Division of Student Affairs > About > Staff Achievement

Staff Achievement

​​Each year, the division of Student Affairs recognizes outstanding staff members for their work with students and contributions to important divisional and university programs. Student Affairs recently honored the following five staff members with divisional awards for their exceptional work during the 2021-2022 academic year.

2022 Divisional Award Recipients

Leslie Watland, excellence award winner

Student Affairs Excellence Award
Leslie Watland, Assistant Dean of Students
Dean of Students Office

Leslie consistently goes above and beyond in her role and embodies the mission of the university in every act of service by supporting our most urgent needs of students. Leslie worked to develop relationships with faculty and the Center for Teaching and Learning to identify needs while working with students in distress.

She has partnered closely with the DAX program and is often case managing the students who reside in that program all the way through degree completion. There are several DAX students that routinely come by the office just to connect with Leslie for personal support, even if they do not have a specific need. This demonstrates her high level of personalism and care to those most on the margins.

Leslie also led the DOS office's implementation of the federal TIX regulations as it relates to the student conduct process. She demonstrates grace and patience coupled with excellent attention to detail. She is admired by many.

Flor Reza

Outstanding New Staff Professional Award
Flor Reza, Student Retention Specialist
Academic Continuity and Engagement

Flor has specific responsibilities to address a gap in metrics for our sophomore students of color. Since her arrival in the fall, she has enthusiastically been a champion for her assigned students and advocated with and for them.

Flor coaches students to help them set goals and empowers them to achieve success. She regularly has students stopping by her office unannounced to update on progress. She also goes above and beyond for students who are experiencing barriers. Whether walking a student to DePaul Central or coaching on how to talk to faculty, she regularly exhibits exceptional service.

Flor took extra effort to plan events and workshops for the population she works with. She planned Lunch and Learn series and Sophomore Success labs. These events have been well attended and great collaborations across the division and university. Programs were hosted with The Ray, Health Promotion and Wellness, OMSS, and the Career Center. Importantly these were not small events just presenting information. As an example, the lunch and learn with the career center unpacked professionalism. It was a dynamic and vibrant conversation which benefited all who attended.

Lunden Gregory

Outstanding Graduate Student Assistant Award
Lunden Gregory
Academic Continuity and Engagement

Lunden brought a wealth of DePaul experiences to truly hit the ground running. She was a vital resource to not only the peer leaders in ACE but the professional staff team, who were mostly new to DePaul as well. With her prior experience in advising and DePaul Central, she was a fountain of information that helped students and fellow staff members navigate DePaul.

Lunden supported the peer leaders and conducted check-ins, prepped weekly tips and resource emails, and planned quarterly full-day retreats.

Lunden also helped with the Sophomore Success Labs. She facilitated sessions on notetaking, vision boards and networking. These events were not only successful, especially in student reviews, but she would always have multiple students engaged even after, with more questions, sharing ideas and continuing the discussion.

Outstanding Graduate Student Award
Brian Howard
New Student and Family Engagement

Brian served as the graduate assistant for the Chicago Quarter program. He led, managed and oversaw the staff professional recruitment process to recruit, hire and train 125 staff professionals to be placed in all 125 CQ sections this upcoming fall.

Brian is the epitome of a team player. He represented the department in highly visible ways. As a GA for the Chicago Quarter program, Brian demonstrated exceptional service to students both in and outside of the classroom. The care, thoughtfulness, and warmth that Brian brought to his Chicago Quarter class was admirable as he helped to ensure our new, first year students felt welcomed as they started college and returned to an in-person/on-campus classroom experience after two years of virtual learning.

As a GA, Brian was asked to take on additional and elevated responsibilities throughout the last 10 months. Going above and beyond is one of the best ways to describe Brian.

Collaboration Award Group Photo

Collaboration Award
Ellen Fingado, Tow Yee Yau, Greg Moorehead, Rod Waters, Shemar James and Bob Wachowski
(Student Care Team)

Almost every Monday morning, if you are looking for anyone on the Care Team, you'll find them gathered together in support of our students' success. As you know, sometimes there are bumps in the road that get in the way of the well-being of our students. With tremendous care and concern, the Care Team reviews situations and develops an integrated plan to support student progress. It's never easy because the students who come through the Care Team channels oftentimes need a broad and integrated approach to address problems that have surfaced. We've heard the phrase, “it takes a village” and our Care Team is that village. They want only the best for our students.

Jessie Miller

Innovation Award
Jessie Miller, Assistant Director of Peer and Ambassador Advising
Career Center

Jessie Miller started with a design-thinking approach to re-imagine “peer drop-in services”. There was no “dropping in” to an office during the pandemic, so she looked at how to serve the needs of our students by providing 24/7 access to individualized and accessible face-to-face career advice. Really, 24/7 advice? Yes!

Jessie's thoughtful reimagining of the peer drop-in services involved an in-depth assessment of the existing services, utilization and net promoter scores. With this data she prototyped and journey mapped the Career Center services, and assessed the user experience (UX) and preferences of our students.

What emerged is a wildly popular, fully asynchronous resume and Linked In review service, staffed by peers working remotely, delivered via face-to-face with a transcribed video, plus 10 videos that focus on some next steps that students and alumni might take.

The emphasis here is on "face to face." Students who are too busy to meet virtually or in-person now have a human-centered approach to career advice even outside of business hours. As of today, over 2,500 resumes or Linked profiles have been reviewed in an asynchronous but human-centered approach.

Jessica Peterson

Lou O'Brien Spirit of Student Affairs Award
Jessica Peterson, Marketing Communications Specialist
Office of the Vice President

Jess has truly shown unwavering support for her colleagues across the division. She has developed an in depth level of knowledge of divisional operations that has allowed her to become the voice of the division of student affairs through her articles, messages and reports that she creates. She has been a behind-the-scenes contributor to Student Affairs' collective success. Through her communications expertise, not only does she serve as a consultant to all of us in the division, she also helps us tell our story. Our story is about students and that is what is ALWAYS top of mind for Jess. 

Not shy about stating her opinion when it comes to students, Jess thinks about them all the time. How would a student react to a message, how does a student navigate our offices, how can we help them be successful.  Oftentimes when Gene has a problem to solve, Jess thinks about how the students might react to a decision he will make. She serves as a constant force to ensure students come first. The many written words, updated websites, and communication plans, Jess has a natural way of drawing the reader into our story.  

Jess and Lou were buddies, and they still are today. They have a long history of working together and Lou helped Jessica move up from a student employee in “the bullpen” to her current communications role for the division.  

There is a kindness about Jess that was also present in Lou. Jess serves as a constant force to ensure students come first. Lou and Jess share a love for students, for all of us in the division and for DePaul.

IRMA Group Photo

Vice President Award
Institutional Research and Market Analytics

Institutional Research and Market Analytics (IRMA), fondly known as IRMA, is a vital partner with Student Affairs and they support each and every Student Affairs department in various ways.

No doubt, they support all of our retention efforts, from providing predictive analytics for students who might have indicators of academic challenges, to quarterly and annual reports on persistence and retention. They devote considerable staff time to investigating opportunities for impact and working collaboratively to impact student success metrics. Their assistance with data management is essential to efforts as well.

IRMA supports all of our survey work in meaningful ways. The Blue Demon Engagement Survey, First Destination, Career Outcomes and the Continuing Student Survey are just a few examples of how they help us bring meaning to data and provide us with information that helps us improve or build on "what's working".

Always eager to help and usually unflappable, I am happy to present this Vice President Award to IRMA. Those who are with us today to accept the award are Liz Sanders, Liz Holder and Jeffrey Collins. Please join me in thanking them for their service to Student Affairs.

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