He is one of just 16 student affairs leaders from around the country in the prestigious “Class of 2021.”
“This is an incredible honor that nobody in our field ever expects to receive but we’re incredibly grateful for,” said Dr. Onofrietti. “Bringing professional development opportunities to my colleagues has always been the fun part about higher ed for me and the ACPA has helped facilitate that.”
During his professional career, Dr. Onofrietti, or “Dr. Joe,” has been very involved with the ACPA at both the local and national level, having been an active member of the organization since 1980. Locally, he’s served as the President of the Massachusetts College Personnel Association and over his career, served on five national Convention Planning teams, including Co-Chairing the 1995 Boston Convention.
The Diamond Honoree Program, established in 1999, is a way for those who care about students – and the research, scholarship and programs that promote student development and success – to help advance the work of ACPA.
Individuals nominated for consideration are recognized for their outstanding and sustained contributions to higher education and to student affairs. They may be former leaders of the profession, supervisors, teachers or anyone who has had a continued and significant influence on the quality of college students’ experience. Dr. Onofrietti’s four decades of higher education experience includes more than 20 years as a member of the Emmanuel College community. He joined Emmanuel in 1999 as an adjunct professor for Graduate and Professional Programs before becoming a fulltime administrator in 2001.
Former Emmanuel Student Government Association President Jessie Wang ’19, who worked closely with Dr. Onofrietti on several committees during her enrollment, said, “Back in my first year of college, Dr. Joe told me he could see me as the President of the student body one day, believing in me from the start. Over my four years at Emmanuel, I worked closely with him on projects targeted to building community within the student body. In my senior year, I was elected as the president of the student body and then went on to study at Harvard University. From the beginning, Dr. Joe saw leadership traits in me that I hadn’t seen in myself and helped cultivate those attributes over the time we worked together, helping me build on them and ultimately, helping me develop the skill set needed to get me to where I am now.”
At Emmanuel, Dr. Onofrietti played a huge part in the College’s transition to coeducation life in the early 2000s, overseeing important traditions and events along the way such as Move in Day, Family Weekend, Senior Week as well as Commencement exercises.
“My fondest Emmanuel memories are working with our students,” said Dr. Onofrietti. “I loved collaborating with them on senior week and commencement. To see them grow over four years and know they’re ready to make an impact in the world is the best part about what I do.”
Diamond Honorees are “Championed” by dedicated individuals who recognize their specific contributions and choose to raise funds in honor of each Diamond Honoree’s outstanding and sustained commitment to higher education through student affairs and student development. Those funds are then utilized to help sustain the ACPA Foundation in its support of the research, scholarship and programs that advance the field of student affairs.
Dr. Onofrietti was championed by Jeanne Sevigny, who currently serves as the associate director of operations at University of Texas Dallas as well as former longtime Emmanuel College colleague, Dr. Patricia Rissmeyer.
“Dr. Joe is a solidly student-centered higher education leader respected universally for his authenticity, collegiality and dedication,” said Dr. Rissmeyer. “He is a ‘go-to’ mentor for colleagues across the country who are inspired by his infectious energy and longstanding commitment. In the Emmanuel community, students and alumni characterize Dr. Joe as providing just the right balance of challenge and support, always with a caring heart and unwavering principles. Dr. Joe has served Emmanuel with dedication and he has shaped he lives of thousands of students and colleagues. I treasure our 17 years together in senior student affairs leadership at Emmanuel and it is my great pleasure to champion his national recognition.”
The ACPA Foundation is dedicated to encouraging activities that generate and disseminate new knowledge in the student affairs profession – knowledge that prepares students for leadership roles in a global society.
“I’m very lucky to have worked for two amazing deans,” said Dr. Onofrietti. “Both Dr. Cynthia Forrest from Framingham State University and Dr. Patricia Rissmeyer at Emmanuel were amazing supervisors and mentors to me. They took both roles very seriously in developing great leaders among their staffs and if I could give one piece of advice to anyone contemplating a career in higher education, it would be to find yourself a great mentor and learn everything you possibly can from them.”
Dr. Onofrietti and the other Diamond Honorees will receive their award at the ACPA Virtual Annual Convention in March.