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AP Assembly announces its 2021 award winners

Three dedicated, knowledgeable and effective women leaders snag top awards for administrative professionals

AP Assembly, 2021, Awards, Southward, Dowd, Chamberlain

icon of a calendarApril 5, 2021

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The AP Assembly has announced this year’s winners of three awards it presents annually to recognize the professional accomplishments and contributions of administrative professionals. The honors are designated after an assembly committee reviews nominations submitted by a host of colleagues and selects winners based on criteria distinctive to each award.

The most prestigious of these honors is the Outstanding AP of the Year, which is overseen by a a selection committee comprised of members representing all university divisions, as well as a faculty representative and a clerical representative. Their charge is to identify an individual who has been at Oakland University for more than six years and has demonstrated extraordinary effort support for the university’s mission and strategic plan, as well as spirit of cooperation and community and university service.

SouthwardThe 2021 Outstanding AP of the Year is Michelle Southward, director of advising in the School of Health Sciences.

Colleagues nominating Michelle note her tremendous work ethic, commitment to inclusivity, collaborative mindset, advanced leadership and problem solving skills, broad knowledge base, advocacy for learning and student success, and willingness to champion new initiatives.

“Michelle is always at the center of the action,” one colleague said. “There are not many committees that she is not a part of.”

Another added, “She is incredibly easy to work with and is not only compassionate, but also puts the needs of students and others before her own.”

Outside the responsibilities of her position, Michelle supports many university and school activities including family events, student events and commencement.

ChamberlainThe Rising AP Award is given to an individual who has worked for the university more than three years and has created a positive impact on the university by doing exceptional work,  achieving successes beyond his or her tasks and responsibilities and displaying strong leadership qualities.

The 2021 honoree is Melanie Chamberlain, an academic adviser in human resources development and elementary education in the School of Education and Human Services.

Described as instrumental in the growth of the university’s Professional Advising Council, she is actually active on numerous university committees. Colleagues note that she works diligently and collaboratively to support the productivity and success of others in a variety of roles at the university. 

Melanie is also credited with being a passionate, knowledgeable, caring and dedicated adviser to students who appreciate her thorough and responsive support. She has worked with departments across campus to ensure that her students are aware of  job opportunities, scholarships, important campus events and more.

One colleague nominating Melanie for the award said of her, “She’s the type of person that continually strives to be better in her personal and professional life, and as a result it encourages others to do the same.”

The New Professional AP Award is presented to an individual who has worked for the university for three years or less and has demonstrated achievement beyond the call of daily tasks and responsibilities, contributed unique ideas and a collaborative work ethic, and displayed promising leadership qualities.

DowdThis year’s honoree is Kelli Dowd, coordinator for student services, leadership and engagement in the School of Health Sciences.

Skilled in developing sustainable community partnerships, Kelli is active on many university committees and works collaboratively to both advance student success and create a more welcoming and rewarding work environment for faculty and staff. Much of her effort involves working with colleagues from other departments to help break down silos and create dialogue and interaction to advance university goals.

Colleagues say that she utilizes the same approach to foster more and richer student interactions on campus, which in turn allows them to build networks that help them overcome common challenges for college students.

Of her caring and cooperative approach, one colleague wrote, “Kelli leads with a collaborative spirit that energizes all involved. Her leadership and involvement are fueled by human justice rather than fleshing out an impressive resume.” 


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