The Division of Student Affairs recently recognized four individuals and three offices or programmatic areas as its 2014-2015 award winners. The Office of Student Activities received five of the awards, while the Pat Walker Health Center and the Office of Student Standards and Conduct each received an award.
The Division of Student Affairs engages students to develop their strengths, inspiring leadership for a global society. To achieve this mission the Division strives to foster the ongoing development of an inclusive community, enhance students learning through effective programs and services, advocate rights and responsibilities through service to students and collaboration with partners, steward all of the Division’s resources responsibly, and communicate and collaborate effectively. The annual Division of Student Affairs awards are intended to recognize staff members, programs, and departments that excel in the overall mission of “strengthening students for success.”
“The awards were put in place to honor individuals and programs that exemplify a commitment to student success that goes above and beyond the normal scope of prescribed duties. We want staff members to know they and their work matters. The awards also provide an opportunity to celebrate the great work in the Division of Student Affairs.”
Award winners include:
Mary Skinner, director of the Office of Student Activities, received the Strengthening Students for Success Award. This award recognizes an individual who has exemplary service and commitment to the achievement of the Division of Student Affairs and the University of Arkansas. This is the highest honor that a staff member can receive for his or her dedication to the Division. This leader has improved his or her department by increasing productivity and/or efficiency, motivated co-workers, collaborated to do their best, and instilled pride in the work we do. He or she is service oriented and displays extraordinary creativity and innovation, is reliable, dedicated, and committed to the Division of Student Affairs and the University of Arkansas.
“If you ask staff members of the Office of Student Activities and across the Division of Student Affairs, they will say that Mary is one of the biggest advocates for students . . . She is constantly asking how initiatives and programs will benefit students,” wrote nominator Trisha Blau, assistant director for programming in the Office of Student Activities. “With the help of Mary’s leadership the Office of Student Activities has become a department that works every day to fulfill our mission to advocate for all students, promote intercultural understanding, and develop citizens who are prepared to positively impact their communities.”
Office of Student Standards and Conduct
The Office of Student Standards and Conduct received the Unsung Hero Award. This award is presented to an individual or team who works continuously and tirelessly behind the scenes, and has performed at a level above and beyond normal job requirements. They demonstrate leadership through dedication and service. They perform their role with an outstanding attitude, inspire others and actions have resulted in furthering their department and division’s goals and mission.
“The OSSC staff take a very proactive and student-centered approach to handling situations that are not easily addressed,” wrote nominator Aisha Kenner, former associate dean of students. “Students who have the opportunity to interact with an OSSC staff member will ultimately be more knowledgeable, more self-aware, and experience great personal growth and this is all due to the creative and collaborative efforts of the office staff.”
Student Development Program, Rosa Edwards
The Student Development Program coordinated by Office of Student Activities office manager Rosa Edwards received the Innovation Award. This award recognizes the innovative approaches an individual, group, or staff within the Division of Student affairs has taken in addressing a challenge or need in support of the Division’s mission over the previous two to three semesters. Nominees will have made use of pre-existing or new resources to improve the quality of services or programs provided to staff or students. Areas of improvement can include but are not limited to student development, staff development, efficiency, budget, marketing, procedures, and policy.
“There is no other department in the Division or on campus that works harder to ensure their student support staff is trained, maintained, communicated with, appreciated, and integrated into the department’s and division’s vision and mission,” wrote nominator Rudy Trejo, former assistant director for Associated Student Government. “Our student support specialists are the first line in providing excellent customer service to all who come in, call, e-mail, tweet, and seek guidance from OSA.”
Three Outstanding Professional awards were presented for staff members at different levels of their career in the field of Student Affairs. Outstanding professionals demonstrate excellence and dedication to students, the University of Arkansas and the profession of higher education. These winners will be the University of Arkansas nominees for the NASPA IV-W Outstanding Professional Awards.
Outstanding Graduate Assistant award went to Chas Thompson, former graduate assistant for University Programs in the Office of Student Activities.
“Chas is an advocate for students from all walks of life,” write nominator Katie Johnson, former University Programs president. “When a new event is proposed to our programming board, Chas is sure to point out how the event will affect certain groups and how to engage with groups on campus such as student veterans, international students, and the LGBTQ community, just to name a few. He is always striving to see the world in a different perspective than his own and enabling others to do the same.”
Outstanding New Professional (3 years or less in the field) was given to Rainer Gall, program coordinator in the Office of Student Activities.
Nominator Wil Cheatham, SOOIE President for 2014-2015, wrote: “When I think of a quality advisor, I think of Rainer because he has demonstrated to me that there are quite a few different ways to go about running an organization. In this short time he has encouraged me to transform the student outreach program into a branded name on campus.”
Outstanding Mid-Level Professional/Rising Star winner was Rudy Trejo, former assistant director for Associated Student Government in the Office of Student Activities.
Director of Student Activities Mary Skinner wrote in her nominating letter: “Rudy has such a high work ethic and passion for helping others. He has been able to help develop new co-sponsorships, initiatives, and programs within the Associated Student Government.”
ROAR and Substance Abuse Prevention
Last but certainly not least, the Powerful Partnership Award was presented to ROAR (Razorbacks Offering Accountability Resources) within the Pat Walker Health Center and Substance Abuse Prevention within the Office of Student Standards and Conduct. This award acknowledges and encourages successful collaboration where collaboration did not exist. The purposes of the award are first to recognize outstanding collaborations (internal and external), and to gather information about effective collaborations that departments and individuals across the division use as a model to establish and strengthen their own collaborations.
This relationship has “increased the ability to aid students who are experiencing substance abuse and dependency related issues”, wrote nominator Rachel Eikenberry, director of the Office of Student Standards and Conduct. “The relationship between these two partners has dramatically changed the speed and effectiveness of communication regarding students of concern and related issues. This provides us the ability to support students who are at a greater risk to fail to persist.”