Two Employees Honored for Distinguished Service at Widener University

Dennis O’Shea of Newtown Square, Pa., grounds foreman at Widener University, and Paula Garrison of Wilmington, Del., assistant to Widener University School of Law Dean Linda L. Ammons, were awarded the William David Eckard Jr. Awards for Distinguished Service in recognition of their hard work and longtime commitment to the university.

The Eckard Award was established by William David Eckard III, longtime vice president of administration and finance at Widener University and a 1966 graduate of Pennsylvania Military College. He created the award, a $3,000 cash grant, in memory of his father to help promote and reward excellence at Widener. Recipients must work for Widener on a full-time basis for at least 10 years and consistently demonstrate an outstanding level of service.

O’Shea has served Widener for 32 years as grounds foreman in the maintenance department in which he currently supervises a crew of 16 people.

In recognizing O’Shea, Widener University President James T. Harris III noted that it is because of O’Shea’s leadership and dedication that campus grounds consistently receive high marks when rated by outside inspection teams and visitors. “Dennis and his staff are unsung heroes behind many of the major events on campus such as Commencement, Widener Days, Accepted Student Day and Homecoming,” Harris said. “His organizational skills and attention to detail help assure the success of these events.”

O’Shea, who is still surprised he received the award, is planning to give a portion of the cash award back to Widener, as well as to his church. He also plans to celebrate with his wife, Carol. 

Garrison has served Widener for nearly 30 years, starting on the Delaware Campus as secretary for the dean of what was then Brandywine College. In 1991, she began working for the dean of the School of Law and was then promoted to assistant to the dean.

In recognizing Garrison, Widener University President James T. Harris III shared comments from Ammons. “Widener University and specifically the School of Law have been extraordinarily fortunate to have Paula Garrison as an employee. She models the very best professionalism and I am grateful that she been my right hand.” Nominations from others echoed these same thoughts: “Garrison is a major player of running the School of Law.” “She is consistent, caring, and loyal.”

Garrison, who is still overjoyed from received the award, celebrated with her two children, who she doesn’t get to see very often, and is putting the money toward the last payment on her home, which is just about the awarded amount. 

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,700 students. Visit the university website, www.widener.edu.

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