One popular program and two dedicated professionals recently received 2022-2023 SUNY Council of Chief Student Affairs Officers Awards.

The Office of Dean of Students received an Outstanding Student Affairs Program award for Open Mic Night, while Residence Life and Housing staff members Renee Landers-Jennings and Carson Nedell earned individual honors.

Each program nomination was selected on the basis of relevance to mission and/or advancement of the student affairs profession; evidence of impact on student learning and success; ability to meet student needs and critical campus issues; and the originality and creativity of the program, including unique adaptations of best practices. 

Open Mic Night has been a long standing institutional program since 2011, and has become an anticipated activity for students every year. This past academic year of 2022-2023 featured 11 programs with 20 performances at each event with an average of 70 students attending. 

Open Mic Night has endured in recent years by collaborating with other campus partners. Auxiliary Services has provided refreshments, the national co-ed honorary fraternity of Alpha Phi Omega has volunteered their time by staffing the events and this year the program collaborated with the James A. Triandiflou Institute for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Transformative Practice for a one-time program of Poetry Slam Night. 

“It's wonderful to see Open Mic Night win a programming award! Despite the natural ebb and flow of student programming, Open Mic Night has consistently held its ground, thanks to its popularity among the student body,” said Trisha DeWolf, assistant dean of students for alcohol and drug education and Open Mic Night coordinator. “The event’s ability to sustain itself for over a decade is a testament to its appeal. This event would not be possible without the support of students and all our campus partners. Looking ahead, I can’t wait to see what’s to come for Open Mic Night.” 

Landers-Jennings, senior associate director of residence life and housing, received the 2022-2023 SUNY Council of Chief Student Affairs Officers John Graham Award for Mentorship which recognizes the impact that mentors and mentorship can have on those who enter the student affairs profession. Each year, one professional from a SUNY state-operated campus is selected for this prestigious recognition, named after Dr. John L. Graham, who passed away in 2021 after serving as SUNY’s first Student Advocate and as Officer-in-Charge at SUNY Potsdam. 

In more than 20 years in work for the Office of Residence Life and Housing, Landers-Jennings consistently demonstrates a commitment to the university, including her dedication to the well-being of students and as an active role model to her colleagues. 

Landers-Jennings expressed her gratitude for receiving the award, saying: “I have had the honor of having been in the presence of Dr. Graham on a number of occasions, and he was always a bright presence. I am humble and grateful to be among the distinguished recipients of this award. I would like to thank my family, friends and colleagues for their support and encouragement throughout my career.” 

Nedell, SUNY Oswego assistant hall director for residence life and housing, is a recipient of a 2022-2023 SUNY Council of Chief Student Affairs Officers Robert A. (Bob) Bonfiglio New Professional Award. This honor is bestowed annually to up to three new professionals in student affairs who have made an impact upon the student affairs profession and within the State University of New York colleges or universities. 

Recipients must have worked less than four years in a professional role on campus and demonstrate distinction in at least one of the following categories: integrity, inclusion, innovation, inquiry and impact. Nedell’s three years at SUNY Oswego have enabled him to accomplish many of his professional and academic goals, while becoming a great influence with students, colleagues and administration.

“I am incredibly grateful to be a recipient of this prestigious award,” Nedell said. “The residence life and housing family, here at SUNY Oswego, has offered me nothing but great developmental opportunities and have continuously supported me in my journey. The shock is still real, but I am excited to take the allocated funds and continue to invest in my professional development in the field of student affairs.”