|Dean of Students Lillian Elsinga to retire June 30|
Lillian Elsinga, dean of students and associate vice president for student services, will retire June 30.
Born in Zuidhoren, the Netherlands, Elsinga immigrated with her parents to Michigan in 1951. She attended Hope College and then transferred to Grand Valley State College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in German and teaching. She served as an admissions counselor at Grand Valley State from 1968 to 1971. She earned her master's degree from Michigan State University in 1973, and was hired by UND as associate dean of students. She served as interim vice president for student affairs in 1983, and was named dean of students in 1984. In 1998, she was also named associate vice president for student services.
Elsinga has earned numerous awards, including the Native American Programs and the UNDIA awards in 1983; the Grand Valley State College Distinguished Alumni Award in 1986; the Women's Studies Award in 1993; the UND Apartment Community Pride Award in 1995; the National Association for Student Judicial Affairs Award in 1996; the President's Advisory Council on Women Award in 1998; the UND Spirit Award from Athletics in 1998 and 2000; the Era Bell Thompson Award in 2001; the Trio Programs Award; the Stetson Law and Higher Education Conference Award in 2002; the UND Student Government Gordon Henry Dedication to Students and Multicultural Student Services awards in 2005; the Athena Award in 2007; and the UND Greek Life Pillar Award in 2010.
She has served on dozens of committees during her career, including academic and student policy committees, Athletics, and the Community Violence and Intervention Center Domestic Violence Grand Forks Assessment Task Force. She also served as an honorary coach for the UND men's and women's swim teams in 2001.
On the national level, she's been part of the American College Personnel Association Commission for Judicial Affairs and has served as commission chairperson for three years. She's been a presenter at the Stetson Law and Higher Education Conference for six years. In addition, she has taught undergraduate and graduate classes and mentored many graduate interns.
Robert Boyd, vice president for student and outreach services, said:
Lillian Elsinga, Associate Vice President for Student Services and Dean of Students, announced her intent to retire on June 30 of this year. As is often true with such announcements, there are mixed feelings among those receiving them: happy for the individual retiring and sad for the organization that must do without their friendship and service. This is certainly true in Lillian's case.
I suppose it is true that no one individual in an organization is indispensable, but I have always believed that some come closer than others. Indispensable is a word that quickly comes to mind when I think of her leaving us. I know she would be the first to say the word doesn't apply to her, but we know better.
Lillian and I have been friends and colleagues together in one way or another for more than three decades. During that time she has often been my tutor, but just as important she has always challenged me to think of how students might be better served; usually these challenges do not come in verbal exchanges, instead through serving as model - always a more effective way. Anyone who has followed her career has seen a consistent attitude of caring and a common-sense approach to problem solving - both more than likely gained from immigrant parents who worked hard to be successful in the bakery business but never lost sight of their obligation to others.
Many of you may not know that Lillian was born in the Netherlands and English is truly her second language. She often jokes about this and apologizes for a slip of the tongue. In truth, she is extremely articulate and never more so than when she is talking about students and service to them.
Her list of accomplishments while at UND will no doubt be referred to in the time prior to her retirement, and it is long. But I consider her greatest accomplishment to be her genuine, and too often unheralded, friendship to all who she encounters. Her office and her home are equally open to all who need something she has to offer.
I am glad we and our students still have several months of Lillian's service but the announcement already makes us start missing her. We thank her for all she has done.
During retirement, Elsinga looks forward to spending more time with her husband, Boyd Wright, and other family members. She enjoys singing with the Sharon Lutheran Church Choir, gardening, and travel.