Bobby Golliday, coordinator of special programs for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Washington University in St. Louis, won the Gloria W. White Distinguished Service Award at the annual Staff Day celebration May 23 at Edison Theatre.
Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton praised Golliday as a “gem” who has worked to make Washington University both a more welcoming and diverse community. Golliday supports initiatives that attract underrepresented students and has helped stage successful programs across the country such as Chicago Interview Day for African-American students and Miami Interview Day for Hispanic students, as well as events on campus such as Celebration Weekend and Discovery Weekend.
“She not only embodies the spirit of Gloria White but the spirit of Jim McLeod, who encouraged her to know students by name and story,” said Wrighton, referring to the late, beloved vice chancellor for students and dean of Arts & Sciences. “She builds lasting relations with students and their families. Many families comment that her kindness and care made a huge difference when deciding on a college.”
Wrighton recalled for the audience a telephone call Golliday received in 2014, in the midst of the Ferguson unrest. A prospective parent wanted to cancel her son’s visit, worried that St. Louis and Washington University would not be a safe place for an African-American student.
“She listened to that family, and very earnestly talked to them about the climate on our campus and the events in the area,” Wrighton said. “She understood their concerns as a parent and helped to alleviate their fears. By the end of this conversation, the family had changed their mind. When they arrived on campus she was there to welcome them.”
Golliday, a 29-year veteran of the university, told the audience she is honored to serve students and their families.
“Their smiles and appreciation and stories have made it easy for me to be inspired and dedicated to do all I can do to make sure that their time at Washington University is as enjoyable as mine,” Golliday said. “Never in a million years would I have ever thought that a little girl raised by her brother and sisters from a small town in rural Mississippi would grow up and be chosen for one of the highest honors that an employee could get.”
Golliday is grateful, too, for the impact the university has had on her family. Her eldest daughter, Gina Golliday-Cabell, graduated from Washington University, and her youngest daughter, Micah Golliday, knew that she wanted to pursue a college degree after a visit to Washington University. Her son-in-law, Jarrett Cabell, also boasts a Washington University degree.
“And I will hopefully one day be a grandparent of a future alum,” Golliday told the laughing crowd.
The Gloria W. White Distinguished Service Award was established in 1998 and celebrates the legacy of White, a campus leader for some 35 years until her death in 2003.
Wrighton also paid tribute employees who have worked at the university for 10 years or longer.
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