As Barbara Hoffman knows, if students aren’t safe and healthy, learning cannot take place and the University experience is for naught. In her mission to improve the wellness of every student on campus, Hoffman touches lives—almost 15,000 last year alone.
As assistant director of the Student Health Service and health promotion coordinator at the Wellness Connection, Hoffman creates and leads programs aimed at keeping students free from dangerous drinking, sexual assault and other threats to their physical and mental well-being.
Her colleagues recognized her singular dedication at the Oct. 3 Administrative Staff Council Fall Reception by presenting her the 2006 Michael R. Ferrari Award.
The award honors administrative staff members who go above and beyond their job duties, demonstrate innovation and initiative and have a constructive relationship with the University community as well as their own work areas. It comes with a $1,000 cash prize, an engraved plaque that hangs in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union, and a reserved parking place for a year.
Hoffman has “taken the Wellness Connection to amazing heights,” wrote nominator Dr. Bettina Shuford, assistant vice president for student affairs, citing significant increases in the number of programs offered on campus and the level of involvement from peer facilitators. In addition to the students reached by those programs, wrote Dr. Glenn Egelman, director and physician in chief of the Student Health Service, “with Barb’s encouragement and guidance, for the first time BGSU students gained status as accredited Peer Health Educators through a national accrediting agency.”
After receiving the award, Hoffman noted that she recently received a birth announcement from a former student, who wrote on the back: “Thought you might want to see the next generation of peer educators.”
“Students do come first,” added Hoffman, who also thanked her family for their support. “I just really love to work with students.”
Cindy Fitz, a senior majoring in social work, said Hoffman always seeks student input on issues pertaining to students and asks them to participate in committee and coalition meetings. Calling her an incredible “resource and mentor,” Fitz said Hoffman has provided numerous opportunities for her to prepare for her profession after graduation.
She addresses personal issues such as drug and alcohol use and abuse, sexual assault awareness and prevention, and human sexuality, wrote Jill Carr, interim assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “She addresses these topics in a direct and educational fashion, but the presentation emphasizes the need for preservation of each student’s dignity and creating an environment where students feel safe to ask questions or inquire about their own experience. As a result, students literally run to Barb’s office when they are experiencing a personal issue, concern or crisis in these areas.”
Through Hoffman’s collaboration with Dr. Terry Rentner, chair of the journalism department, the University has received $425,000 in grants to prevent alcohol abuse and has served as a model program for campuses across the country. “BGSU has seen about a 5 percent reduction in high-risk drinking over the last four years, and I think Barb’s efforts have contributed greatly to this change,” Rentner wrote.
She has also partnered with Janna Blais, associate athletic director and senior woman administrator, on a grant from the NCAA Choices Program to fund collaborations between University areas to promote healthy options. “Barb is always looking for ways to enhance the students’ experiences on this campus, and to my knowledge she has never turned down a challenge,” wrote Blais.
Her efforts are legendary, her nominators agree. She is in early in the morning and often stays until 10 or 11 at night. “She knows that students are more available in the evening, so she stays on campus until they are available to attend her programs or meet with her personally,” Carr wrote.
“Much of her work is beyond her job description,” Rentner said. “She will not say no if asked to give a workshop presentation, whether it’s a night or weekend. She so strongly believes in helping students and all members of the BGSU community to lead healthier lives.”
Dr. Egelman described her as a “peacekeeper in her home unit” and a “pillar of support for many of her colleagues” as the Student Health Service has undergone a significant transition over the past several years.
“You regularly see her at major campus events volunteering her services,” added Shuford. “Wherever she goes, she spreads her joy and enthusiasm with everyone she encounters.”
Other award nominees
The University is fortunate to have many dedicated administrative staff members, as witnessed by the number of nominations for the Ferrari Award this year. Other nominees were Bryan Benner, associate vice president for administration; Janna Blais, associate athletic director and senior woman administrator; Donna Colcord, clinic director in the communication disorders department; Pa'Trice Pettaway Day, technical support specialist, Information Technology Services; Judy Donald, director of Summer Programs, Continuing and Extended Education; Tom Gorman, assistant director of the University Program for Academic Success, Academic Enhancement; James McArthur, University Architect and director of the Office of Design and Construction; Connie Molnar, director of Interactive Distance Education for All Learners, Continuing and Extended Education; Dr. Craig Vickio, Counseling Center director, and Donna Wittwer, associate director of Human Resources.
ASC presented scholarships to seven seniors. The awards are based on financial need, grade point average and contributions to the community.
Those receiving $1,000 scholarships were Adam Balduff, a non-traditional student from Sandusky majoring in adolescent/young adult social studies, and Katy Cornell, a double major in psychology and history from Carroll. Receiving $500 awards were Lauren McNichols, an apparel merchandising and product development major from Chillicothe; Laura Nelson, a double major in broadcast journalism and general business from Hamilton; Emily Resnik, a double major in psychology and women’s studies from Cincinnati; Theodora (Dory) Rousos, a communication disorders major from Massillon, and Jennifer Stacy, an early childhood education major from Hamilton.