Distinguished staff award to Sam Al-Khoury

Sam Al-Khoury

Sam Al-Khoury, who helps shape the college experience for University of Washington Bothell students as director of the Office of Student Engagement & Activities, has been recognized for extraordinary service with a 2019 UW Distinguished Staff Award

In addition to recognizing service that goes beyond the basic job description, the Distinguished Staff Award honors employees who demonstrate integrity and innovation in a respectful and collaborative work environment. 

“Sam’s goal in working with all students is to maintain a sense of civility, humanity and respect for each other. He is always working to make sure that the students shine and are the center of our work,” Carla Christensen, assistant director of the office, said in a nominating letter. 

“He respects students’ perspectives, empowers students’ voices on campus and encourages students to take initiatives and make great impacts,” Joy Yao, former student chair of the Club Council, said in a nominating letter. 

UW Award of Excellence 

Each year, no more than five nominees from across the University’s three campuses are selected for the award. It comes with $5,000 and will be presented at the UW Awards of Excellence ceremony in June. Last year, when members of the UW Bothell Cascadia College Campus Master Plan unit received a distinguished staff team award, it was the first time in 15 years one of the awards had gone to UW Bothell.  

With an office in the Activities & Recreation Center (ARC), Al-Khoury mainly works with student government — the Associated Students of the University of Washington Bothell — and student clubs that also have office space in the ARC. He’s the person who explains institutional guidelines and the limits on the use of public resources. But he does it in a way that helps students navigate the system to achieve their goals. 

“I want students to have a really rich and robust experience that feels complete, that serves their needs,” Al-Khoury said.  

Making the extraordinary possible 

If students want to invite a speaker, stage an event or start a club, Student Engagement & Activities will help them find the funding and space on campus. Al-Khoury sees his role as creating supportive environments for students to do extraordinary things. 

“We format everything through this lens of experiential learning. We infuse it with social justice, and we're trying to help students contribute to the learning environment that is UW Bothell,” Al-Khoury said. “It's education for the students who are involved, and it's part of the co-curricular experience for the students at large.” 

Al-Khoury grew up in Duvall, Washington, and received a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the UW and a Master of Arts in Higher Education and Student Affairs at Ohio State University. He has a total of nine years in UW Bothell’s Division of Student Affairs — from 2008 to 2010 as a Recreation & Wellness coordinator and since 2012 in Student Engagement & Activities.  

Affecting every student 

Al-Khoury leads an office of five other managers and more than 40 student employees. In addition to guiding student government and clubs, Student Engagement & Activities also supports the Campus Events Board, Social Justice Organizers, Intercultural Coordinators and student media — Clamor, Husky Herald and UWave Radio. 

“It's likely that every student here will have come into contact somehow with what we do,” Al-Khoury said. “We are an office that provides the environment where students get to build the opportunity that they want.” 

Sam Al-Khoury

Sam Al-Khoury

Dennis Wise photos


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