The 28th annual Outstanding Faculty and Staff Advisor Awards were given Wednesday to David Grenke, professor in the theater and dance department, and My Diem Nguyen, student affairs officer in the Asian American studies department.
The award is unique because it is awarded as a result of student nominations and the recipients are selected by students on the committee of academic peer advisers.
“Very few awards are more meaningful on campus,” said Fred Wood, vice chancellor of student affairs, in his speech prior to the distribution of the awards. “This [award] is unique because it comes from the students‘ heart.“
“Advising is a very personal thing,” he said. “It connects students to the academic culture and helps them to navigate through the university and understand its purpose.“
Wood went on to comment on the major impact that efficient advising has on retaining students, citing a study of retention techniques across the country where administrators cited the importance of advising.
“[Advisers] personalize the university. They put a face on it and integrate the students into the intellectual and social fabric of the institution,” he said. “The adviser‘s office is a safe place, and their help goes beyond just school concerns.“
The ceremony was organized by award chair Miriam Ferhot, a senior communication and graphic design double-major and student coordinator of the Academic Peer Advising Program, with the help of APA director Tammy Hoyer and financial support from the teaching resource center.
David Grenke stepped up to the podium first, receiving the award for outstanding faculty adviser.
“It’s an honor that you can’t overstate,” Grenke said. “This award means a great deal to me.“
“I think it’s really appropriate that this award covers both sides, I’ve always had wonderful peer advisers and my staff colleagues have been very helpful,“ Grenke said, addressing the dual faculty and staff aspect of the award.
Grenke is the founder and director of “ThingsezIsee‘m“ a nonprofit dance and theater company. He is also a former principal dancer for the Paul Taylor Dance Company.
Nguyen graduated from UC Davis in 2002 with a bachelor of arts degree in Asian American studies and sociology, and was part of the committee who hired the first student academic adviser for the Asian American studies department.
“I want to say thanks to the students, I’m very humbled to be up here to talk with you today,” Nguyen said.
She went on to give thanks for those who had helped her in her journey.
“I want to say that I’m really indebted to and wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for guidance from Theresa Montemayor, she’s the prefect model of an advisor, and if I could be even any part of her I would be happy.“
Nguyen is currently in her third year as a student academic adviser at UC Davis.
This year’s award was the first to be completely restricted to online submissions, and received a record-high number of nominations.
“I’ve been involved in this ceremony for 20 years now,” Hoyer said. “We’ve had phenomenal responses this year with over 50 nominations.“
“Faculty and staff provide a vital role,” said Sumeet Hayer, who will be next years‘ award chair. “I think it’s really important to recognize their efforts.“
CHARLES HINRIKSSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgXXX