If you’ve ever been to a University of Denver event hosted by Advancement or the Daniels College of Business, you’ve likely had your name badge scanned. It may seem like a trivial detail, but that step was a significant improvement in the way alumni relations teams tracked attendance at events. The woman behind that idea is Gloria Bokenkamp, executive assistant to the Daniels College of Business Dean.
Bokenkamp has an ongoing desire to improve Daniels, DU and herself. It’s one of the reasons she received the Crimson and Gold Award on Oct. 26 from the University of Denver. The award recognizes an employee who displays outstanding commitment to and support of the University.
“We should all be so lucky to have someone of Gloria Bokenkamp’s character, enthusiasm and drive to be on our team,” said Andrea Matousek, chief operating officer at Daniels. “She exemplifies the very best of DU.”
Bokenkamp was hired in August 2011 to be the office manager in Daniels’ Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations. She took the position hoping her daughter, who was in high school at the time, might consider going to DU. Bokenkamp hadn’t finished her undergraduate degree and admits that she was intimidated to work at a university.
She took over the process of acknowledging donors, implemented the bar code scanner system at events and launched a student (future alumni) outreach program. And, then something started to change.
“I realized that DU was filled with opportunities to learn, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have supportive supervisors and colleagues who have encouraged me to take advantage of conferences, workshops, classes and webinars. For this first time in my professional life, my opinion was sought and valued.”
The encouragement was all Bokenkamp needed. She took courses for two years at the Women’s College and is now enrolled in the Leadership and Organizational Studies program at University College.
“I love to learn new stuff,” she said. “When it’s your choice, you don’t mind the work.”
Bokenkamp has received two promotions in her five years at DU and now serves as the executive assistant to Dean Chrite. She also serves as co-secretary of the Staff Advisory Council Executive Committee. She was in the first cohort for the DU Leadership Academy, and upon completion, took the initiative to lead a meeting once a month with the administrative staff at Daniels to share best practices, complete Lynda.com assignments, bring in speakers, break down silos and collaborate on ways to make Daniels better.
“I admire Gloria because she is relentless in trying to find ways to make things better—for herself, Daniels and DU,” Matousek said.
Bokenkamp’s daughter, Katie, did decide to attend DU. She’s a senior studying history and Italian. If her plan stays on track, Bokenkamp might graduate a few years after her daughter.
“It’s more about the journey than the goal. I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up,” said Bokenkamp.
What she is sure of, however, is that she’s not the same person she was when she came to DU five years ago. “It hasn’t always been easy; there have been growing pains. But without question I’m more confident and skilled than I was when I started here. I owe so much of this to DU, Daniels and the amazing relationships I’ve built here.”
She also says it makes her smile when she goes to events and sees all the scanners.