2023 Award for Administrative Excellence

Lisa Halmes, Cook Honors College

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Lisa Halmes, Administrative Assistant for the Cook Honors College at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, has been selected as the winner of the 2023 NCHC Award for Administrative Excellence. Halmes was nominated by Chauna Craig, Director of the Cook Honors College, for her consistent enthusiasm and passion for their educational mission.

The Award for Administrative Excellence is given by the National Collegiate Honors Council in honor of Administrative Professionals Day. Each year, members of the NCHC are invited to nominate the administrative professionals that support and sustain their honors programs and colleges. Nominees are reviewed by a panel of former award recipients, as well as the coordinators of NCHC’s Professional Staff in Honors programming. Many staff members dedicate years of hard work and experience to the success of honors education at their institution, and their collective efforts make a difference to hundreds of thousands of honors students across the nation.

In her nomination, Craig stated that, "what sets Lisa apart is how she has recreated the job to live her own brand of genuine student-centeredness, earning campus-wide respect for her work.”

Lisa has served the Cook Honors College for 15 years under three directors, and Craig adds, "she has held us together through everykind of crisis. She set her mind to making our honors college an academic, residential, and emotional home for our students. Lisa is a humble person, known for starting sentences with “I’m just a secretary, but…” just before some smart, insightful observation or new idea follows. She is not ambitious for herself but for our students and our program, and Lisa regularly moves forward on initiatives before others even think of it. For example, when the pandemic sent students home in March of 2020 and prevented us from giving recruitment tours at a crucial time in our recruitment cycle, Lisa immediately created a virtual tour with her iPhone and uploaded it to YouTube for prospectives."

In addition, Halmes is a tireless advocate for students. "When administrative decisions impact us in ways Lisa perceives as harmful, such as relocating our residential living community, she is not afraid to speak out, though she is “just a secretary.” She has earned respect from all quarters for her genuine student-centeredness and, as a result, is repeatedly asked to serve on significant university-wide committees. The co-chairs of the University Strategic Planning Committee asked her to join and help train others in her highly effective student success practices, and the university president personally asked her to be on the search committee for a new provost, trusting Lisa’s judgment and ability to speak to the honors college’s value and needs."

Halmes is know as resourceful, kind, positive, and as Craig reiterates, "one of the reasons I look forward to going to my own job everyday." She is so much more than “just a secretary,” and the NCHC is proud to present the 2023 Award for Administrative Excellence to her for her accomplishments. Halmes will receive recognition on NCHC’s website, and will also be invited to attend the NCHC’s 2023 Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois this November to receive her award at the annual Awards Ceremony.

2023 Honorable Mentions