SPA honors employees who help students
The Student Personnel Association recognized six distinguished UW–Madison employees for their work in student services during its annual reception April 25.
Since its establishment in 1956, the SPA has worked to foster connections between individuals who work with students to support, enhance and reinforce the learning mission of UW–Madison. Membership is also open to student services professionals from around the area, including Edgewood College and Madison College.
Carolyn Bell, associate director of residence hall facilities, received the Chancellor’s Award, the association’s highest honor. The award recognizes campus leaders for making an impact on student services, particularly beyond the scope of their office, as well as distinctive contributions throughout campus in all aspects of the recipient’s professional and personal life.
“Carolyn sets the tone for respect, kindness and heart that goes into all the work that the residence hall facilities team does,” says Lindsay Gustin, operations supervisor with University Housing Residence Hall Facilities. “Carolyn simply cares. She cares for the members of the residence hall facilities team and cares for all the students and guests that live with us. You can see this care in every calculated move and decision that she makes.”
Bell’s career highlights include serving as president of the Wisconsin Personnel Association and collaborating with Cultural and Linguistic Services to ensure that staff members for whom English is a second language feel supported and included. Colleagues say she’s known for her big smile and even bigger heart.
The Frontline Award recognizes a university staff member who positively influences students’ perceptions of the university, either as the first person a student meets or as one who works behind the scenes in a program.
David Wright-Racette received the Frontline Award for his work at the La Follette School of Public Affairs, where he’s a student services associate. Among his many responsibilities, he counsels prospective students regarding the admission process, creating and updating their files with all required documentation and sending them letters on their status. He handles the registration process, tracks enrollments, and keeps up to date on system changes and policies.
“He is a wonderful first contact for prospective students — welcoming and full of knowledge about the La Follette School and the university,” says Mo O’Connor, La Follette admissions and advising coordinator. “The La Follette School could not provide such a positive and high-quality experience for the students we serve without him.”
Norman Bassett Award for Outstanding Achievement in Higher Education Administration
Katherine Loving was honored with the Norman Bassett Award, which recognizes excellence in student services work of 10 years or more and distinguished achievement in developing new, creative and effective programs to meet student needs. Loving manages the Healthy Campus program team in the Prevention Department of University Health Services.
“Since much of her prevention work helps students who do not enter our building, many may be unaware of her efforts in addressing substance abuse, food insecurities, and suicide prevention,” says Rob Sepich, student relations manager for UHS. “But without this focus, our campus community would suffer. She follows evidence-based practices to ensure that we are good stewards of students’ fees, and her work pays off. In fact, I believe that a large part of the high esteem in which students hold UHS is due to her work.”
Nominators praised Loving as a deep thinker and creative problem-solver who approaches her work holistically.
Excellence in Higher Education Administration
Stephanie Benson-Gonzales was presented with the Excellence in Higher Education Administration award, which distinguishes a leader for effective qualities and practices in student services.
Benson-Gonzales is associate director of family programs and communications at Campus and Visitor Relations. She leads the Parent and Family Program, which serves 36,000 parents and family members throughout the year in a variety of ways. She serves as the primary contact between parents and families and UW–Madison.
“As a direct result of Stephanie’s work, tens of thousands of UW–Madison students have been better supported throughout their undergraduate years by their parents and family members,” says Nancy Hoffman, CAVR director. “This is because Stephanie ensures that families receive just-in-time information, resources, and support, as well as opportunities to make life-long memories. In addition, Stephanie has created a constituency of advocates in Badger families by sharing stories about the difference UW–Madison makes in the lives of their students and the greater world. Finally, Stephanie’s leadership has resulted in our campus becoming an industry leader in parent and family engagement.”
Campus Impact Award
Psychiatric nurse practitioner Hannah Delong was presented the Campus Impact Award for her significant impact at the university in fewer than five years.
Delong developed and manages the Behavioral Health Program at University Health Services. She also has been integral in developing, implementing and sustaining the Depression Partnership, which ensures that all students who connect with primary care are screened for depression and offered treatment when appropriate. She has been dedicated to advancing best practices across UHS.
“Hannah has accomplished a tremendous amount in her short time at UHS, all of which has greatly benefited UW–Madison students,” colleagues Jenny Damask and Valerie Donovan wrote in their nomination letter. “Simply stated, the work UHS does around student health and safety is complex and often changing. However, the work is made easier due to creative, compassionate, hardworking people like Hannah who go the extra mile and do the under-recognized ‘behind the scenes’ work to create systems that help our students.”
Leadership in Social Justice Award
Ida Balderrama-Trudell, special assistant to the dean of students and chief of staff, was presented the Leadership in Social Justice Award. The award recognizes leadership and courage while initiating a more socially just learning and work environment for students and staff.
Nominators commended Balderrama-Trudell for always serving students through a social justice lens. As a member of both the Central Leadership Team and the Divisional Leadership Team in the Division of Student Life, she brings many years of experience to the table working with underrepresented students.
“These meetings are full of rich discussion and sometimes disagreement on what is best for our students,” says Tonya Schmidt, assistant dean and director of the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. “Ida is one of the first voices to point out injustices and help us consider how we may better advocate for our students of color and other underrepresented students in our community.”