Denise Douglas readily admits that she loves the atmosphere of college campuses. She even makes it a point to visit colleges while on vacation in order to study the local architecture and history of different colleges and universities.
So it should come as no surprise that Douglas—who always knew that she wanted a career that would allow her to help people—ended up working on a college campus in higher education administration.
Douglas, associate dean of graduate studies, was recently awarded the President's Award for Distinguished Service during the annual Staff Service Awards Brunch. The awards program was a collaborative effort between the Department of Human Resources, the Staff Advisory Council and the Office of the President.
"I was shocked. I think most of us go about our day without expecting people to notice," Douglas said about winning the award. "It's always nice when people recognize your work because you feel like you've made an impact."
Douglas has enthusiastically stepped into the role of a mentor since arriving at Case Western Reserve in 2000. "Mentoring is a necessity. I've been mentored by great folks in the past. When you see someone who is talented and has a lot to offer, I think it's crucial to help them. There are so many good people here. Everyone benefits from that. I try to reach out to younger women, and I occasionally get the opportunity to mentor undergraduate and graduate students," Douglas explained. "For me, it's the right thing to do. People did that for me without asking."
Her willingness to step in and help people along the way is one of the main characteristics nominators pointed out when referring to Douglas. "She serves as a mentor to all employees," wrote one. Other characteristics, including her "professionalism, caring and compassion," also were cited.
In her current position, she oversees a staff of eight by managing the daily operations of the School of Graduate Studies and Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. Her team's responsibilities include everything from admissions to degree clearances to technology and budgets. She also has the opportunity to work with students, an aspect of the job she enjoys because of her previous experience of working directly with students."I think you need people in those roles who have students in mind. I think my background in student affairs has helped. I like both capacities."
To stay informed about best practices in higher education, Douglas continually updates her skills by networking, continuing her education, and pursuing additional certifications. She has served on numerous academic, staff and student life committees. As a result, her work impacts the entire campus community. "Denise is an extraordinary individual. She is compassionate and cares about everyone she comes in contact with," wrote a nominator.
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