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myHR: August 8, 2018

Deidre Wood's Commitment and Compassion Earns Pillar of Excellence Award

Deidre Wood, housekeeper, Pillars of Excellence honoree

Deidre Wood is one of more than 500 housekeepers working in Facilities & Real Estate Services. She’s part of the team responsible for maintaining cleanliness in the college houses and other campus buildings. It’s an arduous task, but if any one of her coworkers needs assistance, Wood never hesitates to jump into action.

“She is someone who comes in every single day with a positive attitude and a willingness to do not only what she needs to do on a daily basis for her job assignment but whatever comes across her way,” said Wendy Sparks, Director of Housekeeping. “If she sees a coworker who needs some help getting something done, she will help that person. She’ll pitch in even after all of her assigned work is done.”

Wood began working at Penn in 1997. She started her career at the Dental School, but after one year moved to the School of Veterinary Medicine where she stayed for nearly 15 years. Wood believes her coworkers at the Vet School are the main reason she has stayed at Penn for so long.

“I really loved it. From the building manager to the housekeepers, we were all like a family there,” says Wood. “The young ladies were like sisters and the young men were like brothers. We hung out. We met each other’s parents. I felt appreciated, that’s what made me stay,” Wood says.

For most of Wood’s career, she has cleaned and maintained labs and office spaces. Today, she works mainly in residences such as the New College House. Wood recognizes the challenges that come with the transition from labs and office spaces to student housing.

“It’s a little harder because the cleaning is more intense since there are people actually living in the spaces we clean. It’s much harder keeping up with all of the people moving in, especially during the end of the summer when we have to prepare for all of the students to come back.”

Nevertheless, she brings the same positive attitude every day because she knows there is work to be done.

“My supervisor calls on me a lot, but I just try to be dependable for her,” Wood says. “These students deserve to have someone doing what needs to be done to make sure they move into a very nice looking apartment.”

Despite her demanding work, Wood still finds time to pursue personal goals. She recently completed the Pipeline for Promise program, a Penn School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) initiative that offers Community College of Philadelphia students a free summer course at SP2.

Wood’s commitment to helping those in need continues to run deep. As she was leaving work one day in April of 2017, Wood noticed an elderly woman, Joan Shea, who appeared to be lost and confused searching for her car. Shea had been wandering around for two hours. Wood was concerned about Shea so she approached her, talked with her, called Shea’s son to let him know what was going on and stayed with her for 45 minutes until he arrived to pick her up.

Shea’s son, Joe Shea, expressed gratitude to Wood for her selfless act of kindness in a note.

“I felt like there was an angel there for us. Please thank her for both of us,” he wrote.

The Sheas were so grateful, they came to support Wood during the Models of Excellence award ceremony this spring.

“Knowing that [Joan Shea] was safe and able to attend the event made me feel good and proud about what I had done,” says Wood of the surprise appearance. “It was really sweet.”

Wood’s hard work, commitment to being a team player, and compassion for her counterparts and Penn’s neighbors earned her a 2018 Pillar of Excellence Award for outstanding weekly-paid staff achievement. Wood said that this Models of Excellence honor is the first and only award she has ever received, and she is proud to be among the program honorees.

“The Models of Excellence is an amazing part of Penn because everyone from a young lady working in robotics to a housekeeper are important and they are recognized,” Wood said.

Sparks agrees adding, “I think the way we’re going to continue to showcase Penn as an exemplary employer in Philadelphia and throughout the country is by showcasing the great talent that works here.”

Nominations for Models of Excellence will be accepted beginning September 4, 2018. Visit for details.

One Call. One Team. One Penn.

Hands on phone texting in front of a computer monitor

The Penn Employee Solution Center will answer your human resources and payroll questions and more. Knowledgeable Solution Center specialists are available Monday through Wednesday, and Friday, 9am - 5pm; and Thursday, 9am – 4:30pm Eastern Time. Simply call 215-898-7372 or send an email to

Since launching in early 2018 and completing its roll out to all schools and centers, the Solution Center has solved thousands of inquiries – answering frequently asked questions, addressing complicated issues, and navigating Penn’s extensive resources on behalf of faculty and staff.

Solution Center specialists assist the Penn community with answers in a variety of areas ranging from tuition benefits, job applications, benefits, time reporting, and leave administration-- including paid time off, family and medical leave, and disability.

The Solution Center is part of Penn’s Human Capital Management Transformation Initiative to improve our people-centered services and provide consistent, up-to-date responses to the Penn community’s questions.

Retirement Information Sessions Make Planning Easier

Elderly couple walking along hill together

Are you approaching retirement? If so, prepare yourself with the right information about medical benefits and income in retirement by attending Penn’s semi-annual Thinking About Retirement presentations.

The presentations will be held on September 20, starting at 9am at the Inn at Penn. Specially designed for Penn staff and faculty, Thinking About Retirement presents three different concurrent workshops, each covering an important aspect of retirement benefits: Penn Benefits and Medicare, Income Options with TIAA, and Social Security.

At the Penn Benefits and Medicare session, representatives from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, along with Benefits specialists from Human Resources, will explain the Rule of 75*, retirement healthcare options, and how they integrate with Medicare.

At Income Options with TIAA, a retirement plan counselor will discuss such topics as budgeting in retirement, income options, and investments.

During the Social Security session, a representative from the Social Security Administration will share valuable details about how this program impacts your retirement plans. You will also get an overview of Social Security benefits, eligibility rules, how to apply, benefits for your spouse or same-sex domestic partner, and more.

Benefits specialists from Penn Human Resources will be available throughout the event to answer your questions about retirement savings, health care, and other aspects of retiree benefits for you and your dependents.

To register for the presentations just click on the session times in the table below or visit

Thinking About Retirement September 20 Sessions




Benefits and Medicare


Woodlands Ballroom A

Income Options with TIAA


Woodlands Ballroom C

Social Security


Woodlands Ballroom B

Healthy Meals: Alabama Fancy Fish Tacos

Alabama fancy fish taco paired with quinoaPaired with freshly boiled quinoa, these fish tacos are a healthy and delicious approach to staying full and energized throughout the day!

Find the recipe here.

Click here to send us your healthy recipes and tips.


Did You Know? Human Resource Videos and Online Trainings

Penn Human Resources offers online videos and training modules covering everything from building a career plan to understanding Penn’s tuition benefits programs. New trainings are posted periodically. Visit to view these informative resources.