Margaret “Maggie” White may be described by her colleagues as “the face of the department” or “extremely efficient,” but it was the “blur of smiles,” hand waves and a personal favorite–the hugs– that stood out the most for recent communications graduate Megan Murray.
For these and many other reasons, White, an administrative support coordinator in the Department of Communications main office, was honored with California State University, Dominguez Hills’ Excellence in Customer Service Award during the 2014 Staff Award ceremony in October.
“I spent a lot of time in the communications building, and more specifically, the main office. While Maggie White was always happy to answer my question about professors and paperwork, the most important thing she did for me was care,” said Murray. “It did not matter if I was stressed from school, or simply life, Maggie was always there to remind me to breathe and remember that ‘Everything will be Okay.’ She always made me feel at ease.”
Murray’s comment was one of several student remarks included in White’s Staff Awards nomination letter, which was submitted by associate professor of communications Nancy Cheever, chair and associate professor of communications Sharon Sharp, and assistant professor of communications Ryan Bowles-Eagle.
In the letter, they shared that White is not only extremely efficient, but that she developed comprehensive new methods for helping students with paperwork and other issues, completely restructured procedures and documents, and streamlined all administrative tasks, to name a few of her accomplishments.
“While I was the recipient of this award, it is reflective of the Department of Communications. Our faculty place a high priority on providing students with the assistance they need to be successful, both in and outside of the classroom,” said White. “CSUDH has a unique and diverse student body with many first-generation college students. As a staff member, I have the privilege of not only sharing their educational journey, but watching them graduate.”
White grew up in Mount Olive, Ill., and currently lives in San Pedro. An exceptional student, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Vocational Education from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, in 1989, and graduated summa cum laude. She earned her Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in higher education administration from Saint Louis University in 1996, graduating magna cum laude.
Prior to arriving at CSUDH in 2012, White served as assistant to the president and director of student support services at McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill., for 20 years.
The CSUDH Department of Communications keeps White on her toes. It employs four full-time and 17 part-time faculty members who service 475 students. She assists them all in a variety of ways, including providing day-to-day management for the department’s Office of the Chair, providing confidential assistance related to student issues and records, responding to faculty, staff and student inquiries, assisting the chair and Faculty Search Committee in the faculty recruitment process, and hiring and supervising student assistants.
“Maggie has learned to adapt to the ever-changing administrative culture of the university. She never exhibits a defeatist attitude. Rather than using inter-office mail, she hand-delivers important documents to ensure they arrive in a timely maker,” wrote the professors. “Maggie also volunteers to help at events throughout campus, including commencement and new student orientations, and supervises our work study student very well. She is extremely friendly and helpful to everyone she encounters.”
Ravyn Manning, who graduated from CSUDH with her Bachelor of Arts in Communications in 2014, said that White “treated her like family,” which was “huge” since Manning was attending college far from home.
“As a recent communications graduate, I would have to say there are three things that were necessary for my success: support, encouragement and access to information,” said Manning. “Actually, just one word could be used, and that word is ‘Maggie.’ From the day I first set foot in the communications building, to the day I graduated, Maggie was utterly remarkable.”
White enjoys working with the students and does her best to make sure their experience at CSUDH is empowering and memorable.
“I strive to help our students understand the importance of how their degree will impact their lives. They will have career choices and opportunities that they would otherwise not be available to them,” she said. “I want them to think of education from a holistic perspective, and know that the experiences they have both in and outside of the classroom will help prepare them for the real world of work.”