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Kristen Partridge Named Otis Sullivant Award Winner

Kristen Partridge Named as 2012 Otis Sullivant Award Winner

April 11, 2012

Kristen Partridge, assistant dean of students and director of Student Life, has been named the 2012 recipient of the $20,000 Otis Sullivant Award for Perceptivity at the University of Oklahoma.

The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation and the selection committee, which is composed of faculty and staff members, students and alumni, makes the selection.

“No one is more gifted than Kristen Partridge in inspiring and training the future leaders of our state and nation,” said OU First Lady Molly Shi Boren, who chairs the selection committee. “She has made a lasting contribution to the spirit of community at the University of Oklahoma.”

“Each year, we are proud to present the Otis Sullivant Award for Perceptivity to an individual whose keen insight benefits the University of Oklahoma community,” said Bob Ross, president and CEO of Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. “This year’s recipient, Kristen Partridge, embodies the spirit of the award.”

The late Edith Kinney Gaylord of Oklahoma City established the $500,000 Sullivant Prize endowment shortly before her death in January 2001.  The award honors the late longtime Oklahoma journalist Otis Sullivant, who covered Oklahoma and national political news for several decades and was known for his ability to analyze and accurately predict political trends.  Edith Kinney Gaylord was a longtime supporter of many OU programs and a pioneering journalist.  She was the first woman reporter to join the New York bureau of the Associated Press, and was the second president and one of the founders of the Women’s National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The award is presented to a faculty or staff member at OU who exhibits “keen perceptivity.”  The agreement establishing the prize also states that a person “who manifests intuitiveness, instant comprehension, empathy, is observant and interprets from experience” should be selected.  The benefit to society and the broader community, which comes from the insight of the recipient, also is considered.

A leader and mentor to staff and students across campus, Partridge manages a diverse staff and plays a key role in the advising of OU’s top student leaders. Her personality and passion for student development have inspired the entire Student Affairs staff to selflessly serve OU students.

Partridge sets an example of perceptivity with her “fill the bucket” philosophy, described thus: Each day a person carries a bucket. In that bucket a person carries her energy, passion, empathy, concern and self-worth.  Buckets get emptied each day as people integrate themselves into the fabric of work and play.

High-achieving students and staff empty their buckets faster than they refill them, she believes. As a result, Partridge enjoys finding ways to “fill people’s buckets.”  This observation helps her tailor each “fill of the bucket.” The result is a community of staff and students who regularly use the term “fill the bucket” to encourage and support one another.  She has “paid it forward” by developing a community motivated by mutual support.

Partridge developed and instructs the U-Zoo program, an interactive session in which students come to understand their leadership style as characterized by four different animals.  The result of the program is so powerful that, in later years, students talk about their animal designations. Furthermore, students are able to identify the characterizations of those around them and equip themselves with a better method of leading, following and collaborating with peers. Partridge’s comprehension of student needs and her ability to develop them has transformed the Office of Student Life. Student programs work together in a diverse affiliation.  She leads by example and collaborates and encourages students’ positive behavior. Her philosophy to “discover strengths” has made notable change in the students and organizations across campus.  Through her involvement in the many activities and programs she oversees, she helps students develop into the next generation of leaders.

As the director of student life, Partridge keep the university’s mission in mind and encourages students to put academics first.  She has helped increase retention rates among student communities.  For example, the average cumulative GPA for the Campus Activities Council, with over 400 members, was 3.44 this past academic semester.   She also provides leadership to the Sooner Upward Bound and McNair Scholars programs, securing funding from the U.S Department of Education.  The connection she has had with the Sooner Traditions Scholars scholarship program has helped hundreds of students from inner-city high schools in Oklahoma City and Tulsa obtain an OU degree.

Partridge received her bachelor’s degree in education in 1999 and master’s degree in human relations with an emphasis in organizational leadership in 2008 from OU. She has served the university as assistant director of student life and Union Programming coordinator. She is the recipient of the UOSA Nancy Mulder Award, was named UOSA Outstanding Staff of 2006 and serves on the Leader Summit and United Way Committees.  She currently serves as president of the Oklahoma College Student Personnel Association and as chair of the National Association of Student Affairs Administrators Region IV West Leadership and Student Leadership board, and is a member of St. Thomas More College Ministry.