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Karen Mason Honored with the Delwin K. Gustafson Recognition Award

On Sunday, June 23, Germantown Academy Director of College Counseling Karen Mason was presented with the Delwin K. Gustafson Award at the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling’s (PACAC) annual conference.

The Delwin K. Gustafson Recognition Award is given annually to a member for dedicated service to students, the profession, and to Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling. It is the highest award given by the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling and reflects the professional dedication, personal qualities, and simple sense of service that Delwin K. Gustafson embodied so very well.

Ellen O’Neill Deitrich, Director of College Counseling at The Hill School and past president of PACAC, wrote the following about Mason.

“Years ago, four such good, PACAC-created friends gathered to enjoy dinner in Pittsburgh. At the time, PACAC’s executive committee was large and cumbersome; those of us on Executive Committee were struggling to find a way to change the structure of the committee. That night at dinner we shared some crazy ideas. When this year’s Gustafson nominee quietly pulled out a very wrinkly piece of paper from a pocket, folded over time and again; clearly, its content had been long pondered by the author. This member set forth a vision for a new Executive Committee, and the rest of us fell speechless. The plan was exquisite, simple by design, yet comprehensive in detail. This idea became the foundation of change to PACAC’s Executive Committee, allowing the association to function much more effectively. Past-president Debbie Little shares, ‘When I was put on the slate as President-Elect, I knew I was following a strong leader, an amazing advocate for students and the profession, a person I respected as a mentor and friend. I had the privilege of watching a president who, with poise and grace, guided the Association through a period of change while maintaining its strength and culture of care throughout.’ In addition to her three years in the presidential cycle, this nominee served as chair of the College Fairs Committee for many years, revitalizing the work of the committee into a reliable resource for students while preserving its financial importance to the association. These are just two areas, of many, where her impact has been positively felt.

“This nominee’s commitment to PACAC is equally matched by her dedication to her students and families. Her Head of School (Rich Schellhas) observes, ‘Her care for the individual student is extraordinary; she advocates for each as if they were all her children. She yearns for students to find success and happiness, and she works incessantly to ensure that our institution does everything it can to help them. She always and only puts students and what is in their best interest first. She is a credit to the profession, a game-changer for us, and one of the very best human beings I have ever known.” 

“Three years ago, I proposed the idea for a College Counseling Leadership Institute pre-conference workshop. Asked if I had someone in mind who could help craft and develop this program, I responded, ‘Mason will do it.’ Mind you, I had not yet asked Karen Mason to join in this effort, but I knew what her response would be. More than going above and beyond what is expected, she exceeds what we could possibly hope for, as both a professional and a friend.”  

“In honor of her contributions to PACAC, to our profession, to the students at all of her institutions, and her ten years of service to Germantown Academy, I enthusiastically nominate Karen Mason as this year’s recipient of the Delwin K. Gustafson Award.”

Mason joined Germantown Academy in 2009 after serving as Director of College Guidance at Wyoming Seminary, a national coed boarding school in Kingston, Pennsylvania, for 13 years. She also taught English and served as a member of the administrative team at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and wrote a monthly column for The Times Leader. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Wilkes and her Masters degree in English Literature from Penn State University. At GA, she oversees a team of seven in the College Counseling Department, serves as an advisor in Alcott-Day House, is a member of the administrative One School Committee, and led the Diversity Task Force for several years. In addition to serving as a past President of PACAC, Mason has presented at conferences held by NACAC, PACAC, and the Middle States Mid-Atlantic Region of the College Board.


From left to right: Ellen Deitrich, Director of College Counseling at the Hill School, Karen Mason, GA's Director of College Counseling, Joan Bush, Karen’s spouse, and Pat Tambarello, retired Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School college counselor.