Maxine Ebanks is known among her colleagues for the warmth and care she shows for Vanderbilt students, including hosting an annual Thanksgiving meal in her home for those who can’t leave town for the holiday. A native of Jamaica, she also prepares a feast of traditional Jamaican food for coworkers on the last day of each academic year.
Ebanks, head retail market clerk and a 42-year employee of Campus Dining, was recognized by Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos for going above and beyond her workplace duties. Zeppos presented her with the Chancellor’s Heart and Soul Staff Appreciation Award during Campus Dining’s departmental meeting at The Commons Center Nov. 15.
Ebanks has worked in a variety of positions over her long tenure at Vanderbilt and was the first retail clerk hired in Campus Dining. She boasts a perfect attendance record for the 2016-17 school year. Her constancy should serve as an inspiration for the students she encounters each day, Zeppos said.
When I think of Maxine and how she interacts with people, she treats the students like they’re her own children.
“Maxine has been at Vanderbilt for 42 years—42 years of caring and compassion and making Vanderbilt a better, more welcoming, inclusive place where everyone should be cared for,” he said. “[rquote]When I think of Maxine and how she interacts with people, she treats the students like they’re her own children.[/rquote]
“What I tell our parents is embodied by what you do,” Zeppos told Ebanks. “We want to take care of their children as if they are our own, and you do that every day. You, Maxine, are the heart and soul of Vanderbilt.”
Zeppos created the Chancellor’s Heart and Soul Award out of a desire to find new and creative ways to show staff that their efforts are valued and appreciated. The award, presented by the chancellor during visits with staff in their workplaces or in group settings, recognizes efforts that demonstrate the spirit and mission that distinguish the Vanderbilt community. The honor comes with a $1,500 cash prize and a handcrafted wood bowl created by artist Brenda Stein.
Staff are nominated for the Heart and Soul Award by their supervisors, managers and colleagues. Nominations focus on a specific instance when a staff member did more than what was assigned or expected and for carrying the spirit and mission of Vanderbilt in all they do.
Zeppos also took time to thank Campus Dining staff for the sense of community they foster on campus.
“When we think of Vanderbilt, we think of community, of sitting down and spending time with each other. We think of breaking bread together and getting to know each other,” he said. “I want to thank and applaud all of you who work so hard every single day to create that environment in Campus Dining, where people feel included and welcomed and deeply cared for on this campus. What you do is absolutely essential to the success of Vanderbilt.”
A total of 32 nominations for the Chancellor’s Heart and Soul Award were received over the summer for the 2017-18 academic year, and a total of five recipients were selected as winners. Zeppos awarded the first Heart and Soul Award to VU Public Safety’s Marty Wright on Sept. 6; the Facilities Department’s Joey Knight and Jeff Bratton were recognized Nov. 1; and Biological Sciences’ Carol Wiley received the award Nov. 8. Zeppos will present the final award during an upcoming visit planned for later this semester.
For more information about the Chancellor’s Heart and Soul Award, contact Gwen Hopkins.