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Widener staff member Tim Cairy honored nationally as an outstanding student advocate

Campus leader

Tim Cairy has been nationally recognized for his work with Widener students.

Widener University congratulates staff member Tim Cairy, on his selection as an Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate by the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition.

Cairy, director of Student Success and Retention at Widener, is one of only 10 people out of 115 nominated nationwide who were honored for exceptional work in the areas of student learning, development and success. He received his award Saturday, Feb. 10 at the annual conference on The First-Year Experience in San Antonio, Texas, where he also spoke about his work at Widener. 

Cairy has been employed at Widener University for 18 years, and in his current position for six. He is devoted to working with undergraduate students who are talented but may need creative strategies or extra support to succeed. He has the rare ability to be able to connect with a spectrum of students, from athletes and artists to honor students and underdogs – as well as their parents – and offer help on the path to success. He collaborates with the undergraduate academic divisions, student services and is a critical player in Widener’s commitment to student success. His work helps shape university policy and practices.

An alumnus who once played football for Widener, Cairy is a constant presence on campus and his care for students is obvious to all who know him. He attends their athletic events, engages with them at the Wellness Center, eats lunch with them, and recognizes that his work goes beyond the walls of his office.

“We are so pleased to see Tim Cairy receive this national recognition. He is deeply committed to the success of our students, and he offers personal attention and dedicated support to help them achieve their goals. Tim is a role model, not just for those of us at Widener University, but for all higher education professionals. He embodies our values and exemplifies how to fulfill the promise of student support,” said Widener President Julie E. Wollman.

Cairy said it is an honor to represent Widener at the National Resource Center conference.

“I am blessed to be a member of the Widener University family and to work with such wonderful faculty, staff and students,” he said. “The mission at Widener is not just words. It is something we all live every day. When I received this award, I received it on behalf of the wonderful team I work with across our great campus.”

Cairy lives in Philadelphia with his wife Charlene and two sons. 

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises seven schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Visit the university website,