Lori Gager wins the Fidler Award in Student Affairs

Lori Gager
Lori Gager

If you walk into the Student Services Center on the second floor of Tresidder, one of the things you might notice is the sign that says, “Because Nice Matters.”

That slogan is a theme at the core of how the center’s staff approaches their work. It is also a thread that ran through more than a dozen letters that the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs (VPSA) received nominating the center’s director, LORI GAGER, for the 2017 Margaret Ann Fidler Award for Distinguished Service in Student Affairs.

The award recognizes an individual staff member’s exceptional contributions and extraordinary dedication to the work and mission of VPSA, a person who values teamwork and collaboration and has a highly developed sense of integrity.  It is named in honor of MARGARET ANN FIDLER, former associate vice provost for administration in VPSA. The award, established in Fidler’s honor when she retired in 2001, comes with a plaque and a monetary prize.

The center Gager leads serves undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff, alumni, visiting scholars and parents. It handles student billing, refunds and payments; enrollment and academic inquiries; transcripts and diplomas; enrollment and degree certifications; and dissertation submissions. Gager also oversees the Office of Military Affiliated Communities.

Gager, who has been at Stanford since 2005, was praised for unwavering attention to improving efficiency while maintaining cheerful interactions and personal service. Members of her staff hailed her as a good listener, mentor and problem solver who views feedback as a gift. One nominator in the School of Medicine described her as a “shining example of what it means to be accountable and collaborative.”

Each year the winner of the Margaret Ann Fidler Award is a closely guarded secret until VPSA’s end-of-the-year event in which its nearly 300 staff members celebrate the division’s collective achievements and recognize the extraordinary work of individual colleagues and partners. Also recognized were staff members who reached milestone anniversaries at Stanford over the past year and those who are retiring.

There was one wrinkle leading up to this year’s celebration, held Tuesday, May 9, at Paul Brest Hall. Gager, who was described by one nominator as someone who never took a day off, was scheduled to be on vacation on the day of the celebration. But GREG BOARDMAN, vice provost for student affairs, was alerted to Gager’s plans and was able to tell her beforehand. Her surprise and gratitude were captured on a video that was shown at the celebration. Fidler was on hand to present the plaque to Gager’s staff.

In addition to the Fidler Award, Student Affairs announced the Team Impact Award and the John Etchemendy Student Affairs Faculty Award for Outstanding Service. The Team Impact Award went to the Full Moon on the Quad Working Group and Implementation Team for its successful transformation of that Stanford tradition. The core team included SNEHAL NAIK, assistant dean and associate director of the Office of Student Activities and Leadership; CARLEY FLANERY, director of the Office of Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse Education & Response; and RALPH CASTRO, director of the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education. This core team worked with students, staff and administrators across the university to reimagine the event, which in recent years had been characterized by high-risk behaviors such as drinking and unwanted sexual contact. The event was moved to Winter Quarter so that new students would have an opportunity to feel more grounded in consent culture. This year, the event focused on safety, gratitude, fun and respect.

The John Etchemendy Student Affairs Faculty Award, named last fall in honor of former provost JOHN ETCHEMENDY, was given to BRYAN BROWN, associate professor and associate dean for student affairs in the Graduate School of Education. Brown, along with his wife, CHERYL BROWN, is a resident fellow in the new Meier Hall. Before moving to Meier last fall, Brown was faculty director for Freshman Sophomore College for several years. Brown was honored for his commitment to students inside and outside of the classroom and for his integrity and authenticity. Brown was not able to attend the event, but Etchemendy presented the award to Cheryl, who is associate director of the Program in African and African American Studies.