Helms ‘gets the job done’ with a smile

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Cynthia Helms INSIDEWhen Cynthia Helms says UAB is a great place for people to come and invest their time and talents, she’s speaking as one who’s been here nearly 21 years. And when she says it’s filled with new opportunities, she’s speaking as one who found her own in 2013 as a program administrator for the newly created eLearning and Professional Studies (eLPS) in the Office of the Provost.

After 17 years in the School of Medicine, Helms said she was looking for and found a “cutting-edge” endeavor in the new face of education: online and blended learning. UAB’s eLPS provides universitywide support for online courses, degree programs, academic certificates, plus continuing education courses, certificates, workshops and conferences. Her role includes managing the logistics of the UAB eLearning Advisory Council and three subcommittees, the annual Provost’s Transformative Online Course Awards plus special projects. 

“As a service unit with campuswide outreach, her role is critical to our division,” said Elizabeth Fisher, interim executive director for eLPS. “Her work ethic is impeccable, as is her passion for service to others both internally and externally.” 

Helms is “the glue that holds our office together,” and “has a positive attitude and always finds a way to get the job done and with a smile” other co-workers say. For this and other reasons, she was selected UAB’s Employee of the Month.

Helms says she enjoys working with online and blended learning because, among other things, it is innovative and it brings the schools, colleges and campuswide units together to work for a common goal. In fall 2016 nearly 4,500 students were enrolled only in online courses, and more than 10,301 were enrolled in at least one online course.  “This is an area UAB is continuing to grow in and is growing fast,” she said of the doubled online enrollment in five years. “We’re a catalyst.” 

The challenge, Helms said, “is making sure that what we do is cohesive. You have to keep the moving parts coordinated. Communication is extremely important as a team and it affects how we integrate with the university.”

Each month, UAB recognizes an outstanding employee for their dedication, hard work and contributions to the university’s success. If you know of a great employee, you can learn how to nominate them for this recognition at uab.edu/humanresources.

All agree Helms is good at that.

“No task is too small or inconsequential for her to complete by herself or assist others to complete,” said Kathryn Mergl, eLearning Research and Grants Analyst. 

“She always offers solutions to challenges that are encountered to better serve all with whom she works,” Fisher said. “She possesses a rare quality of seemingly knowing what you need before you do.”

One reason, says Dr. Lisa Reburn, state authorization and compliance director for eLPS, is that Helms is an authentic, caring, person of excellence. “Cynthia quietly goes about the myriad of thankless tasks it takes to keep our division glued together… her acute attention and memory of details, her knowledge of personal facts about many people and her authentic servant's heart to persistently deliver whatever it takes to make others look good.”