History of the Thomas W. Schmitt Annual Staff Prize
The idea for an annual staff prize was originally conceived and nurtured by former Associate Vice President for Human Resources Tom Schmitt, shortly after he arrived at Caltech in 1997. Tom realized that while faculty and students at the Institute frequently receive recognition, awards, and, yes, cash prizes, there was no such formal recognition of the contributions and excellence of Caltech's staff members. So, senior administrators set out to raise money for an endowment with which to fund such a prize. Fortunately, a benefactor appeared from within our own Caltech community. Ted Jenkins, an Institute graduate and trustee, has always been a strong supporter of Caltech staff. In 1966 Ted started his career at Fairchild Semiconductor Research and Development Laboratories as a process engineer, moving to Intel Corporation in 1968. There he held a variety of positions, and in 1990, was named vice president and director of corporate licensing. In 1996 he was appointed to head the government affairs committee, which coordinated Intel's public policy and advocacy across the corporation. Ted retired from Intel in 1999, but fortunately he did not retire from Caltech. President of the Alumni Association from 2001 to 2002, he also served as president of the Caltech Associates in 2004–2005.
When it comes to matters that affect Caltech's staff, Ted is a persistent trustee advocate for values and policies that create a positive work environment and that acknowledge the important role staff members play in Caltech's success. Not surprisingly, in the first discussions with the trustees regarding creation of an annual staff prize, Ted enthusiastically and without hesitation provided financial support for an endowment to fund this award in perpetuity. Caltech is indeed grateful for his generosity in making this wonderful recognition possible.
And why is it named the Thomas W. Schmitt Annual Staff Prize? It seems only fitting that the man who did so much advocating for staff during his 10 years of service should be honored by having his name on this award. It was Tom's persistence that made this prize a reality—just in time for his retirement in 2007!