National group honors UHV vice president with award
When Jay Lambert was told he was going to receive an award from a national association for being an outstanding and inspirational leader, it was a welcome surprise.
Lambert, the University of Houston-Victoria vice president for student affairs, received the NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education’s John Jones Award for Outstanding Performance as a Senior Student Affairs Officer for Region III, which includes Texas and most of the southeastern U.S. Lambert will receive his award during the NASPA Region III Summer Symposium awards banquet on June 11.
“I feel so honored and humbled to receive this award,” Lambert said. “It’s amazing to know that people thought enough of me and my efforts to write letters and nominate me for such distinguished recognition.”
The John Jones Award is intended to honor top-level student affairs officers who meet several criteria. They must be strategic and innovative when providing programs and services to students, have a high level of competency in developing staff, have exemplary managerial and administrative skills, and demonstrate leadership in campus and community affairs. Recipients also must make significant contributions to professional associations and literature about student affairs and higher education as well as be seen as collaborative, effective and inspirational on campus. As the recipient of the John Jones Award, he also will be the Region III nominee for the Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Performance as a Dean, which is presented at the NASPA national conference.
Lambert originally was nominated for the award by Dakota Doman, a former UHV Student Life & Services director who also worked under Lambert at Lamar University. Doman reached out to current and former UHV employees to collect letters of recommendation about Lambert’s efforts as a student affairs officer.
“During my time as the director for Student Life & Services at UHV, Dr. Lambert served as the driving force behind revamping the Student Life & Services office,” Doman said. “Due to Dr. Lambert’s vision and diligent work, UHV experienced a significant increase in its retention rate. I chose student affairs as a career pathway when I worked under him as a student at Lamar University because of his encouraging words and the manner in which he embodied everything good about the profession.”
Michael Wilkinson, UHV director of Student Life & Services, said in his letter that his role as someone who directly reports to Lambert allows him to see Lambert’s passion for student affairs on a daily basis. He credits Lambert as being the main person who encouraged him to pursue a career in student affairs.
“Dr. Lambert defines student affairs to me,” Wilkinson said. “He cares about students and wants to see nothing but their personal, academic and professional development. His relationship with students goes well beyond their time on campus. He fosters relationships with students that often become friendships. He is a mentor and friend to many. In my opinion, his work with college students is second to none.”
In another letter, Beverly Tomek, UHV’s associate provost and dean of University College, praised Lambert for his dedication to students and his talent for hiring and raising up strong leaders who can build successful programs. Lambert is so dedicated to getting to know and help students that he volunteered to teach one of the university’s “Freshman Seminar” courses.
“Jay Lambert is, without a doubt, one of the first people I would hire if I were ever in a position to build a university from the ground up,” Tomek said. “He is an outstanding advocate for students, a wonderful colleague to have, and a constant professional who serves as a strong role model for us all.”
Although he acknowledges receiving this award is an amazing honor, Lambert credits most of his success as a leader to the people he hires and leads.
“There’s a lot to be said for being able to hire the right people and lead with clear expectations,” he said. “So much of the successes in my past have been due to my ability to give people the flexibility to do their job and get out of their way. It’s amazing to see what people can do if they are enabled and encouraged.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as a teaching center in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities, and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.