Nina Johnson Named Recipient of the 2009 Amy Lenk Staff Excellence Award

Columbia, Mo. (May 7, 2009) — Nina Johnson, the staff librarian for the Columbia Missourian, was named the 2009 recipient of the Amy Lenk Staff Excellence Award during the recent recognition ceremony. Johnson received a $500 cash award and a plaque.

In a nomination letter submitted by the Columbia Missourian faculty, Johnson was praised for her abilities and commitment to the newspaper.

Nina M. Johnson
Nina M. Johnson

“Nina is organized, responsible and dedicated. She is flexible and willing to adjust to changing circumstances,” said her colleagues. “She respects faculty and student information needs and never refuses a request, no matter how small. In fact, her professionalism is one of the hallmarks of her ability to work so effectively among a shifting tide of students every semester.”

Missourian editors echoed their appreciation of Johnson. “We make requests at all times of the day, often needing information instantly, and she is always patient, always positive, always reliable,” said Tom Warhover, executive editor.

Liz Brixey, the newspaper’s city editor, added: “Nina is relentlessly helpful. She makes us her priority. She seems to thoroughly enjoy helping students find whatever they need, no matter how obscure or challenging. We rely on Nina.”

The tribute, formerly the Pat-on-the-Back Award, was renamed this year in honor Amy Lenk, who will retire after 35 years of service with the Missouri School of Journalism.

A total of 10 staff members were nominated for this year’s award. Five were randomly selected to receive a $25 gift certificate at University Bookstore.

Nina Johnson
Nina Johnson is flanked by other nominees for the 2009 Amy Lenk Staff Excellence Award. From left, Patrick Muck, Cheryl Spang, Tonya Cowans, Johnson, Pat Kelley and Kelly Peery.

Other nominees for this year’s award included:

  • Tonya Cowans, Undergraduate Advising
  • Tommy Highbarger, Mailroom
  • Pat Kelley, Office of the Lee Hills Chair in Free-Press Studies
  • Travis McMillen, Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI)
  • Pat Muck, Fiscal Office
  • Kelly Peery, RJI
  • Dora Rogers, Fiscal Office
  • Sue Schuermann, Journalism Library
  • Cheryl Spang, Fiscal Office

Staff celebrating service anniversaries in 2009 also were recognized during the ceremony:


  • Amy Lenk, Graduate Advising
  • Rene Rau, RJI


  • Pat Sternberg, Undergraduate Advising


  • Ken Fleming, RJI and Center for Advanced Social Research



  • Justin Giles, J-Net
  • Pam Johnson, RJI
  • Kelly Ross, Columbia Missourian
  • Stephanie Sinn, IRE

A reception was held after the ceremony in the Edward C. Lambert Seminar Room at RJI. The Wilma L. Hogle School of Journalism Endowment Fund provided monies for the program, cash award and reception.

Updated: January 16, 2020

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