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Helling named semifinalist for national award

Mary Kay Helling
Mary Kay Helling

South Dakota State University Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Mary Kay Helling was named one of 25 semifinalists for the Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award. The award was announced Sunday at the 39th Annual Conference on The First-Year Experience in Washington, D.C.

The National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition recognizes individuals on the nation’s campuses who are Outstanding First-Year Student Advocates involved in high-impact practices for first-year student success. Cengage is a co-sponsor of the award.

Two award recipients are chosen in each of the following institutional categories:

  • Two-Year colleges;
  • Four-Year colleges and universities with less than 2,000 students;
  • Four-Year colleges and universities with 2,000 to 7,000 students;
  • Four-Year colleges and universities with 7,001 to 15,000 students; and
  • Four-Year colleges and universities with more than 15,000 students.

“Dr. Helling has been instrumental in helping, not only our students, but our entire campus community understand the critical nature of the transition period for first-year students as it relates to student success not only during that first year, but throughout the entire academic journey of college,” said Dennis Hedge, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “SDSU’s strong retention rates, graduation rates and overall student satisfaction is a direct reflection of Mary Kay’s work and her commitment to academic excellence.”

The Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award was established in 1990. It is the longest running recognition program at the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. The center has recognized the accomplishments of hundreds of educators at two- and four-year institutions.

“I am honored by the recognition, but it truly is a reflection of the efforts of many individuals,” Helling said. “There are dozens of people at SDSU dedicated to student success and working to put first-year students on a path that allows them to grow both as people and within their academic interests. That growth eventually leads to professional careers and our graduates having a positive impact on society.”
The selection committee is a national panel composed of members and former members of the National Advisory Board of the National Resource Center, past Outstanding First-Year Student Advocates and other leaders in American higher education.

Rich Reid, an associate dean with SDSU’s Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering, won the 2010 award in the four-Year colleges and universities with 7,001 to 15,000 students category.