Congratulations to James Hawthorne, assistant director in facilities management, who has received the Employee of the Quarter award as part of KU Medical Center's C.A.R.E. employee recognition program. Ask any colleague and he or she will tell you that James is a dedicated, positive employee with a strong commitment to customer service.
"I can't think of another person on this campus who excels at customer service more than James," said Ryan Lickteig, director of the environment, health and safety office, and James' nominator. "He constantly goes above and beyond to ensure employees are taken care of, with no expectation of any reward. He has a great attitude and always has a smile, no matter how difficult a situation is. James is one of the reasons KU Medical Center is a great place to work."
You could say this commitment to KU Medical Center runs in the family. Before James started in 1985, another Hawthorne made a name for himself in facilities. James followed in his father's footsteps, James Hawthorne, Sr., who retired from KU Medical Center after 25 years of service.
"My father taught me the importance of having a strong work ethic," James said. "I got to work with my dad and witness his dedication to this institution. It was a really cool experience working with him."
With 29 years of service under his belt, James has been a staple in the facilities department. As the assistant director for business operations and process improvement, James supervises 13 staff members and oversees business operations, such as financial, contract, and IT and system management, and materials and service procurement, and manages the internal warehouse and university receiving dock. And he does all this with such a positive attitude that positivity is synonymous with his name.
"The best word to describe James is optimistic," said Angella Grizzle, business analyst in facilities management. "In fact, people in the department always say he is eternally optimistic. His attitude is the single most impactful thing. You never hear him say problem – rather it's a challenge and he always asks 'what good is happening today?' Having James in our office makes it easy to come to work."
"James is the person everyone likes," said Ronn Fowler, associate vice chancellor for facilities management. "He is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. His duties show no bounds. For example, he is the first one on the scene when a pipe breaks, helping to salvage any equipment and documents. His campus knowledge is irreplaceable and we are proud to have him in our facilities department."
When asked how he maintains his attitude, he admits that it's not always easy to be positive. But it is a choice.
"It takes far less energy to be positive than negative," James said. "Coming to work here makes it easy to be positive because I believe in the institution and the work that we do here. The best thing about working at KU Medical Center is the people. I get to work with amazing people and leadership. "
James was humbled and honored by receiving the Employee of the Quarter recognition because he prefers to give than receive.
"It brings me joy to serve people," he said. "I want to try to make a difference and to make things better. Although I wasn't seeking to receive recognition, I am very appreciative of this honor and would like to thank my nominator(s)."
Fun facts about James
If a movie was made about James' life, he would select Brendan Fraser to play his character because they have similar personalities with an easy-going approach to life and challenges.
If James struck it rich with the lottery, he would probably keep working in some capacity. But he would buy an RV and travel the countryside to attend every NASCAR race.
As a passionate racing fan, James goes to a NASCAR race every couple years, but he watches the races religiously on TV. When he's not at work, James also likes to tackle home projects, honey-do lists and yard work, and he enjoys spending time with his wife, JoAnn, son, J.T., and daughters, Kirsten and Amanda.
C.A.R.E. recognition program
Be sure to nominate a colleague for the next Employee of the Quarter (July-September). The deadline to submit a nomination is Sept. 15.