When Vice Provost for International Affairs Jim Cooney was asked to attend the Board of Governors meeting in October, along with members of his staff, he assumed they were going to be responding to Board questions about risk management. Instead, he and four of his CSU colleagues were surprised to receive the University’s Ram Pride Service Award from President Tony Frank for coming to the aid of a student in crisis overseas last March.
Professor Raj Khosla, , Vice President for Engagement Lou Swanson, Education Abroad Director Laura Thornes, Assistant Director of Education Abroad Scot Allen, and Cooney all received the award for their quick thinking, personal sacrifice, professionalism, and compassion in supporting a student and his family during a difficult time.
The Ram Pride Service Award, created by President Frank in 2012, recognizes CSU people, programs and units that model excellence in “service above self” in upholding CSU’s land-grant mission and character.
‘Service above self’
Khosla, Cooney, and Swanson were leading a delegation to India last March, when a student who was part of the group experienced a major health issue that required immediate hospitalization and ’round-the-clock care. They rearranged their schedules to stay with the student at the hospital, paid for some immediate expenses out of pocket, contacted his family, and ensured the student had someone with him at all times. Back on campus, Thornes and Allen coordinated with the Embassy, the State Department, and the Indian Consulate in Houston — helping the family navigate insurance issues and providing a regular point of contact.
Khosla, in particular, went to extraordinary lengths to help the student’s father – who didn’t have a passport or the necessary visa — travel to his son’s bedside during a weekend that also happened to be a national holiday in India. The student later described Khosla as “a mentor and inspiration.”
On the student’s safe return to the U.S., his mother wrote a heartfelt message to President Frank, referring to the CSU team as her son’s “guardian angels.” Frank noted that sometimes people give “service above self” because they have the time to thoughtfully plan, and other times they give “service above self” without any notice, stepping up under stressful emergency circumstances. These Ram Pride Service Award recipients did the latter – demonstrating compassion, ingenuity and leadership in an emergency.
“Service is one of our core missions as a land-grant university, and one of our most cherished values as a public institution,” Frank said. “This award recognizes those who ensure the value we place on service is more than just rhetoric – who treat it as a high calling and commit to modeling excellent service in every interaction with students, alumni, parents and the public. These five recipients rose to an extraordinary challenge under incredibly difficult circumstances. I’m proud to call them my colleagues.”