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Kristy Tokarczyk Named 2017 STEM Leader of the Year

CSU assistant dean honored for her efforts to improve STEM education and retention

Kristy Tokarczyk has played a leading role in developing a number of innovative initiatives that have assisted in preparing students for STEM degrees and helping them succeed once they get to college. In honor of these efforts the assistant dean for student services at Cleveland State University’s College of Science and Health Professions has been named the 2017 STEM Leader of the Year, presented by StemCON.

The award honors leading educators in the field who have made a major impact on the quality of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education at the post-secondary level. Tokarczyk is the first professional, non-faculty member, to receive the award, which was presented at STEMCon 2017 earlier this month.

“Kristy has played a leading role in developing our high school outreach initiatives which are designed to best prepare individuals to enter STEM degree programs, while also leading our efforts to improve retention and academic success for current CSU students,” says Meredith Bond, Dean of COSHP who nominated Tokarczyk for the award. “I am very pleased that her hard work and dedication have won national recognition.”

“I am extremely honored to receive this award and it speaks to the quality of the holistic student success system we are creating at CSU,” Tokarczyk adds. “Through all of our initiatives we seek to insure that all students enter STEM degree programs prepared and have every opportunity to achieve academic success in the university environment.”

Tokarczyk has been at CSU for 12 years and in her current role oversees the COSHP Advising Center and holds general responsibility for undergraduate student recruitment and retention. This includes managing the College’s proactive efforts to assist rising juniors and seniors at high schools across the region in preparing for the college exploration process.

“By providing help with financial planning, degree mapping and academic advising early in the process, we are able to help students be better prepared for applying to and entering STEM degree programs,” Tokarczyk notes. “This support is particularly important for students in underrepresented minorities or for first generation college students.”

STEMcon is one of the largest annual STEM education and research conferences in the U.S., highlighting leading scholarship on retention, curriculum development and mentoring while also presenting a series of awards designed to honor the top STEM programs and individuals working in the field. CSU’s Operation STEM, a comprehensive engagement and support initiative for students pursuing technical degrees, won an Excellence in STEM Education Award at StemCON 2016.