Conversations about mental health and well-being
Dave Akana - Student Affairs Service Award 2011-12
Statement of Wonderfulness
In Celebration of
Assistant Director for Residential Education
Fantastic listener, constantly working, critical thinker, inclusive, respectful, collaborative, pillar of support, innovative, incredible supervisor. These are just a few of the qualities his colleagues and mentees have used to describe the incomparable, Dave Akana.
Serving as the Assistant Director for Residential education since July 2010, Dave has been an incredible asset to Oregon State University and UHDS. His thoughtful work ethic is demonstrated in many ways-one example that resonates with mentees in particular is talking through a procedure or process from multiple angles to ensure students are treated with care. He is always open to suggestions to improve service to students and a supervisee explains that Dave is “always willing to hear me out and even offer suggestions to further improve the process.” He is always thinking of how to do things better. Whether it is the selection process for over 100 student staff members or reviewing protocols for the department, Dave is streamlining systems and thinking critically about the tasks at hand, while keeping the big picture and our mission in perspective. These are not simple functions and Dave really excels in this! Another specific example is the phenomenal job he does in improving the end of the year closing process communication flow to our students that live in the halls and co-ops. Through strong manuals and consistent messaging, Dave is helping to make every students transition off campus at the end of the year as smooth as possible. Dave challenges us to work and think differently. He has a passion for helping people and developing communities.
Dave is a fantastic listener. Everyone that he interacts with is given the time and energy they deserve and that in doing so, recognizes their spirit and what they have to offer. He really listens to people to hear beyond the words to their real message. He is consistently asking for clarification to make sure that he understands the issues. He asks questions in an appropriate and respectful manner and seeks to understand before making assumptions or assertions about why something is the way it is or what someone else does. While he may be sending out e-mails at an alarming rate, when people need him face-to-face, technology takes a back seat.
Collaboration is Dave’s middle name as he is always thinking about students and staff in an inclusive, supportive manner. He enjoys exchanging dialogue to make the experience our students have as positive as possible. Another example of the level of quality of Dave’s professional performance and conversational grace is effectively working through the change in procedure around closing a hall early due to gradation-“he was very receptive to ideas to improve the process and as a colleague, I was grateful!”
Dave’s colleagues are consistently impressed with how he is able to take everything he is working on “to the next level”. Since the day he started, he is always thinking of ways to improve even the smallest process to make it better. As a colleague working on many processes that affect our students, I greatly appreciate this about Dave. His ability to collaborate and the desire to take things up a notch is contagious and one of the things I enjoy most about working with him. Speaking of Dave’s work ethic, his colleagues describe his output as “amazing”. He completes so many tasks that he must never sleep! And you never see him sweat- he somehow generates a lot of work without looking like he’s doing anything-one might wonder how he does it!
As a supervisor, Dave is both supportive and empowering while keeping his sense of humor about him. Dave treats his supervisees as professionals-listening to their perspectives, asking good, clarifying questions and affirming their logic and thought process. His mentorship and example allow his supervisees to grow professionally and personally. He gives trust and support to his supervisees, and allows them space and flexibility to manage their communities in a ways they see best fit. He is a pillar of challenge and support, continuously encouraging students and staff as they wrestle with concerns. Dave is also future looking-consistently discussing mentees professional development plans, connecting them to professional development opportunities, and helping them evaluate future goals/aspirations. He encourages work/life balance and self-care, and works to consistently advocate for and support his supervisees to help them be the most effective professionals they can be. Dave is certainly not serious all the time; his good-natured attitude and sense of humor help diffuse tough situations. And it doesn’t hurt that Dave has been known to bring in VooDoo Doughnuts on occasion!
In closing, a consistent theme that resonated with Dave’s supporters is that he is an incredible asset to OSU and UHDS. I’ll leave you with one final quote about Dave: “I can’t think of anyone who deserves to be recognized more than Dave Akana. I feel incredibly fortunate for the opportunity to work with him and to be supervised and mentored by him.
17th Annual Service Awards Celebration
Division of Student Affairs
Oregon State University
May 22, 2012