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Ridgewater Dean Receives Honor for Student Support
March 2, 2023
Ridgewater College Dean of Students Heidi Olson has received a Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) National Honor Society 2023 Distinguished College Administrator award for her outstanding support of student success.
Olson, who is a Ridgewater alumnus and 33-year employee born and raised in Willmar, has been dean of students for 18 years and oversees the college PTK student chapter with faculty advisor Dr. Bradley Wolfe.
The nomination application commended Olson for “working hard to provide more opportunities and stronger pathways to completion, transfer, and employment,” said the award letter. “(Students) know you support their learning both inside and outside the classroom, and as a result, they have a better college experience because of you.”
Support examples cited in the nomination included some key efforts: 1) helping to increase PTK awareness through visible student-led activities after low engagement times during the COVID pandemic, 2) improving PTK accessibility through innovative hybrid connections that better engaged online students and others who appreciated the new virtual option, 3) merging the Hutchinson and Willmar PTK chapters, and 4) supportively training the new faculty advisor for leadership success and thus student success.
“We appreciate Heidi’s creative problem-solving, her understanding of academic excellence, and how she highlights how our community college is a smart option for students,” explained Wolfe. “She has also opened doors for PTK students to gain leadership skills.”
“This award is an example of Heidi’s continued compassion and support for students and their success at Ridgewater College,” said Mike Kutzke, Ridgewater Vice President of Student Success. “The recognition exemplifies her passion, leadership, and team approach to supporting our students.”
“Receiving this competitive, international award is absolutely a true honor,” Olson said. She said she is thankful for the PTK students and Dr. Wolfe for nominating her but feels it’s really a shared honor. “Actual recognition should go to them also for the hard work they have put into rebuilding and merging the chapters.” Olson also said she hopes that receiving the honor will help create PTK awareness.
Olson and other recognized college leaders will be honored at the PTK Annual Convention in April in Columbus, OH.