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Patricia Harris, Jia Heiny honored with School of Education Staff Excellence Awards

Portaits of Patricia Harris and Jia Heiny

Patricia “Trish” Harris, left, and Jia Heiny are winners of the 2021 School of Education Staff Excellence Awards, announced Sept. 1 at the School’s Celebration of Scholarly Excellence event at the Carolina Club.

Two staff members, Patricia “Trish” Harris and Jia Heiny, were honored at the School of Education’s Celebration of Scholarly Excellence event on Sept. 1 as the 2021 recipients of the School’s Staff Excellence Awards.

The Staff Excellence Awards, now in their second year, showcase excellence in service conducted by members of the School’s staff. Nominations were made by faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

“Through their efforts, Trish and Jia each contribute to building a community that is supportive of students while also helping faculty and other staff members in their work in building and sustaining strong academic programs,” said Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, dean of the School of Education. “We are fortunate to have them on the School’s team.”

Patricia “Trish” Harris is the School of Education’s director of recruitment, leading efforts to build student enrollment and increase student diversity in the School’s academic programs. She joined the School of Education in 2017 bringing more than a decade of experience working in admissions counseling and recruitment.

Harris is a national board member with the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources, serving as senior vice president of the organization’s Collegiate Network.
She also is active with the Carolina Black Caucus, having served as the vice-chair.

Harris earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Savannah State University, obtained a master’s degree in counseling from Argosy University and is pursuing a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Georgia. She has completed the Women in Education program at Harvard University.

In 2019, the Carolina Center for Public Service honored her with its Robert E. Bryan Service Award. She also has been chosen to be the recipient of the Employee Forum’s 2021 Rebecca Clark Staff Award for Moral Courage to be presented at the University Day ceremony on Oct. 12.

Harris was praised by nominators. One of them said: “Trish is amazing! She is responsive, thoughtful, and committed to propelling our School of Education by helping to recruit high-caliber students. Moreover, Trish is a caring colleague, who is always willing to listen, understand, and advise the best course of action after understanding a given situation.”

Jia Heiny serves as one of the School of Education’s program administrative support specialists, supporting the School’s teacher-preparation programs, among them the Master of Arts in Teaching program and UNC-BEST.

Heiny received a B.A. in marketing from Zhejiang University of Science and Technology in Hangzhou, China. She also has lived in the Chinese cities of Qingdao and Shanghai, and in San Francisco and Oakland in California. She has worked in education for more than a decade, both in China and in the United States.

She joined the School of Education in 2015, beginning at the Carolina Center of Educational Excellence.

Heiny was praised by several nominators for her responsiveness and her work to organize complex tasks involved in managing a growing academic program.

One of Heiny’s nominators said: “Jia’s professionalism and efficiency is truly exceptional. Her recent task efforts to schedule and administer online interviews with over 100 MAT applicants is a prime example of how she problem solves with innovation. The MAT program typically conducts in-person interviews. This year, she not only orchestrated running these online, she did so with almost double the number of our typical applications.”

Another said: “Jia is continuously proactive in not only thinking ahead but documenting our work and creating systems as she goes along in order to make things run more smoothly.”

Shauna Harris, assistant dean for student affairs and supervisor for Trish Harris and Heiny, praised both.

“The students, faculty, and staff of the School of Education benefit every day from having these two professionals contribute to our work,” she said. “I see how their efforts make this a better place, and we are all deeply appreciative of them.”

The committee that reviewed the nominations and proposed the honorees was comprised of School of Education staff members Lisa Johnson (chair), Alan Brown, Morgan Ellis, Audrey Fulton, Gail Kinley, Yan Li, and Tammy Siler.

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By Michael Hobbs