Jackson receives Gloria W. White service award

'Talented problem solver' makes campus more caring and inclusive, chancellor says

Phyllis Jackson speaks
Gloria White award recipient Phyllis Jackson joins Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton on the Edison Theatre stage on Staff Day May 22. (Photo: Mary Butkus/Washington University)

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton presented Phyllis Jackson, associate director of Campus Life – event management, with the Gloria W. White Distinguished Service Award at the annual Staff Day celebration May 22 in Edison Theatre.

“Phyllis works with faculty, staff, students and community members to both literally and figuratively open doors, even when challenges arise. And, believe me, I’ve heard about some,” Wrighton said. “She helps us build an environment that is caring, inclusive and comfortable.”

In her role, Jackson has helped plan countless weddings, meetings, celebrations and funerals. Indeed, Jackson recalled for the audience how honored she was to help organize funeral services at Graham Chapel for White, whom she considered an inspiration.

“There was a standing room-only crowd. So many colleagues said so many wonderful things about her,” Jackson recalled. “The first time I saw her on campus was in the early ’90s. While she was physically small in stature, she had the presence of a giant and the command of campus. But most importantly, she was never too busy to lend an ear to any challenge and to help formulate any solution. She became someone I could pattern myself after.”

Jackson joined the staff of Washington University 30 years ago, starting off as an accounting clerk for Alumni & Development. In 1998, she joined the event planning and management team, where she is admired for her vast network of connections and deep institutional knowledge, as well as her warm and welcoming personality.

“She is a talented problem solver, and, because of her work, our campus is more vibrant and full of extraordinary experiences for the entire Washington University community,” Wrighton said.

Jackson also is committed to serving students, having worked with the Black Senior Alliance, the John B. Ervin Scholars and the James E. McLeod Scholars programs.  

“She is passionate about educating and serving young people,” Wrighton said.

It is a passion that the university helped nurture, Jackson told the audience.

“Washington University is truly an institution that encourages lifelong learning to its entire community,” Jackson said. “It is an institution that thrives on developing and valuing personal and professional relationships. And it offers you the opportunity to participate on the issues you may personally be passionate about.”

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