The Distinguished Service Awards are given each year to recognize exemplary service and outstanding contributions to the university. Letters of nomination and support are reviewed by the University Medals and Awards Committee. The award includes the Distinguished Service Award medallion and a check for $1,000.
The look and feel of EWU—the impression the university makes on prospective students, incoming faculty and staff members, and the general public—has a profound effect on the campus community and the wider region. The person behind every web click, video spot, email blast and so much more? Sam Buzby.
Buzby’s talents were never more critical to the university than when the pandemic took hold and EWU had to quickly build a COVID-19 resource page. He worked tirelessly for weeks on end to provide daily updates and ensure the campus had the latest information at its fingertips. He did the same when it was time to produce the Fall Guide, now known as the Guide to 2020.
“Sam lives and breathes Eastern Washington University,” says Lance Kissler, the associate vice president for University Relations. “Not only as a stellar employee, but also a proud alumnus and supporter.”
For more than 15 years, first as a student employee and now as the director of marketing, Buzby has been dedicated to advancing the Eastern brand. He’s worked as a graphic designer and a web designer, redesigned EWU’s websites multiple times, developed email campaigns to improve campus communications, and established Eastern’s first social media accounts. His forward-thinking innovations ensure that people see EWU as a driving force in the region.
Buzby also makes the Eastern community stronger by personifying the Eagle characteristics of grit, grace, gratitude and greatness—often while doing multiple jobs at once.
“I have seen him power through one problem after another,” says Meg Lybbert, a digital content strategist and EWU lecturer. “At times, when others would have thrown in the towel altogether, Sam has used the towel to sop up messes and plug holes until a permanent solution could be found.”
The employees on Buzby’s team say he unfailingly inspires and motivates them. He is always the first to celebrate their successes and milestones, they add, while working hard to ensure that his team and other campus departments focus on what matters most—supporting EWU students.
“He impressed upon me from the start that our mission as staff is to help students achieve their educational goals and build a foundation for lifelong success,” says Will Hall, a senior web developer. “I distinctly remember him saying, ‘It’s all for the students,’ several times in my first days on the job.”
The melodies coming from the EWU Music Building might not be as sweet if it weren’t for the support, dedication and care that Colleen Hegney brings to work every day.
Hegney is the beloved and longtime secretary for Eastern’s Music Department, most recently transitioning into a new position as secretary for Fine and Performing Arts. She’s been with the university for more than 40 years—starting in 1979. During that time, she’s had a positive impact on hundreds of faculty members and thousands of students.
“She never refuses anyone who asks for help. If a student comes in with a problem or seeming upset, she stops and listens and offers what she can to help them,” says Jody Graves, a professor of music and piano studies. “I can attest that her impact on students and faculty has resulted in lifelong relationships with former faculty, alumni and donors.”
Patrick Winters, a retired EWU professor and former music department chair, adds that Hegney has counseled countless students and faculty as they’ve navigated the complexities of university life. “She has been the ‘rock’ that so many have relied on for her dedication, compassion, guidance and friendship,” Winters says.
Hegney’s dedication extends far beyond nine-to-five business hours. She has attended nearly all of the department’s ensemble concerts, gala events, student degree recitals, and faculty recitals throughout her long tenure. Her planning helps ensure that performances run smoothly, and she consistently volunteers to help with concert receptions, move instruments and equipment, and clean-up afterward. Her support at every level means the world to students.
“There have been numerous occasions where she has reached out in the most loving and caring way to students individually when they are having difficulties in their personal life,” says Christian Skok, a junior at EWU. “Her dedication to the music department has been an absolute blessing, and we would not be where we are today without this invaluable member of our music department family.”