Lewis Center for the Arts’s own Mary K. O’Connor was recently honored as a recipient of the President’s Achievement Award (PAA) for her commitment to excellence and exceptional performance. O’Connor was one of six Princeton staff members who received the award, which was established in 1997 to recognize members of the support and administrative staffs with five or more years of service whose dedication, excellent work and special efforts have contributed significantly to the success of their departments and the University.
O’Connor who is the manager, office of the chair, arts fellowships, and special projects at the LCA is often referred to as the center and glue of the department, quietly helping to steer across six academic programs, and countless events and goings-on.
Whether reimagining logistics during COVID, running the Princeton Arts Fellows program, or being the point person for the new Lewis Center student advisers, she has an uncanny ability to see what needs to be overhauled, tweaked, or maintained and is a thoughtful and measured decision-maker. Many rely on her collaborative spirit, trustworthiness, compassion, and generosity.
“Excellence truly describes the manner in which Mary does her job. She sets high standards for the work she does, and she exceeds them as a manner of course.
— Former Chair Tracy K. Smith
Former Chair Tracy K. Smith stated: “Excellence truly describes the manner in which Mary does her job. She sets high standards for the work she does, and she exceeds them as a manner of course. Her understanding of the role the Lewis Center plays goes far beyond its place as an academic unit; it is a community with the potential to change, and in some cases to save, lives.”
Erin West, program manager of Creative Writing said: “Mary transforms everything she leads – from a Friday meeting to a three-day festival – into something foundational and inspirational. Her relationships with colleagues across campus – from students to community members, to University administration – are an asset not just to the LCA, but to all of Princeton University.”
“The selection for the President’s Achievement Award is one of the highlights of the year for me. This is the greatest honor we can bestow on a staff member,” said President Christopher L. Eisgruber. “Those chosen for the award are staff who always go above and beyond what is expected, exemplifying Princeton’s service to the nation and the world. I am delighted to recognize the six 2021 award winners and thank them for their truly extraordinary achievements.”
Recipients receive a framed certificate and a $2,500 award, and their names are inscribed on a plaque displayed in the Office of Human Resources. A formal ceremony is planned for May 5, 2022.