National student-affairs organization recognizes Pruitt
Dr. Dennis Pruitt, vice president for student affairs, dean of students and vice provost at the University of South Carolina, has been recognized as one of the nation’s top student-affairs officers.
Pruitt will be honored for outstanding service by NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education at the organization’s annual meeting March 15 in Philadelphia. The award is Pruitt’s second from NASPA.
“I am honored and humbled by this recognition,” Pruitt said. “Truly, this award and the many other honors our division has received over the years are a testament to our outstanding and dedicated staff and the marvelously talented, caring and enthusiastic Carolina students we are so fortunate to serve.”
Pruitt, who has led the university’s Division of Student Affairs and Academic Support since 1983, will receive the Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Service as a Dean. It is NASPA’s highest honor for chief student-affairs officers and recognizes commitment to student-affairs administration and innovation in responding to students’ needs.
“This is an outstanding and well-deserved honor,” USC President Harris Pastides said. “In addition to being a wonderful manager, supervisor and mentor to students, faculty and staff, Dennis is a very caring person. He constantly strives to ‘not let one student fall through the cracks.’ This motto inspires our campus community to provide the needed support for our students to achieve their maximum academic and personal goals.”
NASPA also awarded USC’s Division of Student Affairs and Academic Support three awards of excellence. The University 101 Program’s instructor-development initiative won a Grand Silver Medal Award for overall excellence and a Gold Award in a category that recognizes administrative, assessment, information technology, fundraising and professional-development programs. A publication to help distressed students won a Bronze Award in its respective category for programs dealing with violence education and prevention, crisis management and campus security.
Last year, NASPA Southeast Region honored Pruitt with its John Jones Award for Outstanding Performance as a Senior Student Affairs Officer.
At Carolina, Pruitt oversees housing, health services, student-engagement initiatives, Healthy Carolina, judicial affairs and academic integrity, disability services, residential learning communities, campus recreation, Greek life, the Russell House University Union, student involvement and leadership programs, multicultural student affairs, parents programs, student government and organizations, alcohol and drug programs and student media.
Pruitt is responsible for coordinating and managing all aspects of academic student-support services, including residential learning communities, academic-integrity initiatives, pre-professional advising, fellowships and scholar programs, University 101, enrollment management, undergraduate admissions, orientation and testing, TRIO, the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, the registrar, the Visitor Center, Veterans Services, financial aid and scholarships, the Career Center, international programs for students and student-success initiatives. He designed the university’s first enrollment-management plan.
Jerry Brewer, associate vice president for student life, said he knew Pruitt would make an indelible mark in higher education and the lives of students when they were both graduate students together at Carolina. He has been working alongside Pruitt ever since.
“Each of the past 30 years, Dennis has been awarded increased responsibilities at the University of South Carolina,” Brewer said. “His leadership and influence shape policies and decisions to make Carolina a wonderful learning, teaching and nurturing environment for students. He is a superb leader and administrator.”
Under his supervision, the Division of Student Affairs and Academic Support programs have been a model for many other programs nationally. Among the programs most emulated are academic learning centers, the Greek Life housing village, Carolinian Creed, campus recreation, residential learning communities, student-affairs development and staff-development program.
Pruitt earned his doctorate in education from Carolina. He also has a master’s degree in counseling/student personnel services from West Georgia College and a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Armstrong Atlantic State University.