For his exceptional collaborative skills and his commitment to fostering a culture of daring, leadership, and inclusivity, Jamie Phillips, the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of ECE and Associate Chair of Undergraduate ECE Affairs, has been awarded the 2019 College of Engineering’s Staff-Faculty Partnership Award. The award honors faculty who’ve been exceptionally supportive and helpful to staff.
“I’ve worked with hundreds of faculty over my 30-year career at the university, and many of those faculty are outstanding, but Jamie truly outshines them all in every aspect,” said Lisa Armstrong, the ECE Department Administrator.
“Jamie consistently treats staff and all members of ECE with respect and is by far the kindest and most accommodating faculty member with whom I’ve ever had the pleasure of working,” said Ann Stals, the ECE Alumni Engagement and Events Manager, who’s worked with Prof. Phillips on several projects.
Prof. Phillips has held several key leadership roles in which he works closely with staff. In addition to serving as the Associate Chair for Undergraduate ECE Affairs, he is also Chair of the ECE Undergraduate Recruiting and Activities Committee, Chair of the ECE Undergraduate Academics Committee, and Coordinator for the ECE Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology (ABET). His support of undergraduate programs and services is particularly impressive.
When ECE staff approached Prof. Phillips about hosting an open house designed to showcase the department to undeclared engineering students, he eagerly helped plan it. He also agreed to give the keynote speech to generate excitement among students, and he drew on his own experiences as a U-M EECS alum.
“I watched him speak with a sparkle in his eye as he reflected on his own undergraduate career at the University and excitement for ECE,” said Catherine Lawrence, the ECE Undergraduate Advising Coordinator who’s worked extensively with Prof. Phillips over the years. “He believes in our department, and he believes our students have opportunities to achieve whatever they dream.”
As faculty lead for the ECE Electrify Tech Camps, Prof. Phillips has worked with ECE staff to build the program. From its inception, he sought staff input and explained technical content to better help them carry out important tasks like ordering components and supplies. He fosters a collaborative environment, and his enthusiasm is consistently reflected in camper surveys. This in turn helps staff to further promote the popular camps.
“The success of the Electrify Tech Camps is in large part due to Prof. Phillips and his collaboration with staff,” said Hannah Masten, an ECE PhD candidate who helped plan and run the camps. “He is respectful, understanding, encouraging, and always shows a positive attitude.”
Prof. Phillips is always encouraging and supportive of staff who take on leadership roles. He also values staff as important collaborators. Prof. Phillips co-authored a research paper with a staff member, which is rather uncommon, and the paper was published in a peer-reviewed journal and won a best paper award.
“Jamie has gone beyond what is typically required by faculty to include staff and recognize their contributions on matters related to the department,” said Khalil Najafi, the Schlumberger Professor of Engineering, the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of EECS, and the former Chair of ECE. “He is a model for how to truly partner with staff.”
I’ve worked with hundreds of faculty over my 30-year career at the university. . . but Jamie truly outshines them all.Lisa Armstrong, ECE Department Administrator
In addition to Prof. Phillips’ spirit of partnership and collaboration, as well as his respectful and inclusive approach, he is known for being a cheerful, kind, reliable, and considerate coworker.
“One of the best things about Jamie is that he is a genuinely good person,” Armstrong said. “When you run into him outside of work, like at a Burn’s Park or Ann Arbor Youth Chorale event, he always treats you with respect as a colleague and genuinely invites you into his conversation.”
At the award ceremony, Prof. Phillips spoke of his gratitude and appreciation for all staff, and spoke about the importance of these relationships for cultivating a positive environment.
“If you look at any organization, our most valuable asset is our people,” he said. “Staff are really the unsung heroes, and I want to thank all of you here for making us the great institution that we are.”