Faculty award recognizes commitment to student success

Acuña recipient of COPLAC’s Charles Dunn Award

Kym Acuña, associate professor of education and coordinator of the educational leadership master’s program at Midwestern State University (MSU Texas), has been named recipient of the 2022 Charles Dunn Award from the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC). The annual faculty award recognizes a faculty member whose commitment to student success goes “above and beyond” the classroom and office, the traditional teacher, academic adviser, and mentor. 

“I cannot think of anyone more deserving of the Charles Dunn Award than Kym Acuña. Dr. Acuña demonstrates a passion for student success and impacting students’ lives,” said Leann Curry, Dean of the West College of Education at MSU Texas. “Dr. Acuña’s commitment to students expands beyond the physical walls of the West College of Education as she goes above and beyond to serve others and the greater good. I am thankful to work alongside Dr. Acuña.” 

Kym Acuna

A member of the faculty at MSU Texas since 2013, Acuña is dedicated to preparing educational professionals who are skilled and committed to transforming lives through K-12 education. She is committed to promoting equity in education through her teaching at undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.

In the area of research, Acuña’s work focuses on student success by examining direct interaction with students and parents in college readiness efforts, direct preparation of teachers, and preparing educational leaders to create environments that support teachers and provide an equitable, caring environment for students. In her teaching, Acuña has been at the forefront of advancing MSU Texas initiatives to support first-year students through teaching core classes, learning community courses, academic seminars, and course-embedded service-learning.

Apart from the more traditional kinds of student connections, she spends relational time with students by getting to know students and paying attention to their academic, personal, and life needs. She provides a home away from home for many students and contributes to their well-being.

Acuña understands the relationship between student success and connections with the local and professional community. Her community work is tied to student success. Among other things, she secures grants for area nonprofit organizations and serves on several boards, assists students with FAFSA and TASFA applications, and speaks to students and parents through the college readiness program Road to College. She volunteers as the director of curriculum and professional development for Café con Leche, an area nonprofit whose mission is college readiness for area students.

Prior to becoming a faculty member at MSU Texas, Acuña completed her doctoral work in educational leadership, policy, and administration at Pepperdine University.

COPLAC’s board of directors established the award in memory of Charles Dunn for his contributions to the advancement of the consortium and to student access in the public liberal arts sector. Dunn served as president of Henderson State University for 22 years and as a COPLAC president (2000-2001) and board member for 10 years.