Residence Hall Group Gives UT Dallas Staffer Highest Honor
Coordinator Praised as Devoted to Making Life on Campus Easier for Students
Mar. 28, 2013
Kathryn "Kaytie" Farrell is a residential life coordinator overseeing freshmen in Residence Hall North.
Peer advisors and colleagues who work with Kathryn “Kaytie” Farrell will tell you that the UT Dallas residential life coordinator frequently goes above and beyond her normal tasks to make life easier for students living on campus.
Her normal work week is already full, overseeing 16 peer advisors and more than 380 students in Residence Hall North. For the last two years, however, she has extended that role as a volunteer regional advisor for the South West Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls (SWACURH), mentoring and leading students at universities in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mexico.
Farrell’s enthusiasm for mentoring students and developing leadership has earned her the Dan Hallenbeck Service Award, the highest honor a professional staff member can receive in the National Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls (NACURH).
“It means a lot to me that it was the students I work with who nominated me, and the students who handed out the award are those I’ve worked with on regional level,” Farrell said. “There are some people I really look up to who have received this award, and I’m honored to be among them.”
Named after Dr. Dan Hallenbeck, former NACURH advisor, the award recognizes outstanding and continuous service to the organization by a housing or student affairs professional. The award honors an entire career and is not required to be awarded every year.
Farrell’s care and commitment – she often spends many late hours and weekends helping students – made her a favorite for the award, said Pam McElrath, associate director of Residential Life at UT Dallas and Farrell’s direct supervisor.
“Often we hear of awards from professional organizations and peers, but I think it truly speaks to Kaytie’s character and ability that she was chosen for the award by the people she serves,” McElrath said.
“Kaytie works very hard to make sure her peer advisors have a great experience and gain exceptional leadership skills. She also works very hard to provide a safe community for her residents. If she sees a problem that needs to be addressed, she doesn’t hesitate to come up with a creative solution.”
Farrell’s career in residential life began while still an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where she was a community advisor and a member of the Residential Hall Association. She went on to supervise resident assistants as a graduate student at Arkansas Tech University.
Farrell arrived at UT Dallas in 2009 as an advisor for upperclassmen living in on-campus apartments. In 2011, she also became regional advisor for SWACURH.
“I decided this region has given me so much as an advisor, I’d like to give back and really help develop other advisors,” she said. Farrell keeps in touch with students and staff throughout the Southwest region through email, weekly Skype chats and phone conversations. They meet face-to-face at annual conferences, and she’s also organized retreats for her region, including one at UT Dallas.
At UT Dallas, her responsibilities have shifted to overseeing freshmen students at Residence Hall North. Farrell said she enjoys the “great energy” freshmen students bring.
“Advising is definitely one of my strengths, watching students develop as leaders,” she said. “I enjoy listening to them, and helping them process through things. I like supporting them but also challenging them to see all sides of an issue before making a decision.”
Andrew Smith, a political science major, has worked with Farrell for four years as a peer advisor. He was so impressed with Farrell’s tireless efforts that he nominated her for the Hallenbeck Award and solicited letters of support from her colleagues at UT Dallas and elsewhere.
“She’s always the first one to step up and volunteer,” Smith said. “Kaytie is definitely a people person. She really cares about her staff and she’s always the biggest advocate for students. They know she’s a champion for them.”
Catherine Pickrel, assistant director of Residential Life, said in her letter of recommendation that Farrell has enthusiastically mentored many students throughout her tenure at UT Dallas.
“She breathed new life into the Residence Housing Association and made it a fun involvement opportunity for on-campus students,” Pickrel wrote. “She always has a kind word to say and creative ideas to contribute.”
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