Distinguished Staff Award
Laura L. Harrington

Laura L. Harrington

Air Force ROTC Program Coordinator, Department of Aerospace Studies, Air Force ROTC

Nominated by Jon-Paul Mickle, Professor of Aerospace Studies, Department of Aerospace Studies

Awarded 2019

Dear Awards Committee,

It is an honor for the Department of Aerospace Studies to nominate Ms. Laura Harrington for the University of Washington Distinguished Staff Award. Ms. Harrington is the University Program Coordinator for the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) here at UW. Her twelve years of history in the program have been the rock that has stabilized the 28 Professors, Assistant Professors and eight staff members serving the University during her tenure. That experience has shown in her national impact to the undergraduate training of Officer Candidates.

Ms. Harrington was selected as the Air Force University Program Coordinator of the Quarter twice this year, holding the distinct honor for the last six months. This is a national level of competition seeking out staff excellence amongst 145 Public and Land Grant Universities. Her combined achievements were a significant contributing factor to the University of Washington receiving the 2018 Air Force ROTC Large Detachment/Department of the Year Award—simply put, we are the best in the nation because of Ms. Harrington.

She volunteered to be on a nation-wide Tiger Team that conducted detailed process analysis and improvements for 147 Universities ROTC supply and inventory programs. She directly contributed to finding new efficiencies for an antiquated $10M logistics program.

Ms. Harrington is a vital connection to our University of Washington Alumni. She has carefully cultivated relationships that have in-turn grown $10K in direct annual scholarships to our students.

She volunteered to represent the Department at a national Academic Survival Success Conference. Upon completion she authored brand new course ware for our students and developed an Academic Success Academy for new students and Freshmen that orients them to the myriad of tools available on campus to ensure the path to graduation.

Reaching beyond our student population, she also volunteers during our New Student Orientation Program to coach and counsel the families of our students on campus life, activities, registration, and finances. She facilitates a panel discussion that includes third and fourth year students, senior faculty and staff for the benefit of the Moms, Dads and extended family/friend network of our students.

Ms. Harrington created a UW AFROTC Parents Guide in order to provide a concise overview of the four year program from the perspective of a Parent and aids in recruiting family involvement in the lives of our students and maintains interest in the University programs.

In her role as the University Program Coordinator she directly oversees our efforts in securing scholarships for our students and consistently delivers an average of 100 percent of Seniors, 88 percent of Juniors and 80 percent of sophomores on full tuition, fees and book scholarships, totaling over $1.3M per academic year.

Ms. Harrington pioneered the first religious exception to policy for Air Force Officer accessions in the country. She aggressively lobbied on the behalf of an Islamic Freshmen student for the right to wear a hijab while in Air Force uniform. Working with the faculty and staff at University of Washington and the Headquarters Air Force Reserve Officer Training Command, the student was granted a waiver to Air Force policy to wear her hijab. This ground-breaking case was then benchmarked by other universities to secure waivers for other religious minorities—increasing the diversity of our uniformed military service and strengthening the capability of our national security efforts through inclusion. What started with her, “just trying to do the right thing,” led to a change in our national recruitment and our outlook on diversity.

Again—it is our extreme honor to take whatever opportunity we can to recognize the incredible, unmistakable and irreplaceable impact Laura has on our students, faculty, staff and families. She is already the “Best in the Nation,” now we just seek to acknowledge her amongst her UW peers.

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