Salisbury University’s Dr. Lawanda Dockins-Mills has been presented with the Board of Regent’s Staff Award in the “Outstanding Services to Students in an Academic or Residential Environment” category.
The accolade is an honor given by the University System of Maryland, which Dockins-Mills earned for her dedicated work in numerous positions and titles to better campus life for all Salisbury students.
Not only the associate dean of students, Dockins-Mills also serves as director of the Guerrieri Student Union, co-chair of the Sophomore Year Experience and oversees countless other initiatives, including move-in day and freshman orientation. Her work has sought to improve the quality of day-to-day life for students, better neighborhood relations and develop more effective commuter services.
For sophomores, Dockins-Mills has been an integral part of organizing the annual Sophomore Year Experience Carnival held on campus.
The GSU director focuses heavily on spreading safety awareness through the initiatives that she leads, such as a door-knocker campaign around the local community to spread awareness of city ordinances and safety practices.
During this initiative, Dockins-Mills distributed the door-knockers alongside volunteer students to houses around the neighborhood in an effort to minimize any potential dangers.
While her body of work was a very convincing factor for her nomination, Dockins-Mills believes that her passion for students has been key.
“I love it," Dockins-Mills said. "My passion is really about the success of our students.”
In fact, the associate dean was “moved” and “brought to tears” after receiving her nomination, as she was then able to see how much her fellow administrators appreciated that dedication and effort.
She also attributes her success to carefully listening to the concerns of students and addressing their needs in every way possible.
Embracing their needs, she believes, leads to critical improvements in current initiatives, or even spiraling into new projects completely.
These new initiatives include a fall Sophomore Year Experience event to bookend the current spring event held for second-year students, though it is still in early development.
Recently, Dockins-Mills coordinated the design of a new postcard that was sent out to welcome back returning students while simultaneously reinforcing safety practices in the community.
One of the university’s student organizations Dockins-Mills most frequently works alongside is the Student Government Association.
SGA President Devin Neil saw firsthand the impact the associate dean of students had on the entire student body, saying that much of its work is “made possible through [Dockins-Mills’] support and guidance, enabling students to make the change they would like to see in their community.”
Many other Salisbury University programs have been influenced by Dockins-Mills’ contributions over the years, including the design of freshman orientation.
She wrote the initial format for the event, which originally was only held for three days, but has since grown into four to accommodate the larger influx of incoming students each year. However, the same structure the associate dean created over 19 years ago is still the foundation of the program.
Dockins-Mills is a Salisbury University alum, earning her B.A. in Communication Arts and M.Ed. in Education Administration from SU, later attending the University of Maryland Eastern Shore to earn her Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership. Soon after, she would return to her original alma mater to deliver 32 years of dedicated service thus far to her fellow Sea Gulls.
By JAKOB TODD
Featured image: Salisbury University Images.