Dr. Ajay Nair, president-elect of Arcadia University, received the Dr. Doris Michiko Ching Shattering the Glass Ceiling award at the 2018 NASPA Annual Conference for student affairs professionals in Philadelphia on March 6. Dr. Nair was honored during the Asian Pacific Islanders Knowledge Community (APIKC) Awards Ceremony.
Named for the first Asian American NASPA president, the Dr. Doris Michiko Ching award recognizes a student affairs practitioner who has made an outstanding impact on the Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi American community through leadership, service, and scholarship. Dr. Nair was selected for transforming student affairs leadership, facing challenges head-on, and maintaining integrity throughout his career in higher education, with one nominator noting how he “has left an indelible mark on many through his leadership in both the student affairs field and within the [Asian Pacific Islander Desi American] community. He has consistently challenged the status quo, creating ways to empower students so they can reach their goals at highly complex institutions.”
"It's almost like this award was created with Ajay in mind," said presenter Hikaru Kozuma, associate vice provost of Student Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania. "The arc of his career has always been towards honorable leadership, towards working on behalf of disenfranchised communities, and most importantly, towards the service of others."
Dr. Nair is among the first American-born university presidents of Indian descent nationwide, and he will be the first person of color to serve as president of Arcadia. As inaugural director of NASPA’s Division for Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice, Dr. Nair has developed strategies and professional opportunities to promote equity and inclusion within the student affairs profession. Under his leadership, Campus Life at Emory University became a national pacesetter on issues of social justice.
“I’m truly honored and truly humbled," said Dr. Nair. "There is nothing more gratifying than recognition from your peers and your family.”