Presidential Award for Excellence: Peg Kirkpatrick, Assistant to the Dean, COLA
By Kristin Duisberg
October 21, 2009
Photo: Perry Smith, Photo Services
To her colleagues on the university’s allotment committee, she is the voice of reason, giving equal weight to her college’s needs and everyone else’s. To faculty in the college of liberal arts, she is the ultimate professional, balancing a vast array of demands and duties with aplomb. Ask around Murkland Hall, and you will hear one sentiment repeated: Peg Kirkpatrick makes things better not just for the College of Liberal Arts (COLA), but also for the whole university.
“Peg embodies the sense of institutional commitment and loyalty that defines the best of UNH,” says former COLA Dean Marilyn Hoskin, for whom Kirkpatrick worked for more than a decade. “She cares about UNH and what it means to the thousands of students, staff, and faculty who have made it their home over the years.”
Kirkpatrick joined the COLA dean’s office in the mid-1990s, working as academic assistant to the associate dean while earning a master’s degree in sociology. She was swiftly promoted to her current role, in which she facilitates virtually all the functions of the office. On one day, that might mean handling a faculty search process that doesn’t conform to university policies. On another, it might mean overseeing an event for donors or coordinating student suspension hearings. On a third, Kirkpatrick might be at one of the many meetings at which she represents COLA, from the allotment committee to working groups that address diversity and women’s issues.
As the glue holding together UNH’s largest college, Kirkpatrick says one of her biggest challenges is making sure she meets every individual’s needs. “It may be 4:30 and my phone may have been ringing since 8 a.m., but each student, parent, and colleague deserves 100 percent from me,” she explains.
COLA Interim Dean Ken Fuld says it’s that attitude that makes Kirkpatrick so special: “Peg is as close to perfect in her job as one could hope for,” he says. “From the smallest, most trivial task to the most challenging and time-demanding duty that I ask of her, she carries them all out promptly, accurately, thoroughly, and always with good cheer. Put simply, I cannot imagine a more effective dean’s assistant.”