BUFFALO, NY – Canisius graduate students and faculty-administrator Mark R. Harrington MS ’10, MS ’22, EdD recently secured top honors at the annual College Student Personnel Association of New York State Inc. (CSPA-NYS) conference. CSPA-NYS is a comprehensive professional organization dedicated to fostering the development of educators, practitioners and scholars within higher education. This year’s CSPA-NYS conference theme was entitled “Racing Toward Transformation,” a clever title given the conference took place in Saratoga Springs, NY. The three-day event included a series of educational sessions, keynote presentations, and awards ceremonies to recognize outstanding higher education leaders and scholars in New York State.
A few members from the Canisius student delegation, enrolled in the university’s Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration (HESAA) program, comprised of Shawn Johnson ’23, MS ’25, Philip Reuter MS ’25 and Katara Willis ’23, MS ’25 (pictured, right), took advantage of the opportunity to compete in the conference’s annual Esther Lloyd-Jones (ELJ) Case Study Competition. The competition is named for Esther Lloyd-Jones, a pioneer higher education practitioner and educator who was unanimously elected president of ACPA-College Student Educators International Association. Open to graduate students and new higher education professionals, the case study competition prompts participants with a scenario in which they must ascertain issues or concerns, identify stakeholders involved and suggest solutions via the implementation of relevant student development theories. Teams then present their case study analysis to a panel of judges and an audience. The competition is an annual highlight to many of the conference attendees as they watch the case study presentations.
After an outstanding presentation showcasing a theory-to-practice approach to identity solutions and a path forward for the case study, the Canisius team was announced as winning 1st place. Harrington, director of the HESAA program, was thrilled to hear the news about his students’ achievement.
“It is so rewarding to see our programs’ theory-to-practice curriculum come to life in professional settings like CSPA-NYS. Our current HESAA students and program alumni are consistently leading the way in higher education and their achievements are evidence of our commitment to not only meeting but exceeding our learning outcomes.”
This is the 10th time the Canisius HESAA program has won a regional or national case study competition.
Harrington continued, “Since its founding in 1996, our program has truly embraced and integrated the Jesuit values of cura personalis, magis, and being people for and with others in the preparation of our students, and the results showcase to the higher education community why Canisius is the place where leaders are made.”
In addition to the 1st place win by the Canisius student delegation, CSPA-NYS conferred its most prestigious honor, “The Distinguished Service to the Profession Award,” upon Dr. Mark Harrington.
Harrington is assistant vice president for student success at Canisius University, director of the college’s master’s program in HESAA, and an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Leadership. The “Distinguished Service to the Profession Award” honors a professional with more than 10 years of experience who has contributed considerably to the higher education profession. The awardee must have made extensive efforts to impact change in higher education in the State of New York through their work, mentorship, scholarship, research, consultation, presentations and/or other involvements.
“Dr. Harrington truly embodies the Jesuit philosophy of being people for and with others,” wrote Tracy Callaghan ’93, MS ’23, assistant dean of student success and director of academic achievement at Canisius, in her nomination of Harrington. “He does not simply ‘talk the talk,’ he ‘walks the walk.’ It is a gift to be able to work with someone truly living out the Jesuit mission.”
As assistant vice president, Harrington leads student success and retention efforts with oversight of academic achievement, career development, tutoring services, study center, success and career coaching, veteran affairs, student accessibility services, Pathfinders: academic exploration program, and NCAA Division I student-athlete academic affairs. He also is an elected faculty member on the Academic Program Board, serves as co-chair of the university-wide Retention Committee, and is the founding co-advisor to Delta Gamma chapter of Tri-Alpha, the national first-generation honor society.
“Dr. Harrington has had an enormous impact on Canisius students’ lives as well as the faculty and staff that he serves,” continued Callaghan in her nomination. “He is a creative thinker, a tireless advocate and a champion for student success.”
Harrington joined Canisius in 2018 and has since implemented research-based, high-impact practices to better serve students. This includes the employment of a proactive model of academic support and a comprehensive first-year experience program; the creation of student success teams for undergraduate and graduate students; the addition of programming and initiatives for first-generation students; and the reorganization of retention to help employ effective strategies for academic, financial and engagement student success.
Beyond the implementation of these institutional initiatives, Harrington is known to extend his personal support to students.
“As an international student from Ghana who had to travel more than 5,000 miles to be part of the Canisius community, not only did Dr. Harrington pick me up from the airport when I landed in the United States, he helped me transition gently into this new environment and academic system,” recalled HESAA student Kelvin Baah MS ’25. “Throughout my journey, he has been an unwavering source of support, guidance and mentorship. His genuine care for students’ well-being and success is truly commendable.”
In addition to his role as vice president, Harrington is director of the master’s program in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration at Canisius and an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Leadership. In these roles, he oversees all internship experiences and teaches coursework in leadership, counseling, advising, strategic planning and administration, incorporating throughout the Jesuit value of magis.
“Magis challenges individuals to strive for excellence,” explained HESAA student Maddy Kemp-de Vega MS ’24 in her nomination of Harrington. “It represents ongoing growth and asks us to question how we can live bolder, better and more meaningful lives fueled by a profound purpose. Every day, Dr. Harrington goes above and beyond, caring deeply about his students … He is a role model and expert in the field who serves as a champion for student success.”
Last year, CSPA conferred its “Eminence in Mentorship Award” upon Harrington. The award recognizes a higher education professional who has made meritorious and sustained contributions to the personal, scholastic or career development of undergraduate or graduate students, or professionals in the field.
Harrington is also a 2020 recipient of the “Ignatian Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Jesuit Student Affairs.” Conferred by the Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators (JASPA), the recognition is presented to an individual who has made significant accomplishments in the profession and embodies achievements within a Jesuit student affairs framework.
Harrington earned his doctorate degree in higher education leadership from Regis University. He also holds master’s degrees in college student personnel administration (2010) and sport administration (2022) from Canisius University, and a bachelor’s degree in counseling and health psychology from Emmanuel College.
The Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration master’s program at Canisius University is a full-time cohort-based course of study that prepares graduates for careers in student affairs administration in both private and public institutions of higher education. The program is grounded in a theory-to-practice philosophy based in Jesuit pedagogy and higher education professional competencies.
Canisius was founded in 1870 in Buffalo, NY, and is one of 27 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. Consistently ranked among the top institutions in the Northeast, Canisius offers undergraduate, graduate and pre-professional programs distinguished by close student-faculty collaboration, mentoring and an emphasis on ethical, purpose-driven leadership.