Alicia Voytek stood at the front of the room, presenting to a group of 30 campus living staff at the team’s weekly initiatives meeting when she was abruptly interrupted.
A group of 10 people—made up of students and staff waving blue and gold pompoms and cheering loudly—marched in, carrying boxes of donuts and wearing buttons with Voytek’s face on them.
“Um. What’s happening?” she asked.
The intruders circled around her, and Voytek’s eyes began to well up as she realized the cause for the unannounced parade: she was this year’s Homecoming dedicatee.
“Every year, the student organizations select one person to honor for Homecoming. This year, they have chosen Alicia Voytek!” Michelle Gardner, director of Student Life Experience who organizes the dedicatee tapping, announced to the group. “Those student organizations identify and vote on a staff or faculty member who has been highly influential on campus and who has worked on campus for at least 10 years. This honor recognizes his or her many contributions to the university and the vital role they play in this institution.”
Everyone clapped and cheered and showered Voytek with hugs.
“This is crazy,” Voytek said, wiping away tears. “I am so overwhelmed. I feel so undeserving, but I am beyond appreciative. This truly is such an honor.”
Voytek, associate vice president of campus operations, has worked at NAU for 27 years. In her time, she has served in a number of residence life capacities—from a residence hall director for McConnell Hall to director of university housing—and has been committed to student success as a leader of campus living and as a positive change maker.
“I am thrilled to see Alicia named as this year’s Homecoming dedicatee. The fact that students have identified Alicia for this honor tells me that her tireless efforts to hear students and take action to build an inclusive and dedicated Campus Living team to support residents really resonates with the student body,” said Margot Staltonstall, vice president of student affairs, who was in attendance at the tapping. “Alicia is attuned to students and responsive, logging endless hours listening and collaboratively finding creative solutions. She is driven to find ways to move forward that includes multiple perspectives and does not settle for the path of least resistance. Alicia inspires us all as leaders to stay the course and reach for the best for our students and staff.”
As part of her dedicatee duties, Voytek will serve as a judge for the chili cookoff, ride in the Homecoming parade, be honored at the football game and attend this year’s dedicatee banquet on Nov. 2 in her honor. RSVP for the free banquet online.
“Alicia has a genuine care for the well-being and success of the students at NAU. She is so intentional in making decisions and setting the direction of our department to live into our values and put the students first in what we are doing,” said Sara Olson, director of Campus Living Facilities, who helped Gardner facilitate the surprise tapping. “Alicia consistently talks about how much she loves working at NAU and the staff that make this university such a great place. She feels like she has such big shoes to follow in being dedicatee but may not realize that she herself has had an enormous impact on so many students and staff over the past several decades, that she’s long filled those shoes.”
Visit the Homecoming website for a full list of events.
Carly Banks | NAU Communications
(928) 523-5582 | firstname.lastname@example.org