Statewide association surprises dean of enrollment with service award
Long before Alan Byrd joined the University of Missouri–St. Louis staff, he was already hard at work on behalf of students in the region. So while Byrd, now dean of enrollment at UMSL, was caught off guard by the award he received last week, his colleagues were not.
“I remember many times when Alan would work with students at all hours of the day – and night – to answer their questions and help them with the application and enrollment process,” said UMSL Director of Admissions Drew Griffin, who has worked alongside Byrd for many years. “Alan would then serve as a major resource for them once they arrived on campus … He was never afraid to go the extra mile and assist a student with whatever they needed to be successful.”
On April 13, Byrd’s peers across Missouri honored him with the Peggy Clinton Memorial Service Award, named for someone Byrd himself recalls as a “true admission professional.”
“She had a reputation that we all strive for in terms of professionalism and caring for the well-being of students,” Byrd said. “Several of my mentors have won this award in the past, so that made it even more special to me.”
Presented annually at the Missouri Association for College Admission Counseling conference, the Peggy Clinton Memorial Service Award is reserved for an admissions professional who has shown commitment and dedication to students throughout his or her career.
“It speaks volumes about an admissions professional’s work ethic,” Griffin said. “Alan is such a humble guy, so he wouldn’t make a big deal of this. But it really is a big deal.”
Hired as UMSL’s director of admissions in 2009, Byrd was promoted to dean of enrollment in 2012. Recently, his focus has been on improving policies, business practices and support services for students. Prior to his tenure at UMSL, he worked in college admissions at Southeast Missouri State University, serving in a number of roles.
“This is a labor of love for me,” Byrd said. “I was the first in my family to earn a college degree, so I have experienced firsthand how higher education can transform a person’s life. Now it is very gratifying for me to assist students in their transition to higher education and to contribute to their growth and development into successful professionals.”
Griffin describes him as an advocate and role model for students who “understands the obstacles that many must overcome to succeed in higher education.”
“I work hard to listen and observe his actions so that I, too, may help as many students as possible,” Griffin said. “He is a machine. He’s committed to improving the lives of students and won’t stop at any cost until he can make it right.”
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