President surprises staff with service awards

Kim Parent (left) in the Office of Academic Deans received the 2016 President’s Award from President Lynn Pasquerella on May 16. Photo: Mika Fujimoto Keezing

By Sasha Nyary 

Cindy Legare was in a meeting with her Human Resources colleagues on May 19 when President Lynn Pasquerella ’80 knocked on the door. 

A short time later, Kim Parent in the Office of Academic Deans had a moment of anxiety when the president poked her head inside her office, looking to speak with her.   

Pasquerella was presenting the annual President’s Award to the two Mount Holyoke College staff members, and she came laden with flowers, balloons, trophies, and other gifts.

Needless to say, both Legare and Parent were extremely surprised. 

The annual President’s Award for Outstanding Service recognizes and honors staff members who exemplify Mount Holyoke’s values of integrity, creativity, service, and excellence. It is given in a festive presentation and includes a check. 

President Lynn Pasquerella (left) presented
Cindy Legare from Human Resources
with the 2016 President’s Award.
Photo: Mika Fujimoto Keezing

Legare was particularly surprised because she usually coordinates the award. This year she felt excluded from the process and she couldn’t figure out why. 

“I repeatedly tried to check in as the semester progressed and was assured that everything was well in hand,” Legare said. “I thought my colleagues were trying to show me that they could do it without my help.”

Momentarily confused when Pasquerella knocked on her door, she then quickly realized what was happening. 

“There, standing in the HR office, were about 20 colleagues with gifts and hugs and so many kind words,” Legare said. “It was very overwhelming, and for once in my life, I was actually at a loss for words. To be recognized as a person who others view as a valued contributor to this great place is such an honor.”  

Parent had actually followed the presenting committee—balloons, flowers, and all—into Mary Lyon Hall and had taken the elevator so as not to get in the way of wherever they were headed.

“Never once would I have thought they were coming to see me,” she said. “When I came out and saw everyone smiling at me, I was shocked and thrilled—and shaky and emotional—all at the same time. I couldn’t believe it was for me."

Since 2012, the President's Award Committee has selected recipients from nominations submitted by faculty, staff, and students. The awards are given to staff members who go above and beyond the usual expectations for their positions in “providing expertise and a high quality of service to the campus community and beyond.” 

Kim Parent, the assistant dean and class advisor for new students who works in the Office of Academic Deans, was lauded for her engagement and collaboration with her peers and other colleagues. According to her award citation, she “seeks opportunities to work together to contribute to students’ social and academic success—helping to build the kind of dynamic and positive community, which is at the heart of Mount Holyoke College’s ideals.” 

In nominating Parent, one colleague wrote about her “responsivity, compassion, and efficiency,” saying that she works to enhance student resilience and success. 

“Kim is someone that students connect to and feel heard and taken care of,” the colleague said, noting that as a positive role model, Parent helps students recognize their strengths and potential as “amazing scholars and leaders.” 

Parent, who has worked at Mount Holyoke for a decade, said her job is rewarding to her as well. 

“I work with amazing people every day both in and out of my own office,” she said, “So to be selected from this group is huge honor. To get an award for doing something I feel lucky to do every day is completely astounding.” 

Cindy Legare, benefits and training manager in Human Resources, has worked at the College for 25 years and, according to the citation, has a reputation for “providing an outstanding level of expert service.” And her “significant, positive impact also extends across the College.” 

“If you ask anyone on campus about Cindy, they will always mention her warm and easygoing personality, her welcoming smile, and her infectious, positive attitude,” the citation said. 

One colleague described her as the go-to person for employees getting close to retirement, noting, “She never waivers when it comes to what is best for the employee.” 

Legare said said feels fortunate “to work with such dedicated staff and faculty who genuinely care about the institution, our students, and the world. 

“When I consider the staff members who have received this award before me, I am very humbled to think that my peers view me similarly,” she said.

Legare’s connections to the College run deep. She is a class of 1982 alumna and the mother of a member of the class of 2015. Members of her family including her parents and grandfather work or have worked at the College for nearly 100 years. 

“I keep my grandfather’s MHC ID on my bulletin board as a daily reminder to enjoy life to its fullest,” she said. “Working at Mount Holyoke College is, sincerely, really the best job.”

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