Debbie Couch, training consultant in the Department of Human Resources, is the ODU Employee of the Month for February.

Couch, who started at ODU in 2018, is responsible for creating and implementing professional development courses and tools for University employees.

"Debbie works diligently at her job by taking the time to understand the needs and desires of employees looking to better themselves and to further their careers," said her supervisor, JaRenae Whitehead, director of Employee Relations & Strategic Initiatives. "Debbie is constantly educating herself by learning the newest technology, software, professional development curriculum, books and educational resources."

Whitehead noted that when Couch joined the HR Department, she saw ways to make the training courses and registration process easier, as well as the Leadership and Management Development Certificate Program.

"Debbie was dedicated to streamlining the process, making it simple and easily accessible," Whitehead said.

Couch established "Develop Your Dominion," a fresh look into what organizational development and training has to offer employees. It includes an online calendar that allows employees to sign up for courses by a simple, self-directed registration process and an online professional development catalog that gives course descriptions of every class.

Whitehead also praised Couch's customer service skills.

"She is one of the most professional, energetic, friendliest individuals that I know," Whitehead said. "She is passionate about being a stellar example of customer service to both internal and external customers. She is quick to respond to requests for additional information by anyone who solicits her assistance. She always greets employees and team members with a pleasant demeanor and a bright smile. Her upbeat personality keeps trainees engaged, captivated and motivated to be the best ODU employee that they can be."

Couch serves on the Quality of University Life (QUL) Committee and volunteers for all HR-sponsored events, including Monarch Mornings, benefits and wellness fairs, service awards luncheons and QUL's annual ice cream social.

"Her example is empowering and sets the bar of how to be innovative and passionate about people and their professional development needs," Whitehead said.

The University Employee of the Month Selection Committee encourages employees to nominate their outstanding "go the extra mile" colleagues and employees. This program is designed to acknowledge and reward employees whose accomplishments and demeanor exemplify excellence, quality service and commitment to ODU. Classified and AP faculty employees receive a framed certificate from the president, $175 and one day of leave. Hourly winners get $250, since they are not eligible to receive recognition leave.

The selection committee needs specific examples that relate to each applicable criterion in order to select a nominee for the award. Nominations remain active for six months from date of submission and nominators may submit additional documentation to support a nominee during the active six months.

The criteria used to nominate an employee include the following:

  • An outstanding accomplishment that benefited the department/students.
  • Extraordinary service to internal and/or external customers.
  • Inspiring initiative/leadership.
  • Enthusiasm/energy given to assigned work.
  • Teamwork.
  • Exemplary efforts to nurture a climate of care, concern and civility.
  • Creative innovations to service, process or work tools.

For more information, contact Jerry Dye at or 683-3046, or visit ODU's Employee of the Month website.

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