UVA Today is highlighting the winners of the 2011 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Award winners. Today: Sheila Hileman of U.Va.-Wise. To see all of the stories, click here.
May 31, 2011 — Red T-shirts, key chains, sweatshirts and books are among the fixtures students expect to see when they enter the U.Va.-Wise Bookstore. Sheila Hileman, the recipient of the 2011 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Award, has also become a fixture there during her decade of service.
Hileman, the bookstore's assistant director, has developed a solid relationship with the students, faculty and staff since she began work in 2001. Faculty need only inform her of the textbooks and number of copies they will need each semester, and they know the items will be on the shelves when needed.
Students return to see Hileman like they might re-open a well-loved book. They share a quick laugh with her as she calls many of them by name when they drop in to purchase a book or a snack or a new set of headphones for their iPods.
"Sheila is always a mentor, friend and confidante to our students," said Jean Good, mail services manager at U.Va.-Wise. Not only does she build relationships with her student staff, she also extends her friendship to others within the student body. "She encourages our students to excel in their academic ventures, as well as in their personal and professional lives."
The students make the hard work worth it, Hileman said.
"My favorite part is interacting with the students," she said. "It's all about the students. We really get to know them well during their four years here."
Hileman was one of the first host parents for student-athletes at U.Va.-Wise. They act like surrogate parents for athletes far from home, attending games, offering moral support and sometimes inviting the athlete to dinner or another family event.
Although some of her "sons" and "daughters" have graduated, many keep in contact with her and drop by for a visit when they return to campus. "They are my kids and they will always be my kids," she said.
Hileman understands the value of good customer service. She asked the Information Technology team to install a computer in the bookstore to allow students quick access to their new schedules and to the list of textbooks and supplies they will need for their classes. She also takes textbooks and other items to the college's Abingdon campus to make things convenient for the students.
Changing technology and new retail methods keep things lively for the bookstore staff, Hileman said. She is implementing a new textbook rental program that begins in August to give students more options when it comes to acquiring books.