Meet Kate Van Leuven: A life committed to service and justice

Kate Van Leuven was born in Corvallis, Oregon and came from a family with multi-generational ties to Oregon State. Her maternal grandmother (class of 1938), maternal grandfather (class of 1939), and mother (class of 1963) attended OSU. Her father worked in OSU’s public information office and journalism department (1967-1970).

Kate showed an early interest in service and leadership, becoming her high school’s student vice president. Kate’s undergraduate years at the University of Oregon (1986-1990) were filled with political and university activities including serving as chairman of the Canoe Fete her junior year then as student representative to the UO Alumni Board. She majored in public policy, planning, and management. After graduation, she worked as an aide in the Oregon State Legislature, as an administrative assistant at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs, and as director of Senator Bob Kerry’s presidential campaign in Northern Colorado.

In the fall of 1994, she entered the College Student Services Administration master’s program. Her special interests and graduate assistant work were in student financial aid and international programs. She enjoyed the classes and work in the program and looked forward to a career in higher education.

Kate was diagnosed with a brain tumor shortly after she graduated in 1996. Over the next four years, she endured multiple brain surgeries all while working at Linfield College as a financial aid counselor and serving on Oregon’s Disabilities Commission. She died in December 2000.

The Kate Van Leuven CSSA Award

The Kate Van Leuven CSSA Scholarship Award was established in 2004 by Kate’s parents, James K. and Susan C. Van Leuven. The award commemorate Kate’s life by supporting students committed to creating a more just and equitable higher education landscape. All currently enrolled graduate students majoring in College Student Services Administration are eligible to apply.

A call for applications will be distributed each winter quarter by the CSSA program coordinator and scholarships will be awarded at the start of the spring. Applicants will be assessed on their commitment to service and justice, honoring Kate’s legacy. More specifically, the successful recipient will be someone who:

  • Is a currently enrolled CSSA student making satisfactory progress toward their Master’s degree;
  • Demonstrates the CSSA program purpose and values in their actions, interactions with others, and their approaches to their studies, scholarship, and work as a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) or employee;
  • Is actively engaged in their individual and collaborative learning as a practitioner-scholar in the CSSA program;
  • Demonstrates intentionality in how they approach their education, in direct relation to their career plans, and aspirations for applying their CSSA education following graduation.