2015 Award Citation
Terry E. Williams Higher Education Program Distinguished Alumnus/a Award
Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Oudenhoven
For outstanding contributions through scholarship and service to the larger higher education profession.
at ACPA—College Student Educators International Annual Convention
Friday, March 6, 2015
In 2008, the Higher Education program faculty established an annual award recognizing an outstanding graduate of our master’s or doctoral program. Since our program’s founding in the early 1960s, our graduates have served higher education throughout the nation and abroad in a variety of roles by providing outstanding contributions to their institutions and to the larger profession. This award is presented to one alum each year who embodies the core values of our program, the School of Education, and the University and whose professional practice opens doors wider for all students to achieve a college degree.
With great pride we are delighted to announce that our program’s Terry E. Williams 2015 Distinguished Alumnus/a Award recognizes the outstanding leadership and service of a distinguished alumna: Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Oudenhoven, who completed her Ph.D. in Higher Education in 2006 at Loyola University Chicago. She earned a B.S., Cum Laude, in Psychology from St. Lawrence University in New York and her M.A. in Counseling and Guidance from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Dr. Oudenhoven, since July 2013, has served as President of The Community College of Aurora, located in Colorado’s third largest city. The multi-campus college enrolls 12,000 diverse students including 54% students of color and 400 international students from over 60 nations around the globe. Prior to assuming the Presidency, Dr. Oudenhoven served her institution as Vice President for Student Affairs working closely with Academic Affairs to support the college’s mission to foster student success. Previously, she served as Vice President for Student Development for four years at Joliet Junior College and before that several years as Director and Dean of Counseling and Retention at the College of Lake County in Illinois.
Inclusive, collaborative, innovative, inspirational, proactive, learner-centered, caring, and empathic are all frequent descriptors provided by those who have worked with Betsy throughout her 30 years in higher education administration. These characteristics describe an engaged and highly successful leader who is passionate about the core values not only of our graduate program but that of her own institution as well. Betsy’s institutional website proudly displays its core values that drive both her leadership and the college’s mission including Collaboration, Quality, Access, Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect for All.
Throughout her career, Betsy has focused her leadership on serving students and fostering their academic and personal success. In all of her professional positions students have come first in her priorities including students’ parents and other key groups who share a stake in student success. As she has moved through her career into key policy making roles as Dean, Vice President, and President, Betsy has served as an ally and advocate believing that ‘all students matter’ especially for those diverse, first generation, low income students who are often most in need of support from their institutions. Her doctoral dissertation research in our program reflected these values in her focus on an understudied population of ‘Generation 1.5’ Latino students and the challenges they face in the community college around English Language Learning.
As President at Community College of Aurora Betsy is well known and highly respected by faculty, staff, and community leaders for her leadership in creating new and innovative partnerships between her college and the larger community, including a large network of public schools in the three counties served by her institution. She is providing important continuity through her leadership for new programs and services for students that were established during her tenure as Vice President including, for example, mandating new student orientation for all first-time college students; providing on-campus counseling programs for students in need of short-term assistance or crisis intervention; reinstituting a comprehensive career center for students; and organizing and taking a proactive approach to student conduct and behavioral intervention. She is working with her college community to establish new assessment programs using clear performance indicators relating to student achievement and success.
In all of her interactions with students, her administrative colleagues, with faculty, and with community leaders, Betsy is known for her compassionate ethic of care in her engagement with others. One observer who worked with Betsy on a project several years ago stated that even when she and Betsy disagreed on a policy matter that Betsy remained calm, rational in her position, and always warm as a person and, in spite of policy differences, that they remain friends and professional colleagues to this day.
All Higher Education students, faculty, and alumni are grateful for the many years of outstanding service and leadership that Betsy has given to us all. She stands as a great role model for all of us. We join her husband, Arnie, and their children in celebrating her many achievements and her outstanding service to the larger higher education profession. We are indeed very proud to present this award to Betsy on behalf of our program. Thank you.