Pat Whitely Receives 2013 Scott Goodnight Award

The award is the highest honor presented by NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education).

Coral Gables (March 26, 2013) — Pat Whitely, who took the reins as vice president for student affairs at the University of Miami 16 years ago and instituted innovative, new strategies to enhance student life, has been awarded NASPA’s 2013 Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Performance as a Dean.

The award is the highest honor bestowed by NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education). Named in honor of the organization’s founding board chair, it is given to a senior student affairs officer “who has demonstrated sustained professional service in student affairs work, high-level competency in administrative skills, innovative response in meeting students’ varied and emerging needs, effectiveness in developing junior staff members, and leadership in community and university affairs.”

Whitely, who accepted the award on March 19 at NASPA’s annual conference in Orlando.

“Dr. Whitely is the driving force behind the quality of student life at our University,” UM President Donna E. Shalala said. “She immerses herself in her role and inspires her dedicated staff to do the same. Everything she does reflects her love and respect for the University family. This award is much deserved.”

“Humbled” is how Whitely described her reaction to receiving the award. “My work at UM has always been about creating a caring campus climate and culture where student learning is supported and students are inspired to achieve their goals. I am privileged and honored to serve in this role, for the work is impactful and life-affirming.”

Among her accomplishments, Whitely was instrumental in the origin and development of UM’s residential college system; she played a key role in UM’s recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and continues to be a critical player in handling campus and student crises; she was the first student affairs vice president in the nation to appoint a social worker to the student affairs staff to help with the complex challenges facing college students, an appointment that has been replicated by many universities; she is a member of the National Vice Presidents’ Group, a selective group of 25 vice presidents in the United States and Canada; and most recently she has been one of the driving forces behind the renovation of the University Center and construction of the new Student Activities Center, which will open this summer.

The award comes on the heels of her election as chair of NASPA’s Board of Directors, a term that begins next year. It also gives UM the distinction of being the only university in the nation to have two student affairs vice presidents honored with the Goodnight Award. William R. Butler, vice president for student affairs emeritus, received the award in 1997.

“I am extremely proud of Pat and her many accomplishments. She is loved by students, and UM is very fortunate to have her,” said Butler.

“This recognition reflects Pat’s passion and commitment to student success and her belief in the importance of the student affairs profession within higher education,” said Gail Cole-Avent, assistant to the vice president for student affairs and University ombudsperson. “It was wonderful to witness the international body of NASPA honor her for her extraordinary vision and work. She is an outstanding mentor and role model, and it is a privilege to learn from her each day.”

Richard Walker, who worked with Whitely for more than two decades at UM prior to leaving to become vice chancellor for student affairs for the University of Houston System and vice president for student affairs for the University of Houston, says that Whitely has helped create an impressive culture of student life, leadership, and governance at UM. “Pat firmly believes in the role that students play in guiding and improving programs and services within the division as well as the institution,” he says. “She supports an environment of innovation and creativity in meeting the needs of students.”

Students, Whitely’s primary focus at the University, speak just as highly of her. “It’s a much deserved reward for all the hard work she puts into University life, but more importantly students’ lives,” says Nawara Alawa, Student Government president. “Whether it’s helping me coordinate the reveal of the U statue, coordinating information for the pedestrian overpass we’re advocating for, or even looking to the future to achieve my goal of becoming a physician, Dr. Whitely has been engaging and ready to help in any way that she can. She truly cares.”

Bhumi Patel, executive-at-large external for Student Government, credits Whitely for helping SG secure funding for a fall speaker series and the mural at the Whitten University Center that chronicles UM’s history. “I couldn’t be prouder of Dr. Whitely for earning this award,” says Patel, who will serve as SG president for the 2013-14 academic year. “I’ve interacted with her as a prospective student, a student in need of assistance, and a student leader. She reaches out to students just as much as students reach out to her.”

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