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Lumina President Jamie Merisotis recognized for outstanding contribution to higher education by NASPA


Merisotis' acceptance speech:

Good afternoon … and thank you sincerely for this wonderful honor. I wish I could be with you in Baltimore today to convey my gratitude for this award. That gratitude extends to NASPA’s board of directors; to Margarita Benitez and Alisa Cunningham, who supported my nomination; and to all of you.

It’s humbling to receive NASPA’s Outstanding Contribution to Higher Education Award. When I look down the list of past honorees ― people like Claiborne Pell, Arnold Mitchem, Johnetta Cole, Sarita Brown, George Kuh, George Boggs—truly, it’s a thrill to have my name included among theirs. Not only are many of these award winners my friends and longtime colleagues, they’re also people I deeply admire … for their professionalism, their service to higher education, and their commitment to students.

And it’s especially gratifying to accept this award because it comes from you—from the nation’s student affairs professionals. Here at Lumina Foundation, we spend a great deal of our time advocating for we call a “student-centered” higher education system ― one purposefully and intentionally designed to meet their needs and encourage their success.

I can’t think of a group of higher-ed professionals who better embody the importance of focusing on the student than all of you who work in student affairs. Everything you do is student-centered: smoothing the transition to college … managing service-learning programs … coordinating support services … offering career-development opportunities … aiding students in crisis … the list goes on and on.

In short, in the work you do every day, you are what all of us in higher education should strive to be: real champions for students and active agents in ensuring their success. By honoring me with this award, I like to think you’re saying the same of me … and that makes me immensely proud.

Thank you again ― for this award, and for all that you do.

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