Five UNT Division of Student Affairs staff members received Staff Appreciation Awards during the Staff Appreciation Luncheon on April 3. The awards recognize staff who go above and beyond their duties to contribute to UNT’s quality and excellence, to provide excellent customer service, to support student success and to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace and campus.

Rachel Grimes, assistant director for the Student Money Management Center, and Renee McNamara, student survivor advocate for the Dean of Students Office, received the Student Success Award, which recognizes staff members who have gone above and beyond their normal job requirements to contribute to the success of a UNT student or group of students.

Grimes joined the Student Money Management Center in 2010 and was charged with expanding and enhancing the center’s financial outreach programming. She created and implemented some of the nation’s first dedicated financial literacy education and wellness programs on university campuses, regardless of their degree or college affiliation. She conceptualized, developed and implemented dynamic and innovative programs based upon three principles—access, retention and graduation. Today, the center is annually serving more than 12,000 students, many of whom were first reached via social media. Through Grimes’ leadership and efforts, the center’s social media engagement has realized a 700% increase in student contacts.

Since April 2015, McNamara has served UNT by helping students who have been survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence as well as other acts of violence. The number of students she has assisted since the inception of her role on campus has been overwhelming. She is the first person any student who reports sexual violence may encounter at UNT. Her compassion helps survivors know they are safe as she connects them to resources available to them, guides them through many processes and, most importantly, lets them know they are not alone and that UNT cares about them. In her role, she has been able to keep many students in school because of her compassion and assistance.

Tomas Sanchez, associate director for Housing and Residence Life, received the Diversity Award, which acknowledges the significant achievements of staff members who are active in increasing awareness and education about diversity and inclusion.

Sanchez joined UNT Housing in July 2016, overseeing a staff of more than 50 with a tremendous passion for educating his staff to better serve students. Sanchez consistently facilitates training on social justice, diversity, inclusion and equity, and has prompted each professional staff member to complete intensive training addressing personal identities and biases. He has implemented a Restorative Justice model for critical and bias-related incidents, which creates a community conversation for the students. This model highlights the diverse viewpoints of community members, educating others on perspectives of incident intent versus impact and how one incident affects each person.

Charlotte Cooke, administrative coordinator for the University Union, received the UNT Spirit Award, which recognizes staff members who consistently demonstrate a sense of pride in being a part of the UNT community by supporting staff, faculty and students, and by always promoting the university in a positive light.

Cooke is known throughout her division for supporting every campus event she can. She frequently sends emails and social media reminders to her colleagues, encourages attendance at campus events and helps students understand UNT traditions. She genuinely cares about each student, faculty and staff member she interacts with and models respect, teamwork and cooperation through every interaction. Cooke is a true asset to UNT, exemplifying our spirit of service and Mean Green pride on a daily basis.

Dan Naegeli, executive director for career and leadership services, received the President’s Special Recognition Award, which honors an extraordinary student, faculty or staff member (or group) who has contributed momentous and unique talent or service to the university, resulting in infectious UNT pride.

Naegeli has developed partnerships between UNT and numerous employers to provide UNT students with employment opportunities. Most recently, he established High School Career Connect to provide secondary students with career development and help them achieve their goals. This program will help college and high school students select majors and occupations, and will help middle school students select endorsements that will complement their talents and skills. It will not only give them a resource that will help them to become more confident in their career choice prior to high school graduation, but it also will allow them to go to college with a clear major and plan, graduate on time and have less student debt.

Congratulations to all of the award recipients!

Visit DSA News for the latest happenings and successes in the Division of Student Affairs.
Contact: Ray Willhoft, 940-565-2464,