Owens, Brethold Honored with Chairpersons Forum Recognition Awards


Kelly Owens, administrative assistant in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Jessica Brethold, academic advisor, were recently honored with the Chairpersons Forum Recognition Award for the spring 2020 semester.

The Chairpersons Forum Recognition Award was created to show appreciation for an administrative assistant in an academic unit that has provided exemplary service and to a staff member from a non-academic office or department on campus who provides exceptional support to chairpersons of academic departments.

Owens was nominated by Dr. Chris Rieger, professor of English and director of the Center for Faulkner Studies, for her excellent work in the Department of Communication Studies and Modern Languages, as well as the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Owens was the administrative assistant for the department until August 2019, when she accepted a new position as the administrative assistant for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Despite taking on her new role, Owens continued to assist Rieger as interim chair of the department in numerous and significant ways. She was instrumental in getting him up to speed and keeping the department functioning smoothly.

“I would never have finished the spring and fall schedules on time without her patient help during numerous meetings, phone calls and emails while she was learning a new role, in a new office,” Rieger said. “This award recognizes her outstanding service to the University.”

Brethold was nominated by Dr. Julie Ray, chair of the Department of Elementary, Early and Special Education, for her exceptional work as an academic advisor to general studies majors. Although Brethold doesn’t directly advise students within her department, Ray has worked with Brethold many times over the years, as they have had students who have changed majors from elementary, early childhood or exceptional child education to general studies. In some cases, those changes happened only a few months before graduation and were difficult, but necessary, decisions for students. Brethold efficiently advised them and walked them through all the paperwork needed for a change in major and graduation requirements in a compassionate manner, Ray said. She worked with Ray on course substitutions needed when a general studies major added to the Teaching Assistant certificate, and her efficiency made Ray’s job easier.

“Any time I contact her about a student issue, she will help me determine the nest route for a student. I can count on her to provide sound advice,” Ray said. “I believe our Academic Advising office and University is fortunate to have Jessica as she thinks about students’ best interests and is committed to their success.”