AAUA Official Logo   Facebook

AAUA Awards
2019 AAUA Awards Recipients

THE JOHN L. BLACKBURN AWARD AND EXEMPLARY MODELS AWARDS — Named for AAUA-pioneer and former long-time General Secretary of AAUA, John L. Blackburn Award, the Blackburn and Exemplary Models Awards recognize outstanding examples of college/university leadership that demonstrate creative solutions to common problems in higher education. These include programs or methods that exemplify successful efforts to meet internal or external challenges and demands–including, but not limited to–those posed by one or more of a wide variety of influencing sources such as legislative bodies or public policy bureaucracies, accreditation agencies, institution-based strategic aspirations, and/or external demands for documentable evidence of the effectiveness and value of higher education. Awards can be given for work at any or all institutional levels, about any or all institutional functions, and at any public or private two- or four- year college(s) or university(ies).

2019 Blackburn Recipient: "The Student Resilience Project," Florida State University. The "Student Resilience Project" is an online toolkit developed by the Institute for Family Violence Studies at the FSU College of Social Work. The project encourages wellness by helping students learn to manage stress in healthy ways and increase their sense of belonging. It begins with videos that deal with the impact of trauma and the components of resilience, setting a framework for all students to understand the project. In a 2017 report by FSU's Healthy Campus initiative, students reported that the top three impediments to their academic success were stress, anxiety and sleep problems. The Student Resilience Project addresses those issues and more by offering tips on stress management and reducing anxiety as well as audio recordings on relaxation and better sleep. Each audio recording and video also comes with complete transcripts for the hearing impaired. The recordings are provided by expert faculty from across the university under the heading "Real Talk" and discuss topics such as grief, loss and depression.

2019 Exemplary Model: "Personalizing the Enrollment Process," Adelphi University, NY. Adelphi was faced by an enrollment crisis and needed to quickly develop a plan to communicate the uniquely personal approach to learning and distinguish it from the more than 100 private colleges and universities in New York. The solution was to create a Personalized Enrollment Initiative, designed to reflect the unique approach to learning from the very beginning of the enrollment process. The program required many changes in admissions procedures, new marketing and communications initiatives, an enhanced special events strategy, and commitment from deans, faculty and administrators. In short, it took an entire campus to make the initiative succeed. In the first year of the new process, the institution received 13,006 applications for the Class of 2022, an increase of 9.7 percent over the previous year. The entering first-year class of 1,245 was the largest in Adelphi history. It was also the second-most diverse class ever, with 46.3 percent identifying as nonwhite. Figures for year two have improved further.

2019 Exemplary Model: "Cohort Course Design Model," Central Michigan University, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. The Cohort Course Design Model at Central Michigan University exemplifies one university's successful response to demands set forth by legislative bodies, accreditation agencies, sustainability within the online learning market, and the strategic aspirations of the institution. Advancements in end-user technology systems coupled with rapid-fire access to learning technologies has created new challenges for instructional designers at colleges and universities. Designers were struggling with workload – serving simultaneously as contracting agents, project managers, designers, and liaisons to many other stakeholder groups. Project deadlines were being missed a staggering 89 percent of the time. On average, course design required 145 days from beginning to end and would often stall for weeks at certain junctures in the process. The average time to completion, in the time since the pilot, has declined to approximately 90 days. A design team of essentially the same historic size can now support the design or revision of up to three times the number of courses created in the past, building more than 90 courses annually in recent years.

THE EILEEN TOSNEY AWARD FOR CAREER SERVICE IN HIGHER EDUCATION — Named for one of the AAUA pioneer members, Eileen Tosney, this award recognizes outstanding, long-term experience as an administrator in the field of higher education; it is most often awarded as a career capstone recognition. Eligibility requires that the nominee: (1) be an active (or recently retired), full-time professional administrator, (2) have a minimum of five years of administrative experience, and (3) have demonstrated significant external professional activities; usually, recipients have an established national profile in higher education leadership. (The Tosney Award is considered AAUA's highest individual recognition.)

2019 Recipient: Judy Genshaft, President, University of South Florida System. Since becoming president in 2000, Judy Genshaft has advanced the University of South Florida System to national and international prominence for student success, academic rigor, research and innovation, and economic development. USF became only the third Florida institution to earn status for preeminent research. USF was also recently accepted into the distinguished Phi Beta Kappa honor society, a sign of the institution's growing national reputation. With campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, the USF System serves 50,500 students in 235 degree programs ranging from undergraduate to doctor of medicine and several other health professions. More than 13,000 students earn degrees each year at USF's three institutions. Since she became president, the university's research enterprise has grown from annual expenditures of $145 million to $568 million, placing USF among the National Science Foundation's top 30 public universities for research expenditures. USF is the ninth largest public research university in the nation with an annual budget of almost $2 billion. Additionally, the USF System ranks fifth in the nation among public universities and 12th worldwide for granted U.S. patents among all universities. USF achieved multiple milestones in 2017. Genshaft led the "Unstoppable" capital campaign that exceeded its goal of $1 billion. This is a rare achievement; only two other public universities founded since 1956 have completed such a campaign.

THE McINNIS/RYAN AWARD FOR MID-CAREER HIGHER EDUCATION LEADERSHIP — Named for the two individuals who authored the Association's first Statement of Professional Standards for Administrators in Higher Education–William C. McInnis, S.J., and Edmund G. Ryan, S.J.–the McInnis/Ryan Award for Mid-Career Higher Education Leadership is made to an individual with 5 - 15 years of higher education administrative service who has demonstrated professional accomplishment significantly beyond the norm and who has–by virtue of his/her achievements and behaviors–demonstrated a personal commitment to ethical and principled leadership practice.

2019 Recipient: Barry E. Kopetz, Mississippi State University. As the successful and dynamic leader of the Department of Music at MSU, he has a long list of department responsibilities. He is unique in the broad list of other achievements that include leading the reaccreditation effort, planning new construction, leading long-range planning, implementing a community music school, developing new degrees and conducting them through the state system, incorporating the local symphony orchestra into the music school, and negotiating a major gift to music facilities. Music at MSU has made great strides in past years, and he has been the driver for all those achievements.

THE ROBERT W. MacVITTIE EMERGING LEADER AWARD — Named for Robert W. MacVittie, this award is made to an individual who is currently engaged in a higher education administrative position below the level of vice president and who has completed less than five years of service at the current level of appointment and who, by virtue of demonstrated professional accomplishment, is thought to have outstanding potential for higher education leadership. It is named for the first elected-president of AAUA.

2019 Recipient: Chris Hubbard Jackson, St. Charles Community College. Since 2014 Jackson has been the Director of Institutional Research. She is responsible for all federal, state, and accreditation reporting, all institutional research including student assessment, the office budget and hiring, and the design of numerous studies and reports. Among her other achievements are leadership and co-authoring of the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan that was praised by the Higher Learning Commission, the improved ethical practices of human subject research on the campus, and the mentoring of young IR workers through the statewide and regional institutional research associations. She has promoted a high level of professionalism in all aspects of her office's responsibilities. In the community, she has taken leadership roles in childcare, in supporting professional women, and in the regional African American Faculty Staff Association.

THE JEROME L. NEUNER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PROFESSIONAL-SCHOLARLY PUBLICATION — Given annually to the author(s) judged to have written the overall finest manuscript published during the preceding year in the Journal of Higher Education Management, this award is named for Jerome L. Neuner, two-time elected-president and chairperson of the Board, and longest tenured Board member in the history of AAUA.

2019 Recipients: William G. Tierney, Raquel M. Rall, "Lessons Not Yet Learned: Culture, Governance, and the Jerry Sandusky Case."

THE BERT ALLAN WATSON AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PROFESSIONAL-SCHOLARLY PRESENTATION — Given in recognition of outstanding presentation of critically important professional issues in a scholarly forum, this award is named for Bert Allan Watson, former and highly respected General Secretary of the association.

2019 Recipients: Vicky Brittain, Nelly R. Herrera, Cynthia Opheim, Texas State University, "Guns on Campus: Implementing Campus Carry in Texas," a presentation at the 2018 AAUA Leadership Seminar (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).

THE DAN L. KING AWARD FOR UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE TRUSTEE LEADERSHIP — Named for Dan L. King, current President/CEO of AAUA and longest serving executive officer in its history, this award is given annually to a college or university board member whose service exemplifies commitment to higher education and who demonstrates the highest ethical standards in providing leadership from the trustee-level; currently serving or recently retired board.

2019 Recipient: Kay Benesh, Marygrove University. Kay became board chair in 2014 in the midst of a financial, enrollment, and personnel crises. By the end of that year, no one remained from the senior team, creating a complete leadership gap. Kay led the trustees in methodically addressing this gap through a series of interim appointments of seasoned administrators, including Elizabeth Burns as interim provost (a 10-year board member and alumnae with administrative experience in medical schools). To compound the challenge, the interim president who was hired breached the terms of his contract and left after six months. Kay regrouped, and led the board in advancing Burns to the presidency. In the following years a complete transformation of the institution was accomplished. On January 2, 2018, Marygrove College reopened as a graduate-only institution. The Marygrove Conservancy began operations. A full pre-school to 20 campus was announced including a Marygrove collaboration with the University of Michigan, Detroit Public Schools, the Kresge Foundation, and other groups. The institution is still fragile, but its radical change is a tribute to Kay's leadership and imagination.

THE STEPHEN J. TRACHTENBERG AWARD — Named for a former elected-president of AAUA, Stephen J. Trachtenberg, this award is presented to one or more persons annually who—in the view of the association—has/have played an important and notable thought-leadership role in American higher education.

2019 Recipient: Ryan Craig, co-founder and managing director of University Ventures. Craig's commentary on where the puck is going in higher education regularly appears in the UV Letter, Forbes, TechCrunch, Inside Higher Education, Fortune, HR Dive, and VentureBeat, among others. He is the author of A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College (Ben Bella, 2018), which describes the critical importance of last-mile training and the emergence of bootcamps, income share programs, staffing and apprenticeship models as preferred pathways to good first digital jobs, and was named in the Wall Street Journal as one the Books of the Year for 2018. He is also the author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), which profiles the coming shift toward competency-based education and hiring.

2019 Recipients: Robert Archibald and David H. Feldman, professors of economics, College of William and Mary. Well known and highly respected for their work in economic analyses of American higher education, Archibald and Feldman are coauthors of two important higher education texts, The Road Ahead for America's Colleges and Universities and Why Does College Cost So Much?, the latter of which was described by Bill Gates as "one of the best books I read in 2013."

2019 Recipient: Elaine P. Maimon, president, Governors State University. Author of Leading Academic Change: Vision, Strategy, Transformation, Maimon is a highly regarded education leader who successfully and admirably shepherded Governors State University through a tumultuous period of economic stress while at the same time providing leadership for improvement and program growth to better serve the needs of that institution's Chicago-centered student population.


Christine F. Brown, "Faculty Validation of Students: An Exploration of Validation Theory Through a Survey of Faculty Attitudes," Immaculata University, 2017. This study examines "faculty attitudes towards their students, the importance of interacting and validating them, and their current validation practices." A primary contribution to the subject is the instrument constructed to examine faculty attitudes toward validation of their students. Few quantitative studies had previously examined validation theory, which therefore lacked sufficient empirical support. The results of the study suggest strategies that institutions might use with all of their students, including those who come from marginalized and underrepresented groups.


Cortni McNamara, "Bullying In Higher Education: The Female Experience," Central Michigan University, 2018. Higher education institutions experience a high level of complaints in connection with workplace bullying. Specifically, women are most affected by bullying. Although the literature is saturated with research surrounding the various facets of bullying, little is known about how female targets working in higher education describe their experience or how they cope with it. By understanding these dynamics, leaders can develop more proactive procedures and policies in order to prevent the admittance and insulation of bullies.


2019 Recipient: Damon P. S. Andrew, Florida State University. For eight years, Damon Andrew has served AAUA in all of its vital activities. He has been Chair of the Board twice and Vice Chair once. At various times since 2012 he has been on the Leadership Seminar Planning Committee and chaired it in 2014-15, Assistant Chair of Awards, and Chair of Publications. Today he is Senior Editor of the Journal of Higher Education Management. Behind the scenes he is a frequent nominator for individual and activity awards, seeker of sponsorships for the Seminar, and a major contact to keynote speakers. In short, he has his mark on every good thing that AAUA accomplishes and richly deserves this award.

All rights reserved 2019 | Design by SEED Media Services, a division of SEED Group, Inc.