Campus News

Leondist DuVall Named Recipient of YB Staff Award

June 11, 2019

Hillary Hempstead

Leondist DuVall and President Ambar
Leondist DuVall accepts the YB Staff Award from President Carmen Ambar
Photo credit: Dale Preston '83

Campus Safety Supervisor Leondist DuVall’s dedication to service—fostering a safe environment  and ensuring the well-being of those on campus—is the reason he was selected for the 2019 YB Staff Award.

In addition to the daily service he provides, DuVall put decisive leadership into action this fall semester when he responded to the scene of an incident in which a second-year student suffered cardiac arrest in her dorm. DuVall led Campus Safety staff in managing the situation,gave the student chest compressions, and used an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to restore her heartbeat. DuVall’s actions contributed to the student’s ability to make a full recovery.

The Yeworkwha Belachew (YB) Staff Award is given each year to an Oberlin College staff member who has gone “above and beyond” in service to the college. The award is named in honor of the extraordinary service of Yeworkwha Belachew, or YB, as she was known to Oberlin’s students, faculty, staff, and residents. The YB Staff Award is designed to recognize a non-faculty, institutional employee of the college who demonstrates daily commitment and performance in advancing Oberlin’s strategic goals through exemplary service to the college.

DuVall began his role at Oberlin 20 years ago as a campus safety officer and was later promoted to the role of supervisor. A military veteran, he was recruited for various jobs after his five years in the service, but his experience coming to Oberlin as a high school student in the Upward Bound Program contributed to his decision to work at the college. “I had a lot of opportunities, but I chose Oberlin,” says DuVall. “I just love being here.”

DuVall’s role requires him to respond to the scene of various situations on campus. He’s briefed on the situation by Campus Safety staff, and it’s his job to facilitate a support system for the student. This often involves calling college staff for support.

“I’m constantly diffusing situations and trying to come up with solutions,” says DuVall. “I’m problem-solving throughout the day, from fire safety to work orders and facilities management. Especially after business hours, I may need to contact the dean on call, the area coordinator on call, residential education—you name it, Campus Safety is doing it.”

Duvall says the most memorable experience he’s had in his role was when Michelle Obama gave the 2016 Commencement address. To prepare, he helped coordinate with the Department of Transportation, Department of Treasury, Secret Service, Federal Aviation Administration, and various law enforcement entities from across the region. The payoff for DuVall was that he was able to meet the former first lady during her visit.

Receiving the YB Staff Award holds special meaning to DuVall because of the close relationship he had with Belachew.

“I remember asking YB for advice when I was promoted to supervisor,” says DuVall. “She said, ‘Supervising is serving those you supervise.’ So I try to create a comfortable and great work space so Campus Safety staff can best serve the Oberlin College community. I pride myself on being a positive ambassador from the office of Campus Safety, because you just never know what outside security team may call our office to work with us—from Michelle Obama and Stevie Wonder to Oprah Winfrey. I’m also thankful for the training that keeps us prepared to serve the students.”

Says DuVall: “I would like to thank President Carmen Ambar, senior staff, Joe Vitale, and Rebecca Mosely for every recognition I have received, including the Yeworkwha Belachew Staff Award. I share this reward with my staff: Campus Safety Officer Mark Hoyt, Campus Safety Officer Larry Brown, and Communication Officer Tammy Kwilecki.”

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