SMU Interfraternity Council Expansion

Written by Adam Joiner, Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life

In the summer of 2022, I remember having a conversation with Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs & Chief of Staff, Dr. Adam Cebulski and Director for Fraternity & Sorority Life, Ashley Fitzpatrick, about the idea of having an interfraternity council (IFC) organization expand to campus. When I came into my role as the Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life in the fall of 2021, we had recently lost Sigma Phi Epsilon. Since their departure, I had a lot of conversations with IFC student leaders on when another organization might join the SMU fraternity and sorority life community. Fast forward to the spring of 2022, we saw a rise in students interested in the Interfraternity Council. We had a total of 522 potential new members (PNMs) register for the IFC formal recruitment process, the largest in SMU’s history, and over 100 students who did not receive a bid at the end of the process. There was a clear need for additional options for students participating.

The first step was to revisit our internal expansion policy and make any necessary updates. Important information that we require organizations to submit are plans to create a sound alumni advisory board, disclosure of current and historical connections to the university/college, membership statistics, and organizational support. Once the policy was put together, we wanted to create a committee that would review all applications that would apply to be a part of the community. The chapters truly wanted the expansion experience to be a well vetted process and that all voices had a seat at the table. To be able to have this experience, the IFC leadership created an expansion committee which was comprised of all nine active chapters. Their task was to create a blueprint for campus visits, compile expansion proposals, and to evaluate each proposal on the criteria given in the expansion policy. The charge to the community was to find an organization that would be a mutually beneficial to add to the community

Over the early fall 2022 semester, proposals were received from inter/national organizations to expand to SMU after a call went out to broader fraternity community. We hoped to receive a few applications, but we did not expect the amount we did receive. There was a total of fifteen organizations to formally apply to SMU. Typically, in an expansion process, only three to four organizations apply to be on campus. The community was buzzing with the amount of interest there was in SMU. The expansion committee then reviewed each proposal and narrowed down the list from fifteen to four. The list of four comprised of Delta Sigma Phi, Kappa Alpha Order, Tau Kappa Epsilon, and Theta Chi. The expansion committee believed that these four organizations presented the strongest cases for success at SMU. Delta Sigma Phi, Kappa Alpha Order, and Tau Kappa Epsilon would be re-chartered chapters, because they were previously established on campus. The next phase of the expansion process was to have on campus visits of each organization. The on-campus visit would include a meeting with fraternity and sorority life office staff and SMU administrators, presentation of the organization, meeting with the expansion committee, and meals with IFC leaders.

We hosted each organization in late November of 2022. The on-campus presentations gave each organization an opportunity to show the community why they would be a value add to campus. At the conclusion of all four organizations presenting, each expansion committee member met to have an in-depth discussion on each organization. Following discussion, each member agreed to which organization they would like to see come to campus, and a consensus is compiled into a final report. The recommendation of which organization to bring onto campus then goes to the Vice-President of Student Affairs, Dr. K.C. Mmeje for final approval. We hope that this new organization will be able to set up shop in the spring 2023 semester with plans to participate in the formal recruitment process by spring 2024. I feel after the robust expansion process, that we truly found an organization that will be mutually beneficial to add to the SMU fraternity and sorority life community.

Dr. Sidney Gardner Transitions to New Role as Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Office of Student Advocacy and Support

On Sept. 27, Dr. Sidney Gardner began her new position as Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Office of Student Advocacy and support. After almost 20 years running LGBTQ+ and gender centers, this move is an exciting transition for Dr. Gardner to continue supporting students through support services, crisis management, and advocacy. 

How do you see your work as the Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Office of Student Advocacy and Support intersecting with your experiences from the Women and LGBT Center?

“It intersects in a myriad of ways. That’s probably one of the things that I really wish people understood about running a shop like the Women and LGBT center is that there is so much that you don’t see. There are the front-facing parts that are all about programming and student advising and such, but then there are the parts happening behind the scenes–there is a lot of supporting students in crisis and students that are navigating really difficult situations, whether it be homelessness, food insecurity, financial issues, or anything related to Title IX. I have helped students navigate these issues throughout my career, but it’s part of the things that people don’t typically see us doing because it’s not front and center.”

What got you interested in the work you will be doing in your new position?

“I’ve been in the field for a long time, and again, a lot of it has to do with having navigated working with students in crisis for so long. But also, there was a time before the current iteration of Title IX, when a lot of support services fell under women’s centers on campus. I’ve also been doing that work for a really long time–in my previous position at another institution, I had been the deputy Title IX coordinator, I have worked with Title IX investigations, I’ve also served as the confidential support in these sorts of things. So that piece, I have a really strong background in, on top of just working both on campus and off campus to support students that are going through all kinds of personal crises. Because of that, I had really been interested in this type of position for a while—and then it was just good timing.”

What are you most excited about as you make the transition to your new position?

“I’m just excited about being able to support students in a different way—I still get to do some of the work that I love and am able to support students, but I get to be able to do that for our entire campus community and not just students that intersect with my previous position in the Women and LGBT Center. I’m also excited about being able to figure out things like best practices and how we can do an even better job of supporting our students going forward. Those are some things that I’m really looking forward to.”

What are some goals you would like to achieve in your new position?

“My predecessor had built this office from the ground floor during a time when these positions were just starting on campuses, so I think this is a perfect opportunity to be able to look at the work that we currently do and be able to take that to the next level. Now that we’re in a different day, so much of our campuses have changed, the world has changed, our students have changed–so what are their needs? What does the support that they need look like? How can we tailor what we do to have the greatest impact on our students? How can we get them to persist to graduation? That is the goal, but we want people to be able to do that in ways that they feel supported.”

What is your vision for the future of the Office of Student Advocacy and Support?

“My hope is that we are a space that our entire campus community really sees as somewhere that when you send students to, they know that they will be taken care of and that they will have the support and the resources that they need. I hope that other students will feel confident when they say to a friend about us, ‘Hey, you know who really helped me? You should reach out to them too.’ I think we do have some of that dialogue already, but my hope is that throughout the campus community, we’re seen as that space that is really all about exactly what our title is—student advocacy and support. I hope that people really value and express how much the work that we do means to them.”

Princess Igwe-Icho selected as NASPA Undergraduate Fellow

Written by: Dr. Dustin Grabsch, Assistant Provost of Undergraduate Education & Academic Success

SMU Sophomore Princess Igwe-Icho, a member of the First-Generation Research Team, has been selected as a NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program (NUFP) fellow!

“I found out about the NASPA Program through Dr. Dustin Grabsch when we were doing our research project together. To be able to utilize the mentorship program and see myself in higher education was something that was so new but something I contemplated doing when coming to SMU my first year,” Princess said. “Dr. Dustin discussed his experience with the program and the individuals that were involved, which were all individuals that I found to be inspiring and who I strived to be like in the future. It only seemed like the right thing to do with all the experiences I encountered at SMU.”

The NUFP is a program that allows students to “increase the number of historically disenfranchised and underrepresented professionals in student affairs and higher education” and “have opportunities for scholarships, on-campus mentorship, and professional development events.” As a fellow, Princess will have access to NASPA national and regional conferences and the ability to participate in semi-structured learning experiences.

“I can’t wait to start my mentorship program and learn more about the areas of student affairs as well as meet the individuals that make student affairs what it is. I hope that with my experience and skill set, I can offer more to NASPA and also gain skills from the program that I can utilize in my future career,” Princess said. “Furthermore, I hope to attend the leadership programs and see how intersectionality comes to play when interacting with students and within the workplace.”

Fellows and mentors apply to the program as a pair. Assistant Provost of Undergraduate Education & Academic Success, Dr. Dustin Grabsch, will be Princess’s mentor for the program. Congratulations to Princess Igwe-Icho!

Dr. K.C. Mmeje Selected as Aspen Index Senior Impact Fellow

Congratulations to SMU’s own Dr. K.C. Mmeje, Vice President for Student Affairs, on being selected as an inaugural Aspen Index Senior Fellow with the Aspen Institute! 93 community stakeholders, youth, educators, and scholars have come together to advance the future of youth leadership development.

Impact Fellows representing a diverse mosaic of sectors, geographies, and areas of expertise will advance an urgent agenda focused on the research, interventions, and strategies necessary to accelerate the access to and quality of youth leadership programs nationally. The goal: Lift youth exposure to high-impact leadership programs above 50% over the next 5 years.

Impact Fellows will aid in the development, optimization, and beta-testing of the Aspen Index along with co-creating the supporting learning architecture to ensure its success. This work dove-tails with major reports to be released on the future of youth leadership research and practice. Together, the Aspen
Institute is working with Impact Fellows to create a movement of greater access to and quality of youth leadership programs.

“I am humbled by my selection as an ASPEN Senior Impact Fellow with the Aspen Institute Leadership Development Index. Together, the Aspen Institute is working with Impact Fellows to create a movement of greater access to and quality of youth leadership programs. I am eager to advance this important work.”

Dr. K.C. Mmeje, Vice President for Student Affairs

The Aspen Institute Leadership Development Index (Aspen Index) is a digital tool that measures key leadership capacities to accelerate personal and professional growth. Leveraging 20 years of ground-breaking, peer-reviewed empirical research, the Aspen Index assesses individual capacities, maps team assets, and evaluates program impact—each with the option for additional 360 feedback. By comparing an individual’s scores with national and career-specific benchmarks—and by breaking down the distinct knowledge, behaviors, attitudes, and skills that cultivate effective leadership—the Aspen Index provides a strategic roadmap to elevate one’s potential and deepen one’s impact.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, please visit

#CSAM22 – Chief of Staff/AVP with Dr. Cebulski

Dr. Adam Cebulski, Chief of Staff and Assistant Vice President, reflects on his career journey in higher education.

Life is not linear, it is organic. We create our lives symbiotically as we explore our talents in relation to the circumstances they help create for us.

Ken Robinson

What made you pursue the work you currently do, and was that always the plan?

I always thought I wanted to be in higher education, but it was always going to be on the faculty side. As an undergraduate student studying psychology, I was intent on pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology to become a tenured faculty member. Much of that had to do with being a first-generation college student and not knowing anyone with a terminal degree. It was something to obtain that I could be proud of and know I had worked for. My undergraduate career was life-changing due to some serious health issues, and I got to know the university President and senior leaders in student affairs very well. They convinced me to think about a career in student affairs. When it came time to review my doctoral graduate school offers, I decided to try out the administrative side of higher education. Ultimately, this led to a career in higher education – both on campuses and adjacent as I worked in consulting and educational technology. I don’t have a linear journey, but I think that’s helped me become a better campus-based professional. Instead of the traditional path of working on a few campuses during my career, I have worked with over 250 on all kinds of projects with a variety of impacts. It has helped me know exactly what kind of institutions I enjoy, what challenges make me thrive, and how to better support my staff and, ultimately our students. Folks can learn a bit more about my journey on a podcast I did for NASPA.

In what ways does your role look similar or different to its historical roots? In other words, how has your role on college campuses evolved over time?

Interestingly enough, my kind of position is relatively new to higher education. I have two sides to my portfolio – the student engagement and success side (AVP) and the Chief of Staff (CoS) side. The AVP or engagement side is a relatively new way of splitting out what was traditionally part of a Dean of Students (DoS) portfolio. Many DoS portfolios now focus more on student well-being and support (like ours). Higher ed and corporate have adopted the Chief of Staff component from politics and the military. According to the Harvard Business Review, “The most sophisticated chiefs of staff also assist leaders in thinking through and setting policies—and making sure they are implemented. They anticipate problems and are especially sensitive to issues that require diplomacy. They function as extra eyes and ears by pointing out political potholes their bosses may not recognize (especially if they are new to the company). Importantly, a CoS acts with the implicit imprimatur of the leader—something that calls for humility, maturity, and situational sensitivity.” In many cases, it involves working on special and strategic projects, looking holistically at the organization, and creating intentional external partnerships. You become a master strategist and learn both breadth and depth as it relates to the functions of a university. I love the foundation it has given me, and I don’t believe I would be successful at it had I not had my non-linear carer journey.

What are the most important competencies someone needs to develop to be successful in your role?

A good chief of staff needs to be a good observer, inquisitive, and think strategically. In many cases, Chiefs of Staff operate small shops but have large impacts because they oversee strategic plans, critical priorities, or change management initiatives. You can’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty so you can understand the cause and effect of decision-making. It goes without saying you have to have a mastery of project management and organization. You also have to put your ego aside because it is not typically the work in the spotlight, but it feels good to know you had a hand in the organization’s success – even if most people don’t know how you contributed. Sometimes you are ghostwriting for others or acting on behalf of a leader – you have to be comfortable understanding how the people you support think, so you can make their lives easier.

Do you have any final thoughts for someone considering your role in the future?

Don’t be afraid to take risks. Whether trying out a new opportunity or taking on a project that seems a bit out of the left field. All these will expose you to new ideas, people, and experiences – ultimately making you a better professional. Think creatively about your job and educational choices. There are tons of non-higher ed pathways that can help you be a good chief of staff within a higher education context. Look at pursuing learning and organizational change programs or IO psychology. Think about business-oriented pathways. Just make sure where you land aligns with your own personal mission and the impact you hope to have on students; even if may be indirect.

Dr. Adam Cebulski
Dr. Adam R. Cebulski

Dr. Cebulski serves in a joint role as the Assistant Vice President for Student Engagement and Success and the Chief of Staff for the Division of Student Affairs. Dr. Adam R. Cebulski provides leadership for the Student Engagement and Success portfolio within Student Affairs which includes Student Center and Activities, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Social Change and Intercultural Engagement, the Women and LGBT Center, Office of the Student Experience (Leadership, Orientation, Parent Programs, specialty populations). Separately, as the Chief of Staff for the division, he also oversees Student AffairsAdministration (assessment, strategic initiatives, marketing, technology, staff development, etc). He also works on special projects for the Vice President and manages the execution of the divisional strategic plan.

He holds his Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Southern Methodist University, his M.S.Ed. degree in Higher Education Administration and Policy from Northwestern University and a B.S. degree in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. His background combines higher education, corporate consulting, and innovation technology. He has focused on strategic  planning and assessment, and he has helped many universities and non-profit organizations implement structural and procedural changes to improve operations. His professional expertise also includes process improvement, program evaluation, student retention initiatives, marketing, admissions and recruitment, and technology integration. Prior to SMU he spent almost ten years as an independent consultant for higher education institutions as the Director for Research and Strategic Initiatives for an educational technology company. Previously, he held positions within student and academic affairs at Illinois Institute of Technology and Northwestern University. Throughout his experience, he has worked with over 200 colleges and universities on student-centered initiatives large and small.

Dr. Cebulski also teaches graduate courses in higher education masters and doctoral programs. His course offerings have included classes related to leadership development, strategic planning and assessment, gamification in education, among others. His research projects include using gamification principles and human motivation patterns to increase student engagement and success, development of intentional student experiences, the intersection of identity salience of underrepresented students and leadership development, in-group bias against positive attributes, and the impacts and integration of technology on higher education.

Additionally, Dr. Cebulski engages in a variety of educational and industry professional associations. Most recently he has been active in conference presentations and publications with NASPA as well as serving as an AVP Cohort Facilitator. He also sits on the review board for the Journal for Student Affairs Inquiry. 

#CSAM22 – Student Activities with Dr. Norris

Dr. Dawn F. Norris, Executive Director for Student Involvement, reflects on her career in student affairs.

Dr. Dawn F. Norris is the Executive Director for Student Involvement with responsibility for student organizations and involvement, fraternity and sorority life, and the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. She advises the SMU Student Senate and is an Adjunct Clinical Lecturer in the Simmons School of Education. Dawn received her undergraduate degree in business administration cum laude from Centenary College of Louisiana, her master’s degree in college student personnel from the University of Dayton, and her doctorate in higher education policy and leadership from SMU. Previous positions include work with residence life, multicultural student affairs, community engagement and leadership, development and external affairs event planning, conference planning, human resources functions, and budgeting within business and finance. Dr. Norris received the “M” Award – the highest honor bestowed on a Mustang, and the President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership.

What made you pursue the work you currently do, and was that always the plan?

Absolutely not – no one dresses up as a student affairs professional for Halloween – I didn’t even know that was a job! My undergrad degree was in business, and I started my career in higher education finance. My alma mater asked me to come back as a part-time hall director three years out, and as a newly married, semi-broke young professional, I jumped at the chance to live on campus for free. That work led me to determine while I was right about higher ed, I was wrong about finance. I quit my two jobs, went back to school full-time to get my master’s degree, and a career was born. I later spent a year in development, further reinforcing that working with college students is my calling.

That work led me to determine while I was right about higher ed, I was wrong about finance. I quit my two jobs, went back to school full-time to get my master’s degree, and a career was born.

In what ways does your role look similar or different to its historical roots? In other words, how has your role on college campuses evolved over time?

Student organizations and activities have always been part of the college student experience. Over time, support for and advisement of these activities has professionalized and grown more complex. Campus leaders expect more oversight than they once did, and while advisors were once exclusively faculty, those roles are now predominately managed by professional staff, often in student activities.

What are the most important competencies someone needs to develop to be successful in your role?

Student activities and organization folks need to seek out opportunities during their graduate preparation to learn about the operations side of our work: budget, risk management, facilities operation, etc. Many of us choose this work because of our relationships with students. While often the most fulfilling part of our roles, we best serve our students when we develop expertise in the university systems that support their (and our) efforts.

Do you have any final thoughts for someone considering your role in the future?

I love my job in student affairs and have experienced such personal fulfillment in my career. Now that I have a college student of my own, I’m comforted knowing there is a whole team of student affairs professionals on her campus working to support her and create a robust extracurricular experience where she’ll make friends and memories.

Careers in Student Affairs Month #CSAM22

Careers in Student Affairs (CSAM) is a month-long initiative each October developed by a number of professional associations related to Student Affairs. CSAM is dedicated to the celebration of a career in student affairs, education and awareness in the profession, and engagement with professional associations and peers in the field. More directly, the goals of Careers in Student Affairs Month are to:

  • Celebrate the field of student affairs through opportunities to reflect on individual journeys and experiences
  • Provide professional development for student affairs administrators in higher education
  • Encourage and promote the profession in order to grow the field of student affairs
  • Cultivate spaces for dialogue related to pertinent topics within student affairs

Throughout the month, Student Affairs at SMU will be sharing reflections from functional leaders within the Division highlighting various career pathways and advice for those seeking to obtain those roles in the future. We will also host pop-up brown bag lunches for current staff and graduate students to have a more intimate conversation with functional leaders.

We are also hosting two open activities for graduate assistants within the Division of Student Affairs.

Thursday, October 13, 2022
Lunch and Learn: Professional Paths in Student Affairs
12-1, HTSC 226 – Lunch will be provided

Thursday, October 25, 2022
Resume and Job Search Workshop in connection with the Hegi Family Career Center
11:30am-1:00pm, HTSC 226 – Lunch with be provided

There are also a variety of resources available from professional associations during October.

ACPA – College Student Educators International

ACPA is offering a series of webinars throughout the month as well as discounts for Graduate students on membership and the Annual Conference.

Check out more information on their CSAM website.

NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education

During Careers in Student Affairs Month, NASPA and NASPA Constituent Groups sponsor educational sessions for students and professionals of all levels. Unless noted otherwise, 2022 NASPA Careers in Student Affairs Month webinars are free for members and non-members. Check out the schedule online. Additionally, they are offering a discount on select books related to career trajectory.

Engage Dallas: Beyond the Hilltop

Engage Dallas is a place-based community engagement initiative via SMU’s Residential Commons to address community needs focusing on South and West Dallas. The initiative is a long-term, university-wide commitment led by students to partner with local residents, organizations, and other leaders to positively impact the community. There is equal emphasis on campus and community impact stemming from the initiative.

Engage Dallas launched Fall 2020 with each of our 11 Residential Commons focusing on one specific community-identified need. Each Commons partners with non-profit organizations in South and West Dallas serving to address these needs. The 11 community-identified needs are: Homelessness, Food Insecurity, College Access & Preparation, Arts as Social Impact, Environmental Injustice, STEM Education Access, Immigration and Refugee Support, Community Wellbeing, Child Poverty, Childhood Literacy, and Community Rebuilding.

My volunteerism at Geneva Heights Elementary School here in Dallas the past two semesters has significantly contributed to my personal growth in many ways; the service has revealed to me that I can be spiritually fulfilled in helping these young students. While the objective is directed towards their growth and improvement, it has internally also contributed to my growth and knowledge of the English and Spanish language. Moreover, this service has given me greater social understanding and greater diversity exposure; I tutor two young girls that are Hispanic. Learning about their culture and experiences in education has broadened my innate perspective and challenged my views about early childhood education consequently. I have always had a passion for childhood literacy, and so the fact that I had this opportunity has just strengthened my affirmation for it. I am so incredibly thankful for it. My commons, Virginia-Snider, directed audience is childhood literacy. I am appreciative of this implication in volunteerism because childhood literacy is truly a factor that will continue to aid students into furthering their educational pursuits. Due to this, the importance of having a good childhood literacy experience is crucial to young students’ growth. My residential commons’ puts forth the effort to bring awareness to this, and I have had the pleasure to be a part of assisting that social problem through volunteering at a local elementary school in Dallas ISD, and it has impacted me as a student, as a young adult, and as a Dallas resident. I would not have been able to do this if it was not for Engage Dallas that offers access to these programs–and it allows for students to gain their CEPE in an impactful manner.

Gracie Holder, ‘25
English and Social Innovation & Nonprofit Engagement Majors
Virginia Snider Commons

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization. Like most organizations of color, we have a small staff who wear several different hats. Our relationship with Engage Dallas has been a godsend. The young people who volunteered in February during our one-act festival arrived on time. They were professional and courteous, definitely representative of our grand. We look forward to a long and continued business relationship.

Teresa Coleman Wash
Executive Artistic Director
Bishop Arts Theatre Center

I was excited about the opportunity to work with Engage Dallas this year because doing so presented a unique opportunity for me to put my research into practice and to have an impact on both SMU and our community. My research focuses on the relationships universities have with external organizations and how those relationships shape what universities do and the impact they have on their stakeholders. For example, Engage Dallas has created a number of partnerships between SMU and community-based nonprofits, I want to understand how these partnerships impact all parties.

To that end, I joined Engage Dallas to help create a tool for evaluating the usefulness of the partnership between Engage Dallas and the respective community organizations. This tool will help to answer questions like whether or not this partnership helps the community organizations to better achieve their mission, or allows them to expand their services. Contributing to Engage Dallas to help build this evaluation tool is a welcome opportunity to put my research knowledge and expertise into practice in the hopes of ensuring that Engage Dallas benefits the community, the nonprofit partners, the students, and SMU.

Dr. Sondra Barringer
Assistant Professor, Education Policy and Leadership
Simmons School of Education & Human Development

2022 Courageous Change Leader Awards

In 2019, the Division of Student Affairs introduced the Courageous Change Leader award created to to honor the individuals who have embodied the commitment statements outlined in our strategic plan. This year we introduced a new award, the Rising Star award, recognizing a professional newer to the field (3 years or less) who shows strong potential for excelling in the field of student affairs.

The division established six commitment statements identifying how we expect staff to approach their work holistically supporting students in the development of meaningful lives. These commitment statements are the overarching expectations for our work in this student-centered environment.


  • Is actively employed by the Division of Student Affairs at the time of recognition.
  • Was marked as meets or exceeds overall on their last performance evaluation cycle.
  • Must not have been placed on any step of performance correction within the last year.
  • Must not have been a previous recipient of the award in which they’re nominated.

2022 Award Recipients

Courageous Change Leader

The Courageous Change Leader award is the highest honor bestowed on a staff member within the Division of Student Affairs. It was created to honor the individuals who have embodied the commitment statements outlined in our strategic plan. This recognition is awarded annually to one or two staff members within the division who have exemplified at least two of these commitments and are selected by VPLT.

Matt Nadler, Assistant Director, Hegi Family Career Development Center

Matt Nadler is committed to a culture of intellectual curiosity and innovation to develop, with student input, new strategies and implement new programs to move effectively serve our entire campus community. He has served in multiple departments within the division and has been instrumental on committees, searches, and special projects for his departments and the division.  As co-chair for the Engage Dallas Offsite & Risk Management team, Matt has played a pivotal part in establishing community partnerships for each of our Residential Commons. One of the distinguishing factors defining good team members from excellent team members is the ability to step into an organization, assess and anticipate needs, and then begin taking immediate positive action – Matt has been able to do this in both of his roles within RLSH and Hegi. Matt’s coworkers say he is a joy to work with and brings an element of positivity to all work projects and added that he does exceptional work without needing to be asked and in doing so elevates the work of those around him.

Bonnie Pickett, Coordinator for Studen Affairs Administration

Bonnie Pickett embodies the Division’s commitment statements every day in her work – much of that work is done behind the scenes through her work in Student Affairs Administration. Although her days are hectic, she always finds time to answer a question or help out. Bonnie is known for her willingness to step up whether that is handling technical difficulties at major divisional events or stepping in during staff vacancies – she epitomizes what it means to be a selfless leader and a positive agent of change. While her role is not student-facing, she is determined to make a difference in the lives of the students and staff on the Hilltop. In an interim capacity, Bonnie has taken on supervision of a team of student workers with such attention to their growth and development, it rivals a career student affairs practitioner. Her coworkers see the appreciation from the students for her leadership and guidance. Bonnie has a passion for people that is quiet and peaceful, and there is not a day that goes by that someone is thanking her for assisting them in some way.

Rising Star

This award recognizes a professional newer to the field (3 years or less) who shows strong potential for excelling in the field of student affairs. This employee is courageously engaged in their new role and provides strong demonstration of the student affairs commitments. The recipient is selected by an ad-hoc committee.

Jermisha (Frazer) McCoy, Coordinator for the Women and LGBT Center

Jermisha McCoy has quickly established herself as someone who exemplifies what it means to be a Courageous Change Leader inside the Division of Student Affairs here at SMU, in addition to showing strong potential for excelling in the field of student affairs as a whole as a newer professional. Jermisha’s presence at SMU not only helps students but also the division in its commitment of Breaking Down Barriers because her personal background, positionality, and talents allow her to serve as an inspiration for anyone on campus to see themselves in her so that they can feel more able to “break down the social, physical and emotional barriers that may inhibit their success”. Jermisha, without a doubt, has demonstrated our division’s commitment to Innovating Our Work by introducing many fresh ideas and approaches to the table through her work in such a short amount of time. Jermisha continues to learn and evolve as a young professional as well as in her current studies in pursuit of a doctorate degree. While she is new to the field of student affairs, it is clear Jermisha has the potential to be a rising star.