Newswise — KINGSTON, R.I., February 15, 2017 – The leading association of the student affairs profession is honoring a faculty member at the University of Rhode Island with a lifetime achievement award for outstanding research and scholarship.

NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education has named Annemarie Vaccaro recipient of the 2017 George D. Kuh Outstanding Contribution to Literature and/or Research Award. Vaccaro, associate professor of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Health Sciences/Academic Health Collaborative, is also director of the University’s College Student Personnel Program.

According to NASPA, the award honors an individual who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to research and scholarship that addresses important and substantial issues and has had a significant or transformative effect on higher education and student affairs practice in a national or international context. The pool of nominees for the national awards includes regional winners and represents the best of the best in student affairs administration.

“All of her work is framed by a commitment to social justice, and much of it has focused on populations long-neglected by other scholars—specifically college-going women, LGBT populations and students with disabilities,” wrote Ezekiel Kimball, assistant professor of higher education at the University of Massachusetts, in his nomination letter for Vaccaro.

Vaccaro, 44, is certainly young for a lifetime achievement award, but the honor recognizes the sheer number and influence of her publications as well as her involvement with a variety of social justice programs at URI, including LGBT Fellows, Women’s Leadership Initiative, the Equity Council, President’s LGBTQ Commission and Academic Affairs Diversity Task Force.

Vaccaro, who was honored and surprised to learn of her selection, said she is simply committed to giving a voice to marginalized students through rigorous scholarship that can bring positive change to higher education policies and programs. “Students have a complicated view of their lives that scholarship has not caught up with. We are just acquiring the language to convey some really complicated realities,” she said.

Vaccaro spends hours interviewing students about their lives in and out of the classroom and analyzing their disparate stories to identify common themes. She then distills her findings into data that have real human experiences behind them, giving them power. “I honor the fact that students have much knowledge to share,” she said.

Vaccaro, who is the co-author of three books, 25 journal articles, 18 book chapters and several other publications, will be honored in March at the 2017 NASPA Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas.