OUR Clemson; Student Affairs

Student Affairs Announces Staff Excellence Award Winners for 2020


The Division of Student Affairs honored its top employees from 2020 in a virtual staff meeting on Friday, February 26. The Staff Excellence Awards are presented annually to high-performing members of departments within the division at a winter social event, but the event was canceled this past December due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

“Congratulations go out to all of our award winners for 2020,” said Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Chris Miller. “We had many deserving nominees who contributed vitally during a year heavily impacted by modified operations. Thank you to these outstanding recipients for impacting our students’ success during a challenging time.”

Four individuals were honored in accordance with the division’s core themes: health, safety and wellness; inclusive excellence; student learning; and staff experience.

Dr. Lesslie Pekarek of Student Health Services was honored in the area of health, safety and wellness. She serves as the medical director at Redfern Health Center and has been instrumental in Clemson’s COVID-19 response, isolation and quarantine procedures and vaccine administration.

The Student Affairs Inclusive Excellence Committee was lauded for its efforts in the core theme of inclusive excellence. With many contributors to the division’s strategic plan in this area over the past year — led by DeOnte Brown (now at Florida State University), and current co-chairs Kate Radford and Trish Robinson — the award was presented as a team effort.

Cara Snider of the Center for Student Leadership and Engagement was honored in the area of student learning. She has been intricately involved in preparing students for community engagement, alternative break experiences and leadership initiatives, such as the annual Women in Leadership Conference.

Laura Clay of the Office of Community and Ethical Standards (OCES) earned the accolade in the area of staff experience. She has been instrumental in transitioning a new director in OCES, providing training expertise to her office and other departments, and serving as assessment liaison to the division.

The Student Affairs Team Award went to Residential Living, part of the University Housing & Dining operation. The team, led by Dr. Leasa Evinger, successfully implemented complex procedures for both Move-Out in Spring 2020 and Move-In following a delayed return to in-person instruction in Fall 2020. Residential Living also prepared inventory and daily response on main campus for isolation and quarantine of students, a unique and ongoing challenge that saw capacity exceed 600 students at its peak.

New this year, the Student Affairs Partnership Award honored a campus collaborator whose work has helped advance the division’s mission. The inaugural honoree was Perryn Freeman of Undergraduate Admissions. She partnered with the division’s Orientation team to launch a new experience — chief among it was a redesigned and more efficient registration system — to all incoming students in Spring 2021.