Debbie Laird Receives 2020 Binder Prize

Debbie Laird, administrative coordinator for the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts, was selected to receive the 2020 Mary G. Binder Prize, announced the Selection Committee.

The Mary G. Binder Prize honors a member of HMC’s support staff “who combines a record of exceptional service with a truly helpful and friendly attitude toward students, faculty and fellow staff members all across the college.” The prize was established in 1996 by engineering Professor Emeritus Sam Tanenbaum and his wife, Carol, in honor of Carol’s mother. It includes an $800 award, the addition of the recipient’s names to the Mary G. Binder Prize plaque in the Galileo foyer and a commemorative certificate.

“This is the best news ever,” says Laird, who was informed of the award via a Zoom Meeting with members of the Selection Committee. Like other HMC employees, Laird has been working from her home since March 15. “This is such an honor, and I am thrilled to be this year’s winner. From day one, the HSA department was a great fit, and I am so happy to still be with them.”

Laird began working at Harvey Mudd in the humanities, social sciences and the arts department as a temporary employee in October 2011 and became a full-time employee in December 2012. The decision to award the Mary G. Binder Prize to Laird is based on several laudatory nominations submitted on her behalf:

“What amazes me about Debbie is how consistently patient and kind she is, on top of an incredible workload, managing multiple accounts for nearly 20 faculty plus the budget and meetings of the entire department.”

“Many HMC faculty pride themselves on an open-door policy, but none of us come close the number of hours Debbie is expected to have her door open—and she does it with aplomb, empathy and organizational focus.”

“To say the least, her helpful, friendly attitude most certainly embodies the qualities rewarded by the Binder Prize.”

2020 Binder Prize Committee members are Viridiana Perez, barista in dining services and the 2019 Mary G. Binder Prize winner; Bill Daub, Seeley W. Mudd Professor of Chemistry; Lisa Sullivan, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty; Theresa Lauer, senior director for facilities, emergency preparedness and safety; Miguel Ruvalcaba, general manager of dining services; Dana Nagengast, assistant vice president for human resources; and Owen Gillespie ’20, student representative.