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Presidential Award for Excellence: Sarah Kiely, Office of Conduct and Mediation

By Carrie Sherman
October 28, 2009

Sarah Kiely, Office of Conduct and Mediation
Photo: Lisa Nugent, Photo Services

When a student is involved in a disciplinary issue, they are often referred to the UNH Office of Conduct and Mediation.

Their first contact is usually Sarah Kiely whose unflappable and compassionate approach to her work puts people at ease. Her philosophy on discipline reflects that of the office—that those involved in a conduct incident are not bad students—they just may not be making good decisions. “In many cases we see students get into a risky situation and not have the courage to get themselves out of it,” says Kiely. “Peer pressure often plays a role and students learn through the conduct process that they need to be assertive to avoid these situations.”

Kiely is soft spoken, but there’s an undeniable firmness there, as when she notes: “Every conduct incident is different. Every student’s situation is unique. But as a university community, there need to be clear expectations that every student is expected to follow.”

In overseeing the administrative functions of the office, Kiely works with two other full-time staff members and a graduate assistant. She also supervises three work-study students and assists the 50 or so faculty, staff, and student volunteers from throughout the University. Says Kiely, “Without our dedicated volunteers, students would not get the high level of due process and fairness they currently receive.”

As the sole administrator for the office’s student database, which holds thousands of confidential records, Kiely performs double-duty in technical support. Her work to improve the database has helped all those that use the system on a daily basis.

An ace multitasker, Kiely moves seamlessly from handling administrative issues to scheduling conduct hearings to talking with parents and students about the conduct process.

Her dedication to her work permeates the environment in the Office of Conduct and Mediation. “Sarah’s calming grace protects the dignity of the student and the family under very difficult circumstances,” says Anne Lawing, dean of students. “Her excellence reflects well on all of us.”


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