Ginger Walker: Enhancing Student Safety and Success Recognized with "Friend of the Division" Award - University of Houston
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DSA News
August 10, 2023

The Division of Student Affairs (DSA) recently celebrated the achievements of Ginger Walker, the director of emergency management for the Emergency Management Department, as she was awarded the "Friend of the Division" award. This recognition is a testament to Ginger's unwavering dedication and exceptional contributions to ensuring the safety, security, and success of students and the broader UH community.

Headshot of Dr. Sara Jahansouz Wray

Ginger Walker with Dr. Maxwell, Dr. Thompson, & Kelly Boysen

Nominated for this award by Eric Smith, assistant director for the Center for Student Involvement, Ginger Walker's impact on the Division of Student Affairs has been nothing short of a “Friend to the Division.” Having been an integral part of the Office of Emergency Management since 2012, Ginger's efforts have left an indelible mark on the campus community. Ginger said, “I am so humbled to be receiving the “Friend of the Division” award. More importantly, I am thankful to work with such amazing DSA colleagues."

Eric Smith, who has worked closely with Ginger, highlighted her instrumental role in orchestrating large-scale events, including Homecoming concerts and Frontier Fiesta, two of the university's most anticipated gatherings. Ginger's expertise and partnership have significantly elevated the safety and security of these events, ensuring that thousands of students and attendees can enjoy them without worry. Eric stated, “Working with Ginger is always such a pleasure. Her dedication to the safety of our community, along with her positive attitude and high level of knowledge, allow us to continue to offer exciting large-scale programs for students, faculty, and staff.”

A notable example of Ginger's proactive approach to safety planning is her collaboration on the Frontier Fiesta event. Well in advance of the festivities, Ginger facilitated crucial Safety and Security meetings, identifying potential risks, and devising comprehensive Incident Action Plans. This meticulous preparation allowed for the creation of well-defined courses of action in case of emergencies, guaranteeing a swift and effective response.

Furthermore, Ginger's influence extended to the annual Homecoming Concert hosted by the Student Program Board. Drawing inspiration from lessons learned after the tragic events at Astro World in 2021, Ginger collaborated with campus partners to implement enhanced security measures. These measures included reinforced fencing, a fortified backstage area, and a command center staffed by key personnel, ensuring real-time communication and swift emergency responses.

Ginger Walker's commitment to collaboration aligns perfectly with the core values of the award, emphasizing the significance of working together to achieve common goals. Her leadership from the Office of Emergency Management has empowered the Center for Student Involvement to deliver innovative programs that prioritize safety, fostering an environment in which students can thrive and succeed.

The impact of Ginger's contributions on student success is undeniable. With events attracting over 17,000 attendees annually, her efforts have contributed to providing a secure environment that allows students to engage, learn, and enjoy their university experiences. Moreover, data from the department's assessment has revealed that students who participate in campus programs tend to maintain higher GPAs compared to their uninvolved peers, underscoring the indirect but positive influence Ginger's work may have contributed to the overall student well-being.

Ginger Walker's dedication culminated in her recognition at the annual DSA Awards Ceremony on May 31, 2023. The "Friend of the Division" award not only acknowledges her outstanding contributions but also serves as an inspiration for the entire UH community. Additionally, Ginger had the privilege of sharing a celebratory lunch with Dr. Daniel Maxwell, the interim vice chancellor/vice president, further highlighting the significance of her achievements. “Ginger Walker's commitment to enhancing safety, security, and collaboration with the Division of Student Affairs exemplifies the spirit of the "Friend of the Division" award. Her work has not only created a safer campus environment but has also paved the way for student success and memorable experiences. Ginger's work will continue to shape the University of Houston for years, leaving an enduring impact on students, faculty, and staff,” stated Dr. Maxwell.