Pat Whitely and NASPA Award

Decades of outstanding service

By Genesis Cosme

Decades of outstanding service

By Genesis Cosme
Patricia A. Whitely, vice president for student affairs, accepts the Fred Turner Award for Outstanding Service to NASPA

In a typical year, educators and higher education administrators from more than 1,400 campuses across 25 countries gather to discuss critical higher education issues and the student affairs profession at the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) annual conference.

This year, however, the conference was canceled due to the impact of the novel coronavirus. Even though its members didn’t meet in person, the association virtually presented Patricia A. Whitely, University of Miami’s vice president for student affairs, with its Fred Turner Award for Outstanding Service to NASPA via a  Facebook live-streamed ceremony Thursday night. Recognizing student affairs professionals who have brought honor and dignity to the profession for a sustained period of time, the Fred Turner Award is regarded as NASPA’s lifetime achievement award.

Patricia A Whitely headshot
Patricia A. Whitely, vice president for student affairs, is this year's recipient of the Fred Turner Award for outstanding service to NASPA.

 “NASPA has been my professional home for over 30 years,” Whitely said. “The opportunity to serve as chair, work closely with Kevin Kruger, Stephanie Gordon, and the NASPA staff, chair the Alice Manicur Symposium, serve on the foundation board, and work with the SERVE academy, all have been opportunities to make NASPA better and make a difference in the oncoming generations of student affairs professionals.”

Whitely was recognized as a Pillar of the Profession in 2009, received the Region III John Jones Award for Outstanding Performance as a Senior Student Affairs Officer in 2012, and the Scott Goodnight Award in 2013. From 2014-2015, she also served as the Chair of the Board of Directors for NASPA. Now as the Fred Turner Award winner, Whitley has become the second person ever to achieve all honors.

“In my own experiences working with her, Dr. Whitely has taught me so much about leadership and representation,” said Emily Gossett, senior and 2019-2020 student government president. “I would not be the same leader without her mentorship and leadership at this University. I believe Dr. Whitely is incredibly deserving of this honor.”

As a Miami Hurricane since 1982, Whitely has served as a residence coordinator, assistant director of residence halls, associate director of residence halls, and director of student life, and was appointed as vice president for the Division of Student Affairs in 1997. Along with previous UM president Donna Shalala, she helped build, design, and program the Shalala Student Center that opened in 2013.

Whitely is also known across campus for her crisis management skills and guiding campus life through tough times including the September 11 attacks, the 2008 recession, and numerous hurricanes. When Hurricane Andrew approached Miami in 1992, she helped prepare the campus for landfall by providing over 4,000 students and their families who had just arrived for orientation with housing, food, and other essentials.

Today, Whitely’s priorities in response to the coronavirus pandemic include moving Student Health Service and Counseling Center services online, rescheduling commencement for Spring 2020 graduates to December, and allowing 267 students who were unable to return home to remain on campus.

Watch this video from NASPA to see Dr. Whitely's impact on the University community, NASPA and its members, and the student affairs profession.