College archivist Jean Paule and former vice president for admission and financial aid Bill Tingley were honored for extraordinary service to Occidental College Monday as the first recipients of the Presidential Medal for Distinguished Service.
The medals were bestowed in an outdoor ceremony on the south side of the Arthur G. Coons Administrative Center Plaza, where Paule and Tingley's names were unveiled as the first entries on a dramatic metal frieze created by local artist Heather McLarty.
"Jean Paule has taken care of our past, and Bill Tingley has taken care of our future," Occidental President Jonathan Veitch said. "Between the two of them, we have been in very good hands. We wanted to begin with Bill and Jean so there would be no doubt about the sterling quality of the candidates."
Paule's career at Occidental began in 1950 when she was hired by then-President Arthur Coons '20 to be his executive secretary. Except for a decade spent working in the travel industry, she has been at the College ever since, serving Coons and his successor, Richard Gilman, for 36 years. Since 1996, she has worked as the College's volunteer archivist.
"As a result, one of the most common sayings on campus is, ‘Ask Jean. She'll know,'" Veitch said. "Jean is truly an Occidental institution, whose record of service is unmatched, and whose work ethic, integrity, and professional skills continue to benefit the College today."
"You should be very proud of what you're all doing today, carrying on such a proud tradition in higher education," said Paule. "I feel so privileged to have spent so much of my life at a place like Occidental."
Tingley, who retired in January 2010 after serving 12 years as vice president for admission and financial aid, left "at the top of his game," Veitch said. "Bill left behind a remarkable record: a 222 percent increase in applications, a dramatic increase in the quality of admitted students, and an unwavering commitment to diversity. Equally important, he left behind a superb staff. Bill planned for the future."
"I was truly surprised and honored" to be honored in this way, said Tingley. "I feel extremely privileged to share the same platform as Jean Paule."
The Presidential Medal was created to recognize administrators and staff, "the unsung heroes," who have had an extraordinary impact on the College. "Because the bar is high, the medal will be presented only when appropriate candidates are identified," Veitch said.
Seeking a form of recognition that was as distinctive as the medal recipients' service, Occidental commissioned McLarty, a Highland Park-based blacksmith, to create the steel frieze on which the names of the awardees will be placed. "We want to bring interesting pieces of art to Occidental, and present and display them all over campus," said Veitch. "In this piece by Heather, I think we have a beautiful example of that."