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Erik Hayes Receives Jess Lucas Alumni Leadership Award
December 11, 2014
Alumni Award Winner: Erik Z. Hayes is associate dean of student affairs and helped lead the institute’s residence life staff for the past 15 years.
Rose-Hulman’s Office of Student Affairs has recognized Erik Z. Hayes, the institute’s associate dean of student affairs, with the Jess R. Lucas Alumni Leadership Award as a former residence life staff member who has had a distinguished post-graduate career.
Pete Gustafson, vice president of student affairs and dean of students, and Lucas’ widow, Gwynne, presented the award on December 9 at a dinner with members of Rose-Hulman’s residence life staff.
After earning bachelor’s (1997) and master’s degrees (2000) in mechanical engineering from Rose-Hulman, Hayes remained on campus to serve as a confidante, counselor, and ally to thousands of students during the past 15 years as a member of the institute’s residence life staff.
While accepting the Lucas Award, Hayes discussed how he was originally set to attend Duke University. However, he heeded his father’s advice and visited Rose-Hulman during a summer flight layover through Indianapolis. He fell in love with the serenity of the campus and its community atmosphere.
“I adore the campus culture. We have something precious here and I’m glad to be a part of it,” says Hayes, who lives in campus housing with his wife, Mel, and their two children.
About his career change, Hayes says, “I wasn’t as into engineering as I was into helping people become engineers. I feel great that I can help a student at any time and in any situation. They can identify with me, because I was once in their shoes. If a student confides in me that he/she is struggling in Thermodynamics class, I can assure them that it’s going to be OK. I once struggled with the same class and same professor. I made it and they can, too.”
Hayes continues, “We always say ‘nobody does it alone.’ I enjoy being one of those people that plays a role in a student’s quest to walk across the stage at commencement.”
Those efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Hayes has received the President’s Outstanding Service Award (2007) and Alumni Association’s Distinguished Young Alumni Award (2004). He was an organizer of the Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Council, and special homecoming festivities for young alumni and their families. He also has organized activities for Parents’ Association events.
Lucas served as Rose-Hulman's vice president of student affairs and dean of students from 1976 until retiring in 2000.