Virginia Tech’s Joe Griffitts recently received the 2020 Governor’s Honor Award for Creative Customer Service in a virtual ceremony announcing the winners.

Director of Hokie Passport Services since 2010, Griffitts was recognized for his significant contributions in the areas of technological innovation, automated processes, inclusion and diversity, and COVID-19 pandemic response.

Given annually, the Creative Customer Service award recognizes a staff employee or team who has demonstrated an exceptional level of accomplishment and innovation in serving their customers.

“Joe’s leadership and innovative work have greatly improved our campus experience over the years, and strengthened our ability to serve our community during the pandemic,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “This award is well-deserved and we appreciate his dedication to the university.”

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Griffitts has overseen a host of recent innovations benefitting the student experience. With more than 8,800 active users, the Hokie Passport Services (HPS) Mobile ID app allows students to open residence hall rooms using their phone, make residential laundry payments, and more. Through the Laundry Web program, students can reserve washers and dryers and receive a text update when their cycle is complete. HPS and Dining Services recently partnered with Grubhub, allowing for mobile ordering and payment for dining center purchases. HPS installed cellular readers that allow for smartphone-based transactions at nearly 300 vending machines on the Blacksburg campus.

Griffitts contributed to the university’s implementation of Hokie Wallet, an online deposit and payment portal allowing students and families to access critical financial functions in one central place. HPS partnered with Dining Services to implement a biometrics program that helps with throughput at dining centers while allowing for contactless, hygienic, cashier-less transactions.

All Hokie Passport identification cards for students, faculty, and staff now come equipped with smartcard technology, which provides contactless functionality and enhances encryption of data. And under Griffitts’ leadership, Virginia Tech’s Electronic Door Access Program now includes more than 6,400 doors.

“Joe’s innovative, creative, and overall outstanding customer service is a remarkable example for us all. He thinks ahead, anticipates challenges, and develops innovative solutions through excellent leadership, a collaborative spirit, and an adaptable approach to problem-solving. I am proud to see Joe’s outstanding work recognized in this way because he truly practices Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) in all that he does,” said Ken Miller, vice president for finance.

In support of the university’s planning for an in-person fall 2020 semester, HPS transitioned all of its orientation activities to a virtual format. And to ensure appropriate distancing and public safety protocols were observed, HPS implemented a complete overhaul of the process for students to acquire their ID cards. Rather than coming to have a photo taken and card printed in-person at orientation, students submitted photos to HPS in the spring and summer. Griffitts and his team coordinated batch printing of the IDs and worked with Housing and Residence Life to ensure they were mailed to students during the summer before arriving on campus. During move-in week, HPS established a tented, outdoor space for students to come and have their cards swiped and validated in a safe, physically distanced manner. This “Little Tent on the Prairie” successfully validated more than 4,900 ID cards that had been mailed out.

Griffitts also serves on Virginia Tech’s COVID-19 Incident Management Team to help the university prepare for pandemic-associated challenges.

“Service-oriented, effective, and nimble are among the many positive attributes that can be used to describe Joe’s efforts and those of the Hokie Passport Services team. As we strive to achieve top-notch service delivery at Virginia Tech, Hokie Passport serves as a model for best-in-class operations. I want to congratulate Joe for this well-deserved honor and extend my sincere gratitude to the entire Hokie Passport team for your service,” said Dwayne Pinkney, senior vice president and chief business officer.

The award also recognized Griffitts for the promotion of greater inclusion, diversity, and engagement within his team and workplace. He led an effort to create the first all-gender restroom in the Student Services Building. The 2019 Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC) marked the seventh consecutive year that HPS had 100 percent of employees participate.

“I am truly humbled to receive this award and accept it on behalf of all of the Hokie Passport Services team members,” Griffitts said. “I am especially proud of the resolve and commitment our team demonstrates each day to deliver the outstanding service our Virginia Tech community deserves. We are fortunate to work with such wonderful students and colleagues across the university, who make it possible for us to do what we do best.”  

The Governor’s Honor Awards annually recognize state workforce accomplishments that significantly contributed to the advancement of the commonwealth’s strategic goals, mission, and overall administrative excellence. Award recipients receive a certificate signed by the governor, a medal commemorating their achievement, and a financial prize.

In 2020, Virginia Tech had nine employees and two teams of employees nominated for awards. Read each of their accomplishments and view the full list of 2020 Governor's Honor Awards