Melissa Williams, business manager for the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering, has received the 2014 McComas Staff Leadership Award.

Williams was selected for outstanding contributions to the department in terms of leadership provided to staff, students, and faculty.

Williams received the award from President Charles W. Steger at the annual James D. McComas Staff Leadership Seminar on May 5. She will receive a $500 monetary award as well.

The Pulaski County native came to Virginia Tech in 2004 as a program support technician in the Vibration and Acoustics Laboratories in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

She was very quickly recognized by others for her leadership abilities and moved into a fiscal coordinator position in 2006. She began in her current position as the department’s business manager in 2011.

In this role, she leads a staff of 13. Her focus includes staffing and supervising all administrative staff, training new staff, ensuring effective operations, and managing the fiscal responsibilities of departmental funds.  

She also handles research project financial matters, advises faculty on their grant finances, protects the department from research grant overcharges, distributes returned overhead charges, and performs numerous other high-level fiscal functions. The department has tripled its research dollars and seen the arrival of 15 new faculty since she first joined the department.

“Melissa is invaluable. I can reliably turn over leadership to her and know she will run the operation smoothly and keep the staff professionally engaged,” said Robert Parker, the head of the department and the L.S. Randolph Professor in Mechanical Engineering.

 Williams is known by the department leadership and her colleagues as a leader who honors the staff and all they are able to accomplish.

“I am stunned by the consistently complimentary words faculty use for Melissa," said Srinath Ekkad, Rolls Royce Commonwealth Professor for Aerospace Propulsion Systems. “Melissa has excellent rapport with the faculty and is always on top of the issues we face.” 

“Melissa is one of the most dedicated, hardworking, and positive people I have had the opportunity to work with," said Michael Roan, associate department head for graduate studies, mechanical engineering. "Her pursuit of leadership training has had an immense impact on staff retention, promotion, and working climate.” 

She’s also well known for her “people first” approach and her ability to manage her job and a busy personal life. The mother of two adult children, and a grandmother to three, Williams is completing a bachelor’s degree in Management in Leadership at Bluefield College.

This is the second time Williams has won this award. She first received it in 2008.

The McComas Staff Leadership Award is co-sponsored by the Department of Human Resources and the Commission for Staff Policies and Affairs.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.