Chancellor's Award recipients honored at UW-River Falls

Jan. 17, 2023 - University of Wisconsin-River Falls Chancellor Maria Gallo honored four staff members and one department with chancellor’s awards at the university’s Spring Opening Meeting on January 17. The chancellor’s academic staff and university staff excellence awards are presented annually to staff who have made outstanding contributions to the university.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff was first awarded in 1986 when UWRF faculty, staff and students were invited to nominate outstanding non-instructional staff for the award. The award was expanded in 2021 to include three individual categories – limited appointees, non-instructional academic staff and instructional academic staff – and one unit, department or program primarily staffed by academic staff.

Awarded since 1996, the Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff invites the university community to nominate university staff members in one of two categories: blue collar, crafts/technical and law enforcement; or administrative support, fiscal and staff services or supervisory/human resources/other. In 2021, a program category was added to recognize a unit, department or program primarily staffed by university staff.

This year’s honorees include:

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff - Instructional Academic Staff: Karalyn Littlefield, instructor/lecturer, Animal and Food Science Department.

Karalyn Littlefield with Chancellor

After a career serving corporate America as a food scientist, Littlefield, a 1990 UWRF alum residing in River Falls and Turtle Lake, has shared her extensive knowledge with UWRF students for more than a decade. Known as an innovator, mentor, and classroom humorist, Littlefield was awarded the Student Government Association Exemplary Teaching Award in 2018. An active volunteer and lifelong learner, Littlefield has shared her many passions – from boatbuilding to cooking to food security – with thousands of individuals from Wisconsin to Malawi, Africa. 


Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff - Non-Instructional Academic Staff: Kenneth (Kenney) White, associate director for community and student development, Residence Life Department.
Kenney White with Chancellor

Nominators praised White’s unwavering commitment to student success, from creating Living Learning Communities in residence halls to championing student services as a member of the Faculty Senate to individually mentoring current and future staff. Nominators also recognized White as a creative problem solver, excellent communicator, supportive leader, and beloved mentor. One nominator summed it up this way: “Kenney goes above and beyond to support our students, enhance our community and live our campus values.” White resides in River Falls. 

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff - Program/Unit/Department: Laboratory Farms.
Laboratory Farm staff with Chancellor
Laboratory farm staff were recognized not only for their long history of excellence in meeting the needs of students, faculty, and staff, but also for their extensive outreach programs and collaborations including the Dairy Innovation Hub established in 2018 and a 30-plus year relationship with WinField United, a Land O’Lakes company, which opened their Innovation Center in River Falls in 2017. The farm’s nearly 50 part-time students receive valuable work experience that makes them sought-after graduates by agricultural industry leaders across the country.


Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff - List A (blue collar, crafts/technical and law enforcement): Jody Pederson, groundskeeper.
Jody Pederson with Chancellor

Students have nicknamed Pederson “National Treasure” due to her “kindhearted nature” and “overflowing compassion,” nominators wrote. Now in her fifth year at UWRF, following a career as a nurse’s aide and union steward, Pederson, of River Falls, has also been lauded for her strong work ethic and uncompromising commitment to creating a safe and welcoming campus environment. Active in UWRF sustainability efforts, she has helped students achieve Bee Campus USA status, supported campus cleanups and encouraged student workers to try more environmentally friendly approaches to tasks and projects.


Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff - List B (administrative support, fiscal and staff services or supervisory/human resources/other): Jody Sather, Academic Department Associate, Psychological Sciences Department.
Jody Sather with Chancellor

Sather, a 2012 UWRF graduate and River Falls resident, has worked at the university since 2007. For the past eight years she has been the “heart and soul” of the Psychological Services Department according to nominators. Not only is she a curriculum expert and program innovator, but she is also well-revered for her student advising and mentorship skills. Said one recent graduate: “Her dedication to student success and nature of compassion and guidance truly set her apart.” Sather has also lent her expertise and leadership skills to multiple campus committees. She currently chairs the University Staff Senate. 

To learn more information about each award winner, view past honorees and find nomination criteria, visit

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