Olivia Whittaker receives KUDOS award from University of Nebraska Board of Regents

Olivia Whittaker, assistant registrar academic support services at UNK, received the University of Nebraska Board of Regents KUDOS award during last week’s meeting.

KUDOS awards recognize university staff for their professional expertise, service and “superior dedication” to UNK and the University of Nebraska. It is the university’s top staff award.

A Kearney native, Whittaker earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and master’s degree in sustainability and development from Southern Methodist University. She joined the UNK Registrar’s Office in fall 2019 as graduation coordinator. Her impressive work ethic, attention to detail, reliability and desire to serve students have earned her two promotions since then, first to coordinator of academic support services and, on July 1 of this year, to her current position.

As assistant registrar, Whittaker manages all aspects of degree audit, including updating curriculum requirements, training new advisers and department chairs to effectively use degree audit and ensuring requirements are clear and easy to understand as students work toward graduation. She also develops reports and electronic forms related to academic records, registration, curriculum management and degree planning and creates reports and dashboards using Tableau software.

Among her notable accomplishments are updating more than 130 programs in the degree audit to reflect changes to UNK’s general studies program, creating electronic forms to improve ease of access and developing an online Bridge training for new academic advisers. Whittaker also helped Shirley Turgeon achieve her goal of graduating from UNK. Turgeon attended Kearney State College in the 1970s but was unable to finish her degree at that time. With assistance from Whittaker, she completed the necessary classes and graduated in May 2022.

“Olivia truly desires to do more,” says her supervisor, UNK Registrar Lisa Neal. “Whether proposing new policies to assist students, learning new software to improve reporting or building electronic forms to improve the student experience, she is up for the challenge.”

Whittaker shares her talents through active involvement in Staff Senate and Leadership UNK. She’s a past recipient of the UNK Employee Achievement Award.