Kimberley Bassett’s mentorship named for 2021 Women’s Center Zintl Leadership Award

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“During her 14 years at UVA, Kimberley Bassett touched the lives of so many female students, helping them claim their place at the University of Virginia and welcoming them into the UVA community,” wrote the director of the UVA. center for women Maxine Platzer Lynn Abby Palko in an email.

The center recently named Bassett as the recipient of the 2021 Zintl Leadership Award, specifically citing his roles as a mentor and advisor.

“In particular, through her work leading the African American Affairs Bureau’s peer advisor program and as a faculty mentor at the Posse Foundation, she has changed the landscape for new UVA students,” said Palko. “Her support has been a crucial contribution to their academic and personal success. “

The Women’s Center established the Zintl Leadership Award in 1998 to recognize a woman working at the University whose service and accomplishments have had a significant impact on Grounds and in her profession.

Bassett joined the Office of African American Affairs shortly after earning his doctorate. in chemistry from AVU in 2007. She has held various positions at the University, including chemistry teacher and vice-dean. She became Director of the Nationally Recognized Peer Counselor Program of the Office of African American Affairs in 2009 and Associate Dean of African American Affairs in 2015.

It will be one last chance to honor Bassett, who is leaving this month for a new position at Johns Hopkins University as Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Academic Counseling in the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, which is part from the Office of the Dean of the Whiting School of Engineering. .

In a typical year of the peer counselor program, Bassett would supervise four senior peer counselors and over 70 peer counselors, who are sophomores or above. They provide freshmen with support and friendship to help them acclimatize to the park.

When Bassett became director, one of her goals was to build on the University’s earlier success in cultivating the highest black graduation rate among flagship public universities. She expanded the program to provide guidance in a range of academic disciplines, including STEM fields, and worked with her fellow Deans to manage a collective strategy for black students to achieve higher GPAs so that they could compete more successfully for higher and vocational schools, as well as employment, according to its proponents.

Dr Maurice Apprey, professor of psychiatry who has headed the Office of African American Affairs as dean since 2007, said that Bassett has created pathways for students to improve academically in “an exponentially remarkable trajectory in the world. over the past 12 years “. He described his work as stellar and having a high impact.

Another endorsement came from Keisha John, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, who described Bassett as “genuine, principled, selfless and caring. », In addition to having innovative thinking, critical and project management skills.

Bassett “has spearheaded the office’s efforts to provide comprehensive academic advice to students,” John wrote in his letter of support, “starting with the natural and health sciences and extending to all academic disciplines. … The success of this program is the result of its close collaborations with colleagues at all levels of the faculty and administration of the University.

Kathryn Densberger, director of the Georges Student Center for Adviser, which named Bassett, described her expertise as “building stairs for our students” that lead to success.

“The collection of stairs that make up the peer counselor program is what makes it so special: every black student entering college is offered a qualified peer counselor. They are greeted at the door by a knowledgeable peer who helps them find their way. These peer counselors are, in turn, shown by Kimberley and her team how to be more effective leaders – not only for their counselors but also for themselves – and so year after year a cohort of students walk with the hand. on the shoulders of the next, and the sense of community and shared accomplishment grows.

Students who had served as Peer Senior Advisors wrote in their letter of support that Bassett “used his knowledge to advance the next generation of leaders.”

“Dean Bassett also always finds a way to maintain the professionalism and attention of a play by communicating his expectations in advance and holding us all accountable throughout the process,” wrote a group of graduate students in May. “While Dean Bassett is very practical, which the program demands, she gives all of us the space to make mistakes, claim responsibility for them and find ways to avoid similar situations in the future.”

Palko noted, “As the students who wrote a letter of support attest, his presence transformed their college experience. It never simply provides a resource that a student is looking for. It connects that student to a community, nurturing their ability to flourish and the leadership potential of each member of the community. She created a network… ”

Palko asked to drop by to speak to Bassett in person about the award, and “as she listed the nominees my heart started to swell,” Bassett wrote in an email. “There is something special about being named by colleagues and students whom I personally and professionally admire. “

Bassett has worked as a mentor with three cohorts of UVA Posse Fellows, including the third group of veteran students. The Posse program, which UVA joined in 2013, identifies public high school students with demonstrated academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college admission processes. In collaboration with colleges and universities across the country, the Posse Foundation places students in multicultural teams, called “posses”, who are committed to helping each other grow and develop while pursuing their personal and academic goals. .

“The role of the mentor,” Apprey wrote, “is to motivate academics toward graduation and connect them with University resources.” Bassett met with each group once a week during their first and second years of college. She led an extensive program that exposed the students of the group to leaders of UVA schools, the university library, and the university career center, among others.

And she has worn other hats, such as serving as “Dean on Duty” as part of the Dean’s Office of the Student Crisis Management Team and attending student events as a faculty member at Hereford Residential. Middle School.

Its proponents also noted its commitment to the community beyond Grounds. For six years, she served on the board of directors of ReadyKids, an organization in Charlottesville that works to prevent and treat the effects of negative childhood experiences on cognitive development through a variety of counseling programs, education and family support.

Last year, Bassett helped peer counselors move what is usually a large in-person counseling event about choosing your major to a virtual setting, and they said, “It has been very successful in connecting students. first and second year resources they did not have before.

“Bassett pushes us all to be the best version of ourselves,” her student supporters wrote, “and through her unwavering strength, empathy and love, she has created a community of black students who continue to thrive for a long time. after their time “on Grounds.

Bassett said receiving the award is affirming and inspiring. “It confirms my hope to do transformative work with and for students, and it inspires me to continue to strive to do the kind of work that makes residential college experiences invaluable.”

Usually announced in the fall, the 2020 Zintl price has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and was awarded in May to Margaret “Peggy” Shupnik, Professor Gerald D. Aurbach of Endocrinology, who has since retired.

The award, first awarded in 1998, honors the memory of Elizabeth Zintl, an accomplished writer and journalist who served as chief of staff to the President of the AVU until her untimely death in 1997 at the age of 45. years. exceptionally high degree of service to the University, in and beyond the expectations of the position “and” whose excellence in the work has a direct and significant impact on the basic academic enterprise “.

One of the first prizes went to Sylvia Terry, then Associate Dean in the Office of African American Affairs, who founded the Peer Counselor Program, which was recognized nationally and helped ensure that AVU has the highest black graduation rate among flagship public universities.

The recipients for the five years leading up to 2020 were: in 2019, Dean of Nursing School Dorrie Fontaine (now retired); Deborah McDowell, Director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute of African-American and African Studies and Alice Griffin Professor of English (2018); Rachel Most, Associate Dean of Undergraduate University Programs and Professor of Archeology (2017); Pamela Norris, Frederick Tracy Morse Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (2016); and Farzaneh Milani, who chaired the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages ​​and Cultures and headed the Women, Gender and Sexuality program (2015).

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