Canisius Wins at National Jesuit Student Affairs Conference

March 30, 2022
HESAA Mark Harrington

The annual Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators (JASPA) conference was held in Baltimore from Friday, March 18 through Sunday, March 20. The annual conference includes meetings of the senior student affairs officers at the 28 Jesuit schools in the United States and Belize, leadership meetings for the executive board of the organization, and the annual conference which includes a keynote speaker and the JASPA Annual Awards of Excellence Ceremony.

This year’s keynote speaker and awards ceremony dinner was held at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. The keynote speaker was Dr. Kaye Whitehead, associate professor of communication and African and African American Studies at Loyola University Maryland. Her talk was entitled, “Working Between the Margins: Exploring the Intersection of Race, Peace, Social Justice, and Student Affairs work on our Jesuit Campuses,” and examined the long-term societal impacts of today’s conversations about anti-Blackness, anti-racism, and social justice in the context of Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois’s research. Dr. Whitehead discussed how social justice work being done in the public spaces overlaps with the work that is being done on our campuses.

After the inspiring keynote, the JASPA Annual Awards of Excellence Ceremony was held. Every year, the association confers awards on individuals, programs, and initiatives on campuses that have had a significant impact on the student experience in Ignatian tradition. Canisius community members and programs were four finalist nominees for this year’s awards in three categories. The nominees  included the First-Gen Griffs initiative as a nominee for the Ignatian Medal for Outstanding Campus Program. Allison Kurthy MS ’22 and Kaylee Konzal ’19, MS ’22 as nominees for the Ignatian Medal for Outstanding Graduate Assistant in Jesuit Student Affairs, and the Canisius research study on “Academic Mentoring in the Ignatian Tradition: The Impact of Incorporating Jesuit Values into a Comprehensive New Student Mentoring Program” as a nominee for the JASPA Scholarship Award.

The Ignatian Medal for the Outstanding Graduate Assistant in Jesuit Student Affairs is conferred on individuals who have distinguished themselves in the early years of their careers and who exhibit a strong commitment to their work with students on their respective campus. Allison Kurthy MS ’22, a current Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration (HESAA) student, was the recipient of the Ignatian Medal for Outstanding Graduate Assistant in Jesuit Student Affairs. She serves as a graduate assistant in the Griff Center for Student Success.  The nominators for the award shared that she is deeply committed to caring for Canisius students and ensuring that they are successful both inside and outside of the classroom. In addition, she has assisted with retention efforts, implementation of a first year experience, and assists with the weekly management of our care team. She is a natural leader and team-player, moving others to action while also cultivating them to the best person they can be!

The JASPA Scholarship Award recognizes distinguished contributions to research in the areas of Jesuit and Catholic student affairs work and higher education. Established the spring of 1997, this award is given annually to individuals who have researched, presented, and/or published works which are innovative, relevant, sustainable, and/or impactful to Jesuit higher education.

This year’s recipient of the JASPA Scholarship Award was the Canisius mixed-methods research study entitled “Academic Mentoring in the Ignatian Tradition: The Impact of Incorporating Jesuit Values into a Comprehensive New Student Mentoring Program” conducted by Dr. Mark Harrington MS ’10 and Stephanie Wolcott MS ’22.  Harrington serves as Canisius’ assistant vice president for student development and academic success as well as an assistant professor and director of the HESAA graduate program. Stephanie Wolcott is 2021 HESAA graduate and currently serves as an academic advisor at the New York Institute of Technology. The research study looked at the impact of Jesuit values in the formation of a comprehensive academic mentoring program to support students with the transition to college who were placed academically at-risk. The researchers used a theory-to-practice approach to showcase the impact of proactive mentoring to promote a student development and growth mindset. It was found that the students who participated in the proactive mentoring program, informed by Ignatian values, were retained at higher rates and had higher GPAs than their peers who did not participate. The research study was used as evidence and support for the proposal and implementation of a comprehensive first year experience program at Canisius.  

The Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administration was founded in 1954. The JASPA Annual Awards of Excellence recognize the accomplishments of leaders across Jesuit higher education and their impact on creating a transformational student experience.

One of 27 Jesuit universities in the nation, Canisius is the premier private university in Western New York. Canisius prepares leaders – intelligent, caring, faithful individuals – able to pursue and promote excellence in their professions, their communities and their service to humanity.