With the Lambs, good things really do come in threes.

It took 14 years and two generations, but Debbie Lamb ’00 became the third in her family to receive the A/P Council Distinguished Service Award. The 2014 recipient is the daughter of Gail Lamb, who received the award in 2009 and retired as senior director of development in 2013. Her spouse, Doug Lamb, retired director of Student Counseling Services and psychology professor, received the honor in 2000.

All three served on the A/P Council, all three are financial supporters, and all three have a deep appreciation for Illinois State University. Dad added that two have the same sense of humor and two are good drivers.

Debbie, senior assistant director of admissions, knew she’d been nominated by two coworkers but when she heard she’d been selected, “I was so excited, I think I screamed. And then I called my mom.”

The year her dad won, he didn’t know until his name was announced at the event. Debbie remembers watching his reaction as the nomination was read, narrowing the possibilities.

“I was surprised,” he said. “I’m very appreciative of Illinois State for a lot of reasons. The AP award meant a lot to me because it recognized my administrative and clinical service as well as my academic activities. It was a wonderful capstone to my career.”

He had a rare joint appointment, becoming a full professor in the psychology department while working in administration and clinical practice as director of the Counseling Center.

Gail’s award was particularly meaningful because the majority of her time was with Mennonite College of Nursing, before it was acquired by Illinois State in 1999. She played an integral role on the transition team, and although her background was in human relations and counseling, she took on a new role as director of development for the College of Education in University Advancement. She earned her doctorate in education from Illinois State in 1997.

“Changing from a private school to public, it was just amazing to be a part of that,” she said. “And I found you can change your career and be very successful at it. What a wonderful gift it was for me to work here, and for Doug and Debbie.”

When their daughter started her college search, she visited a lot of schools but at the last minute, felt most comfortable at Illinois State. Debbie’s senior year, she was offered a full-time position in Admissions, which she took while finishing her degree. That was 15 years ago, and she’s never left.

“I’m not one who needs a lot of kudos, but the award reinforces your commitment to the University,” she said. “It makes you feel good about what you do every day. I always think about what’s in the best interest of ISU. I believe in this institution and I believe in what I do.”

Dad stepped in.

“Our daughter is very modest. We read one nomination letter and we didn’t know three-quarters of what she’s done. The legacy she’s embraced is the value of education. Debbie knew we valued education highly.”

As for how they planned to celebrate the family trifecta, Debbie said they tend to celebrate life on an everyday basis.

And that’s a winning family trait.

Kate Arthur can be reached at kaarthu@IllinoisState.edu.


One thought on “For these Redbirds, service award runs in the family

  1. Karen and Mike Connolly says:

    What a great honor for a wonderful family! Congrats! Love you Lambs!!
    Karen and Mike Connolly