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Vice President Karen Pennington Awarded One of Student Affairs’ Highest Honors

Longtime Montclair State leader receives NASPA’s 2020 Scott Goodnight Award

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Karen Pennington

Montclair State University Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life Karen L. Pennington has been awarded the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education 2020 Scott Goodnight Award, in results released January 28, 2020.

Named for NASPA’s Founding Chair of its Board of Directors, the Scott Goodnight Award is given each year to a student affairs leader who has demonstrated sustained professional achievement in student affairs work, innovative response in meeting students varied and emerging needs, effectiveness in developing staff, and leadership in community and college or university affairs.

In announcing the award, NASPA recognized the stature Pennington has earned among students, faculty, and fellow administrators on campus and beyond, and the significant contributions she has made to the field through her publications and involvement in professional associations.

“I am extremely honored to receive the 2020 Scott Goodnight Award, and am gratified to be in the company of the deeply-committed professionals whose achievements have also been recognized this year,” says Karen L. Pennington. “This award is the culmination of 44 years working in higher education and with NASPA, but I did not do it alone. I share my success with many talented professionals – too many to count – who have worked alongside me. Ultimately, however, it is the students who have made this wonderful journey possible.”

Since joining Montclair State University in 1998, Pennington has been an integral part of the University’s growth over more than two decades. She has overseen enrollment management strategies that have helped Montclair State’s enrollment nearly double to more than 21,000 students, and public-private partnerships that have enabled the significant expansion of student housing and recreational facilities to include millions of square feet of new facilities.

Under Pennington’s leadership, Montclair State has taken a leadership role in becoming one of the most inclusive campuses in the country, with designations as a College Consenus’ Top 20 LGBTQ-Friendly Institutions in the nation, a Military Friendly campus by Victory Media, and a Stigma-Free Campus.

“Karen Pennington has served our students, our University and her profession exceedingly well,” says Montclair State President Susan A. Cole. “She is held in high esteem by our students, faculty, staff, administrators and trustees, and her work has earned the respect and admiration of her peers in New Jersey, across the country, and in many other nations. I have very much valued her long service as a key member of our leadership team. She is a woman of intelligence and integrity, and a true role model for student affairs professionals.”

To learn more about the Scott Goodnight Award, visit