Sandra Ward of Christiansburg, Va., office manager at Cook Counseling Center at Virginia Tech, recently received the university's 2008 President's Award for Excellence.

The President’s Award for Excellence is presented annually to up to five Virginia Tech staff employees who have made extraordinary contributions by consistent excellence in the performance of their job or a single incident, contribution, or heroic act. Each recipient is awarded a $2,000 cash prize.

Ward has been a member of the Virginia Tech community for more than 20 years, the last 13 at Cook Counseling Center. In 2006, she was promoted to her current position as office manager.

In the aftermath of the April 16 tragedy, the Cook Counseling Center was called upon to support the university community. In the immediate aftermath, the center extended its work day from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and was open on weekends until spring commencement. Ward coordinated this response in effectively scheduling staff to meet the needs of the community.

As the university prepared for classes to resume, Ward coordinated the presence of 300 volunteer counselors on campus, their assignments to classes, and the logistics necessary to feed and equip them for their work. At commencement, she again coordinated the presence of more than 50 volunteer counselors who attended every convocation ceremony.

“Throughout all this, Sandra was absolutely a rock,” said Christopher Flynn, director of the Cook Counseling Center. “She was the first to arrive and the last to leave the office every day. She brought in her family members to help bring food and supplies to the center and the staff. Her effort was just an incredible display of work and commitment to her job.”