Tom Mason wins Staff Merit Award

When pandemic strikes, Mason is the go-to guy for updates and maintenance of the vital “Keep Teaching” website

One of our own, principal IT training consultant Tom Mason, was one of just six recipients of this year's Staff Merit Awards presented during a virtual reception on Dec. 15.

The annual awards, which honor staff members for outstanding service to IU Bloomington, come from the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President and the Office of the Vice President for Human Resources. IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel presented the awards.

Staff Merit Awards are presented in three categories: service staff, support staff, and professional staff. Recipients are nominated by people from across campus, and the winners are chosen by a committee of staff and faculty members.

Mason is the "picture of exemplary performance," Michele Kelmer said in her nomination letter.

In addition to excelling at leading the information technology training team, she said he was instrumental in IU's preparedness and response to COVID-19 by preparing, launching, updating, and maintaining the Keep Teaching website.

Mason, a 13-year IU employee, helped launch the Keep Teaching website in fall 2019. The goal was to provide a one-stop reference in case faculty had to quickly move their courses online because of a short disruption, such as a building flooding or a tornado closing a campus, said Kelmer, manager of University Information Technology Services digital education programs and initiatives.

"He is a consummate professional, and someone you definitely want on your team when work must be done under trying and stressful circumstances," said John Gosney.

However, the pandemic showed that the Keep Teaching website would need to be a comprehensive resource for technology and pedagogy, said John Gosney, UITS director of faculty engagement and outreach for learning technologies.

Mason handled a tsunami of requests for site updates and he anticipated requests that were likely to come, Gosney said. Mason worked long hours with leadership to sort and categorize requests, said Cinda K. Haff, emergency management and continuity program director in the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology.

"I’m fortunate to work with such an outstanding team and am grateful for the opportunity to contribute in such a meaningful way to the university’s core missions of teaching and research," Mason said. "It’s an honor to receive the Staff Merit Award during 2020 because it’s been such an unprecedented year. It’s deeply satisfying to know that the work Digital Education Programs and Initiatives, the teaching centers, and all UITS learning technologies have had such a broad impact at IU and beyond."

IU faculty weren't the only ones who benefited from Mason's website updates. More than 50 other institutions that learned about Keep Teaching asked to leverage it for their own use, Haff said.

"He is a consummate professional, and someone you definitely want on your team when work must be done under trying and stressful circumstances," Gosney said.

(This article originally appeared in the December 8, 2021, edition of Inside IU Bloomington.)