HOUSTON, June 14, 2012 – During her more than two decades at the University of Houston, Patricia Sayles has juggled multiple responsibilities with efficiency and always with an eye toward excellent customer service. This strong work ethic has earned her the 2012 C.F. McElhinney Distinguished Service Award. The award is the highest honor UH bestows on a staff member and includes a $3,000 stipend.
“There are so many outstanding and deserving employees at UH, it is hard to believe that I was the one selected for this award,” said Sayles, executive director of business services for the divisions of administration and finance, and student affairs.
Although Sayles was surprised to have been named this year’s McElhinney recipient, her supporters say she is deserving of the award.
“Customer service is a key principle Pat believes in,” a staff member wrote in support of Sayles. “She has also reinforced this principle to her staff, encouraging us to provide great customer service even if a task is not part of our job description. She has been my mentor throughout my almost 15 years of university service. She continually tells her staff to never stop learning and is very supportive of those who are working toward their degrees.”
A former colleague called her “a thorough and true professional in financial and staff administration, an expert in personnel issues, business planning, accounting and various other adjacent fields.”
A native of New Deal, Texas, a small town north of Lubbock, Sayles received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas Tech University, where she worked for several years. She also spent six years as an auditor for the Texas Department of Human Services before moving to Houston in search of “more challenges and opportunities.” What she found was a career at UH’s Arte Público Press in 1988.
Since then, Sayles’ career has flourished. In 2010, she was a recipient of a Staff Excellence Award. Last year, she was promoted from the director of budgets and administration at the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences to her current position, where she manages four staff members, who have a total of 50 employees reporting to them.
Sayles and her team’s specific responsibilities include maintaining budgets, paying bills and ensuring that all federal, state and university policies and procedures regarding financial and human resources are followed. She also serves as the liaison between departments in the divisions of administration and finance, and student affairs and other departments at UH.
“My biggest challenge on the job is ensuring that all policies and procedures are followed while getting the work accomplished in a timely manner,” Sayles said.
That’s no easy task for two of the largest campus divisions that employ approximately 1,200 staff members, but Sayles does it all with enthusiasm.
“Whether I am working with a vice president, a student or one of the many wonderful staff members on campus, there’s a sense of wanting to do the best job possible and represent UH in the best possible light,” Sayles said.
Although Sayles receives tremendous satisfaction from her job, she hopes to retire while she's in good health, so she can continue following her passion — working and training dogs. But, she plans to work on campus for at least a few more years.
Sayles was one of 11 employees honored last week at the Staff Excellence Awards luncheon.
STAFF EXCELLENCE AWARDS
Amanda Butcher Health and Human Performance
Mary Martinez College of Optometry
John Costales Chemical Engineering
Mike Aguilar Facilities Management
Thomas Whitley Communication Science and Disorders
Kimberly Williams English Exempt
Ann Pino Human Resources
Lisa Holdeman University Advancement
GEORGE MAGNER AWARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE ADVISING
Tiffany Woods Bauer College of Business
NEW PROFESSIONAL ADVISING AWARD
Marla Moreno-Jordan College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences