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Laura Ballou honored for contributions to undergraduate learning

May 21, 2015
Laura Ballou shakes hands with Rich FeldmanLaura Ballou receives D istinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning Award from Rich Feldman, dean of the College.

Learning takes place both inside and outside of the classroom, and students may attain this learning from faculty and staff alike.  In recognition of this, a new award has been established to honor a staff member in Arts, Sciences & Engineering who has made a significant difference in the educational experience of students.

Laura Ballou, assistant dean of sophomores and director of Wilson Commons, is the inaugural recipient of the Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning Award.

“Over the past 13 years, Laura has demonstrated consistent enthusiasm for undergraduate learning by providing students with the support and resources needed to develop strength of intellect and character,” said College Dean Richard Feldman, noting the significant role staff members play toward the education and well-being of students. “She is an inspiration and truly deserving to receive this honor.”

Throughout her tenure in campus life, Ballou ’97 has advised Class Councils and Student Government.  “She works with elected student leaders to create programming and traditions that resonate with each class,” said Anne-Marie Algier, associate dean of students. “Many of the traditions she has helped create have become part of the University’s institutional culture.”

While the Senior Class Council’s Senior Week is a long-standing tradition, it now consists of over 20 events thanks to Ballou’s leadership.  Her innovative week-long programming that leads up to Commencement has been adopted by other campuses as a model.

Two events that Ballou is most proud of founding are Spirit Week and the Major Declaration Celebration, a campus-wide celebration that recognizes the selection of majors by students as an academic and career milestone.

Ballou has also overhauled the student employment program in Wilson Commons.  Her aim was to create an employment experience that was closer to what students would encounter after graduation. She created a centralized application process, training, and evaluation standards that benefit over100 undergraduates employees annually.

“I am someone who is never happy with the status quo and is constantly challenging myself and my colleagues to think about new ways we could do things, better systems of customer service, and creative programming that affects the entire campus community,” Ballou said.

“Laura’s efforts to create cohesion through innovative programming for the University’s undergraduate community is unmatched,” said Matthew Burns, dean of students. “Thousands of students have benefited from her mentorship.  She is a wonderful example of the positive change one person can make.”

Ballou was also recently awarded the Association of College Unions International’s Edward S. “Beanie” Drake Founders’ Award. She was recognized as a “distinguished leader who consistently strives to be ever better,” and who exemplifies the mission, vision, and values of the University and ACUI.

Ballou earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a certificate in international relations from the University of Rochester, and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan.



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Category: University News