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School of Education professor honored by national student affairs organization

Danielle DeSawal, a clinical professor in the Indiana University School of Education in Bloomington, is being honored by a national organization for her work in student affairs and higher education. Danielle DeSawal. Photo courtesy of the IU School of Education in Bloomington Danielle DeSawal. Photo courtesy of the IU School of Education in Bloomington

Her contributions are receiving recognition with the 2024 Pillars of the Profession award, one of the highest honors from NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. The organization advocates for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession.

Recipients will be honored at the 2024 NASPA Annual Conference, March 9 to 13 in Seattle.

“I’m humbled and honored to be recognized by my colleagues and NASPA,” said DeSawal, who is coordinator of the higher education and student affairs master’s program in the School of Education.

Criteria for the annual Pillars of the Profession award include service to NASPA, sustained distinction in student affairs and higher education, and lasting impact on institutions and organizations. Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, IU’s vice president for student success, wrote in her letter supporting the nomination that DeSawal was an outstanding candidate for the award.

“She feels deeply that the student affairs field is vital, not only to those in it and the students who benefit from it, but to society at large,” Payne-Kirchmeier wrote.

DeSawal first engaged with NASPA as a graduate student at the University of Arkansas, where she worked for the senior student affairs officer. Most recently, DeSawal has served on NASPA’s Future of Student Affairs Task Force and its Certification for Student Affairs Educators Advisory Task Force. She also served as the scholarly paper and faculty programming chair for the 2023 NASPA Annual Conference.

“The relationship between practice and scholarship is at the heart of my approach to teaching and service,” she said.

DeSawal has worked for IU Bloomington since 2005 and earned her doctorate in higher education from IU in 2007. She teaches graduate-level courses in student affairs and higher education.

Her research interests focus on professional practice in student affairs, college unions and advising student organizations on campus. She has presented numerous educational sessions and has keynoted as well as consulted with institutions on student affairs practices.

Payne-Kirchmeier said that DeSawal uses presentations and trainings to help faculty and staff learn about student development and create better growth experiences for them.

“Both IUB and the HESA program would not be what they are today without her leadership and contributions,” Payne-Kirchmeier wrote. “For many of us, Danielle is the higher education master’s program at IUB, and the reason so many students seek it out as their program of choice.”

She said that DeSawal’s unique perspective as a scholar-practitioner has produced “incredible publications” in her field. Topics of her published works include college union experiences, technology in higher education, student belonging, professional burnout, and fundamental principles and competencies critical to successfully working with college students.

DeSawal has been honored by IU with the faculty award from the Commission on Multicultural Understanding and the Gordon Faculty Award through the Division of Student Affairs. She has also been recognized for her outstanding teaching and received the Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award.

Her professional contributions also involve serving on the Bloomington Faculty Council. DeSawal was recently elected the president-elect and will serve as president of the faculty for 2024-25.

She is the latest IU employee to earn the Pillars of the Profession award. Most recently, Payne-Kirchmeier was in the 2023 class, and Lamar Hylton, IU Bloomington’s new vice provost for student life, was in the 2022 class.

Kirk Johannesen is a communications consultant in the Office of the Vice President for Communications and Marketing.