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Liz Leckie, College of Fine Arts Associate Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs, has been awarded 2024 Outstanding Academic Advising Administrator –– a distinguished honor and the first of its kind. 

The award is administered by the Advising Awards Committee within the University Academic Advising Committee (UAAC) and recognizes Leckie’s remarkable contributions to the improvement of academic advising over her almost 30 years at the University of Utah. Her journey at the U began as an undergraduate transfer student in 1995. Since then, she has earned three degrees and held numerous roles across campus, always centering the student experience in her work. She began advising in 1999 in an internship in the Academic Advising Center, then stepped into her first administrative role as Assistant Dean in the College of Humanities in 2002. She has been an administrator ever since. 

Now, as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs in the College of Fine Arts, Leckie directs college-wide academic advising, serves as the dean’s designee for undergraduate academic and student affairs, administers college-wide student leadership programs, coordinates enrollment management initiatives, and collects and disseminates student data. She also serves as liaison for various offices, including OEO/AA/Title IX, Undergraduate Studies, Enrollment Management, Undergraduate Studies, Student Affairs, and U Career Success. Additionally, Leckie serves as inaugural chair of the Academic Advising Standards Council (AASC), a body that has made important strides to establish campus-wide academic standards in the last year. AASC creates important groundwork to assure that academic advisors –– regardless of position and department –– will have a common set of standards guiding their work; and undergraduate students –– regardless of academic interest –– can receive well-informed and timely academic advising. Leckie’s nomination was submitted and wholeheartedly supported by dozens of individuals, including former and current students, CFA leadership, members of her team, and cross-campus colleagues.

“What an incredible honor! To be nominated for the U’s Outstanding Academic Advising Administrator award and be selected by others who understand, believe in, and support the work of academic advising is humbling. I am so grateful that I spend my work days in a job that is intellectually challenging, constantly fulfilling, and with others who are so committed to undergraduate student success. Thank you, members of CFA Undergraduate Affairs Team, College of Fine Arts, and colleagues in various roles across the University.”

- Liz Leckie, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs

In their letter of support, members of the Undergraduate Affairs team wrote: “Liz’s commitment to reducing structural barriers for student success goes beyond her personal advocacy and team leadership. She has been instrumental in the creation and growth of many College- and University-wide programs. These programs include the Beacons of Excellence Award-winning ArtsForce (awarded in 2015) and Fine Arts Fees (FAF) Grants (awarded in 2020), as well as the CFA Create Success Initiative and the CFA Internship Program. Together, these programs help students understand their pathways to graduation, prepare for the transition into their careers, and enjoy transformative experiences along the way.” 

They continued, “Liz’s mentorship comes in many forms. She is a partner in insightful and provocative discussions. She identifies and shares opportunities that allow us to grow. She encourages and funds the classes and conferences that help us continue our professional development. She provides the gentle push to go further while ensuring the flexibility we need to avoid burning out. While she is always available to help us troubleshoot challenges or navigate the tricky situations students can find themselves in, she is committed to letting us manage our responsibilities and projects as we see fit. And at the end of the day, no one works harder to see that we get recognition for our accomplishments.”

U School of Dance director Melonie Murray shared, “Liz is a leader who cares deeply about student success, supports colleagues, contributes meaningfully to staff mentoring, models sound interpersonal communication, and is committed to maintaining a positive and professional work environment.”

Dean John Scheib agreed: “Simply put, you would be hard pressed to find a more qualified, skilled, insightful, and experienced professional and leader in this area with such an impressive list of appointments, awards, and accomplishments fitting with this award.”

More words of support

“…Liz understands from her own experience and the countless student journeys she’s witnessed that achieving success, “doing college,” will, for each of our students, alter the quality of their life, their economic security, and the breadth of their personal and professional horizons. As she notes in her personal statement, quoting bell hooks, “once you commit to a place you begin to share responsibility for what happens there.” There are many ways of committing to a place and in every way Liz’s career is an example of what that looks like. But, most inspiring is that Liz’s commitment is first and foremost a commitment of the heart. It is that deep care that is both deeply transformative for our students and equally deserving of this recognition.” 
- Michael Middleton, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Department of Communication

“Every day I get to interact with Liz is one where I am witness to her determination and focus for the work that she does. Her determination motivates everyone around her to do their best. I hold true that the best leaders do that, and I strongly believe that Liz is one of those leaders.”
- Claire Rosenthal, student

“As a student, I met with Liz often and on many different occasions. At one point or another she has been a mentor, a direct supervisor, a confidante, a letter of recommendation writer, a life strategist, a cheerleader, an audience member, a shoulder to cry on and more. We've traveled together to attend conferences. We've worked together putting on conferences. She's attended my musical performances. She's helped me reframe my priorities when I felt too stressed, overcommitted, and overwhelmed. She's even been the person who purchases toilet paper for the entire College of Fine Arts House.”
- Cynthia Chen, alumna

“Liz’s commitment to excellence and dedication to student success echoes far beyond the walls of the institution, creating a promising gift of empowered and curious minds. I deeply appreciate Liz and her efforts to foster a sense of connection that made a significant impact on my journey.”
- Eden Merkley, alumna and staff

Past awards

2005 The Philip and Miriam Perlman Award for Excellence in Student Counseling

This award was established in 1979 and was given annually to a faculty or staff member who has made an outstanding contribution to the Universitylizleckie2 Large through his or her student advising and counseling. 

2005 University Diversity Award

Established in 1995, the University Diversity award was given to outstanding individuals or organizations that demonstrate an active commitment to promoting and enhancing diversity at the University of Utah.

2015 Beacons of Excellence ArtsForce & 2020 Beacons of Excellence Fine Arts Fees (FAF) Grants 

Established in Fall of 2011, Transforming U: Beacons of Excellence, recognizes individuals and programs at the University of Utah that fosters a transformational experience for students.  

Awards for Undergraduate Affairs

2022 CFA Staff Excellence Award: Andrew Grace 

2022 Career Champion of the Year: Kate Wolsey

2024 U Career Success Partner of the Year: Kate Wolsey 

Advisor of the Month February 2022: Samuel Banford 

Advisor of the Month March 2022: Rae Luebbert 

Advisor of the Month September 2022: Jennifer McLaurin 

Advisor of the Month January 2023: Paige Tinsman

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(Left to right) Samuel D. Banford, Paige Tinsman, Kate Wolsey, Rae Luebbert, Liz Leckie, Eden Merkley, Andrew Grace, Jennifer McLaurin
Photo: Brandon Cruz

CFA Staff

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