Published on 04/14/23

Fields, Williams named UGA-Griffin Classified Employees of the Year

By Ashley N Biles
Jeffrey Dean (center), Assistant Provost and Campus Director for UGA Griffin with the 2023 Classified Employee Award recipients, Ben Fields (left) of Field Research Services and Seth Williams (right) of Facilities Management Division.
Jeffrey Dean (center), assistant provost and campus director for UGA-Griffin, with the 2023 Classified Employee Award recipients, Ben Fields (left) of Field Research Services and Seth Williams of Facilities Management.

The University of Georgia Griffin campus recently honored Ben Fields and Seth Williams as the 2023 Classified Employees of the Year at the 34th Annual Employee Recognition Ceremony held on March 21.

The award is presented to classified personnel who have made the most significant impact on UGA-Griffin programs through their superior job knowledge and performance, work attitude, initiative, dependability and time management. Nominees for the award are selected by their operating unit and must have been employed full-time on campus for three consecutive years. The award recipients are determined by a committee of their peers.

This year, seven UGA-Griffin employees were nominated for the award: Brett Byous, Department of Entomology; Ben Fields, Field Research Services; Bobby Goss, Department of Food Science and Technology, Angie Lewis, Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit; Somer Rowe, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences; Brian Vermeer, Department of Plant Pathology; and Seth Williams, Facilities Management Division. 

Honorees Fields and Williams are valued by their departments and the campus overall.

Ben Fields

Ben Fields is a senior agricultural specialist in Field Research Services who has been with UGA-Griffin for eight years. In his position, Fields oversees all aspects of grounds maintenance for the campus and the Research and Education Garden. He manages and works alongside the grounds crew to design and install landscapes, hardscapes and irrigation systems, and maintains irrigation pumps and well stations throughout campus. He is also responsible for scheduling research needs as well as community outreach programs and events at the garden.

Described as service-oriented with great interpersonal skills, “Ben is an excellent communicator, teaching those who work under him how to do a job and then helping to do the job if needed. He is a manager who will get down in the dirt and mud and work as part of the team. He has a great work ethic and cares passionately about our campus,” said Carol Robacker, an associate professor in the Department of Horticulture.

Seth Williams

Seth Williams has worked at UGA-Griffin for more than 12 years, currently serving as the HVAC/refrigeration mechanic for the Facilities Maintenance Division. In his position, Williams works behind the scenes to repair and perform routine preventative maintenance on walk-in refrigeration units, growth chambers, boilers, pumps, motors, valves, ice machines, greenhouses and many other types of air conditioning and heating equipment.

Characterized as the quiet, hard-working guy in the background who keeps facilities comfortable and is always willing to lend a hand to others, Williams was praised for his exemplary work ethic by Superintendent of Plant Operations and Engineering Dale Hess. “With Seth’s hard work and dedication, the Griffin campus is a much more pleasant place to work,” said Hess, noting Williams’ commitment to growing in his trade.

The nominees the 2023 UGA Griffin Classified Employee Award nominees l-r: Ben Fields (Field Research Services), Brett Byous (Entomology), Brian Vermeer (Plant Pathology), Angie Lewis (PGRCU), Somer Rowe (Crop and Soil Sciences), Bobby Goss (Food Science and Technology) and Seth Williams (Facilities Management Division).
The nominees for the 2023 UGA-Griffin Classified Employee Award include, from left, Ben Fields, Brett Byous, Brian Vermeer, Angie Lewis, Somer Rowe, Bobby Goss and Seth Williams.

Jeffrey Dean, assistant provost and campus director for UGA-Griffin, congratulated all the honorees on their nominations and noted the importance of hosting the annual awards.

“We are lucky to have many hard-working and dedicated employees who support the UGA Griffin campus operations in many different capacities, so it is important that we recognize and celebrate the exceptional contributions of this particular group, which has set a new standard for performance in the future,” said Dean, who thanked the entire staff for their service to UGA-Griffin. 

Each year the event features a program highlight, which showcases a different area of research or extension on campus. This year, Melissa Todd, assistant director of Academic and Student Affairs, spoke to the crowd about academic programs, outlining the programs and degrees currently offered at UGA-Griffin.

Faculty and staff who have served the campus for 10, 15, 20, 35 and 40 years were also recognized with Meritorious Service Awards at the ceremony.

The following people were recognized for their years of service:

10 years

Sheri Dorn (Department of Horticulture); Jami Sealy (Southern SARE); Brian Vermeer (Department of Plant Pathology).

15 years

Richie Braman (Center for Urban Agriculture); John Gassett (Field Research Services); Jack Huang (Department of Crop and Soil Sciences); Gary Ware (Department of Crop and Soil Sciences).

20 years

Lisa Ames (Department of Entomology); Jennifer Evans (Department of Crop and Soil Sciences); Clint Waltz (Department of Crop and Soil Sciences).

35 years

Wojciech Florkowski (Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics).

 40 years

Faye Chatman (Franklin College of Arts and Sciences); Jeff Jordan (Southern SARE). 

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Ashley Biles is an administrative associate at the UGA Griffin campus.