Two UW-River Falls alumni receive top awards

May 16, 2016 -- A former University of Wisconsin-River Falls scholar athlete and the first director of a Minneapolis Public Schools initiative to narrow the achievement gap between black and white male students received the College of Education and Professional Studies (CEPS) highest awards at a ceremony May 5.

Kathy Lindahl of Lansing, Mich., a 1973 graduate with a bachelor's degree in physical education, received the Distinguished Alumna Award and Michael Walker of Minneapolis, a 2006 graduate from the counseling program, was honored with the Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award.

In his remarks, Larry Solberg, CEPS dean, noted Lindahl's accomplished athletic career at UW-River Falls where she lettered in five sports:  basketball, volleyball, softball, field hockey and track and field.

"Kathy was truly a scholar athlete," Solberg said.

Lindahl, a graduate of Hayward High School, went on to earn a master's degree in physical education from Michigan State University and her Juris Doctorate from Thomas Cooley Law School. In addition to working as physical education teacher early in her career, Lindahl served as director of athletics in charge of sports operations, NCAA senior woman administrator, and assistant vice president for Finance and Operations during her 31 years at MSU. Since retiring in 2012, she cofounded the PICTOR Group, an intercollegiate athletics consulting organization.

Walker is a former basketball coach and assistant principal. He was selected to be the first director of the Office of Black Male Student Achievement for Minneapolis Public Schools in 2014. The office was created to narrow one of the widest achievement gaps between black and white male students in the nation. Since 1999, Walker has held multiple positions at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis. He earned his undergraduate degree in physical education from Southwest Minnesota State University and his masters of education in counseling from UW-River Falls. Walker has worked as the community outreach, program and youth development director at the YMCA of Greater St. Paul and Minneapolis. While there, he developed youth programs and served as coordinator for the Black Achievers program.

Walker's support for UW-River Falls continues to this day. He often speaks on campus, and he's responsible for recommending a diverse body of students to the university's counseling program— writing letters of recommendation and acting as an ambassador for the program.

"Mr. Michael Walker is an inspiration and advocate for students," said Mark Gillen, chair of the Counseling and School Psychology Department. "He has impacted the lives of many, and it is an honor to nominate him for the College of Education and Professional Studies Recent Alumnus Award."

For more information, contact Solberg at 715-425-3774 or

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