March 19, 2010

Paratore, Sermersheim win national recognition

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A rare thing will happen at the 2010 International Convention of the American College Personnel Association.

Two women from Southern Illinois University Carbondale will receive major awards at the event, set for March 20-24 in Boston. Jean Paratore will get the Esther Lloyd-Jones Professional Service Award, while Katherine L. Sermersheim is a 2010 Diamond Honoree.

Paratore is the first from SIUC to claim the Esther Lloyd-Jones award. The ACPA presents the award annually to “a member of the profession or association who has exemplified the profession’s commitment to service through significant, continued and unselfish service/leadership activities that have benefitted the profession, ACPA and the profession’s practice on the state and national level,” according to the ACPA Web site.

Paratore is coordinator of the Inspiring Women Program at SIUC, an extra help position she took after retiring at the beginning of 2004. The program has grossed more than $600,000 in donations over the past six years and enabled awards of $111,000 in scholarships in addition to retention grants for some returning students. Paratore previously served from 1993 to 2003 as associate vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management and dean of students at the University. Prior to that, she held a variety of other administrative and faculty posts since her arrival at SIUC in 1974.

“”She has always been active professionally and her recognition is well-deserved. She brings honor to herself, the Division of Student Affairs, Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the student affairs profession. My heartiest congratulations to her for this achievement,” said Larry H. Dietz, vice chancellor for student affairs.

Paratore earned her doctorate in education with specialization in higher education administration at SIUC in 1984 and holds a master’s in education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (1974) and a bachelor of science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (1971). She was president, vice president and held a variety of other leadership positions in ACPA between 1986 and 2000, along with serving on numerous SIUC committees and being active in community service.

“I am so humbled. I knew I was a nominee but when they told me I had won, I couldn’t believe it. I know that most people who know me won’t believe it but I was almost speechless. I am very honored. It’s an extremely prestigious award the association gives. Esther Lloyd-Jones was a fantastic woman, particularly for that generation, and I am honored to win the award bearing her name,” Paratore said.

Colleagues offered support of Paratore’s award nomination, citing her intelligence, organization, humor, strong work ethic, commitment and passion for students and higher education.

The ACPA Educational Leadership Foundation established the Diamond Honoree Program in 1999 to honor individuals for exceptional and continuing contributions to higher education and student affairs. The foundation’s board of trustees chooses an elite group each year as Diamond Honorees and the 2010 group of 16 includes Sermersheim, director of student development at SIUC. The award honors contributions to the field and students as well efforts to mentor other professionals.

“Dr. Katie, as the students know her, is a great example for other student affairs professionals to follow. Day in and day out, she goes out of her way to listen to students, help students and offer suggestions for improvement and opportunities for growth and development. I too, am proud of her accomplishments and the positive reflection she makes on the division of student affairs, the University and the field of student affairs in general,” Dietz said.

Sermersheim became director of student development in 2001; she served as assistant director 1996-2001. Previously, her employment included assistant director of student activities and Greek affairs coordinator at Western Illinois University in Macomb and director of student activities at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind. She also teaches and has served on a variety of campus committees and organizations on and off campus. She has accumulated a variety of honors and awards.

“It is an honor to be recognized. The intrinsic rewards I gain from my daily interactions with students, faculty and staff are incredibly gratifying. I am lucky to have found a profession that is so meaningful and rewarding to me,” Sermersheim said.

Sermersheim earned her doctorate in educational administration in May 2002 at SIUC and her master’s in college student personnel in 1991 at Western Illinois University. She completed her bachelor’s in psychology and sociology in 1989 at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, Ind. She participated by invitation in the Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration in July 2004 at Bryn Mawr College and Higher Education Resource Services, Mid-America.

Paratore is a 1999 ACPA Educational Leadership Foundation Diamond Honoree while Dietz was one of just 15 receiving the honor at the annual 2009 convention in Washington, D.C. Dietz earned a similar honor in 2003 from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. He won the organization’s “Pillar of the Profession” award. The two leading student affairs professional organizations represent thousands of colleges and universities worldwide and have a combined membership of nearly 12,000. Dietz is one of a very small group claiming both awards.

Dietz is an SIUC alumnus, earning his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1970. He completed his master’s in higher education and student personnel in 1974 and his doctorate in professional studies in 1985, both at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

His roles and accomplishments at SIUC are varied and numerous as are his awards. His student affairs career began at SIUC and then continued at Iowa State University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City before he returned to SIUC in 2000.

“Dr. Larry Dietz has served the field of student affairs for more than 30 years and in doing so, has made a lasting impression upon countless students, faculty and staff!” said Sermersheim.

Paratore and Sermersheim will receive their 2010 ACPA awards during separate ceremonies Monday, March 22.