Aaron Estes receives KUDOS award from NU Board of Regents

Aaron Estes, director of the Academic Success Offices 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.

Estes was recognized for his work ethic, ability to inspire and motivate others and commitment to student achievement and the overall student experience.

As director of the Academic Success Offices, he leads Disability Services for Students, the Kearney Bound Scholars program and TRIO Student Support Services and coordinates the university’s efforts to support first-generation students. Although responsibility for the success of these programs lies with him, he is quick to give credit to “an amazing staff.” Together they provide individualized, holistic and proactive support to students as they work to achieve their educational goals, particularly students who are first generation, come from a low-income background or have a documented disability. In other words, they help students “navigate to graduate.”

Estes is also UNK’s primary contact for the First Scholars program through the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and he co-leads UNK’s PASS (Promoting At-Promise Student Success) Professional Learning Community, a collaborative program with USC’s Pullias Center for Higher Education to expand research related to the Thompson Scholars Learning Community. Their goals are to enhance UNK’s culture of student support and positively impact student success outcomes. The CARE Team, a group of professionals from across campus who address the needs of students who exhibit behaviors of concern, is on his list of responsibilities, as well.

Estes earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNK, where his father Kent was a professor and his mother Barb works in human resources. His wife Kara also holds two degrees from UNK. Estes received his doctorate in educational leadership and higher education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“It’s an honor to work with and for UNK students,” he said.