2019 Award for Administrative Excellence

Lanita Addison, University of Central Arkansas

“You can ask any single one of our students who the heart and the soul of the Schedler Honors College is, and the answer will always be “Lanita.” I know how important it is for programs to have competent and friendly administrative professionals, and I have to say that we hit the jackpot when we hired her.

Lanita continues to exceed the expectations for the position she was hired to do. Lanita continues to successfully be able to balance requests from faculty, students, administrators, and other staff; and to get a read for the level of importance, balancing which task needs to be accomplished first. Lanita has a tremendous work ethic and is always concerned with the quality of her work. She puts in the extra time when needed to make sure that she delivers on her promise of quality performance. During our busiest time of year, Lanita will work tirelessly; staying late and skipping lunch in order for us to get quick responses to our worried student applicants. She stays late for student events without question and never expects anything in return.

On her desk at any given moment, you will find a small chalkboard on which she writes words of encouragement for our students. She keeps an entire candy buffet on her desk at all times which draws even students from other departments into the office for a quick hello and each and every one of them leave with a smile and have been uplifted by her cheerful personality. She has a quick-wit and charm that allow her to endure even the craziest days whether it is spent working alongside our faculty or answering calls from prospective students. A true gift that Lanita possesses is bringing a smile to the faces of all that she encounters. In February and March, we have to reject far more students from our program than what we can accept, but a phone call to Lanita to ask “why” ends with the student having more confidence in themselves than when they first applied. Lanita has served the institution for more than 18 years and I know her time with UCA will come to an end soon, but I cannot imagine running the Honors College without her by my side!”

Submitted by Dr. Patricia Smith
Assistant Dean, Schedler Honors College
University of Central Arkansas

2019 Honorable Mentions

Rene Bickle, Southwestern Oklahoma State University

“The administration realized if the SWOSU Honors Program was to be the prime program intended, release time and an AA were imperative. Ms. Bickle was hired as a half-time Honors, half-time College of Art, Communication, and Theatre Administrative Assistant. Not only did she hit the ground running, she has contributed more to the growth and quality of the SWOSU Honors Program than can be easily listed. I can say with confidence, if Rene Bickle were to leave the SWOSU Honors Program, the chances of the programs continued growth and success would be in grave danger."

-Brian Campbell, Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Nashanda Brown, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

“While she completes her expected duties of reporting to work in a regular and timely manner, opening and managing the office, and other routine duties, it is perhaps the connection she shares with our students that is most profound. Many of the students in the program have come to know Ms. Brown as an extended family member. When they have good news, they run to her to share it. When they are in need of advice or support, they turn to Ms. Brown. Ms. Brown regularly goes beyond the call of duty, no matter the time. She knows what I need before I ask. She takes initiative by sharing ideas that increase the strength of the program.”

-Sheena T. Meadows, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Lynn Irving, Texas Christian University

“Her organizational acumen and attention to detail are exemplary, as is her commitment to a job done well, even if it keeps her in the office well past 5:00 pm. Yet Lynn’s impact on the character of our college extends far beyond her long hours or formal job description. She is endlessly thoughtful, diligent, generous, bold, fair-minded, innovative, and thoroughly committed to excellence. She has her own mind about things yet is steadfastly appreciative of the ideas, talents, and contributions of her colleagues. Every day she makes us better, more worthy of calling ourselves an honors college.”

-Rob Garnett, Texas Christian University

Kathleen McCoy, Suffolk Community College

“Kathleen understands the most elemental truth of an honors program – it must be treated and acknowledged as something special. Honors, must honor, all who participate in it. There must be an honors culture that is unique and special – definably different than all other areas of a school. It most always be welcoming, yet unquestionably aspirational. Kathleen grasps this. She intuitively understands that superlative administrative style, must always be paired with extraordinary student services. Central Casting could not have scripted a more pitch perfect Honors star than Kathleen McCoy.”

- Albin Cofone, Suffolk Community College

Irene Menditto, Monmouth University

“Reenie’s contributions to the Honors School are best exemplified by past deans, faculty, alumni, and current students. A previous dean wrote "Reenie Menditto is the definition of consistency. Reenie never sacrifices quality and understands that allowing students to feel cared for relieves stress and can generate higher achievement.” Similarly, an assistant professor wrote, “As a new faculty member to the Honors School, Reenie has always been a pillar of support. I truly appreciate her patience and calm demeanor.” An associate professor added, “Reenie holds all of the institutional knowledge of the organization and works to make it successful. She serves as the anchor to all of our honors students and makes sure their needs are addressed.” One alum wrote, “Reenie genuinely cares about her honors students. She wants all students to succeed in whatever their dreams may be and will do everything she can to assist. Every step of the way towards graduation, Reenie was there.”

-Nancy Mezey, Monmouth University

Sue Nichols, Texas A&M University-Kingsville

“In my 22 years as a faculty member and honors administrator at three different institutions, I have met many outstanding faculty and staff members who have provided my students great support. Sue stands out in my experience as the most indispensable staff member in that regard. She cares deeply for our students and enjoys helping them to succeed. 'When you first meet Ms. Sue it is rather difficult not to be intimidated by her,' says student Richard Kaiser. 'She radiates such a presence of knowledge and wisdom. However, when you go and speak to her you discover that she is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. With an odd sense of humor and infectious smile that melts your worries away. She is probably the hardest working individual I know, who is more than willing to drop everything, no matter the importance, to give you her attention. This is extremely beneficial for Honors College students.'”

-Tom Spencer, Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Nilay Patel, Harper College

“There are innumerable emails about our immensely important honors courses, and the majority of our students’ particular questions regarding these courses land — at least initially — in Nilay’s lap. Yet, as we have tried above to make clear, Nilay responds to every single email, and every single student in PTK and Honors, with the utmost earnestness and class. (Nilay is a serious and dignified person.) We realize that there is no way of validating this next point, but with all of the candor we can muster, we have never once heard Mr. Patel, a consummate gentleman, utter a disparaging word about another living creature, and this humanity and charisma colors Harper’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter and especially our honors program in obviously positive ways.”

-Andrew Wilson, Harper College

Brenda Rhoden, University of Houston

“I cannot help but feel that everything I have written so far fails utterly to capture Ms. Rowley’s true value to the Honors Program. I have merely described what she does, but what makes Ms. Rowley truly special as the way that she does it. Ms. Rowley is never, ever without a smile, nor is she is ever too busy to help. She brings a sense of energy to everything she does, and her enthusiasm and spirit of helpfulness has often served to buoy anyone who may be struggling on a given day. While Ms. Rowley is always friendly and helpful, she also is a person who does not draw attention to herself. She is someone who truly takes the idea that “I’m just here to help” to heart. What that means for her, I worry, is that her wonderful contributions are often not acknowledged to the degree she deserves. Our hope in nominating her is that the Award for Administrative Excellence will go some way toward showing her how appreciated and valuable she truly is.”

-John Garcia, Harper College

Sarah Maria Rutter, Roosevelt University

“Sarah Maria's kind of genuine attention toward students has an immediate impact on the morale in the Honors Program, and I suspect it has contributed to our significantly improved completion rate. The sincerity of Sarah Maria’s engagement with Honors students is obvious, as is her investment in their success. Honors students are already describing the Book Colloquium as a bonding intellectual experience—an outcome we aim, and often struggle, to achieve in our largely commuter student community. This is exactly the type of high-impact experience that can define an honors student’s time at Roosevelt, and it was Sarah Maria’s creative and bold idea. Sarah Maria’s work ethic, her commitment to excellence, and her passion for the academy have brought such valuable and fresh energy to the Roosevelt University Honors Program.”

-Marjorie Jolles, Roosevelt University

Beverly Smith, Seminole State College

“Typically referred to by our students as Ms. Bev, she is always available to assist our students with academic and personal needs. She helps students feel supported and welcome in the honors community. She is kind and compassionate with students, always a shoulder to cry or lean on, and very supportive of their endeavors. She is one of the most genuine, hard-working, and caring people I have ever had the pleasure of working with, and she deserves recognition for the impact she makes in changing our students' lives.”

-Aaron Hanlin, Seminole State College

Carol Turco, Pace University

“Carol collaborates well with everyone on campus making honors an effective partner university-wide. She plans all honors on-campus events, which can be challenging given limited space, and she works with campus food service and catering for events. Carol sorts out the mysteries of financial aid and has a personal connection to the associate director who provides quick and thorough responses to honors inquiries. She knows who to call to get things done and she is kind and thoughtful in her work with others. Carol knows just about everyone on campus, she greets them by name, and they know her name. She is always smiling and full of positive energy.

I believe Carol’s most significant contribution to the honors college is her nurturing of students, especially those in their first year. She is always willing to make time to chat with a student who has a concern to share, and loss to cry over, or an accomplishment to celebrate.”

-Susan Dinan, Pace University

Charlotte Wray, Iona College

“Neither I nor any other director could run the program without Charlotte. Her contribution is that necessary – and it is as crucial as it is unsung. Our students feel her as a constant presence and they rely on her for everything. They answer her emails with much greater consistency than they ever would mine. She is far more necessary and impactful on their lives than any of the directors have been, but her indispensability is only exceeded by her humility, as for her, helping our students is truly its own reward.”

-Kim Paffenroth, Iona College