Pillars of the Profession

Each year at the annual NASPA Conference, the NASPA Foundation recognizes a series of distinguished individuals who have served as leaders, teachers, and scholars in student affairs and higher education. Each individual is nominated and supported for designation as a Pillar by colleagues, students, friends, or others who find him or her deserving of this honor. In the nominee’s name, a gift of $2,500 is made to the Foundation to further research and scholarship in student affairs.

The NASPA Foundation’s Pillar of the Profession Award honors members of the profession who:

  • Are individuals of sustained professional distinction in the higher education field, as defined by donors and supporters
  • Have served in leadership roles in NASPA, either regionally or nationally
  • Are being recognized or remembered by colleagues, friends, students, or student organizations for extraordinary service
  • Significant lifetime contributions to the higher education field
Nomination Process:

Nominations may be submitted by individual NASPA members, family members, students, a NASPA Region, a NASPA member institution, students or a student organization at a NASPA member institution or other individuals associated with the student affairs profession. If selected as a Pillar, the nominator and selected Foundation Board member will raise $2,500 in the name of the nominate. The NASPA Foundation will vote to approve nominations at the annual September Board meeting and inform the nominee of their selection by October 9. The Pillar of the Profession class will be formally recognized at the NASPA Annual Conference. If the nomination was not selected, the name will move forward for one year. After this the nominator would need to nominate the individual again. A current resume and up to three letters are required to nominate a Pillar of the Profession. 

Nominations for the 2016 class closed Friday, August 21.  


We will begin accepting donations in honor of the 2016 class in October 2015. The on-line donation form and downloadable Pillars donation form will be updated at that time.

John L. Blackburn Distinguished Pillars

The John L. Blackburn Distinguished Pillar Award

This award is presented annually in conjunction with the Pillars of the Profession award. The Foundation Board selects a previous Pillar of the Profession who has continued to grow and strengthen the student affairs field. This is the NASPA Foundation’s highest honor.

Jon C. Dalton

Professor, Florida State University

Alice Manicur

Vice President for Student Affairs, Retired, Frostburg State University

View Past Recipients →

Pillars of the Profession Class of 2015

  • Kevin Bailey

    Vice President for Student Affairs

    University of West Florida

  • Rosie P.Bingham

    Vice President for Student Affairs

    University of Memphis

  • Kari Ellingson

    Associate Vice President for Student Development

    The University of Utah

  • Anna Gonzalez

    Dean of Students

    Lewis and Clark

  • Ellen Heffernan


    The Spelman and Johnson Group

  • Brent Paterson

    Interim Vice President for Student Affairs

    Illinois State University

  • Enrique Ramos

    Vicerrectoría de Normatividad Académica y Asuntos Estudiantiles

    Tecnológico de Monterrey

  • Richard Rossi

    Associate Vice Provost for Student Life / Residence Life

    Creighton University

  • Melissa Vito

    Senior Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives and Student Success

    University of Arizona

  • Vernon Wall

    Director of Business Development


  • Laura Wankel

    Vice President for Student Affairs

    Northeastern University

  • Jeanine Ward-Roof

    Vice President for Student Affairs

    Ferris State University