CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 9, 2016)—One of the nation’s longest-serving, most admired, and innovative student affairs leaders, Pat Whitely has always gone above and beyond the call of duty—so much so that the Student Government Executive Board established the Patricia A. Whitely Unsung Hero Award in 2012 to recognize unheralded change-makers in the UM community.
Now, it’s the Faculty Senate’s turn to honor UM’s vice president for student affairs. In a unanimous vote, the Senate selected Whitely as the 2017 recipient of one of its highest honors, the James W. McLamore Outstanding Service Award, which will be bestowed at the Faculty Senate Awards Ceremony on April 3, 2017.
Appointed to her current role by UM’s fourth president, Tad Foote exactly 20 years ago this very day, Whitely joined the UM staff as a residence coordinator in 1982 and has pursued new strategies to enhance student life and keep pace with the changing world ever since. As a young staff member, she helped plan the establishment of UM’s five residential colleges.
Over the decades and through many promotions, she helped the U enhance opportunities for student engagement, embrace advancing technology and social media, and complete major new facilities, including the Donna E. Shalala Student Center. She also has mentored countless students, faculty, and administrators, celebrating their triumphs, and lending a strong and compassionate shoulder in the most trying times.
In 1992, when Hurricane Andrew barreled toward South Florida with thousands of first-year students and their visiting parents attending orientation Whitely kept them safe and sheltered while getting the campus back up and running.
In 2014, when she took the helm of NASPA, (the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators), the world’s leading association for student affairs professionals, higher education was undergoing rapid changes. But drawing on her vast experience and boundless energy she kept NASPA relevant and results-oriented. Among her many accomplishments, she strengthened NASPA’s strategic support of student affairs professionals in the nation’s community colleges.
Over the years, she has received numerous other awards, many of them from UM students, as well as the NASPA Pillar of the Profession in 2009 and the NASPA Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Performance as a Vice President for Student Affairs in 2013—the highest award in her profession.
Early next year, the Senate will select the 2017 recipients for two other honors, the Outstanding Teaching Award and the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award, which also will be presented next April.