by Satina Richardson

The Dean’s Outstanding Staff Award was given to Chris Boutwell at the 2022 Convocation and Hooding Ceremony. Boutwell earned the award due to his countless contributions to the school since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Challenges faced during the past two years include university-mandated budget cuts and a continuously changing environment where faculty, staff and students—the people at the core of the school—have different needs than before. Boutwell, the executive director of administrative operations, has been at the center of it all.

Along with the dean, Boutwell is tasked with ensuring the school’s financial health by balancing the budget. He oversees administrative and fiscal affairs staff while collaborating with managers in other areas of the school, challenging everyone to be the best versions of themselves. You will often catch him offering a listening ear when needed.

Boutwell supervises the building infrastructure maintenance and other needs at the Henry Peters Building, pitching in to help when necessary.  He even keeps a change of clothes in his office in case he needs to be hands-on with gritty tasks like climbing a ladder to hang homecoming decorations or moving furniture.

All this paints the picture of someone who says yes to whatever it takes to get the job done.

According to Kelly Nichols, UAB School of Optometry dean, while Chris does get the job done, he is able to view situations from all perspectives and agrees only when it makes sense to do so.

“Chris believes in being excellent,” she added. “He has a sympathetic servant’s heart and a rational mind. These traits have been of great importance, especially since March 2020. For these reasons, I selected Chris to receive this award.”