Dolores Jackson will receive a 2019 President’s Distinguished Service Award at the University of Maryland’s Faculty and Staff Convocation on September 18, 2019. As the executive director of administrative services for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Jackson is being recognized for her exceptional leadership spearheading major administrative initiatives, especially the opening of nine new chemistry teaching laboratories in the Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center.
“This is such an honor, and I don’t think it will really hit me until I walk up there to receive the award,” Jackson said. “I was so surprised to hear that I had won this award, because I really felt I was just doing my job. It wasn’t until I looked back that I realized how much work was involved in getting the new chemistry labs up and running. Even so, I was very fortunate that everyone jumped on the bandwagon and did their part. This wasn’t a single effort.”
In 2017, Jackson oversaw the complex relocation of the general chemistry and biochemistry instructional laboratories, which serve approximately 4,000 undergraduate students each year. She accomplished the job over the summer in just three months. By the fall, nine new laboratories were open for classes and fully stocked with brand new equipment including refrigerated microcentrifuges to separate and concentrate biomolecules, sensitive fluorimeters to detect chemical complexes, spectrophotometers for quantitative analysis of chemical samples, and new computers at every workstation.
“Dolores led a seamless transition,” said Janice Reutt-Robey, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “Her diligence ensured that the building met or exceeded expectations in all aspects. It is rare for the President’s Distinguished Service Awards to be given to a staff member from an academic unit. This award recognizes how Dolores’ service has positively impacted the entire university.”
Jackson is only the second person from the department to win this honor. Gary D. Kennedy received it in 1997 as the Director of Administrative Affairs. In her position, Jackson oversees a staff of 27 and manages an annual budget nearing $16 million.
According to Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Amy Mullin, Jackson “is extremely effective as the department’s executive director. She is highly intelligent and communicates with the staff and faculty very well. She anticipates potential problems before they arise and finds creative and timely solutions.”
Jackson came to UMD in 2002 from Princeton University where she was the operations manager in the Department of Molecular Biology. She brought strong skills in financial management, human resources management, facilities management and information technology, but she also brought a significant foundation in laboratory research.
After receiving her B.S. in biology from Towson University and her master’s degree in biomedical sciences from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, Jackson began her career as a research scientist investigating the expression of protein in cells at the Frederick Cancer Research Facility (now named the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research). She moved to Princeton to work as a scientist, but as more opportunities to manage the lab presented themselves, Jackson enrolled in business classes and transitioned to administration.
“When I moved back to Maryland, it was really like coming home,” Jackson said. “The University of Maryland is a very welcoming environment with broad diversity. I felt at home here right away, and I am continually impressed by the quality of the people and the research that goes on here.”
Known for her mentorship and encouragement of staff members, Jackson fosters an environment of support and professional development. She created an annual staff retreat and started an internal staff internship to train promising staff members in new areas.
“Dolores works incredibly hard to care for and develop the talented people on her staff,” said Gene Ferrick, director of operations in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. “While her accomplishments list her administrative successes and cost savings, the development and shepherding of her staff is worth more than any of that.”
The President’s Distinguished Service Award was established in 1996 to honor university staff who have demonstrated exceptional performance, leadership and service. Recipients of the award have a record of exemplary performance and distinctive contributions to the operation of an administrative, academic, research or service unit on campus. They have clearly demonstrated initiative toward the improvement of university programs or campus activities and have shown commitment to the campus community as a whole.
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