Every spring, UNC Greensboro confers the Gladys Strawn Bullard Award upon those who show commendable initiative and perseverance in their leadership and service roles. The University congratulates the faculty member, student, and staff member who were recognized this year for their countless hours serving their coworkers, classmates, and community.
Dr. Shelly Brown-Jeffy, Department of Sociology
The associate professor of sociology is one of the first to welcome new students to UNCG during SOAR. She provides faculty with mentorship and workshops, and she contributes to many committees and organizations. The College of Arts and Sciences faculty nominated her for the award.
They praise her eagerness to volunteer and extend opportunities to more faculty and students. Sociology Department Head Dr. David Kauzlarich says, “Dr. Brown-Jeffy is widely known around the University as a mover, shaker, collaborator, tireless volunteer, and committed contributor to many facets of University work and school life.”
The groups she works with include the Conference on African American & African Diasporic Cultures & Experience (CACE) and the Harriet Elliot Lecture Series Steering Committee. She also advises the Neo-Black Society students, chairs the Faculty Senate P&T and EDI Steering Committee, and served on the Research Excellence Awards Committee.
Dr. Cerise Glenn, associate professor of communication studies, says Dr. Brown-Jeffy shines when she works with students, as demonstrated by the way she helps them come up with ideas for African American and African Diaspora Studies and CACE, and how she supports their presentations with enthusiasm. “Our students look to her for an example of professionalism in our field as she inspires their confidence and development.”
Dr. Dana Dunn, professor of sociology, is particularly grateful for Dr. Brown-Jeffy’s work with the ADVANCE grant planning group. “This project brought a substantial sum to the University to support the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women faculty of color. The best practices developed as part of this project, when institutionalized, also serve to support all faculty, making UNCG a preferred academic workplace.”
Alexis Cox, Bryan School of Business and Economics
John Ceneviva, lecturer in the Department of Management, says, “I only write letters of recommendation for students I would hire into a competitive environment. Alexis exceeds that evaluation.”
The Bryan School of Business and Economics student, Lloyd Honors College member, and mother of three helped lay the groundwork for other students to succeed. Cox started a management consulting club and recruited more than a dozen student members to engage with consulting firms in the community. She offered economics tutoring through Student Support Services, catalogued volunteer opportunities, and connected students with service projects.
Prior to enrolling at UNCG, Cox was squadron leader for a motor transport battalion with the U.S. Army. She volunteered for the Making It Happen food bank and assisted with the Montgomery County homeless point-in-time count. Cox hopes to become a consultant for nonprofit organizations after graduation.
Ceneviva says what impressed him the most about Cox was her leadership. “It’s a complex skill that requires the ability to clearly articulate a goal and then engender the respect and trust in others to help accomplish that goal. I clearly saw that in her role as a Team Leader in my class.”
Dr. Jason Pierce, assistant professor of management, served as her club’s faculty advisor. He says, “Wherever life takes her, Alexis contributes well beyond the scope of her responsibilities.”
Rachel Agner, Contracts and Grants Accounting
Agner joined the Contract and Grant Accounting (CGA) office as a grant specialist in 2010. She was promoted to associate director in 2012, and her ideas and initiative have improved the efficiency and workflow for all her coworkers.
Director William Walters says Agner brings an enthusiastic and positive attitude to work each day. “She is comfortable sharing her ideas and providing helpful feedback, while also questioning the status quo and offering new solutions.”
Sponsored awards to the University doubled to $50 million in the last five years. Agner ensured that the staff could manage the added work while maintaining a high level of meeting deadlines, reporting requirements, and customer service. In 2017, she created an online filing system, moving away from the old paper-based files for grants and projects. These readily available electronic files became essential when the office moved to a hybrid work model during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Jim Baulding says that while working with CGA, “Many times I witnessed her providing assistance to one of her employees who was trying to better understand and resolve a problem related to a specific contract or grant, even though she was very busy trying to get her work done in a timely basis.”
Dr. Valera Francis, director of the Office of Sponsored Programs, praises the meticulous work that Agner does to forge strong relationships with UNCG’s extramural sponsors. “CGA can be characterized as high-intensity, deadline-driven, and detail-oriented. Not one to be intimidated by this type of office environment, Rachel consistently works beyond the typical workday to make sure all that needs to be done is done at the end of the day.”