In the same office that so many students and administrators have gone to over the years seeking help, advice or just a friendly ear, there now hangs a plaque in recognition of excellence.
Last weekend, at the West regional National Association of Campus Activities Conference, Dan Fergueson, Director of College Activities, received the Shelley K. Bannish Award for Outstanding Staff Adviser, which is given out each year to a nominated adviser at a college, community college or university in one of the 11 participating states.
Fergueson said that he has attended this conference 20 or 30 times, and the award came as a complete surprise to him.
The award is a huge honor, with more than 50 schools attending the conference. The receiver of the award is nominated by students and administrators from their school, who submit letters of support.
Senior Nicole Bond, vice president of programming, has been to the conference three times and said that she had the idea to nominate Fergueson last year. She approached students and staff about writing letters of support earlier this fall, and soon enough, she had eight letters from both his students and colleagues.
As an adviser to the Cabinet, LAB, senate, the activities council, cheerleading program and a track coach, Fergueson is greatly involved on and off campus, making him a well-known, reputable leader at Linfield.
“I think everybody on campus knows him just because he does so many things. He helps with RA’s, he’s a track coach, he’s on the sidelines of football games, he’s spread into so many different areas and everybody has a positive opinion of him,” Bond said. “I think that he’s really seen as approachable, and he’s really well-known among other administrators, and I think many of them see him as their window to the students because he has such a good relationship with other students. He achieves that level of friendship better than any other administrator.”
As an active leader on campus, Bond has worked with Fergueson for four years now and said that having him as an adviser has made her better at what she does.
“I really like how he makes us feel like we have ownership of what we’re doing,” she said. “We feel like we’re running stuff, and we feel like we’re the people in charge. I feel like I get most of the credit for LAB events, but it wouldn’t be possible without him. He’s just kind of that unsung hero.”
She said that outside of him being there as an adviser, Fergueson is also a friend to her as well as many students on campus.
“He’s a really good listener, and sometimes my job can get stressful so he’s had to listen to me vent plenty, and I think that’s true for a lot of other ASLC leaders,” Bond said. “He’s not just an outstanding supervisor, he’s also there for advice and is always a good sound board.”
In his 11th academic year at Linfield, Fergueson still has not forgotten what brought him into this field of work. He said that he simply wanted to “help students have a similar experience I did.”
As a highly involved student in college, he wants to help students develop and learn outside of the classroom. It is in this dedication to his students’ experiences that pushes him to continue doing what he can for others.
“It’s the students that keep you passionate about the job,” Fergueson said. “It’s what makes you keep coming back each day with a smile on your face, knowing that you’re helping inspire hope for these students but also helping them learn and grow.”
Jeff Mackay, associate dean of students, discussed this same dedication to his students in the letter of support he wrote in order to nominate Fergueson for the award.
“With all of the work that Dan does for our profession and NACA, he does not forget the real reason he is here and that is to enhance the student experience,”
Mackay wrote in his letter of support. “A true educator, Dan sees the vast opportunities to teach outside of the formal classroom. He not only sees the Activities Office as a programming body for students but as a learning laboratory.”
Because of his commitment to his students, Fergueson said that having many of the letters and nominations for the award come from those students he works with made the experience that much more gratifying.
“It was a very humble experience for me to be awarded an award that I knew my students had a big part in,” he said. “It’s one thing to get an award from the association, when it’s colleagues nominating you, but it’s different when the folks that you actually work with day to day go out of their way to do it. It was a bit overpowering in some ways to know that students took time to write letters and to campaign in some ways to get me that award. It was a pretty special day.”
While Bond said she was incredibly excited for Fergueson to receive the award and the recognition he deserves, she hopes that all students are able to see the amazing resource that they have in Fergueson because he has shaped so many students’ experiences in more ways than one.
“We as students should feel very honored to have access to such a great adviser,” Bond said. “We are lucky to have someone as kind, hardworking, calm, experienced and fun as [Fergueson]. He has made my time as a student leader not only more pleasant, but a better learning experience as well.”
Andra Kovacs/Senior reporter
Andra Kovacs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org