By Laura Fenton
In May 2011, Madeline Simington fielded the phone calls of distressed students when
the University of Memphis spring commencement ceremony date and location had a last-minute
“It was unexpected, so it caught a lot of students off guard, but we were able to
work the situation out, although it still upset a few students,” said Simington, Student
Affairs Learning Assessment administrative assistant.
One week prior to the ceremonies, through a series of events, the Memphis Grizzlies
announced they were hosting an NBA playoff game at FedExForum the same day as commencement.
That meant the U of M had to change locations for the ceremony.
Distinguished Employee of the Year Madeline Simington (middle) with U of M President
Shirley Raines (left) and Student Affairs Vice President Dr. Rosie Phillips Bingham.
“The commencement office’s phone rang off the hook with distressed students and families
needing information or just venting their frustrations,” a nominator said. “Madeline
offered calm reassurances with information that soothed their anxieties and helped
them understand the situation, even if they disagreed with the decision.”
Simington rarely misses a day of work and commutes one hour each way to get to the
U of M.
“I honestly have never met another administrative assistant who is committed and dedicated
to her job like Madeline,” a nominator said.
For these reasons, and many more that fill the pages of nomination forms, Simington
was named one of the 2012 Distinguished Employee of the Year award recipients.
The day her co-workers announced she had won the Outstanding Employee award, the honor
that made her eligible to win the Distinguished Employee of the Year award, Simington
walked into a decorated office filled with ecstatic staff.
“I felt almost like I had won the lottery because they had done so much to surprise
me that day,” she said.
Simington has worked for the U of M for a little more than two years. In addition
to assisting with coordination of commencement and gathering data for commencement
reports, Simington also trains co-workers to use a Hobsons software program that helps
to send emails from the department to undergraduate students.
“Anyone who interacts with Madeline comes to realize she is kind, gracious, hardworking
and professional,” another nominator said. “Madeline is a role model.”