Houck, was recently named by her coworkers as employee of the month.
Whitson was pleased to be recognized but was caught off guard. “I am uncomfortable being singled out for this award primarily because every individual deserves recognition for working diligently every day.One of the advantagesof my positionis having the opportunity to work with each staff member and each office. There are many outstanding staff members in the College of Education who deservespecial recognition, I see it every day.”
Whitson joined the university in 2001, beginning her career working in the Career Development Center as an administrative support assistant, moving to University College and Extension Services as a professional development program assistant. After a few months, she joined the College of Education.
President F. King Alexander praised Whitson for her willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty. “She embodies the spirit of excellence at CSULB and she is a joy and a pleasure to work with,” he said.
If she had to suggest one reason for her recognition, it would be her ability to handle the responsibilities with a positive attitude and a good sense of humor. “I’m not very good at assessing my strengths, but if I were, I would say I greet each situation with care and concern while trying to find an acceptable resolution for each person involved,” she said.
As assistant to the dean, her responsibilities include coordinating the dean’s and associate dean’s schedules.
“I have the opportunity to work with all the individuals in the College of Education, from the faculty to the staff to the students,” she said. “There are always many fires to put out in the Dean’s Office and the tasks require wearing many different hats.”
The key is priorities. “You acquire an understanding of the big picture within the university from student concerns to faculty and staff responsibilities to state and federal mandates. It is a constantly changing pattern of work,” she added. “You need a good sense of humor and enjoy working with a wide range of people. Being a parent and former school teacher, with an interest in educational initiatives, gives you life experiences that bring with them a greater understanding of the challenges of this position.”
Whitson’s journey to CSULB began as a Midwestern primary teacher before relocating to California. She worked in the private sector for seven years before finding herself thinking about working in an educational environment. She applied to CSULB and was accepted. “I feel very lucky to work on this beautiful campus,” she said.
Whitson is especially pleased to work for Dean Houck. “I consider myself very fortunate to work for such a dedicated, gracious, and astute professional,” she said. “Coupled with that pleasure is working with a wonderful faculty and staff.” “Each day I call on mycoworkers for assistance in collecting data, problem solving, coordinating events and assisting students.On each occasion my friends set aside their own tasks to respond without hesitation.I am honored to work with so many individuals dedicated tothis collaborative effort.”
When she isn’t putting out fires in the College of Education, Whitson enjoys long-distance motorcycling with her husband Douglas. The couple recently returned from a trip to the American Midwest where they visited Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois, stopping at historical markers and points of interest along the way. “We did everything from visiting the Kool-Aid Museum in Hastings, Nebraska, to the world’s largest ball of twine in Cawker City, Kansas,” she laughed. “We saw it all, from a statue made out of butter at a state fair, beautiful sunsets, a night sky full of stars, and a complete exquisite double rainbow.” She describes herself as the couple’s designated waver. “I like to wave at the people we pass and see their responses,” she said. “Kids love to wave but adults think I am a bit crazy.”
Whitson is glad she made the choice to join CSULB and hopes one day to retire and enjoy riding America’s back roads on their motorcycle full time.
Whitson received several gifts with her recognition including a CSULB sweatshirt, a $25 gift certificate to the Elephant Bar Restaurant, two VIP passes to The Hop, four tickets to one CSULB home game, two coupons for Tommy’s World Famous Hamburgers and a coupon for a Whopper from Burger King.