Celebrating excellence is one of the joys of academic life and an activity in which Plymouth State University takes great pride. On Friday, May 4, Rodney Ekstrom of Rumney was named the 2007 Distinguished Professional, Administrative and Technical (PAT) staff member.
The annual award is based on nominations from colleagues, alumni and students, and recognizes comprehensive job knowledge, resourcefulness, leadership on campus committees, activities and functions, participation in professional organizations, ongoing professional development, participation in projects to enhance PSU programs, policies and procedures, and respect and value for all individuals.
Ekstrom is program advisor in the student affairs division, advising students and student orgganizations and mentoring students throughout their Plymouth State University years. He is the PSU advisor to PACE, the student programming committee, Spring Fling, The Conning Tower yearbook and Outing Club.
“There is a new crop of students every year, with their own ideas and ready to learn — it’s very exciting,” Ekstrom said. “We like to stress ‘opportunity,’ and there are so many opportunities here for students regardless of their interests. If we don’t have a group formed around their particular passion I tell them, “Hey, you can take the lead and get that going. Here’s an opportunity for you.”
Accolades about Ekstrom came from students and colleagues alike. “He is an advocate of working smarter, not harder, and he challenges us to reflect on ways in which we can work better together in order to lighten our individual loads,” one colleague wrote. “I admire the level to which he’s advanced student activities. We’re a much better place for his presence.
In additional to his professional responsibilities on campus, Ekstrom has served the President’s Commission on Diversity, the University Environmental Committee, the Brennan Hart Scholarship Selection Committee, and the Plymouth Holiday Parade Committee.
“[Ekstrom] has definitely helped shape me into the leader that I will become after I graduate from this university,” one student said. “He listens, acts as a mediator and certainly sometimes plays an essential role in making an organization more cohesive. From the work that he does in leadership training to his role as advisor for organizations, Rodney is an essential part of this campus staff.”
An Eagle Scout, Ekstrom combines his love of the outdoors and his talent for leadership in much of what he does. He has taught technical and skill courses in canoeing, rock climbing, winter backcountry travel and challenge course fundamentals and holds certification in many related fields. In 2006 he received the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Region 1 Outstanding New Professional Award.
Off campus Ekstrom has served Rumney as an officer of the Community Profile Steering Committee, and a F.A.S.T. Squad and fire department volunteer. He also worked with the Plymouth District Drug Court, serving at-risk and court-referred youth.
“I love seeing students during an event, and working so hard in planning. We want them to be independent thinkers, with a skill set to make their own mark on the world. If I have done my job, they need me less and less.”