May 07, 2010

Housing director earns national recognition

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Julie Payne Kirchmeier, the director of University Housing at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is the winner of a national award in honor of her efforts as a female professional and leader.

Payne Kirchmeier will receive the 2010 Herstory Award from the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I) during the group’s Annual Conference and Exposition June 26-29 in Austin, Texas. The award recognizes her continuing contributions to the collegiate housing profession. The Herstory Award, established to honor the past women presidents of the organization, honors as winners women in ACUHO-I who serve the housing profession “through courage, leadership, forging new paths as pioneers, honor and commitment” according to ACUHO-I.

“I am humbled to receive this honor from ACUHO-I. As a woman in higher education, I consider it a responsibility to work toward the realization of equity for women in our profession and believe that receiving the ACUHO-I Herstory Award provides additional motivation for me to continue this advocacy and activism. I sincerely thank both the Association and my colleagues for their continued support and encouragement,” Payne Kirchmeier said.

Payne Kirchmeier is also Student Affairs director of Saluki First Year at SIUC. She completed her doctorate at Indiana State University in Terre Haute in 2009. Her dissertation was entitled “Women Administrators’ Perceptions of the Senior Student Affairs Officer Job Search Process.” She also holds a master’s of education in student affairs administration in higher education and a bachelor’s in genetics from Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas.

Laura A. Berry, director of housing and residence life at the University of Southern Indiana, nominated Payne Kirchmeier for the Herstory Award, saying she “has long been an avid contributor to women in the field. It is part of her core values to help encourage women to excel in their chosen fields. Advancement of women in the student affairs field is the topic of her doctoral dissertation. Julie is a woman of passion and action.”

“Julie’s stature within the Great Lakes Association of College and University Housing Officers is legendary,” Berry added. She noted Payne Kirchmeier’s extensive involvement with that organization, her mentoring efforts and her leadership within the university housing profession and with regard to women in administrative roles.

When hired in December 2006 at SIUC, Payne Kirchmeier became the first female director of University Housing. She took on the role as co-director of First Year Experience in June 2009.

“Julie leads by example, is articulate, a good communicator and has a level of enthusiasm and energy that is unmatched. She is always professional and is a fine example of the characteristics of a successful housing professional. On a personal level, she is kind, caring and always willing to go the extra mile for anyone. She is a civic-minded individual and possesses a quick wit and keen sense of humor,” wrote Larry H. Dietz, SIUC vice chancellor for student affairs in a letter supporting her award nomination.

“Julie has served in a variety of capacities within ACUHO-I and has distinguished herself at each level she has served,” Dietz added. “She is devoted to women’s issues.”

Payne Kirchmeier said she believes firmly in advocacy and action and lives by a quote from Johnnette B. Cole, the first African American female president of Spelman College: “If we do nothing to change the world, then we cannot call ourselves educated women.”

Payne Kirchmeier feels it is her responsibility to work toward achieving equality and equity for women professionals and students and that’s been important to her during a 15-year career in student affairs. She said although her career has been predominately with university housing and first-year experience programs, she’s also passionate about researching and making presentations about women’s professional development, particularly in the field of student affairs.

A longtime member of ACUHO-I, she has served in various committee and administrative positions with the organization. She recently established the Women Housing Professionals group on the organization’s networking site and began the Women in Housing (#wihsng) Twitter group. Along with three other female housing professionals, she drafted a Women’s Issues Task Force proposal this spring for the ACUHO-I, a proposal now under consideration. She also authors the blog “The Feminist Lattice.”

Payne Kirchmeier was previously director of housing and residence life at the University of Southern Indiana, acting director of University Housing at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and held a number of positions including working in the office of the dean of students at Texas A & M University.

“Julie brings enthusiasm, wit and grace to any endeavor she undertakes. All of those qualities are essential when dealing with the complexities of residential life on a college campus. Even with the challenges of difficult situations and long hours, Julie always brought a fresh perspective to issues and projects,” wrote Linda L.M. Bennett, president of the University of Southern Indiana in recommending Payne Kirchmeier for the award. “Even at this early point in her career, Julie exhibits leadership in student affairs and higher education administration in general. She has focused her doctoral work on women in administration and it is clear that she is approaching her career planning in a scholarly manner.”

Payne Kirchmeier recently began teaching at SIUC and has also made numerous presentations, many involving women’s issues.