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K-State Today

May 10, 2023

Division of Student Life recognizes award winners

Submitted by Kevin Cook

On May 4, the Division of Student Life presented several awards to K-Staters for their outstanding support of students. The Student Life Staff Development and Engagement Committee coordinated the awards nomination process. Thomas Lane, vice president for student life and dean of students, Pat Bosco, emeritus vice president for student life and dean of students, and Aisha Lee, student life staff development and engagement committee chair, presented the awards.

The following list includes award recipients and quotes from their nominations.

Care Award: Haylee Prescott, student staff manager, Housing and Dining Services. "Prescott has touched hundreds of student lives in her seven years at Kramer Dining Center. She meets with each student applicant to visit about their experiences, class schedule, financial needs, and commitments and masterfully compiles a supportive work schedule. She is a naturally patient person and greatly enjoys getting to know each student on a personal level. Students appreciate her nonjudgmental demeanor and helpful direction to finding campus services."

Collaboration Award:

  • Whitney Penn, assistant director of academic student services for Housing and Dining Services. "Penn is the epitome of collaboration. She leads the CAT Community and enrollment management efforts on behalf of the department along with serving as a mentor and support system to full-time and graduate assistant staff. Every day she is working with members of the campus community like K-State First, Office of Recruitment and Admissions, colleges and dining services. She is a calm and thoughtful partner who helps make important events come to life."
  • Alyssa Wendel, associate director of student life at K-State Salina. "Wendel is the unsung hero in many departments at K-State Salina. She has needed to collaborate on many levels throughout this year. Some examples include communicating on a daily basis with Facilities for housing issues, Admissions for New Student Orientation, Communications and Marketing for updating policies and procedures and Manhattan campus Housing and Dining Services for ideas on how to make Salina housing better. Her greatest strengths are her dependability and collaboration skills. She did all these things while learning conduct, recreation and accommodations processes."

Community Award: Meg Johnson, community coordinator, Housing and Dining Services. "Johnson lives out community every day in leading the staff in creating an inclusive community in Wefald Hall, but her contributions in Housing and Dining reach far beyond the walls of her hall. She is someone who cares deeply for others and wants to impact students by supporting who they are and what they need to be successful. She has helped in doing that by stepping up to provide more leadership to the Housing and Dining Services Equity and Inclusion Committee, especially with this year’s theme, 'InQueery,' and embraced the opportunity for positive impact through these discussions. She does not shy away from difficult conversations and challenges people to consider perspectives different from their own."

Dr. Susan Ariola Bosco Putting Students First Faculty Award: Gregory Newmark, research associate professor, civil engineering. Newmark received multiple nominations that highlighted his student-focused approach. This includes minimizing extra costs to attend his classes, supporting students who are struggling with mental health challenges, helping students to get internships and jobs, helping find scholarship/fellowship money for students, and assisting students in independent research. "He is never scarce of encouragement or engagement, which ensures that all students are welcome to talk about anything. Not only does he listen and value what students have to say, but he actively offers advice that stimulates solutions. His accomplishments, guidance and teaching make him extremely qualified for an award that focuses on placing K-State students as a priority."

Dr. Susan Ariola Bosco Putting Students First Staff Award: Shelly Williams, Morrison Family director of Cats' Cupboard. "Williams embodies judiciousness, mindfulness and empathy enabling her to nurture connections with and between students and to bridge divides to build intercultural understanding and an atmosphere of belonging. Perseverant and service-oriented, she models staying motivated, committed, and disciplined yet curious, showing us that we all have a role in enriching others' lives and that it doesn't take much to lend others a listening ear or helping hand along the way. In putting students first but never comprising on the quality of her work, this staff member from Cats' Cupboard has proven herself as an innovator and agent of positive change."

Outstanding Graduate Student Staff Member: Sarah Fruth, graduate assistant for Housing and Dining Services. "Fruth works with residents and student staff across 17 buildings in Jardine Apartments. She has taken on multiple opportunities to support students through roommate conflicts, noise complaints, and engaging them in the community. She often talks about the children who stop her and say hello to her or her dog when they are out in the community. A favorite tradition is the Jardine community garden, this year's recipient took on the project when the previous manager left. She assigned plots, managed the distribution of plots and made sure the garden was maintained throughout the season keeping this favorite tradition a success."

Outstanding New Unclassified Professional: Janelle Reiger, interim assistant dean in the Office of Student Life. "Reiger regularly listens to students to learn what challenges they are facing. Through this process, she empowers them to make decisions for themselves and solve problems. This could be by encouraging them to discuss academic issues with faculty, referring them to helpful resources or by evaluating and exploring options so they can make their own decisions. At times this requires advocacy on behalf of the students. She has created and implemented several new processes, procedures and general morale-boosting methods of our student staff which has built a sense of community and has been critical for the retention and success of our student staff."

Outstanding Unclassified Professional: William Barss, assistant director of facilities management for Housing and Dining Services. "Barss has empowered and inspired staff in Housing and Dining Services to elevate their performance for the good of the students we serve. He does this through innovation, exploration and the example he sets on a continuous basis. He promotes achievement to students and staff by encouraging them to think. He is able to mentor them through some struggles as he is able to understand what others face given some of his own difficult life experiences. He champions all students and staff. People feel comfortable with him, and he is a true ambassador of K-State and the Division of Student Life."