Three Newcomb-Tulane College staff members, Sara Kent, Katherine Ruckstuhl, and Beth Wilson, were presented with 2020 President’s Staff Excellence Awards for their integral contributions to their respective departments while navigating this historically challenging year.
Below are some quotes from each recipient's team, illustrating their reasons for being nominated.
Sara Kent is a program manager in Success Initiatives and has been a critical part of our student support strategy both before and during COVID-19. When COVID forced student to move to online instruction in March, Sara headed an initiative to field all online instruction concerns through the Maxient reporting system. She handled over 700 concerns forms by working with both IT and individual professors on solutions for students. She also spearheaded the TU Cares Campaign. This campaign had NTC staff members and our Tulane colleagues from across the university calling all students that had just completed their freshman year to check in on their wellbeing and support them through this difficult transition.
"I credit Sara for playing a critical role in helping to bolster our retention during this difficult year. In addition to her work during COVID, Sara continues to respond to student success alerts by coordinating the response team and developing critical partnerships with support offices across our campus. Sara has been invaluable in the College and on the success team specifically."
– Kelly Grant, Senior Associate Dean of Student Success and Strategic Initiatives, Newcomb-Tulane College
"Sara has and continues to handle her role on our team with professionalism, patience, and adaptability. She has been asked to take on projects well beyond what she was doing at this time a year ago and has handled these with grace and with a student-first mentality. This has been extremely helpful in making a difference to each person on campus. The centering of the student has helped put a bad situation (pandemic) into perspective and has helped break down barriers to success by connecting campus partners in order to deliver the best student experience possible."
– Kimberly Charlesworth, Director of Student Success and Strategic Initiatives, Newcomb-Tulane College
Due to COVID-19, many traditional summer opportunities such as study abroad and in-person research or internships were canceled. This led to many students opting in to summer school to further their education. Katherine worked to move all 2020 summer school courses online and helped add over 50 courses/sections. Undergraduate enrollment for summer school more than doubled from 1,200 to 2,677 at present and continues to increase.
I work with many exceptional staff members but I have not worked with a new staff member who was meticulous and judicious in implementing our strategies with such effectiveness and resulted in success beyond our expectations in the first six months! The success of Summer School would not have happened if it were not for Katherine’s leadership, dedication, expertise, intelligence, hard work, long hours, and can-do attitude. These qualities were critical to implement the strategies that contributed to our success.
– Amjad Ayoubi, Senior Associate Dean, Newcomb-Tulane College
Beth Wilson is NTC's Assistant Dean for Finance and Operations. She single-handedly organized NTC's physical spaces this summer to be ready for staff and students to return to campus. She went to each one of the NTC buildings (including the Army and Air Force ROTC spaces in Uptown Square) to assess what would be needed for social distancing and helped create NTC-specific guidance for staff about maintaining social distancing on campus. Beth even measured desks for plexiglass, ordered stickers for floors and walls, and helped install them. Beyond that, she also re-invigorated the NTC staff appreciation committee to brainstorm new, socially-distant ways for the college to celebrate and recognize our staff’s hard work during this challenging time. This was a massive amount of work that she was doing on top of the COVID-related budget work.
"Beth is guided by her strong, clear sense of what is right – her ethical and moral guide to how to treat people, what staff deserve in the workplace, and what is best for our students. She is deeply committed to Newcomb-Tulane College’s mission of providing a rich and rigorous academic experience to undergraduates. Since her arrival to Newcomb-Tulane College, Beth has worked tirelessly to create order out of chaos. She is a wonderful source of advice and recommendations for me as I allocate resources to support the vital work our staff are doing with NTC students."
– Lee Skinner, Dean of Newcomb-Tulane College