ACPA Diamond Honorees | Class of 2021

The Diamond Honoree Program, established in 1999, is a way for those that care about students – and the research, scholarship, and programs that promote student development and success – to help advance our association’s efforts. Diamond Honorees are “Championed” by dedicated individuals who recognize their specific contributions and choose to raise funds in honor of each Diamond Honoree’s outstanding and sustained commitment to higher education through student affairs and student development. Those funds are then utilized to help sustain the ACPA Foundation in its support of the research, scholarship, and programs that advance our field as a whole.

You can help!  Join in the fundraising effort by supporting one of this year’s Diamond Honorees!

Laura Arroyo

Laura Arroyo

Laura Arroyo

Laura L. Arroyo (she/her/hers) currently serves as the Director for Housing Administration at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her current position oversees the departments of Occupancy Management, the Children’s Center, Off Campus Housing and Neighborhood Relations, and Integrative Learning. Laura has worked in higher education for over 16 years at a variety of institutions across the nation, both public and private, primarily within residence life and housing. Laura holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees within Social Work, and prior to higher education, Laura held professional positions within mental health counseling and child protective services.

Within ACPA, Laura has served as the Chair for the Commission for Housing and Residential Life, and currently serves as the Midlevel at Large on the ACPA Governing Board. She regularly presents, and cares deeply about building leadership pathways for new and midlevel members in ACPA. Laura is currently pursuing a Doctorate degree in Educational Equity and Leadership from the University of Colorado Denver with a concentration in Urban and Diverse Communities. Her academic and research interests include issues of equity and justice within higher education, Black student mattering in residential environments, curricular approaches to student learning, living learning community development, and third space theory.

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Rachel A. Beech

Rachel A. Beech

Rachel Beech

Dr. Rachel A. Beech serves as Associate Vice President, Enrollment Management at California State University, San Bernardino. Her nearly twenty-year career in higher education has centered on the structures of student transition and community building. Dr. Beech sees her work in enrollment management as critical to student access and degree attainment, positioning her to remove administrative barriers in order to establish a strong foundation for student engagement and success on campus. Prior to working at CSUSB, Dr. Beech held leadership roles in orientation, admissions, and student engagement at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.

ACPA is Dr. Beech’s professional home. She is proud to serve as Director of Membership Development on the Governing Board, has held roles on convention planning teams and is a past Chair of the Commission for Admissions, Orientation, and the First Year Experience. Dr. Beech earned her Doctorate of Education in Higher and Postsecondary Education in 2011 from Arizona State University; her dissertation focusing on support of staff in their professional transitions within student affairs. She holds a M.Ed. from the same program at ASU and Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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Phillip “Flapp” Cockrell

Phillip “Flapp” Cockrell

Dr. Phillip “Flapp” Cockrell assumed the role of vice president for student affairs in January 2018, having previously served in the role on an interim basis since June 2017. In July 2019, Cockrell received the title of vice provost to strengthen and enhance co-curricular initiatives with the academic enterprise.  Just prior to joining UToledo, Cockrell served as associate vice provost for student affairs at Jackson State University, as well as an adjunct faculty member and guest lecturer at many other colleges and universities.

A product of the Mary Holmes Junior College – Upward Bound Program, Cockrell’s scholarly research interest centers on the experiences of first-generation and low-income college students of color within post-secondary institutions. He credits the Upward Bound Program for saving his life and introducing him to a world of possibilities to be global citizen and leader.

A native of Columbus, Miss., Cockrell holds a bachelor of science in family studies from Mississippi University for Women, a master of science in educational leadership/student affairs administration from Florida International University, and a doctor of philosophy in urban higher education from Jackson State University. Additionally, he has toured and studied higher education policies and practices abroad–in England, Scotland and Ireland.

Dr. Cockrell is the proud godfather to four amazing, beautiful, and awesome children – Deon, Delia, Langston, and Noah.

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Tricia Fechter Gates

Tricia Fechter Gates

Tricia Fechter Gates

Tricia joined the ACPA-College Student Educators International staff in April 2013 and currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director. Tricia leads the professional development, marketing, and technology teams and oversees the strategy, creation, and execution of programs and products to drive the Association’s innovative efforts.

Prior to working at ACPA, Tricia served as the Director of Events & Programs at Synergos, an Association Management Company. She has previous work experience with the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values, Rockhurst University, and the University of South Carolina Aiken.

Tricia earned a bachelor’s in secondary education from Saint Louis University, a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs from the University of South Carolina, and an MBA from Rockhurst University. She holds a Ph.D. in Education and Human Resource Studies from Colorado State University. Tricia enjoys supporting the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation in her free time. Tricia lives in the St. Louis area with her partner Kevin and children Kennedy and Stephen. Kennedy took her first official steps during the set up for the Diamond Honoree ceremony in 2019 in Boston, and is excited to celebrate virtually in 2021.

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Rick Gatteau

Rick Gatteau

Rick Gatteau

Dr. Rick Gatteau is the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Stony Brook University.  Rick earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Bucknell University and his master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of Vermont (UVM).  He completed his PhD in Educational Leadership and Administration at Fordham University.  Rick worked as a Graduate Hall Director at UVM and as Assistant Director and Director of Residential Life at Iona College before transitioning to academic advising.  Rick was the Senior Dean of Columbia University’s sophomore advising center before joining Stony Brook University in 2002 as Director of Academic and Pre-Professional Advising.  In 2011, he became an Assistant Provost, and in 2014, became the Associate Provost for Academic Success.  Rick was the founding Director of the Higher Education Administration master’s program, serving in this role from 2011-2019, and currently teaches in the program.  In 2018, he was appointed as the Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, and then accepted the permanent position in 2019.  Rick leads the division’s efforts to support student success, student engagement in campus life, diversity and inclusion, health and wellness, and experiential learning. 

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RJ Holmes-Leopold

RJ Holmes-Leopold

RJ Holmes-Leopold

RJ Holmes-Leopold currently serves as the Director of the Career Center at Carleton College. RJ previously served Cornell College for 14 years, through leadership in residence life, career development, and alumni engagement. Throughout his career RJ has formed strong partnerships to foster the greatest opportunities for outstanding student engagement and to empower students to see and take advantage of possibilities they may not have previously imagined for themselves. In his work with ACPA, RJ has served on the Commission for Administrative Leadership directorate, Asian Pacific American Network, and on multiple ACPA convention planning teams. Beyond ACPA, RJ has been actively involved with organizations which seek to promote higher education’s overarching goals of fostering engagement and success within and beyond our campuses. Throughout his career RJ has been a champion for promoting the racial and social justice which are at the heart of ACPA’s strategic imperative on racial justice and decolonization. An alum of the Social Justice Training Institute, RJ worked with us on the development of an on-going Student Affairs professional development initiative at Cornell College modeled on the SJTI framework and helped us host the 2011 Student SJTI.

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Lucy LePeau

Lucy LePeau

Lucy LePeau

Dr. LePeau is an Associate Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs and Program Coordinator at Indiana University Bloomington and Associate Director for the National Institute for Transformation and Equity (NITE). LePeau’s prior work in student affairs roles, such as the Assistant Dean of Students for New Student Programs at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Project Consultant for the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), inform her ongoing research, teaching, and service to the profession.

LePeau has produced over 50 publications and conference presentations focused on academic affairs and student affairs partnerships for more equitable campus environments, diversity and equity initiatives in higher education, and improved student affairs teaching and practice. She has published in a range of journals such as the Review of Higher EducationJournal of Higher Education, and Journal of College Student Development. She received the Indiana University Trustees Teaching award, Emerging Scholar and Annuit Coeptis awards from ACPA College Student Educators International, and the Melvene D. Hardee Dissertation of the Year from NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. LePeau thanks her champions Dr. Claire Robbins, Dr. Vasti Torres, and students and collaborators for sharing in this honor with her.

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Jodi Linley

Jodi Linley

Jodi Linley

Dr. Jodi Linley is Associate Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of Iowa. She holds her Ph.D. in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education from Michigan State University and has more than a decade of full-time student affairs leadership experience. Dr. Linley’s research has far-reaching practical implications broadly focused on minoritized collegians’ experiences, supports, and success. More specifically, she studies college student meaning-making about campus culture and campus diversity messaging; higher education socialization; and she is PI of multiple research studies focused on LGBTQ+ college student success. Her publications are featured in the Journal of College Student Development, Journal of Student Affairs Research & Practice, New Directions for Student Services, among others. At Iowa, Dr. Linley teaches master’s and doctoral courses on college students and their development, teaching and learning in higher education, and advanced qualitative research methods.

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Eileen Merberg

Eileen Merberg

Eileen Merberg

Eileen Merberg serves as Executive Director of Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society and has committed the past 35 years to supporting student success. She enjoyed positions at Buffalo State College in student life, orientation, retention, and leadership studies. Eileen also served as Director of Campus Life at Sonoma State University and Assistant Dean of Students at Loyola University Chicago.

Eileen’s innovative retention work was featured as a high impact practice in AASCU’s Innovations Exchange and was included on the U.S. Department of Education’s website as a Promising Strategy to Increase Postsecondary Success. Her orientation programs won a variety of National Orientation Directors Association awards.

Eileen is past president of CSPA-NYS, ACPA’s NY state division at the time, and was awarded ACPA’s Outstanding State and International Division Leader in 2015. She currently serves as Vice President of the Association of College Honor Societies.

Eileen is a frequent presenter at international and national conferences on topics such as retaining high-achieving students, the history of and emerging trends in student affairs, and student development theory. She holds a master’s degree in Student Personnel Administration and a bachelor’s in psychology, both from Buffalo State, and an associate degree from Monroe Community College.

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Candace M. Moore

Candace M. Moore

Candace M. Moore

Candace M. Moore, Ph. D., (she/her)—Associate Clinical Professor in the Higher Education, Student Affairs, International Education Policy (HESI) program and Director of the Center for the Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education (CDIHE) both within the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education at the University of Maryland (UMD), College Park. She earned her Ph. D. in Counseling and Student Personnel Services from the University of Georgia, Athens, GA.

Dr. Moore’s scholarship centers equity, inclusion, decolonizing practices, and fostering international collaboration in higher education. Her research interests include understanding Black and LGBTQ student identities, contingent faculty development in higher education, and universities and exploring culturally conscious pedagogy and practice in higher education. Her international endeavors have resulted in ongoing international partnerships in West Africa. With colleagues from the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in Ghana and Washington University, St. Louis, MO, Dr. Moore co-developed both a hybrid international cross-cultural graduate course on student affairs practice and a short-term study abroad program that explores student affairs practices in higher education in Ghana. Both courses expand beyond the ideals of social justice education in the West. The study abroad program was recognized with the American College Personnel Association’s Outstanding International Education Initiative Award in 2019. Dr. Moore is also the inaugural director of CDIHE, a research and consultation center providing expertise to universities on issues related to diversity, inclusion and social justice in higher education.

She has presented and published her research on the local, state, regional, national and international levels. Her scholarship and practice have been recognized with awards and honors. Currently, she serves as consulting editor with the Journal of Educational Management in Cape Coast, Ghana.

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Joe Onofrietti

Joe Onofrietti

Joe Onofrietti

Dr. Joe Onofrietti is Vice President of Student Affairs at Emmanuel College in Boston. Joe has been on staff at Emmanuel since 1999. He first taught as an Adjunct Faculty member in the Graduate Management Program. In 2001, Joe was hired as Associate Dean of Students. He was promoted to Dean of Students in 2004 and Vice President in 2019. Previously he served as Associate Dean of Students at Daniel Webster College and as Director of Residence Life at Framingham State University. He also taught in the Masters of Higher Education program at Salem State University. Joe has been a member of ACPA since 1980. He served as Chair of the Core Council for Membership Services and Interests and a member of the Directorate for the Housing and Residence Life Commission. Joe has also served on five Convention Planning teams including Co-Chairing the Convention in Boston in 1995. His best memories as a member of ACPA are serving on these teams to help offer professional opportunities to colleagues. At the local level he served as President of the Massachusetts College Personnel Association. Joe earned a Bachelor of Arts at Rutgers University, a Masters of Education at the University of Vermont and a Ph.D. at Boston College.

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Symphony Oxendine

Symphony Oxendine

Symphony Oxendine

Symphony Oxendine, Ph.D., is Cherokee/Choctaw from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dr. Oxendine is an Assistant Professor in Higher Education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and also the coordinator for the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership specialization in Higher Education. She spent six years as a student affairs practitioner before pursuing her doctorate and becoming faculty in a student affairs/higher education graduate preparation program. As an Indigenous quantitative scholar, Dr. Oxendine’s research is centered on the social and institutional issues that affect the educational performance and institutional support of Indigenous peoples and other underrepresented groups within post-secondary education institutions, graduate preparation programs, Historically Native American Fraternities and Sororities, student involvement and its impact on retention, leadership development, and appreciative inquiry. Dr. Oxendine’s practitioner experience along with her teaching and research, offer a diverse perspective to student experiences, programs/services in higher education, and campus environments.  She seeks to help shape the direction and transformation of higher education and student affairs by contributing to the understanding of various institutional, psychosocial, and political processes as a means to develop the capacity for change.

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Alyssa N. Rockenbach

Alyssa N. Rockenbach

Alyssa N. Rockenbach

Alyssa N. Rockenbach is Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development at North Carolina State University. Her interdisciplinary research centers on the effects of college environments and experiences on student learning; religious and worldview diversity issues in higher education; and gender and LGBTQ equity issues in education and society. She is co-Principal Investigator of a five-year national study, The Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Survey (IDEALS), which explores how educational experiences affect college students’ capacity to engage and cooperate with people of diverse worldviews.

Dr. Rockenbach has authored or co-authored more than 100 publications, including peer-reviewed articles, books and book chapters, reports and monographs, and other scholarly works, and she has delivered more than 100 refereed and invited presentations at national conferences and other professional gatherings. Her work has been featured in media outlets such as The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor. Dr. Rockenbach is co-author of the 2016 book, How College Affects Students: 21st Century Evidence that Higher Education Works, a synthesis of over 1,800 research studies of college impact conducted from 2002 to 2013, and she co-edited the 2012 volume, Spirituality in College Students’ Lives: Translating Research Into Practice.

Dr. Rockenbach received her B.A. in Psychology from California State University, Long Beach and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Melissa Shivers

Melissa Shivers

Melissa Shivers

Dr. Melissa Shivers is the Vice President for Student Life at The Ohio State University where she serves on the university’s senior administration team and provides leadership and strategic oversight on matters related to the student experience. Although having just joined Ohio State in January, Dr. Shivers has led the Student Life team through unprecedented times and was recently named as one of 40 higher ed leaders to follow on social media.

Dr. Shivers held the Vice President for Student Affairs position at the University of Iowa and has held leadership positions at the University of Tennessee, University of Georgia, Clemson and Georgia Southern University. Melissa has held faculty appointments at multiple institutions and will be teaching a required Diversity in Higher Education course for students in Ohio State’s Higher Education and Student Affairs graduate program.

Melissa is a proud first-generation college graduate with a BS from Georgia Southern University in Communication Arts, a master’s degree in Education, Counseling and Guidance Services from Clemson and a Doctor of Philosophy, Counseling and Student Personnel Services from the University of Georgia. She is passionate about removing barriers to success, serving her community and advancing the health, education, safety and security of others.

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Dian Squire

Dian Squire

Dian Squire

Dian Squire, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Counseling-Student Affairs program in the College of Education at Northern Arizona University. Prior to this, Dian was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Iowa State University, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Denver in the Interdisciplinary Research Incubator for the Study of (in)Equality, and the Assistant Director of Orientation at the University of Maryland College Park. Dian helped initiate ACPA’s Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice and Decolonization, co-authored A Bold Vision Forward, and created identity-based caucusing at Convention. He was awarded the ACPA Presidential Citation in 2017 by past-President Donna Lee for his work with the strategic imperative. Dian is a 2020 Emerging Scholar, studying student affairs professionals’ understanding of settler colonialism and decolonization and working with the Coalition for Multicultural Affairs as their Scholar-in-Residence. His research examines how intersectional conceptualizations of race and racism inform institutional organization and practice and influence the life potentials of their constituent communities. He has published 29 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters related to the topic, and his new co-edited volume Campus rebellions and plantation politics: Privilege, and the emancipatory struggle in higher education will be released in April 2021 from SUNY Press.

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Nanette Vega

Nanette Vega

Nanette Vega

Dr. Nanette Vega is a diversity, equity, and inclusion professional with over 20 years of experience in healthcare and higher education strategic planning, assessment, and program development. Nanette currently serves as the Assistant Professor for Medical Education and Assistant Dean of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement for the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Nanette actively serves as a consultant and holds leadership roles in various professional organizations to include the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce-Leadership Miami Board Member and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Alumni Board. Vega served as the national Chair for the ACPA Latinx/a/o Network and has held various leadership roles spanning almost two decades. Nanette has received several honors and has been recognized nationally for her work. Nanette received the Insight into Diversity-Diversity Visionary Award, the University of Miami Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award, and the ACPA Coalition for Multicultural Affairs Outstanding Contribution to Multicultural Education Award. Nanette completed a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and earned her Master’s in Arts and Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership, from the University of Miami. Nanette also holds a Certificate in Enrollment Management from the University of Miami.

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