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The spotlight award recognizes and celebrates achievements and contributions staff make to the successful operation of the college. Staff members are showcased three times each year. This is an opportunity to acknowledge the dedication and exemplary performance of individuals and work groups that deserve special recognition.
The common theme in Joseph Sheldon’s nomination letters was his great attitude and his commitment to customer service. As Mail Clerk Associate for the Physics Department, Joe can receive as many as 40 packages a day and over 500 in a month. Since many of those are lab supplies, the content, size, and weight can vary considerably. He has taken delivery of everything from envelope-sized packages to shipments weighing over a thousand pounds that have to be moved with a forklift. He takes it all in stride with a smile, and according to one nominator, “has proven himself worthy of recognition time and time again.” Another nominator wrote, “Joe has been an exceptional employee... He is always happy to help…always reliable and dependable, and routinely goes beyond what his job calls for.”
Being in charge of shipping and receiving for a science department can be a real challenge, and there’s a lot at stake. A faculty nominator explained that “much of our research depends on efficient movement of equipment to and from UM, including on occasion shipment of hazardous materials. This also includes transport of large, sometimes fragile pieces of expensive equipment requiring special handling and care.” Asked to name one of most unusual packages he had handled, Joe described a lighter-than-air box that’s used to collect stardust.
In addition to deliveries and shipping, Joe manages office moves. He likes to get out of the mailroom, stretch his legs, and do something different. According to one coworker, “many times we are under a very strict timeline to move one person out and another in… and Joe knows how to clean out a room within hours… We joke that if you’ve left something in your old office, don’t expect to come back for it the next day.” Joe also enjoys doing the set-up for the Saturday Morning Physics program, a series of public lectures followed by Q & A and refreshments. Joe’s understanding of, and commitment to, his department clearly reach far beyond the mailroom.
A lifelong Michigander, Joe owned his own business and had also worked in retail, the Postal Service, and a greenhouse before coming to U of M in 2007. The greenhouse was one of his favorite jobs, and perhaps that explains one of his hobbies-- growing giant pumpkins for show. He’s been doing this for three years, and once produced a pumpkin weighing 496 pounds. When asked how one transports a pumpkin of that size, Joe shrugged as if it’s not really a big deal. After the shipments he’s handled for Physics, apparently moving a 500-pound pumpkin is not much of a challenge. For problems of any size, Joe Sheldon knows how to get the job done.