Counseling Center Director Tim Hodges has been a part of Baker University for the past thirteen years. In March 2021, he was named the 2020 Counselor of the Year by the Kansas Counseling Association.
According to the KCA’s website, anyone who serves either as “a full-time counselor, counselor educator or in counseling-related service” is eligible for the award. The nominees must display outstanding leadership qualities and must actively help to further develop their community.
“I knew I was one of the finalists, which I thought was kind of funny,” Hodges said. “But with the other finalists, I thought there was no way that I would win. So when I won, thank goodness it was virtual, because I had nothing prepared.”
However, for those who have worked closely with Hodges, his award comes as no surprise.
“Dr. Hodges has a kind and compassionate way about him, along with his witty personality that makes it easy for our students to talk and relate to him,” Counseling Center Coordinator Sherri Pahcoddy stated. “[The award] is validation that all of his hard work and commitment to our students has not gone unnoticed. We are very lucky to have him.”
Hodges and the Counseling Center have become important parts of the Baker University campus, serving a variety of students’ needs.
“By the time you all have graduated, about half of the graduates have been to the Counseling Center during their career at Baker,” Hodges said. “The past three years, our numbers have increased by thirty percent every year. So we are just very, very busy.”
In addition to handling one-on-one sessions with students, Hodges also works hard to help prepare graduate students interning at the counseling center. One of these interns is Brittany Harmon, who is also an alum from Baker.
“Dr. Hodges is an extremely empathetic person that contributes a tremendous amount of value to the campus,” Harmon said. “He is intelligent, gentle and overall a good person. He has helped countless students over the years and has trained counselors, such as myself, to be the best counselors that we can be.”
Hodges’ value on campus is recognized by those outside the counseling center as well.
“I have seen how thoughtful and student-centered he is. He has been a really consistent, supportive presence for students during his time at Baker,” Baker University PACE Coordinator Rachel Gadd-Nelson said. “I know that I can go about my job, making sure Baker has the best response possible for different types of violence, and I know that I can have an excellent resource in Dr. Hodges.”
Even with the congratulations he has received, Hodges still has found it surreal to have been given such a high honor.
“I do have to say I’m kind of ticked because I haven’t gotten a plaque yet,” Hodges said. “Maybe once I get it, it’ll start to feel real. I think it’s part of this honoree guilt where ‘maybe they’re just kidding.’”
No matter what awards he receives, Hodges’ ultimate goal of providing help to students remains unchanged.
“My son died by suicide three years ago,” Hodges said. “The rest of my time on this planet, I want to help save people and train other people to do the same, and help build a better place and a safer place for anyone else who struggles with mental health issues.”