Advising students, transforming lives

Stacey Sketo-Rosener is this year’s Outstanding Staff Award honoree

Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta

Stacey Sketo-Rosener will never forget the time when former U.S. Secretary of State Leon Panetta urged UC Santa Cruz’s graduating class of 1988 to recognize their privilege and understand their obligation to give back. 

Panetta, who served as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, and later headed the CIA, exhorted the crowd to contribute meaningfully to society and give generously of themselves. That call to action informs Sketo-Rosener’s life and career, which is all about helping UC Santa Cruz students follow their hearts and overcome obstacles.

Now, Sketo-Rosener (Kresge ’88, literature), UC Santa Cruz’s assistant vice provost for undergraduate advising, is being recognized with UC Santa Cruz’s 2019 Outstanding Staff Award, honoring distinguished service to student life, the growth and improvement of programs, and the preservation of the campus’s unique intellectual environment.

Sketo-Rosener leads the campus’s Office of Campus Advising Coordination, which offers support for academic advising on campus, as well as programs for training and development of advisers, including an adviser certificate program. Her office is leading a campus-wide effort to host a systemwide UC advising conference this spring.

“We try to create and support an environment where effective academic advising can take place, whether it’s policy, procedure, training, or development,” she explained. Her office also has peer academic success coaches that work with students.

Sketo-Rosener said that receiving the Outstanding Staff Award “kind of came out of the blue. I was happy and surprised. I really want to know who nominated me. I wanted to know who to thank.”

She also said this praise is especially gratifying because it validates her office’s work. “We’re working really hard to help move academic advising from transactional to transformational work,” she said. In other words, her office is working to help advisers spend more time talking with the students about their goals, their majors and minors.

On the week she found out about the award, her thoughts turned to her time at UC Santa Cruz and how it informed her desire to do good, impactful work.

The Panetta speech came to mind. So did the time when, at the same commencement ceremony, she was approached by a group of fellow students who asked her to sign a mission statement that encouraged her to consider the sociopolitical ramifications of any employment she found after college.

“That statement was so old UC Santa Cruz, but I took it seriously,” she said. “I think the work we are doing at UC Santa Cruz is good work. I am a big believer in public education and the way it can basically transform people’s lives—and not just their lives but the generations that come after them.”

“If you think about historically marginalized populations getting educations—that can make a huge difference for generations to come,” she continued. “The university has been referred to as a great equalizer. Those are the values that influence me. We can make a big social difference.”

Her work on behalf of students made her stand out in a pool of 150 Outstanding Staff Award nominees this year. And her letters of recommendation are packed with impressive specifics.

“Stacey has been an incredibly productive and collaborative campus partner for decades,” wrote UC Santa Cruz Associate Director of Academic Advising Danielle Mello in one of many letters of recommendation on behalf of Sketo-Rosener.

Jennifer Gallacher, marketing and communications director for UC Santa Cruz’s Summer Session, noted Sketo-Rosener’s amazing productivity.

“Stacey works tirelessly for the students and staff at UC Santa Cruz,” she stated in her recommendation letter. “Always open to new ideas, she is continually raising the bar. Stacey is always in meetings! She meets with staff, students, deans, provosts, and everyone in between, but she still manages to get more done for UC Santa Cruz than most people you will meet. Even with her busy schedule, she can always make time for a chat; she is extremely approachable, and always makes you feel heard.”

UC Santa Cruz staff will have their day in the sun at the annual Staff Appreciation Picnic on April 30, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the campus’s East Field. Sketo-Rosener can not attend the ceremony because of a work commitment, but Sean Malone, who works in her office, will accept the award on her behalf.