Married couple earn Distinguished Lasallian Educator Awards

Joe and Joanne Kitchen earned recognition for their commitment to La Salle.

For Joe and Joanne Kitchen, working at La Salle University is a family affair.  

Joe works as a La Salle Public Safety officer and Joanne serves in the La Salle Union at the Oath Pizza station. The couple reach 18 and 24 years of service at the University this year, respectively. 

Their commitment to the La Salle community earned them 2023 Distinguished Lasallian Educator Awards and recognition at a late-August event for University employees and staff members. Nominated and chosen by a panel of La Salle faculty and staff, recipients of the Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award are recognized for representing a steadfast dedication to the Lasallian mission of education and pastoral care, both inside and outside the classroom. 

“It is a great honor,” Joe said.  

Joanne had a similar reaction: “I was very surprised and happy.”  

“For many people, Joe and Joanne are the best faces and, often, the first faces that visitors meet,” one committee member said in the Kitchens’ nomination. “Thank God, those faces belong to people ready to reach out and to help, day in, day out, year after year. … Today, both Joe and Joanne in their actions continue to represent the Lasallian tradition of respect for all people. They are a gift to the La Salle University community.” 

Joanne’s journey to La Salle started when she responded to a job posting for wait staff in the faculty dining room. She later moved downstairs to the Union Food Court, where she primarily works at Oath Pizza. She also assists with University events catering. The University’s tight-knit community is what has kept her coming back every day. “It’s like being with your family,” she said.  

Joe began working at La Salle after Joanne recommended he take an interview with Public Safety. A recognizable figure on campus, he has spent most of his career patrolling Hansen Quad, where he gets to know students during their time at La Salle. Jokingly, he says his least favorite day is graduation because students he has grown close to those who are moving on from the University. However, after graduation, he said, he keeps in touch with many of them as they grow in their careers and personal lives. 

Students have become fond of their run-ins with Joe—so much so that the student yearbook staff dedicated the 2014 edition to his service.  

“La Salle has been good to me,” he said.  

The Kitchens’ children also became members of the La Salle community. Their daughter, Megan Louise Kitchen, ’21, studied nursing and currently works in the emergency room at Bryn Mawr Hospital. Their son, Joseph Kitchen, taught mathematics for a few semesters at the University. And their son Sean Kitchen worked a few summers in facilities between semesters at the college he was attending.  

The Kitchens see La Salle students every day and make sure their experience is a positive one, either with a good meal or by protecting their safety.  

“The annual Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award honors those who exemplify the ideals of Saint John Baptist de La Salle,” said Vice President of Mission, Diversity, and Inclusion Alisa Macksey. In their daily interactions with members of the La Salle community, the Kitchens embody these ideals and contribute to making La Salle a place of educational excellence.”   

—Meg Ryan   

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