2013 Distinguished Service Award

Presented to …

Jon Olsen
Jon Olsen
The Geological Society of America


Citation by
Brendan Murphy
[ view citation & response ]

Stephen G. Pollock
Stephen G. Pollock
University of Southern Maine


Citation by
Noel Potter
[ view citation & response ]

Ginger Williams
Virginia (Ginger) Williams
The Geological Society of America


Citation by
William A. Thomas
[ view citation & response ]

top2013 Distinguished Service Award — Jon Olsen

Citation by Brendan Murphy

When I first became involved in the GSA, I was immediately struck by its unwavering commitment to the quality of geoscience publications and its global vision to deliver the very best. It didn’t take long to realize that the leadership of Jon Olsen, as Director of Publications, was primarily responsible for this positive and exhilarating culture. I know from talking to my colleagues that he maintained these impeccable standards throughout his stewardship and so GSA publications remain the envy of the geoscience world. I can think of no more deserving recipient of the GSA Distinguished Service Award than Jon Olsen.

Response by Jon Olsen

This quote from Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything” best describes my receiving GSA’s Distinguished Service Award in 2013 —

“There are three stages in scientific discovery. First, people deny that it is true, then they deny that it is important; finally they credit the wrong person.”

I would like to thank GSA publications staff and our science editors, and authors — they did ALL of the work and they deserve ALL of the credit.

Also, thank you to Todd Berggren. GSA would not have been able to install our solar panels and implement many of our conservation efforts without his help.

Finally, a special thank you to Jeanette Hammann for her support and efforts over the past 13 years.

top2013 Distinguished Service Award — Stephen G. Pollock

Citation by Noel Potter

I am pleased to present Steve Pollock to receive GSA’s 2013 Distinguished Service Award. Steve has served with grace and distinction as the Secretary-Treasurer of the NE Section of GSA for 12 years. In that position Steve has been the real leader of the section. He has overseen all section affairs, steering the sometimes-inexperienced Management Board to wise decisions. Earlier he was Vice-Chair and Chair of our Management Board, and chaired two section meetings. The Northeastern Section endowment has grown from its infancy to in excess of $225,000.
Steve has also dealt with the mundane with delight. Over the years I have marveled that he hand-delivered student travel checks and discussed their presentations with them. The Northeast Section has benefited from Steve’s service, generally setting the tone of the section. Congratulations Steve.

Response by Stephen G. Pollock

I am honored and pleased to share the 2013 Distinguished Service Award with Ginger and Jon. Both Ginger and Jon have made very significant contributions to GSA and are truly deserving of the Distinguished Service Award. Volunteering for GSA has always been rewarding, both professionally and personally. My service to GSA began in 1987 when I was appointed by the Northeastern Section Management Board to be the General Chair of the Section’s 1988 annual meeting. GSA staff welcomes and promotes service to the Society in many areas through a high level of intelligence, professional cheerfulness, patience and wisdom. Always forward thinking and acting, staff and volunteers have built and continue to build a vigorous highly relevant Society of global dimension and mission.

I have seen positive changes both at the Section level and Society as a whole. Attendances at the section meetings were in decline when I became Secretary in 2001. Today, section meeting attendances in the Northeast exceed 1100 registrants annually. Both the Northeastern Section operating account and Northeastern Section Endowment in GSAF are at all time highs. Student programs are robust and growing. Noel Potter kindly mentioned that I attended many student presentations and personally delivered student travel checks. Distributing checks was possible when there were 40 or so student presentations. Today this would not be realistic because at the 2013 Annual Meeting the Northeastern Section has awarded travel assistance to 119 students from the Northeast.

The Distinguished Service Award which is presented to me today was not earned through solo efforts. I have received much support from my wife Linda and my family. My professional service efforts are aided by numerous individuals. I benefitted from, and have been pleased to serve with a hard working, enthusiastic and passionate crowd of geoscientists. I thank everyone for their support of my stewardship over the years. It is a true pleasure to serve GSA.

top2013 Distinguished Service Award — Virginia (Ginger) Williams

Citation by William A. Thomas

It is my great pleasure to present Virginia (Ginger) Williams for the Geological Society of America Distinguished Service Award. Ginger began her appointment in the office of the Executive Director, as Executive Administrative Assistant, in July, 1999, and retired from that position in June, 2013. For fourteen years, Ginger has shown selfless dedication to the workings of GSA. Never asking, is this good enough, she has always gone the extra mile (or two) to make the best even better, and she has done that by recognizing what needed to be done and then doing it. GSA has always operated on the basis of the dedication of loyal employees, members, and friends; Ginger totally exemplifies that dedication.

My most direct observations of Ginger’s contributions to GSA came during my term as President in 2004–2006. Of course, I had the advice and example of my immediate predecessors, Clark Burchfiel and Rob Van der Voo, but it was frequently to Ginger I turned with endless questions about specifics of my responsibilities. In particular, the President’s obligations at the Annual Meeting seem at first to be rather overwhelming, but Ginger had my schedule programmed down to the minute and kept me moving from committee meeting, to presentation, to Council meeting. I never went to Boulder for a Council meeting without a list of half a dozen questions, and my first stop was in Ginger’s office, where I found a cheerful reception, understanding of my questions, and a quick and accurate response. Many times, my needs included printing documents that I would need in the Council meeting only a few minutes later. No matter the stress of time and competing demands, Ginger maintained a cheerful and positive disposition, and provided the needed answers or materials. Now, I realize that one could say this was part of her job, but these meetings were on Saturdays and Sundays, and they frequently extended after hours.

Both in the office in Boulder and in the GSA office at Annual Meetings across the country, Ginger was the face and voice of GSA. She always fielded the broad range of questions, and she did it with grace and enthusiasm. Her ability to gather diverse information, keep it sorted, and dispense it clearly has served GSA in a most distinguished way. Over the years in various administrative appointments, I have been privileged to work with a number of outstanding administrative assistants, so I do have a first-hand measure of quality in that line of work. Against that very high bar, Ginger stands out. Her total dedication to the well being of the Geological Society of America has been clear in her performance and eminently qualifies Ginger for the GSA Distinguished Service Award.

Response by Ginger Williams

I am so pleased to be awarded the GSA Distinguished Service award.
Thank you Bill Thomas and Jack Hess for this honor.
Also I would like to thank the GSA Officers, Councilors, and GSA Headquarters Staff, who made my 14 years at GSA a pleasant experience.