Ohio University

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Published: February 4, 2019 Author: Alaina Bartel

Ohio University’s Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina has been recognized with the Gerald L. Saddlemire Mentor Award, presented to one education professional in the state of Ohio each year by the Ohio College Personnel Association

The award recognizes an individual who serves as a mentor and role model to graduate or undergraduate students, is known as a supportive and educational administrator, and has made significant contributions to the ideals of the student affairs profession. 

Dr. Pina was nominated for the award by graduate student Todd Simmons, who said Pina was one of the first people he met when coming to OHIO in 2017 to determine if it would be the right fit for his graduate studies. 

From there, Simmons said Pina was part of the reason why he decided to move to Athens and study at Ohio University.

“The care that Jason exemplifies for the people he works with, especially when helping to develop and grow them, is unmatched,” Simmons noted. “The importance that he places on relationships and collaboration to succeed inspires me to be a better friend and colleague every day. When thinking of someone who mentors and advocates for so many students daily, there is no more fitting of a person than Jason Pina.”

Pina explained that student affairs professionals work their entire careers to support students while they are enrolled at their institutions, and they do it unselfishly and not for external recognition. 

“Our ultimate recognition is watching them cross the stage at commencement,” Pina noted. “Having a student take the time to nominate me for an award represents a moment to be proud to serve our community. The nomination and support letters also recognize that our Division works daily to support student success and I play a small part in that process.”

Both Jenny Hall-Jones, senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students; and Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis wrote support letters for Pina. 

“Jason acts not only as a mentor to Ohio University’s hardworking students, but to his staff and colleagues, as well,” said President Nellis. “We are thrilled that Jason has been recognized with this well-deserved award. OHIO is very fortunate to have someone as devoted as Jason as a part of its campus community.”

In her letter, Dr. Hall-Jones, who also won the Gerald L. Saddlemire Mentor Awardin 2017, wrote that she has had the opportunity to observe Pina’s leadership style and mentorship over the past few years. As the Division leader, she wrote, Pina spent the first couple of months meeting with every person in the division — more than 400 people. 

Hall-Jones said he asked them three questions: Who are you? Why do you do this work? Why do you do it here?

“The answers to these questions that he gleaned over those first few months set the stage for his vision of our Division, but perhaps more importantly, helped him situate himself as a member of our community through vulnerability and storytelling,” she continued in her letter of support.

She also sees him communicate with students as well, as she and Pina co-advise OHIO’s student government and they are often together when meeting with student leaders over controversial campus topics. 

Whenever a tough issue arises, Hall-Jones said Pina makes it a point to help the students navigate the politics to get the work done. 

“He treats every student like an adult and never patronizes, only pushes and supports,” Hall-Jones said. “We are better as a profession because Jason chose the path of a student affairs professional.”

About the Gerald L. Saddlemire Mentor Award: Gerald Saddlemire was an effective administrator, a true scholar, an educator, and a mentor who accepted each person as a unique individual, and believed that the ability and potential of those individuals was the profession’s greatest asset. This award is presented to the student personnel professional with a demonstrated history of mentorship who embodies and advances the true spirit and ideals of Dr. Gerald L. Saddlemire.