Behind her desk, motivational posters cover a wall, and several capture who she is – “Sharing,” “Gratitude,” “Tenacious,” “Do or do not, there is no try,” “Never Let Inexperience Get in the Way of Ambition,” “Don’t let life happen TO you … MAKE IT HAPPEN!” and her favorite, “Love Everyone.”
“They make me smile, some more than others,” said Tami Lantz, an academic coordinator at Franklin & Marshall College whose office is on the third floor of Stager Hall.
The posters, distributed over the years by the College chaplain, speak to the attitude, work ethic and accomplishments of Lantz, who is the 2017 recipient of the Richard Kneedler Distinguished Service Award, named for former F&M President Richard Kneedler.
“She is ever efficient, competent, pleasant, smiling, warm, and humble all at the same time,” said Sean Flaherty, professor of economics and department chair. “It’s a rare combination.”
The award is bestowed each year on a professional staff member who consistently goes above and beyond what would normally be considered good performance and has earned the respect of students and colleagues.
As academic coordinator, Lantz oversees not just the departments of economics and religious studies, but also the Africana studies and Judaic studies programs. She works with 14, and at times as many as 20, faculty on myriad tasks, from handling disbursement vouchers to printing handouts or quizzes to organizing the travel and accommodations of guest lecturers.
“Tami is extraordinary in the way she accomplishes her tasks and runs our departments as ‘well-oiled machines,’” Flaherty said.
Lantz, who said the award was “a huge honor” and that she was “very humbled by the support I have of my faculty and colleagues” joined the College in 2001. She started in College Advancement before becoming an academic coordinator in 2006, a job she relishes.
“Coordinators like to say we’re firemen because we come in with an intention every morning, but it’s never really what we do,” Lantz said. “Different things come up so we change hats very, very quickly to take care of issues or problems that arise.”
On a bookshelf in her office are two of her proudest accomplishments, associate and bachelor of science diplomas from Elizabethtown College. She earned them through a program offered to F&M employees. Having only a high school diploma, Lantz was determined to get her degrees.
“I started shortly after I got here,” Lantz said. “I thought it was important especially working at a college, but it also was something I wanted to do for myself, and I wanted to do it while my kids were in school so they could see my drive and ambition with studying. I hope some of it rubbed off on them.”
Her three children all attended Shippensburg University.
Eiman Zein-Elabdin, professor of economics and chair of Africana Studies, who, like Flaherty, nominated Lantz, said Lantz is “driven by a strong sense of service and dedication.”
“She displays leadership qualities in that she takes good initiatives, she has a continuous desire to learn and takes steps to accomplish this,” Zein-Elabdin said. “She participates in a large number of campus activities, and has the ability to work well with wide and diverse groups of people.”
A few years ago, Lantz decided the College’s 18 academic coordinators needed to meet more than just once a year, which was in August before the semester began. She initiated a weekly social, where coordinators meet for an hour at 12:30 every Wednesday in the dining hall.
“We laugh a lot and have a great time,” Lantz said. “We’ve gotten to know each other better and support each other in a different way because we’ve gotten to know each other better.”
At F&M, Lantz, who spent eight years on the Budget and Priorities Committee because she liked to learn how things work at the College, said she has found a home.
"I always say I have the best job in the world,” she said. “I work with a lot of great faculty and great colleagues. I was very lucky to be hired by F&M and I haven’t looked back since.”