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Patricia Telles-Irvin, students’ champion, honored by NASPA Foundation

The NASPA Foundation has selected the late Patricia Telles-Irvin as a 2020 recipient of its highest honor, the John L. Blackburn Distinguished Pillar Award. She was recognized for her contributions as a leader, teacher and scholar to grow the student affairs field.

Patricia Telles-Irvin
Patricia Telles-Irvin

Telles-Irvin passed away June 3, 2019, at the age of 63. Since 2011, she had served Northwestern as vice president for Student Affairs.

During her tenure at Northwestern, Telles-Irvin worked to invest in the future and make the student experience more inclusive, welcoming and successful for all students, including the increasing numbers of first-generation students, low-income students and underrepresented minorities that the University enrolled in recent years.

She championed efforts to transform the residential experience, create stronger ties between students and the campus and led efforts on acculturation and diversity, as well as women's concerns and student development. 

She established the office of Campus Inclusion and Community, which works with partners across the University to develop inclusive learning environments, and the office of Student Enrichment Services, which supports first-generation, low-income and DACA/undocumented students. 

A psychologist by training, she guided the University’s expansion of programs for student mental health and well-being. Counseling and Psychological Services and other units supporting well-being grew significantly during her tenure.  

The NASPA Foundation supports student affairs professionals by conferring and financially supporting scholarships, Innovation Grants, research grants and recognition awards.