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COE Students, Faculty, and Alumni Receive NASPA Awards

A number of UMD College of Education students, faculty, and alumni are 2019 National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) awardees. Notably, Professor Emerita, Susan R. Komives, received the 2019 John Blackburn Distinguished Pillar Award. The award is the foundation’s highest honor and is presented to a member who continues to vitalize the field of student affairs.

Susan Komives
Dr. Komives taught at COE for 25 years until 2012. Her research teams worked on projects such as the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership and the Leadership Identity Development Model, and she has co-authored or co-edited numerous books on student leadership, including Exploring Leadership, Leadership for A Better World, and the Handbook for Student Leadership Development. She lends credit for her success to her colleagues, contributors, and students at UMD.

“Maryland, especially the student affairs graduate program in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education and the Division of Student Affairs were incubators for creative, quality, enduring research, scholarship, and relationships,” Dr. Komives says. “Graduate students from Student Affairs, Higher Education, and student affairs professionals worked together to advance how our field approaches student leadership development through award-winning programs and scholarship.”

“I am so honored that the work we all did together at Maryland has had such an impact in our field. It was my honor and pleasure to facilitate dozens of Maryland graduate students into their first professional writing experiences,” she says.

Additionally, College of Education (COE) alumni were recognized with the Pillars of the Profession Award for work in student affairs. Awardees who are considered “Pillars of the Profession” have taken on leadership, teaching, and scholarly roles in higher education and student affairs. The NASPA 2019 Pillars of the Profession Award recipients include:


Wendy Endress
Wendy Endress, (PhD, ’00), Vice Provost for Student & Academic Life, The Evergreen State College

Dr. Endress has held numerous positions in student affairs, including serving as Dean of Students and Associate Vice Provost of Student Affairs. Dr. Endress maintains a focus on leadership development, civic engagement, and student access, among other areas, and has been a NASPA member since 1992. She received her doctorate from the college student personnel administration program in the counseling and personnel services department. The Pillars of the Profession Award compliments her other student affairs awards, including the Fred Turner Award for Outstanding Service and the ACPA Roberta Christie Essay Award. Currently, Dr. Endress is helping to plan the 2019 NASPA Conference.

Javaune Adams-Gaston
Javaune Adams-Gaston, Senior Vice President for Student Life at The Ohio State University

Dr. Adams-Gaston served as an Executive Director of the University Career Center at UMD. At The Ohio State University, Dr. Adams-Gaston provides leadership on issues and services that affect the university’s student body, including residence hall, food service, and health care and wellness programs. She was recently appointed President of Norfolk State University.

Of the NASPA award, Dr. Adams-Gaston says, “It is a true honor and a humbling experience to be named among such distinguished colleagues. I have long said that I am blessed to have the opportunity to spend my career engaged in the development, care, and success of students. Every day I find new reasons to be in awe and to be so proud. Likewise, I have been fortunate to work with many of the best in the profession, from graduate students to long-term practitioners.”

James Porter
James Davidson “Dusty” Porter, (PhD ’98), Vice President for Student Affairs, Tulane University

During doctoral studies at COE, Dr. Porter concentrated on college student personnel administration in the counseling and personnel services department. Another of this year’s UMD alumni NASPA awardees, Dr. Porter says that, “It is wonderful to be recognized by my peers for my contributions to practice in the field of student affairs. I am grateful for the pivotal years in my doctoral work at the University of Maryland, and in particular for the mentoring of Dr. Susan Komives and Dr. Marylu McEwen.”

Matthew Wawrzynski
Matthew Wawrzynski (PhD, ‘99), Associate Professor, College of Education, Michigan State University

Dr. Wawrzynski’s research focuses on how the college environment affects student engagement and learning outcomes, with the goal of improving the student experience. For instance, he helped jumpstart the National Peer Educator Study, which aims to examine the benefits peer educators report from involvement in peer education programs. He is a graduate from the higher education program in the college. He says that COE has played a significant role in his professional and academic achievements.

“From my very first class, the faculty provided meaningful and critical analysis of my work, which helped me become a better scholar. Faculty mentored me in shaping and developing a research agenda as I was making a career shift from being a student affairs professional to becoming a faculty member in a higher education and student affairs program,” he says, while also noting the significance of the NASPA award.

“Receiving the NASPA Pillar of the Profession Award is one of the highlights of my career. And perhaps more so because former students and graduates of our programs spearheaded my nomination. I am humbled that students and colleagues in the organization believe I embody the criteria for the award.”

In addition to the NASPA Pillars of Profession Awardees, UMD graduates and students were recognized by NASPA this year for their research.

Jason Chan
Jason Chan, who earned an MEd in college student personnel from COE in 2007, received the NASPA Melvene Hardee Dissertation Award. Dr. Chan is a recent doctoral graduate from UCLA, and studies the role of environmental and contextual influences on college students' identity development. Dr. Chan’s dissertation focused on how the social, cultural, and political context of the U.S. Midwest shapes Asian American students' understanding of race and racial identity. Dr. Chan says the NASPA award is a very meaningful accolade to receive.

“It feels like a fitting epilogue to my doctoral studies and what feels like countless hours spent conducting this study and writing the dissertation. It is also an honor to receive an award named after Melvene Hardee, one of the early leaders of student affairs, and whose legacy has shaped much of the profession. Lastly, I see this award as recognition from NASPA and the student affairs field that the experiences of Asian American college students are important, and that understanding their experiences has critical value for the work that we do on our campuses.”

Dr. Chan also received the ACPA Marylu McEwen Dissertation of the Year Award this year.


Cinthya Salazar
Also, Cinthya Salazar, a doctoral candidate in student affairs at COE is due to receive the 2019 Outstanding Doctoral Student Award by the Latinx Knowledge Community during the 2019 Mena/Valdez Awards Ceremony held during NASPA. Salazar has more than eight years of professional experience in higher education, and as a former undocumented student, is committed to supporting undocumented immigrants and immigration advocacy efforts within and outside higher education contexts. Salazar says that receiving the award means a lot coming from the Latinx Knowledge Community (LKC) at NASPA.

“Through the LKC I have been able to develop numerous relationships with mentors and friends that have significantly and positively shaped my experiences as a Latina immigrant in higher education. This award is also a recognition of my doctoral work that centers the experiences of undocumented college students and aims to disrupt power relationships in academia by engaging undocumented students as co-researchers throughout the investigation. While I am receiving this award, this recognition also belongs to all the people who have supported me and believed in me throughout my personal, professional, and academic journeys including mi familia, my partner, my co-researchers, my advisor, my sister and brother scholars, mis amigas del alma, the Student Affairs faculty, and many others.”

NASPA awardees are nominated by their peers and recognized each year at the NASPA annual conference. This year, the conference will be held in Los Angeles, Calif.