Meet EWU’s 2023 Distinguished Staff

November 16, 2023

EWU’s Distinguished Service Awards recognize exemplary service and outstanding contributions to the university.

On Nov. 16, President Shari McMahan presented awards to this year’s honorees during the Fall Recognition Luncheon, held in the PUB’s Nysether Community Room. She also took the time to recognize the many EWU employees who were celebrating work anniversaries ranging from 5 to 45 years. The awards were presented to Emilie Crawford and Rhianna Meyers in front of a full house of faculty and staff members, who were treated to a traditional Thanksgiving meal thanks to a generous sponsorship from longtime partner STCU.

Both of this year’s honorees have stepped up to do amazing work under challenging situations, showing true Eagle grit. They were nominated by multiple peers and members of the campus community. Congratulations to Crawford and Myers, whose award stories are posted below.


Emilie Crawford

2023 Administrative Exempt Distinguished Service Award

Emilie Crawford took on a big job when she became operations manager for the EWU School of Nursing as it was launching and getting ready for its first cohort of 40 students.

“In a single year, Ms. Crawford created and implemented the systems needed to fully operationalize the new school,” said Donna Bachand, professor and chair of the School of Nursing, in a nomination letter.

Bachand listed a dozen accomplishments for Crawford, including managing grants and budgets, developing a financial aid package for nursing students, and purchasing the equipment needed to get classes and labs up and running.

In addition to her effectiveness in everything operational, Bachand appreciates Crawford’s student-centered approach to the job, saying, “She genuinely cares about how our students experience their nursing education.”

Crawford, an Eastern alumnus, earned a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies in 2004, started working for the university in 2007, and earned a Master of Public Administration in 2011.

Now assistant director for Area Health Education Center at EWU, Crawford received multiple nominations from College of Health Science and Public Health colleagues. Their recognition of her outstanding work earned her this year’s Administrative Exempt Distinguished Service Award.

The chain of nominations for Crawford, a problem-solver who goes the extra distance to help others, began back in 2020 while she was working as operations manager for EWU Dental Hygiene.

Lisa Bilich, professor of Dental Hygiene and former department chair, praised Crawford for balancing challenging budgets while maintaining program quality during the pandemic.

In 2020, when Dental Hygiene’s nonprofit clinic had to close for six months due to pandemic restrictions, resulting in a reduction in revenue, Crawford proved resourceful. She helped to secure grant funding while working hard to lower overall costs and provide essential personal protective equipment so the department could safely run in-person labs and clinics, Bilich said. Her research resulted in EWU having the only dental hygiene program in the United State to receive CARES Act funding.

Merri Jones, associate professor of Dental Hygiene, worked alongside Crawford for seven years, saying “Emilie is a positive-minded, forward-thinking person who sees the possibilities and engages in service broadly in her work.”


Rhianna Meyers

2023 Distinguished Service Award for Classified Staff

Rhianna Meyers is a familiar face to many on campus.

Meyers, who started working for EWU in December 2013, ensures that mail services run smoothly for the entire campus.

Meyers juggles multiple tasks, serving as the go-to person for mailings that ensure printed newsletters and other important correspondence is mailed and delivered in a timely fashion, all while helping with pick-up and delivery for departments and work units across campus.

“She is always professional and personable and demonstrates a high standard of efficiency and customer service,” said Jennifer Miller of the EWU Police Department, in a nomination letter.

When Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns forced most EWU employees to work from home, Meyers accepted FedEx and other deliveries for the entire campus because most buildings were locked.

She took on the added work of delivering mail, equipment, supplies and even furniture to the different buildings, Miller said, adding, “This exemplifies her exceptional dedication to the university and a willingness to take on additional duties during stressful times.”

Numerous nominations recognized Meyers’ outstanding contributions to Eastern, including her work ethic in taking on extra responsibilities to provide a high-level of service, earning her this year’s Distinguished Service Award for Classified Staff.

Some nomination letters also mentioned her husband, Tim Meyers. The two-person superhero team handles Mail Services for the entire university.

Maria Szep, program support supervisor for Psychology, said the duo provides outstanding service to the Psychology Department, which has a high volume of mail and packages coming in and going out.

“They are always quick to respond to phone and email requests and most willing to assist in finding the most cost-effective ways to ship,” Szep said.

Augie Hernandez, assistant athletic director for equipment services, said the Mail Services team stepped up during the pandemic to personally deliver a high volume of packages to Athletics.

“They sometimes had to make multiple trips to Reese Court to drop off our parcels and I could tell they were happy to handle it so that my department could process these packages in a timely manner,” Hernandez said.