The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Award-Winning Work in Higher Ed HR – Distinguished Service Award and Chapter Excellence Award

From creating diversity efforts and development initiatives to leading change, human resources teams and HR practitioners across the country are doing great work every day.

CUPA-HR’s regional Higher Education HR Awards program recognizes some of the best and brightest in higher ed HR and honors HR professionals who have given their time and talents to the association.

Here are this year’s regional recipients:

Distinguished Service Award

This award recognizes an individual for outstanding, exemplary, long-term leadership and service to CUPA-HR and to higher education human resources.

David Zajchowski, Director, Talent Management, Rollins College (Southern Region)

David Zajchowski inspires others in his service to the higher ed HR profession and embodies CUPA-HR’s values of community and belonging, innovation, service excellence and integrity. Zajchowski has been involved with CUPA-HR for nearly 17 years in multiple capacities. He led CUPA-HR’s Florida Chapter in multiple roles from 2003 to 2014 and has been a member of the Southern Region board of directors since 2014. Zajchowski has presented at state, region and national CUPA-HR conferences and was the recipient of CUPA-HR’s Meritorious Service Award in 2015 and CUPA-HR’s Southern Region Leadership Recognition Award in 2013. Additionally, he received the Service Excellence Big WOW Award at Rollins College for his work on the college’s application tracking system implementation.

Janet May, Chief Human Resources Officer, Houston Community College (Western Region)

Janet May has been a passionate and active member of CUPA-HR since 1999 and has served in several leadership roles, including on the national board of directors, on the Western Region board, on CUPA-HR’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee and learning and professional development committee, as a board member for the Rio Grande Chapter, the Arizona Chapter and the Lone Star Chapter. She also participated in CUPA-HR’s Creating Inclusive Communities Project. May provides a rich depth of knowledge to the association, continually empowers and develops her team, and has expanded the employee onboarding and engagement processes at Houston Community College. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, May was instrumental in ensuring communications and support were available to faculty and staff.

Chapter Excellence Award

This award recognizes chapters that are making a significant impact through their commitment to CUPA-HR and to the higher ed HR community.

Maryland Chapter (Eastern Region)

The Maryland Chapter has retained strong relationships with corporate partners, implemented webinars into its programming, and held its first HR Academy, a one-day professional development opportunity targeting para-professional and early-career professional HR staff who are often unable to attend quarterly chapter meetings. The chapter added at-large board positions to make board opportunities more accessible and to improve continuity with each term. The chapter continues to have excellent attendance at its in-person events that are held at different institutions to increase participation of employees that host and to gain new volunteers.

Minnesota Chapter (Midwest Region)

The Minnesota Chapter’s spring 2019 conference reached 135 registrants and nearly doubled its sponsors. To provide more opportunities to bring the state’s HR community together, the chapter hosted its first HR Strategic Summit in partnership with one of its gold-level partners and reached maximum capacity attendance. The chapter provides professional development opportunities for its board members, such as attending CUPA-HR’s regional conferences. When faced with the challenge of succession planning for its board, the chapter created two at-large positions to aid in the continued growth of the chapter.

South Carolina Chapter (Southern Region)

The South Carolina Chapter created a mentoring program to boost its leadership pipeline and to ensure continuity of programs and services provided by the chapter. The mentoring program matches experienced college and university HR pros with students seeking professional development in the HR field. These relationships are meant to strengthen the pipeline of students entering the HR profession in South Carolina, creating a bridge for them to become future contributing members of CUPA-HR. The chapter also creates interactive activities for higher ed HR pros to showcase their innovative and creative best practices with one another at chapter events.

Oregon Chapter (Western Region)

The Oregon Chapter has maintained strong relationships with corporate partners that has allowed the chapter to keep conference costs down while continuing to provide programs that higher ed HR professionals value. The chapter continues to see attendance around 150 for its conferences. When the chapter ran into the challenge of the transfer of knowledge with each new board, the chapter established at-large positions that eventually become full board members, allowing a seamless transfer of knowledge. The chapter also utilizes web tools to house data and documents so that information can be passed down from one generation of board members to the next.

Read about CUPA-HR’s region Rock Star Award and HR Excellence Award recipients in last week’s blog post.


The CUPA-HR national office will be closed July 4 in observance of Independence Day.