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Fortenberry receives TSUS Staff Excellence Award

BEAUMONT – Susie Fortenberry received the Texas State University System Staff Excellence Award at the TSUS quarterly meeting in late February.

Fortenberry is executive assistant to Dr. Paul J. Szuch, Lamar Institute of Technology president.

She has been an employee with the State of Texas since 1968, beginning her career at the Men’s Physical Education/Kinesiology/Athletic Department at Lamar State College of Technology, now known as Lamar University.

In 1993, she transferred to the Development Office of the Lamar University System, and then in 1994, she moved to Lamar Institute of Technology.

While working in the Athletic Department, Fortenberry not only helped with scheduling and registration of kinesiology classes, but she also supported the daily office operations for basketball, track, tennis, golf, swimming, sailing and athletic training. Upon the opening of the Montagne Center, she assisted in selling seat options for basketball games, and worked closely with vendors to schedule concerts.

When the football program was terminated in 1989, Fortenberry was given the duty of ensuring that the remaining athletes on football scholarships were registered for classes until they graduated.

In 1993, she was senior secretary for W.S. “Bud” Leonard, the vice chancellor for development in the Lamar University System. She worked with endowed scholarships and fund-raisers for the System.

In 1994 when Leonard retired, Fortenberry was given the opportunity to transfer to the newly designated Lamar Institute of Technology and establish an office for its new president, Dr. Robert Krienke.

She helped select and purchase new furniture for all the offices and classrooms for the new technical college. During the early years of LIT, she also helped the Development and LIT Foundation office establish A Salute to Real American Heroes fund-raising event, aided in the creation of a chapter of Phi Theta Kappa on campus, assisted in organizing the Student Government Association, and also an LIT Staff Senate.

In 2006, when Dr. Krienke announced his retirement, Fortenberry assisted the system office with scheduling visiting candidates for the position of LIT president.

She has been the executive assistant to Dr. Paul J. Szuch for eight years.

During her 45 years of employment with Lamar University and then LIT, Fortenberry has been active in both campus and community organizations.

She was the chairman of the decorations committee for the 100th Anniversary of Spindletop Gusher celebration, and a volunteer for the MD Anderson Relay for Life for five years. She has also served three terms as the LIT Staff Senate representative, was a committee member for various LIT alumni events, and continues to work with the Development Office on A Salute to Real American Heroes and the annual scholarship banquet.

In 1979, Fortenberry was one of five to be the first recipients of the Lamar University’s Regent’s Staff Award. She has received an LIT Staff Excellence Award four times.

In his nomination letter, Dr. Szuch wrote, “[Susie] is a great person to work with, a professional assistant in her daily actions, and willing to go the extra mile to help someone. … She embodies all the attributes and qualities one would hope to find in an assistant, fellow employee and friend.”

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