Kathy Wingate, administrator at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center-Amarillo, was selected as the recipient of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Director’s Administrative Staff Support Award. The award was presented Jan. 9 at the annual Texas A&M AgriLife conference in College Station.
The Research Director’s awards, established in 2018, recognize the achievements of those who have performed outstanding work that advances the agency’s mission.
Wingate has worked in the area of administrative support at the Amarillo Center for more than 25 years and was promoted to administrator on Dec. 1, 2016.
Wingate has mastered a wide spectrum of administrative skills in office management, accounting, business operations, purchasing, human resources, payroll and grant/contract management. She manages all of the day-to-day business of the Amarillo Center in all those areas and has trained many of her statewide peers in efficient, effective, accurate and responsive administration.
One colleague said in the nomination, “Simply put, Kathy makes our whole team better researchers. She keeps up with budget- and travel-management policies so we don’t have to. She keeps us out of trouble with granting agencies by knowing their budget policies and keeping us aware of the provisions that pertain to us. She keeps her staff well trained so they can do their jobs efficiently and smoothly.”
In her position as administrator, Wingate maintains detailed accounting records for appropriated funds, contracts, gifts, royalties and grant accounts for both AgriLife Research and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service faculty in Amarillo. Faculty members she serves know they can come to her for accurate answers concerning their accounts, budgets, personnel and expenditures, the nomination stated.
There are 10 faculty research teams affiliated with the Amarillo Center, many of which rely on graduate students from West Texas A&M University at Canyon and Texas A&M University at College Station. Wingate communicates with the administrative offices on both campuses to maintain appropriate status for international students, scholars and postdoctoral scientists.
Wingate is an essential part of every research project, said Brent Auvermann, Ph.D., Amarillo’s center director. Both new and established faculty rely on her expertise. She patiently explains policies and procedures, provides helpful advice and smooths the transition period for new personnel. She also observes and enforces policies rigorously, reducing the financial and reputational risks for the unit, the agency, and individual research teams.
One colleague noted, “It’s more than her knowledge of policies and procedures that helps us; she truly cares for the success of our programs.”
When Texas A&M AgriLife is evaluating new policies or procedures or testing new software systems, Amarillo is routinely one of the first units to step forward as a testbed due to Wingate’s strong “can do” ethic she brings to her stewardship of the unit’s business affairs, the nomination stated.
Over the past several years, the introduction of the “Maestro” accounts-management system, “Concur” travel management, “AggieBuy” purchasing, “Workday” human-resources system, and the “Science Management Road Map” all posed challenges Wingate helped the research faculty overcome.
Most recently, Wingate embraced the highly detailed assignment of insuring agricultural field crops as a new revenue stream, a risk-management initiative that paid off immediately, the nomination said.
“Kathy knows as well as anyone that the unit succeeds if and only if the faculty succeed in their mission to generate, in a timely fashion, tangible, practical research results for our clientele,” Auvermann said. “She is clearly devoted to developing administrative systems, tracking tools, and procedures that, in an environment of ever-increasing public scrutiny and accountability, preserve and enhance our ability to function creatively and productively as researchers in a highly competitive and resource-limited environment.”
Auvermann said when he needs a novel, strategic look at financial matters, Wingate delivers without fail.
“As AgriLife moves toward matrix management at all levels, Kathy’s skill set and business acumen will ensure that the Amarillo Center thrives in the new fiscal environment,” he said.