Photo of Coco DuSt. Paul, Minn. – Coco Du, assistant dean for Residential Life,  has been awarded the 2021 Staff Outstanding Service Award. 

Macalester President Suzanne Rivera announced the award and read from this citation:

“In celebration of the ways in which your leadership centers and champions students, embodies Macalester’s values, and continues to meet the challenges of an exceptional year with inspiration and grace, we are proud to recognize you with the 2021 Staff Outstanding Service Award.

As assistant dean for Residential Life, you lead a critical department charged with the safety, well-being, and development of approximately 1,300 students at any given time. Not an easy job, your peers write. And not an ordinary year.

Does the word ‘pivot’ ring a bell? Your colleagues write that while nearly all staff members were asked to go above and beyond this year, perhaps the team that most felt the strain was Residential Life. As the College’s plans changed on short notice due to COVID-19, your team planned, unplanned, and re-planned ways to safely accommodate and welcome our students to campus. You have led by example by putting in the effort. And in every instance you have led with a forthright, can-do attitude, and—often at crucial moments—much-needed humor.

The Infectious Disease Task Force on which you serve has members representing nearly every aspect of life at Macalester. They call your work on the task force significant, profound, and critical to the college’s successful management of COVID-19. Wrote one colleague, ‘The truth is, we could not have done what we were able to do without her.’

Your colleagues describe how you communicate the student experience both at the human level, based on your countless daily conversations with students and families, and with data. They cite a recent survey in which 93 percent of on-campus students responded to your questions. ‘No one ever gets a 93 percent response rate,’ they write, ‘It’s part of Coco’s magic.’

Your magic is not limited to the pandemic. During your eight years at Macalester, you have created and inspired a dynamic staff that supports and embodies the values of Macalester. Team members write that your leadership, guidance, and mentorship fosters their talents and allows them to work with confidence at their full potential. Your leadership continues to shape Residential Life into an exceptional department that is known locally, regionally, and nationally.

Always a strategic partner, you see the big picture. Your understanding of the impact a housing program has on student well-being means that even in a challenging year like this one, you and your team were able to increase accessibility and student support, and to use integrated data to better understand students’ needs.

In honoring you, we could not forget students. You never do. One colleague writes that your desire to create a safe and healthy living environment for students frames everything you do. Another highlights how you center student access and equity in every conversation and process, thus creating the best possible experience for our students.

Colleagues call you an exceptional mentor, educator, colleague, and practitioner. In each action and step you take, you embody the meaning of being student-centered, socially just, and community oriented. You are a gift to each of us, they write, and to the Macalester community.

Thank you, Coco, and congratulations on this award. We are truly grateful for your outstanding service.”

April 28 2021

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