We are pleased to announce that Suzette Smith is the recipient of the 2021 NIRSA Foundation Leadership Award! This award honors those who have demonstrated exceptional contributions of time, talent, and treasure to the NIRSA Foundation and its mission over a sustained period of time. It recognizes a person or group that has provided leadership to the Association through active participation in fulfilling the NIRSA Foundation’s important work of providing support and meaningful opportunities for leaders in collegiate recreation.

Stacey Hall, Executive Director of Student Engagement & Development at the University of New Hampshire, says, “Suzi has a very strong character as a professional and as a Foundation Board member. She is thoughtful and caring, which enables her to build relationships with donors, sponsors, and those who benefit from the work of the Foundation.”

Suzi served as a member of the Foundation Board of Directors for 17 years, ending her Board tenure in April 2020. During her time with the Foundation Board, she taught, mentored, and developed new board members and led the Foundation as it grew and diversified its impact on the Association. As Tom Kirch, retired director from Oregon State University, puts it, “There is no one in the nearly 30 years of the NIRSA Foundation that has contributed more of their time, talent, and treasure than Suzi Smith.”

This award follows another honor for Suzi: The establishment of an endowment in her name last April. The endowment, funded by 157 of Suzi’s friends and colleagues in NIRSA and on her campus, will support NIRSA health & wellbeing activities that offer global impact for NIRSA professional members in the field of campus recreation.

Greg Jordan, Director of University Recreation and Well-Being at Oakland University, adds, “Suzi’s commitment to NIRSA is channeled through the Foundation. She is a servant leader. She embraces and advances diversity and inclusion, and she is a role model that inspires all who she impacts.”

Suzi has served as the history book for the Foundation—someone who cannot only relay our past, but who can also identify areas that can be corrected, improved, and enhanced. The Foundation is unlikely to know another Board member who will create the same breadth and depth of impact.

Lexi Chaput currently is Senior Assistant Director of Sport Programs and Development at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; she serves as a member of the NIRSA Foundation Board of Directors and is the Chair of NIRSA's Concussion Advisory Council. She can be reached at lexic@umich.edu.