Schmidt-Rogers Honored with Parthenon Award
Residential Life Director Celebrated for Serving Students with Global Focus
Deb Schmidt-Rogers, interim director of residential life at Northwestern University, received the prestigious Parthenon Award from the Association of College and University Housing Officers – International (ACUHO-I) at a ceremony in June.
“Receiving the Parthenon Award is so special to me as it highlights a body of work that I am so proud of,” Schmidt-Rogers said. “My volunteer work with ACUHO-I has been a true highlight of my professional career and has given me the opportunity to delve more deeply into the student residential experience around the world. This has helped shape my ability to lead and deliver quality programs and services in my current position.”
Schmidt-Rogers was one of five winners announced at the ACUHO-I Annual Conference & Exposition in Pittsburgh. The organization represents more than 17,000 residence life professionals and presents the Parthenon Award to members demonstrating achievement, service, leadership and contributions to the field of campus housing. Ask Northwestern Executive Director of Residential Services Carlos Gonzalez, and there’s no one more deserving of the honor than Schmidt-Rogers.
“She’s a natural,” Gonzalez said. “Deb makes the balance of serving students in innovative ways, developing staff and performing at a high-level look easy.”
To be considered for the Parthenon Award, ACUHO-I members must contribute at least ten years of service in housing, residence life or an affiliated field, five years of service at the regional or international level and demonstrate an impact on campus housing.
“She is thoughtful, well-read, connected and wears her emotions ‘on her sleeve,’ which positively role models the importance of mature vulnerability,” one of Schmidt-Rogers’ nominators wrote. “She is a champion for those who may not feel they have a voice, always sharing a perspective that may not be popular but needs to be stated.”
Throughout her career in residential life, Schmidt-Rogers has helped create a sense of belonging for Northwestern students across the Evanston campus. Her work is primarily focused on the student experience within Northwestern’s residential halls and residential colleges, where Schmidt-Rogers is responsible for community development, student engagement and programming, crisis response and the student conduct process.
Schmidt-Rogers also brings a global perspective to the role, an important quality on a campus that welcomes Wildcats from around the world to Evanston. As a former president of ACUHO-I, Schmidt-Rogers traveled abroad to explore different approaches to student housing in Australia, South Africa, Italy and the United Kingdom. She led the association with a focus on the ‘I’ or ‘International,’ setting the foundation for the Global Housing Training Institute,” Gonzalez said. In that role, Schmidt-Rogers helped create an intensive workshop for ACUHO-I members from around the world to connect, develop their skills and discuss issues in campus housing.
This year’s Global Housing Training Institute will be held in Melbourne, Australia. During a career in student housing that has spanned three decades, Schmidt-Rogers— a true Chicagoan—has held leadership positions across the city at DePaul University, Loyola University Chicago and Northwestern. She most recently worked as director of residence life at Loyola, before returning to Northwestern as interim director of residential life in February.
“The Residential Life team felt a sense of stability shortly after Deb arrived at Northwestern,” Gonzalez said. “She has continually advocated while raising expectations for the team in realistic and meaningful ways.”
Prof. Ava Thompson Greenwell appointed Faculty-in-Residence for South Residential Area
Beginning next fall, a new face will welcome Northwestern undergraduate students living in the South Residential Area. Medill professor Ava Thompson Greenwell has been appointed as the area’s next Faculty-in-Residence. The South Area is made up of the 636 Emerson, 640 Emerson, 1838 Chicago, Allison, East Fairchild, Hobart, Jones, Rogers, Shepard and West Fairchild residence halls.
Founded in 2010, the Faculty-in-Residence program provides students living on campus an opportunity to connect and interact with faculty outside the classroom. Each of the five Faculty-in-Residence oversees a Residential Area and creates programming that builds community and encourages engagement amongst their respective residents. Each Faculty-in-Residence is encouraged to showcase their individual personality through their programming. Many have shared their interests with student clubs, through activities and by hosting faculty dinners.
An alumna who holds three degrees from Northwestern, Thompson-Greenwell is interested in the intersection of race, gender and journalism, and teaches reporting at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. During the 2021-2022 academic year, she has lectured in courses and across Evanston on her documentary “Mandela in Chicago,” which focuses on Chicago’s anti-apartheid movement. Students in one of her courses produced their own “mini” documentaries using footage from “Mandela in Chicago.”
Outside of the classroom, Thompson Greenwell currently serves as co-director of Medill’s South Africa Journalism Residency Program and as a faculty mentor for the Posse Program.
“I love watching students mature and blossom,” said Thompson Greenwell. “During my tenure at Northwestern, I’ve had several opportunities to work with students beyond the classroom. I think becoming a Faculty-in-Residence will allow me to engage with students in a different way that’s even more fulfilling.”
The appointment is a true coming home moment for Thompson Greenwell. As an undergraduate, she lived in Shepard Hall, East Fairchild and West Fairchild. When it comes to her future residents, Thompson Greenwell hopes to collaborate with her residents to develop new programming. “What I’ve learned from mentoring and raising my own three adult children is to find out what they are most interested in first, then add to their suggestions,” she said.
In 2021, Thompson Greenwell published Ladies Leading: The Black Women Who Control Television News, a book focused on the history and experiences of Black women news managers and their contributions to the industry. She also hosts and produces “Ladies Leading,” a podcast that features Black women in a variety of professions.
Thompson Greenwell succeeds Melissa Foster, who will transition to the Northeast Area. Enectali “Tali” Figueroa-Feliciano, Faculty-in-Residence for the Northeast Area, will end his term in June, after serving in the role for six years.