With an enthusiastic cheering section that included Graduate Division staff members, his wife – and even his mother-in-law – looking on, Assistant Dean Christian Villasenor was presented with the 2014-15 Margaret T. Getman Service to Students Award on Thursday morning at the Student Affairs divisional meeting in Corwin Pavilion.
Villasenor, a UCSB alum, was one of six staff and faculty members to receive the Getman, named for the former Dean of Student Residents and honoring those who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the general growth and development of students and to the quality of student life.
In presenting the award to Villasenor, Associate Dean Don Lubach told the audience that no matter who you are, whether the Dean of the Graduate Division or a friend of Villasenor’s young son, he treats everyone equally.
“You get the same Christian experience,” said Lubach. “It involves being listened to, it involves his dry wit. And when the experience is done and you’ve talked with Christian, your life is always a bit better than it was a few seconds before.”
Lubach wrote in his nomination letter: “Time and again, I have observed Christian improve the life of a struggling graduate student by making a referral, looking up something on the computer without delay, listening to a gripe, and offering words of authentic encouragement.”
Graduate student Zach Rentz said Villasenor was both an advisor and a mentor to him during his year as president of the Graduate Students Association. “But I’m most lucky to call Christian my friend.”
Zach said Villasenor provided guidance through many of the difficult situations he faced over the past academic year.
In his nomination letter, Zach wrote: “Christian is the most committed person I know on this campus with regard to graduate student life. He is available 24/7 (and seemingly working such hours) and all geared towards the graduate students. He works on nearly all issues that we face, from housing and health care to funding to fellowships. Christian is also extremely sensitive to the needs of the minority, LGBTQ, and international graduate students, all students that have a more difficult time at UCSB than our more traditional students; and without his time and efforts, these students' experiences here would be materially poorer.” Zach added that not only is Villasenor “an excellent dean and administrator, but he is a genuinely caring and kind man.”
Dean Carol Genetti wrote of Villasenor, who has been Assistant Dean in the Graduate Division since 2008: “Within the Graduate Division, he is the hub around which all graduate student support revolves (admissions, financial, academic, employment, professional development), and he is also our primary liaison to the broader network of support services for students on campus. … In each and every one of these tasks, Christian is entirely motivated by a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of students, and he is extremely effective in doing so.”
Villasenor told the GradPost that he is honored to have been selected for the Getman award. “I am dedicated to serving our students and being an advocate for graduate education at UCSB,” he said. “I appreciate the recognition for the work that I do on behalf of our students and the University. I also want to give credit to our outstanding leader, Graduate Dean Carol Genetti, and the fantastic Graduate Division staff who work so hard in support of our students and with whom I share this award.”
Other recipients of the 2014-15 Getman award are: Amit Ahuja, Political Science; Sharon Applegate, Sociology; Katya Armistead, Office of Student Life; Klint Jaramillo, Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity; and Katie Maynard, Geography. The winner of the William J. Villa Departmental Service to Students Award is Associated Students. Getman nominees included another member of the Graduate Division staff, Jennifer Sheffield Bisheff, Assistant Director, Fellowships.
For more information about the Getman and Villa awards, read the Office of Public Affairs and Communications news release, “In Service to Students.”