Recognizing Great Work in Assessment: 1st Ever SAAL Awards!

Recognizing Great Work in Assessment: 1st Ever SAAL Awards!

The Committee for Community Development and Engagement created the inaugural SAAL Awards. The purpose of the SAAL awards is to recognize the assessment work of members that advances the field of Student Affairs assessment and furthers the mission and values of SAAL. In total, we received 29 nominations that recognized offices, programs, and/or staff from 17 different institutions across the country for eight award categories. SAAL and the committee was and continues to be so impressed by the important and meaningful work you all do each and every day to advance the mission of your institution and sound assessment practices. Below you will find the recipients for each award. You can also watch the full recording of the award ceremony by visiting our YouTube page.

*2023 SAAL Award Recipients

SAAL Legacy Award 

individual award to highlight a professional that has made substantial and lasting contributions to the field of Student Affairs assessment over time 

Recipient: Dr. Joe Levy, Excelsior University

“Dr. Levy just completed the seventh iteration of the course he developed, the SAAL MOOC.  I've been fortunate enough to be on the data analysis team for all of the years since I completed the course, so I've seen exactly how the course has evolved to meet the needs of our evolving profession.  Whilst the course is not yet 10 years of age, I know for certain that Joe has been working on his vision for it for about ten years, this year.  I believe that is an appropriate milestone for the ""course that Joe built"" for him to be considered for the SAAL Legacy Award!”


Emerging Assessment Professional Award 

individual award to highlight a professional who is new to the assessment field (less than 3 years)

Recipient: Jessie Johns, University of Missouri

“Jessie Johns has been an invaluable addition to our assessment team, joining us a little over a year ago after successfully completing her master's degree. She has become an outstanding assessment professional making remarkable contributions to our student affairs culture of assessment …specifically, Jessie has played a pivotal role in expanding our Student Assessment Board (SAAB), cultivating relationships with student leaders, streamlining our division's assessment cycle, and enhancing staff assessment competency and trust. Working alongside Jessie is an absolute joy. Her leadership style can be best described as that of a servant leader and scholar-practitioner, seamlessly integrating research into practice and vice versa. I am eager to witness the continued impact and contributions she will make to student affairs assessment at our institution and within our broader profession.”


Faculty Champion Award 

individual award to highlight a faculty member who has contributed to the scholarship or teaching of Student Affairs assessment

Recipient: Dr. Vince Nix, West Texas A&M University

“Dr. Nix has explored SAAL members’ experiences who have taken the SAAL open course, Applying and Leading Assessment in Student Affairs. He has worked with the current SAAL Course Manager to understand course participant feedback with sentiment analysis. He has spent a large amount of time exploring open-ended responses and helped create meaningful results to be utilized to further enhance the course by providing informational feedback to instructors on areas to change. He continues to volunteer his time and share his qualitative analysis skills with SAAL….he does help SAAL continue to be a “robust, active, and inclusive community committed to supporting and advancing critical conversations,” by his positive attitude to share his academic perspective. He makes every effort to involve SAAL members and connect them to networks and scholarly opportunities.”


 Volunteer Service Award 

individual award for outstanding service to SAAL in the past year

Recipient: The SAAL Research on and Advancement of Knowledge Committee

“[The committee’s] collective passion and dedication to the advancement committee have not only elevated our organization but have also set a remarkable standard for volunteerism. Your hard work and contributions have undoubtedly made a significant difference, and this award is a fitting acknowledgment of your outstanding service. Thank you for your commitment to excellence and for embodying the spirit of volunteerism and leading the effort on the SAAL Landscape Survey. Your achievement is an inspiration to us all, and we are proud to have such dedicated individuals on our team. Congratulations once again on this well-earned honor!”


Equity-Minded Assessment Award 

team or individual award for living out the values of equity, diversity, inclusion and social justice and ensuring they are a meaningful part of assessment work 

Recipients: Niner Finances and Student Affairs Research & Assessment, UNC Charlotte

“Niner Finances stands out for its unwavering commitment to Equity-Minded Assessment for its ability to leverage data and assessment to drive meaningful change. This nomination recognizes Niner Finances’ exemplary utilization of an extensive institutional survey, the Financial Capability Scale for Young Adults (University of Wisconsin-Madison), as both a pre-test and post-test measure, enriching the coaching experience. Furthermore, Niner Finances' meticulous tracking of individual student goals, goals achieved, and disaggregated goal data exemplify their commitment to data-driven decision-making…with assistance from Student Affairs & Research Assessment (SARA) were also able to develop targeted financial counseling services that recognized the unique financial stressors these communities often face. By providing an affirming space for financial discussions, Niner Finances has been able to empower marginalized student groups to navigate their financial futures confidently.”


Engaging Students in Assessment Award 

team award for ensuring student voices are meaningfully included throughout the assessment process

Recipient: Bronco Assessment Student Ambassador (BASA) Program, 

Santa Clara University

"This nomination recognizes an innovative program at Santa Clara University to involve undergraduate students in assessment of co-curricular and curricular learning outcomes, a goal that many campuses aspire to but find difficult to implement in a sustained way. In just two years, the Bronco Assessment Student Ambassador (BASA) program has contributed meaningfully to a more authentic, student-centered approach to assessment of institutional learning outcomes, especially in the co-curricular area…during its first year, the ambassadors undertook a study of student belonging on campus, and analyzed student data from a survey on the university strategic planning process. Now in its second year, three of the original five BASA students are taking on more responsibility as they partner with student life organizations to help design and implement assessment projects.”  


 Developing a Culture of Assessment Award 

team award for intentionally fostering a strong assessment and data-informed culture at all levels of an organization

Recipient: Division of Student Affairs, Rutgers University - New Brunswick 

"During the 2016-2017 academic school year, the Division of Student Affairs at Rutgers University-New Brunswick developed student learning outcomes, while in 2021 the university developed a strategic plan, titled, “the Academic Master Plan”...In Fall 2022 the Division of Student Affairs went through an iterative and collaborative process to review and re-evaluate our mission, vision, core values, and the undergraduate student learning outcomes in relation to the University’s Academic Master Plan. This process culminated in a daylong conference in January 2023 – “Student Success as Our North Star: Using Assessment as Our Compass.” Representatives from every department/unit in Student Affairs – 131 staff in attendance – came together for a full day dedicated to dialogue and learning around assessment. The theme of the conference was inspired by our University Chancellor and President who referred to “student success as the north star” of the Academic Master Plan."


 Innovation (or Creativity) in Assessment Award 

team award for new or unique assessment projects or methods

Recipient: Student Affairs Research and Assessment, UNC Charlotte

“The Program Impact project is an assessment project Student Affairs colleagues can now request from the SARA team. Through Program Impact projects, SARA provides a comprehensive review of a program’s impact on the lives of UNC Charlotte students. In the last year, SARA has completed 4 Impact projects. Each one has involved a deep dive into historical data to review academic metrics and assessment data tracking student satisfaction and sense of belonging at the University.  With each project, SARA has also collected a wealth of qualitative data through interviews and focus groups to understand the student experience as this is an important part of the program’s story.”


Special thank you to the Community Development and Engagement Committee:

Megan Bell, California State University, Northridge

Paul Holliday-Millard, UNC Charlotte

Kyle Amore, Santa Clara University

Ashley Farmer-Hanson, Rocky Vista University

Mandy Westfall-Senda, University of Hawaii at Manoa


We couldn’t have done it without you!

We also want to thank everyone who nominated someone or themselves; your hard work is so meaningful to your institution and also to us. We hope that you continue recognizing your assessment colleagues and peers around the country. 

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