University-wide Staff Awards
The 2007 Kidder Award
UNH students who know Jean Mitchell call her “Mamma Jean.” The truth is, Jean Mitchell, facilities and housekeeping manager for the Field House and other campus buildings, has enough love to embrace a small nation—including her own four children.
And it’s the best kind of love. Unconditional. Sincere. Irrefutable.
Students surround her, whether working for her cleaning dorms during summer break, or stopping by her Field House office for a warm smile and hello. “She gets to know everybody,” says senior Emmy Blouin.
Mitchell’s Field House office has become a refuge—a place where students can talk through troubles or share joys, get advice, or feel cherished. She’s keen to the dynamics of young adults and completely non-judgmental. Bubbly? Stoic? Gay? Straight? Pierced? Proper? There’s a place for everyone in her open heart.
“I don’t look at anyone differently,” she says. “Ever.”
“Jean Mitchell” stories abound. She once escorted a UNH football player whose parents couldn’t be on the field for “picture day.” She attends nearly every home athletic event. David Ball, after breaking the I-AA record set by NFL legend Jerry Rice for career touchdown receptions, sent her a photograph of the game with a note saying, “Thank you for teaching me about being a good person.”
“You’re not born a certain way,” reflects Mitchell. “You become who you are by the people who love and nurture you along the way.”
The 2007 Social Justice Award
As a senior staff psychologist in the Counseling Center, Chanda Corbett serves as a professional devoted to helping people. Her motto is, “Empower others to excel.” Her extensive involvement in social justice efforts at UNH has taken her influence far beyond her office in Schofield House. Corbett served as the co-chair of the President's Commission on the Status of People of Color, member and past-chair of the Student and Academic Services Diversity Team, host of the very successful Colleagues Luncheons, and facilitator of a support group for students of color and international students.
“She has an assertive and inclusive style that makes change happen,” says one colleague,” on hand when Corbett was honored for these contributions at the Diversity Team's Social Justice Award reception held last spring.
Corbett says, “I work to be a change agent in any community that I am a part of.”
If you wish to contact Chanda Corbett, she is now a member of the staff at Loyola College in Maryland.
The 2007 UNH Women's Commission Stephanie Thomas Staff Award
By traditional measures of coaching excellence, Rachel Rawlinson coached the women’s crew team to a standout season this past year. In its first year as a club sport, Rawlinson’s rowers grabbed third place at the New England Rowing Championships, claiming a medal that had eluded them in their previous five years as a varsity team. Yet Rawlinson is equally humbled by the team’s nomination of her for the Women’s Commission Stephanie Thomas Staff Award.
“They practice twice a day, they’re all great students, and for them to take the time to honor their coach was really awesome,” says Rawlinson. “She really does have women’s values, women’s beliefs at heart,” says Lizzie Lyons, a junior rower who just completed her first year on the team. “Having her as a role model is so encouraging and so amazing.”
Rawlinson, who rowed for UNH as an undergraduate in the 1990s, teaches teamwork and determination. But she also seeks to foster personal responsibility and strong character in her rowers. “I love watching my rowers gain self-esteem and confidence, watching that eye-opening moment when they realize they are using their bodies as tools and not just as hangers for pretty clothes,” she says. “I look at it as my responsibility to help these women become good citizens in the world.”
– Beth Potier
The 2007 UNH Professional Advising Award
The Whittemore School of Business and Economics is the only UNH college division to centralize undergraduate advising. This means that each year, some 1,700 students - and hundreds of non-WSBE majors hoping to enroll in the school's “in-demand” business courses - turn to three remarkable women to help them attain their dreams.
Gail Stepina, Pam Bishop, and Tamara Rury are the academic advisors in the Undergraduate Programs Office at WSBE. They are often the first WSBE contacts first-year students meet during summer orientation, and among the last they will consult in the hectic weeks leading to graduation. In between orientation and graduation?
"We’re here to guide students as they become drivers in their own growth,” says Stepina, a 14-year veteran of UNH. The trio accomplishes this by helping students take advantage of their precious years at UNH. “Sometimes students drop in ‘looking for a signature’,” muses Bishop, “when what they’re really looking for is a path - something much deeper. Helping them discover their paths is the most rewarding thing we do.”
– David Moore
The President's Excellence Through Diversity Award
Mark Rubinstein, who holds a master's degree in intercultural communication from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in educational theory and policy from Penn State University, says that appreciation and respect for difference were values with which he was raised. Whether it was the product of his formal education or his family upbringing, Rubinstein believes in the need to "treat every member of the University community with respect and with the understanding that differences between and among us should add richness to our lives."
When asked about his own role in creating a more inclusive community, Rubinstein is quick to point you toward the excellent work of his many colleagues who have created programs that support diversity. These include the Pathways mentoring program, the Colleagues' Luncheon, Safe Zones, and other programs. He notes with great satisfaction the recognition achieved by Financial Aid (2006 Kidder Award) and Admissions (in 2007 by the Portsmouth/Seacoast NAACP) for their work in supporting opportunity for students.
But there is more to this than just the independent work of individual offices. "As a division, student and academic services take diversity seriously,” says Rubinstein. “We've tried to take the Diversity Strategic Plan to heart, seeking to serve all students at the University, not 'regardless of differences' but by valuing those differences."
If the growing number of students who are drawn from underrepresented groups is any indication, UNH appears to be making great strides over the course of Rubinstein's tenure, but he's quick to counter that numbers are not the right measure. "The goal should never be about the numbers. The goal has to be about fostering an environment that nurtures diverse perspectives integrally in a dynamic learning environment.”