Area Director for Clubs and Activities Josh Merrick was not expecting to receive the Dave Hansen Senate Outstanding Service Award, which the Associated Students of Linfield College Senate awarded him at its meeting May 16.
“I was thinking they were going to vote for Susan [Hopp], so I was pleasantly surprised,” Merrick said. “It was very sweet.”
Senators bestow this honor on students, faculty and staff members who have gone “above and beyond the call of duty,” Director of College Activities Dan Fergueson said.
ASLC President junior Rachel Coffey nominated Merrick for the award.
“He reaches out to all students. Residence Life says the same thing; people from Senate say the same thing. I feel like that’s a common theme,” Coffey said.
Besides Merrick, other nominees for the award were Janet Peterson, interim director of Academic Advising, associate professor of health and human performance and exercise physiology lab supervisor; Dean of Students Susan Hopp; ASLC Vice President of Programming junior Nicole Bond; and freshman Michelle Herrera.
Fergueson said he met Merrick when Merrick, class of ’07, was a sophomore. He said that Merrick has become an exceptional student affairs professional.
“As a student [Merrick], I think we saw it in him, but I don’t think he would ever have thought he would have gone on this career path,” Fergueson said. “Josh has been a tremendous mentor not only to his RAs but to the folks he works with here.”
Merrick also goes the extra mile when dealing with students. He advises Cube Club and plays on intramural sports teams to form relationships with students, Fergueson said.
“I think [he’s] a good role model for students,” Fergueson said, explaining that Merrick immerses himself in student life outside of the confines of his job description. “You can be more than an employee somewhere; you can get involved in the community.”
Freshman James Rogers, who knows Merrick through Residence Life and Senate, said Merrick goes out of the way to talk with students.
“He’s really caring, passionate and you could be in a horrible mood, but [there’s] something about him — he makes you feel better about yourself, about the situation, about the day,” Rogers said.
Jeff Mackay, associate dean of students/director of Residence Life, said Merrick is committed to student life and growth outside the classroom.
“I think he truly understands the value of those experiential learning opportunities that students can have,” Mackay said.
But to Merrick, building bonds with students is just part of the work.
“For me, the best time about this job are those relationships I get to build with students,” Merrick said. “People in this line of work don’t do it for the money; we do it because we think we’re doing something good and we enjoy spending time with students.”
After graduating with a major in history in 2007, Merrick worked for Auxilary Services (now part of Facilities Services) for a year while his wife, Kelly Merrick (formerly Kelly Copeland), class of ’08, was a senior. He has held his job in Residence Life for the past three years.
Merrick said he met his wife during lunch in Dillin Hall during his sophomore year.
“Then we got married here this past summer in front of the president’s house, so Linfield’s kind of a special place for both of us,” he said. “It’s hard to really articulate the meaning that Linfield has had in my life, and I probably won’t really know until I’m gone.”
The award marks the end of eight years in the “Linfield laboratory,” as Merrick called it. Now, he’s brewing other career ideas — literally.
“I want to be the next in line of great Linfield brewers,” Merrick said. “What better place to do that than in Portland?”
He said his dad has been home brewing beer since Merrick was 16 years old, and his dad gave him a starter brewing kit one year for Christmas. Last January Term, Merrick even audited Associate Professor of Chemistry Brian Gilbert’s Art & Science of Brewing course.
But no matter where his career takes him, Merrick will be remembered by many at Linfield.
“I haven’t necessarily met someone so kind and outgoing on staff at Linfield,” Rogers said.
“It’s going to be different in a lot of ways. I’m going to miss seeing him,” Fergueson said.
Kelley Hungerford/For the Review
Kelley Hungerford can be reached at email@example.com.