Chancellor's Academic Staff and Limited Appointee Excellence Awards

Since 1986, faculty, students and staff have been invited to nominate outstanding academic staff members for this prestigious award. The awards recognize an individual academic staff employee from each of these three categories: Limited Appointees, Non-Instructional Academic Staff and Instructional Academic Staff. Additionally, the program category recognizes a unit, department or program primarily staffed by academic staff.

UWRF Section Separator

Alex Pendar

Campus Recreation
Non-Instructional Academic Staff

Alicia Reinke-Tuthill

Disability Resource Center
Limited Appointee

Campus Recreation

Academic Staff Program/Unit/Department

Karalyn Littlefield

Lecturer, Animal and Food Science
Instructional Academic Staff

Karalyn Littlefield, a lecturer in Animal and Food Science and UW-River Falls alum, is the 2022 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff – Instructional Academic Staff. 

Growing up on a farm in Turtle Lake, Littlefield started her career in the food industry working in the family bakery/cafe. Prior to coming to UW-River Falls in 2012, she served in various roles for several national and international food-based companies.

“From her senior research food scientist position at General Mills to the 100 hours of culinary arts training she’s received, her vast (and constantly increasing) knowledge of food science is recognized and appreciated by students and coworkers alike,” wrote one nominator.

“She is really passionate and provides great information that doesn’t seem like she’s just reading out of the textbook,” commented a student. “She brings in her own and others’ experiences and makes connections to what we are learning.”

Nominators also appreciated her teaching style, especially her ability to relate to students. One nominator shared that she is “adaptable, patient, warm, and willing to be silly and vulnerable with her students” and a student called her “down to earth, respectful and fun to be around.” These abilities, along with her subject matter knowledge and real-world experience, earned her a Student Government Association Exemplary Teaching Award in 2018.

In addition to her teaching role, nominators noted that Littlefield is also an effective mentor and adviser. From co-leading a study abroad course to Netherlands and Belgium to advising student research projects on cheese production and storage to assisting companion animal students with the development of dog treat prototypes, Littlefield has, say nominators, embodied the UWRF values of service and engagement.

Littlefield was also extolled for her many outreach activities including delivering cooking classes around the region, volunteering time with educational groups like 4-H, Future Farmers of America, and the Girl Scouts, and championing food programs for underserved students from River Falls to Malawi, Africa.

A life-long learner, Littlefield has most recently embraced boatbuilding, basket weaving, master gardener training, and llama shearing. She resides River Falls and Turtle Lake.

Kenneth (Kenney) White

Associate Director, Community and Student Development, Residence Life
Non-Instructional Academic Staff

Kenney White, associate director for community and student development for Residence Life since 2013, has been named the 2022 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff – Non-Instructional Academic Staff. 

In his role, White supervises eight hall directors across 11 residences that, in 2022, housed over 2,060 students.

Across the board, nominators praised White’s unwavering commitment to student success. One said that students are the “primary focus and driving force for his work” and that student learning is his “center focus.” Kenney has repeatedly demonstrated this commitment … from creating Living Learning Communities to championing student services at Faculty Senate meetings to individually mentoring current and future staff.

“Kenney uses his skills to help foster a culture of care with the end goal of positively contributing to the healthy development of our students,” commented a nominator.

White also received many accolades for his supervisory skills, which he uses, says one nominator, to “help shape young professionals, as well as students, in preparing for their next professional role and how to become an outstanding employee.”

One residence hall director commented: “Kenney has demonstrated what a supportive leader should illustrate. His time and interest in my growth, the ability to problem-solve and encourage critical thinking, and the tools to help make meaningful experiences for our students makes Kenney stand out among the others in the field.”

White was also recognized as a creative problem solver, excellent communicator and active collaborator with multiple departments and leadership groups.

He has been a member of the Faculty Senate and served as the Faculty Senate Liaison. He was also a member of the First Year Seminar Committee which met in summer 2022 to advance the Chancellor’s First Year Experience initiatives.

“Kenney is a staunch advocate for all UWRF staff and has raised thoughtful questions to policies and procedures while offering potential solutions to the issues identified,” one nominator wrote. “His belief in the campus and our community is a testament to the exact type of people that make this campus great.”

White is a native of Gander, Newfoundland, and currently resides in River Falls.

Laboratory Farms

College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences
Academic Staff Program/Unit/Department

Laboratory Farms is the second recipient of the Chancellor’s Recognition Award for Excellence for Academic Staff – Program/Unit/Department at UW-River Falls. 

The UW-River Falls Laboratory Farms, a fixture at the university for over 100 years, are premier farm facilities supporting teaching, research and outreach activities at UWRF.

Though, said one nominator: “When it comes to our farms, it isn’t about the facilities … but rather the people. … They are some of the most dedicated you will find. Their days are often long, the work is hard, the environment is complex, and their commitment is unparalleled. … They genuinely want the farms to be a resource for as many students as possible and value students have positive and engaging experience.”

Indeed, the farms rely on nearly 50 part-time students to help perform day-to-day tasks.

“The farm staff works very hard to mentor these students and offer training to safely work on the farm, many times the first opportunity for students to operate a tractor of work with a cow,” wrote a nominator.

Students also have an opportunity to become involved in important farm decisions and activities. For example, the student-led Beef Management Team works with farm staff and CAFES faculty to make – and implement – decisions about beef operations at the Mann Valley Farm.

Likewise, at the equine enterprise at the Campus Farm, students are actively taking care of horses and helping with events like the Youth Horse Judging Clinic or preparing for a large event such as the annual Falcon Frontier Days Rodeo.

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.

A WinField representative said: “From my first day, I have always felt very welcome and been treated like just another member of the crew. All the members of the [Laboratory Farms] staff are more than willing to help with anything, be it a mechanical issue in the shop to borrowing rock picking equipment or helping clear off crop residue. … The relationship between my company and UWRF has been great. I attribute much of this to the outstanding Lab Farm staff … who are an amazing group of people to work with. [I] couldn’t ask for any better.”

Ann Lawton

Violence Prevention Coordinator
Non-Instructional Academic Staff

Ann Lawton, violence prevention coordinator, has been named the 2021 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff – Non-Instructional Academic Staff. Lawton, a native of New London, also serves the university as a lecturer in the Art Department and a board-certified art therapist in Student Health and Counseling Services. She also serves as the assistant director of URSCA (Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity).

Lawton’s nominators lauded her many skills and contributions to the university, repeatedly emphasizing her willingness to wear many hats. However, no characteristic was mentioned more often than her sheer dedication to her work and the students. Specifically referencing her role as violence prevention coordinator, one nominator spoke to Lawton’s passion for helping students.

“This is a role that is student-facing. This job is incredibly challenging to do effectively but Ann has shown up with her whole heart to bring support and education to students on challenging topics and during an incredibly challenging time,” they explained. “Ann helps students to feel safe, seen and heard.”

“As a result, students who’ve crossed paths with her, whether it be in class, through student organizations, at campus events, at new student welcome events or at prevention programs, regularly contact her to seek help and guidance,” they continued. “Responding to these students, and making space for assisting them, takes a lot of time and energy, even when Ann is simply connecting them with other resources.”

 A 2018 recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching, Lawton’s impact on her students was reflected in nomination materials submitted by her former students.

“I am proud to have been taught, mentored and supported by Ann as an undergraduate student, university employee and now as a graduate student. Ann’s passion, care and empathy for students, faculty, staff and community members alike are qualities anyone should wish to aspire to,” described a former student.

Lawton’s impact is felt university-wide, as evidenced by her nominators’ words.

“Put simply, Ann lives out her value and ethic of caring for student success and wellbeing in incredibly concrete ways and with a consistency and efficacy that is notable even within the incredibly student-focused and caring environment of UWRF,” wrote one nominator. “This is not to say that Ann will do anything for students, but instead that she does all her work in ways that prioritize student wellbeing within appropriate boundaries and with a focus on teaching students to set boundaries and advocate for themselves. Her goal is student success, not just solving problems.”

Lawton resides in River Falls.

Grettel Hecht

Lecturer, Math Department
Instructional Academic Staff

Grettel Hecht is the 2021 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff – Instructional Academic Staff. Hecht, who has been teaching at UW-River Falls since 2014, is a lecturer in the Math Department and has served as the remedial mathematics coordinator since 2014.

Hecht’s commitment to all facets of her work has earned the admiration of her peers. Her nominators praised her initiative, creativity and enthusiasm in their nomination materials, along with her ability to reach a wide variety of students.

“Grettel is a highly rated teacher, both from the student viewpoint and from the viewpoint of colleagues who collaborate with her on teaching projects. I have observed her in the classroom and found her to be an exceptionally engaging and effective instructor,” explained one nominator. “I often have the pleasure of hearing her gentle guidance of a struggling student who has come to office hours for help. Grettel helps me become a more effective teacher as we discuss various teaching questions and ideas.”

Another nominator focused on Hecht’s work with the remedial mathematics program, praising her dedication to the program and students.

“As coordinator of the remedial math program, and one of the teachers of remedial mathematics, she has improved the structure of the remedial courses and the success of students in those courses. Under her leadership we have a retention rate for students in remedial math courses that is very high among UW campuses,” they explained. “In addition to being a talented teacher, she often works with students individually to make sure they are in the correct class and have the resources they need to be successful.”

“She is a creative individual and continually finds new ways to engage her students with the material,” added another nominator. “She is a valuable and knowledgeable educator and is more than willing to help in a variety of ways. It is pleasure to work with Grettel.”

Hecht’s nominators repeatedly called her an asset to the university and recognized her contributions to the university at large.

“Grettel is truly dedicated to the success of each student at UWRF. When colleagues ask for her help or support, her answer is always ‘yes,’” said one nominator. “She embodies our core values of academic excellence, inclusiveness, student‐centered.”

Cara Rubis

Director of  University Center and Dining Services
Limited Appointee Academic Staff

Cara Rubis has been honored with the 2021 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff – Limited Appointee. Rubis, the director of University Center and Dining, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UW-River Falls and has been employed at the university since 1998.

In her role, Rubis provides leadership and support for a variety of areas, including the University Center, contracted services including Dining Services and the Falcon Shop, the Involvement Center, Student Organizations, student Events and Programs and more. Her ability to juggle a wide range of responsibilities and a large staff was repeatedly praised by the colleagues that nominated her.

“Cara’s ability to manage a staff of 14 full‐time professional staff, and impact over 70 student employees, while being responsible for so many areas of campus is nothing short of a miracle,” described one nominator. “In addition, Cara played a very important role for UWRF during the transition into a global pandemic. She was an important member of the emergency response team which provided moment-to-moment guidance to the campus during the most critical time during the pandemic.”

“She develops, maintains and manages two of the three largest Program Revenue budgets on campus. She often spends seven days a week and endless hours during “budget season” to pour over every line item of the segregated fee funds associated with the University Center and also the user fee funds associated with the UWRF Dining budget,” they continued. “It’s another example of her amazing ability to focus and prioritize her work.”                                                                                                                                     

In addition to her day-to-day duties, Rubis has served UWRF via a variety of search and screen committees, chaired a recent search for the assistant chancellor for Student Success and worked closely with Emergency Management Team during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rubis played volleyball for the Falcons and is a member of the UW-River Falls Athletic Hall of Fame.

A truly committed alumna and employee, Rubis’ nominators specifically praised her dedication to the university, the students and her fellow staff.

“It’s easy to forget all the challenges for the last two years but I am thankful when I think about everything Cara and her staff accomplish, on how they never give up, on how Cara never stops trying to do the best for the students and the university, on how she never says ‘no’ when asked to do one more thing, on how she goes above and beyond every day to try to help others and how she leads her staff to do the same,” explained one of Rubis’ nominators. “I cannot express enough the gratitude I have for Cara’s leadership, commitment, selflessness, work ethic, professionalism, enthusiasm and service to the students and staff. She makes a difference every day.”

Financial Aid

Academic Staff Program/Unit/Department

Chancellor Maria Gallo has announced that Financial Aid is the first-ever recipient of the Chancellor’s Recognition Award for Excellence for Academic Staff – Program/Unit/Department at UW-River Falls. 

According to Financial Aid Director Robert Bode, much of the work that the Financial Aid staff does in counseling students and families is done over the phone. The Financial Aid office fields an average of nearly 650 phone calls a month, including over 1,200 calls a month during peak times.

“When the pandemic forced staff members to work remotely, staff continued to respond to questions and resolve problems for students without a single day’s disruption in service,” explained Bode. “Counselors discuss the confusing topic of college financing with sensitivity, understanding and friendliness. Each staff member is knowledgeable, well-trained and personable.”

In addition to counseling students and families, staff members manage multiple financial aid programs and processes and are responsible for duties including reviewing financial aid applications, creating and communicating financial aid offers to families, balancing accounts and managing the university’s complex financial aid system. The COVID-19 pandemic created significant changes and additions to grant programs, waivers, federal aid program rules, admissions scholarships requirements and more. Each of these changes required staff to learn, implement and utilize new policies and procedures, often in a short amount of time.

Despite it all, the financial aid staff continued to perform to a high standard.

“What distinguishes the staff members of this office is their professionalism, dedication to serving students and their ‘get it done’ attitude towards their work, no matter how big the job,” said Bode.   

Connie Fassino - Chancellor's Award - 20211216

Connie Fassino
Administrative Program Supervisor
Facilities Management

Connie Fassino is the 2020 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff. A UW-River Falls alumna, Fassino has served as the administrative program supervisor in Facilities Management since 2019. Prior to her current role, she spent 12 years as the dean’s assistant in the College of Business and Economics. 

In their nomination materials, Fassino’s nominators repeatedly praised her patience, attention to detail and commitment to the university.

“She puts in countless hours outside of the normal workday to ensure that campus facilities issues are addressed in a timely manner,” remarked one nominator. “She is typically one of the last people to leave the office, always making sure that important tasks are completed and ready for the next day.”

“Connie’s professionalism is exemplary and she operates with the utmost integrity. As a UWRF alumna, she has great pride in this institution and a strong commitment to success for her alma mater. She is a strong advocate and ambassador for UWRF, the departments she supports and her colleagues,” explained another nominator.

While Fassino stays busy overseeing a wide variety of functions and staff within the Facilities Management Division, her nominators also noted her willingness to serve other areas of campus. During her time on campus, Fassino has served on the University Scholarship Committee, employee search committees, the University Staff Senate, the University Disability Advisory Committee and a campus administrative working group. She’s also served as a UWRF move-in day volunteer.

Throughout their nomination materials, Fassino’s peers and nominators underscored the many qualities that make her an asset to UWRF.

“Her communication is always respectful, factual and professional. Connie focuses on delivering the highest level of service to both her external and internal customers, knowing the value that a positive experience reflects on the institution. She can be counted on to go the extra mile without being asked,” a nominator explained. “She has proven herself time and time again as a valuable team member.”

The 2019 Chancellor's Award for Excellence for Academic Staff was awarded to Linda Jacobson.

Linda manages the UWRF Montessori Teacher Education Program and is recognized by colleagues to be passionate about her work as well as the success of students in the program. She is known for going above and beyond to check in on her students, no matter where they are.

Those nominating Linda said hard work and collaborative spirit make her a representative that UWRF and, indeed, academic staff would be proud to see as the 2019 award recipient.

Linda reflects proudly on her involvement with the Montessori Teacher Education Program as well as other roles work in the Teacher Education Department.

“As a Montessori parent and one of the people involved in starting the River Falls Public Montessori Elementary Charter School, Montessori has captured my passion. It is a joy to continue my connection with Montessori by working with UWRF's Montessori Teacher Education Program,” Linda said. “Our family has always stressed the importance of learning about other cultures. Working with international and domestic graduate students in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Program provides me with opportunities to connect with students from near and far."

Linda Jacobson 20200110

The recipient of the 2018 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence is Mark Klapatch, sustainability and custodial supervisor.

The letters of support submitted on behalf of Mark’s nomination were aligned in describing why he was worthy of this recognition, repeatedly referencing qualities such as commitment, excellence and selflessness.

As a supervisor in custodial services, Mark has been called a “creative leader” in implementing the more student-based custodial model that is now in place. Across his division, Mark excels as a communicator and is known as a problem solver and forward thinker with a positive attitude.

Nominators pointed to Mark’s love of learning and serving with examples of his work as a mentor and adviser to students, both during and outside of his regular work day, as well as his collaborative service on numerous committees. In the words of one nominator, “Mark genuinely seeks to motivate, inspire and show gratitude for others without seeking anything in return.”

One of Mark’s greatest contributions is likely creation and management of the university’s Surplus Property Sale. What started as a creative effort to recycle university property has earned the university best practice honors from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Based on the STARS Rating System of the same organization, UWRF has gone from achieving a sustainability rating of silver to earning gold – certainly much to the credit of Mark.

Through his tireless efforts to promote sustainability, Mark has earned the respect of his colleagues and students alike. In the words of one letter writer, “Although the sustainability portion of his job allegedly occupies only half of his time, Mark has given 150% of his effort to making UWRF a sustainable campus.”


Laura had numerous and prolific letters of support from faculty, colleagues, alumni and emeriti that it was clear that Laura excels at each of her countless duties and responsibilities, and is “one of the most helpful and supportive persons” on campus, helping “students, staff, and faculty with ease.” Called an “exemplary employee,” and “a caring and supportive supervisor,” Laura is also characterized as someone who is often found, and is possibly most comfortable, delivering success from behind the scenes.

Her responsibilities encompass an extremely broad range of duties, from coordinating facilities projects on campus and at the lab farms, to supporting the awarding of student scholarships; from managing public relations and authoring public communications to helping with research proposal development and obtaining grants. Laura is known for her “professionalism, loyalty, sense of fairness, and work ethic.”

Laura is described as “focused, organized, and dedicated,” “indispensable,” and a wearer of “so many hats that it is often hard to even know what her true job responsibilities are.” She is a “quiet leader,” “excellent listener,” and a “kind-spirited person.” In addition to her administrative duties, Laura supports new student recruitment by going out of her way to make visiting and new students feel welcome. Not only does the Admissions staff genuinely enjoy working with Laura, prospective students and family members do as well.

Laura also plays an integral role in other notable functions of the CAFES program, often spending evenings and weekends engaged in outreach activities. Of special note is her dedication to alumni engagement and involvement. Her efforts and direct participation in alumni gatherings around the state and at events like Farm Tech Days and the World Dairy Expo, have made CAFES the most alumni-involved college at the university. Laura’s contributions have helped keep more than 3,000 alumni engaged which is key to continued academic and financial support of the CAFES program.

Student Health Nurse Laura (Lori) Otto is the 2016 recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence for Academic Staff. Otto provides nursing care, health information, counseling, outreach, and advocacy for students at the Vibrant Health Family Clinic and education and information on campus. She is available on campus part time and on certain days is at the Vibrant Health Family Clinic in River Falls.

The letters of nomination received on Laura's behalf repeatedly spoke of her empathetic, caring, and friendly demeanor, as well as her knack for always going above and beyond the call of duty. 

According to Jennifer Elsesser, Laura's reputation precedes her.

"In her time at the university, Lori has earned the reputation of being a favorite among our students seeking treatment at the clinic, with our international student population, as well as our office student health interns. Lori doesn't hesitate to offer the support and patience that students need when dealing with physical and emotional struggles," saod Elsesser.

Countless nominations conveyed the same message: "Otto is a teacher, a friend, a psychologist, a motherly figure, and an excellent advocate for the students that attend UWRF."

In nominating Laura, Alice Reilly-Myklebust described her as a "behind the scenes unsung hero. She has a remarkable ability to engage and inspire those around her with an empathetic and friendly nature. She is one of the most caring, understanding, nonjudgmental people I know." 

International student Catharina Ortiz Thomazella praised Laura's welcoming nature in her letter of support. "I remember that our Brazilian student group was visiting Counseling and Student Health Services when we discovered that Lori had made a traditional Brazilian dessert. This attitude was very surprising for me and, at the same time, I felt very thankful and glad for that. When she made the dessert, she made me comfortable, like I was home in Brazil," said Thomazella.


Lori Otto

The 2015 Chancellor's Award for Excellence for Academic Staff was awarded to Mike Martin. Mike is the College of Education and Professional Studies adviser, as well as the college's official certification officer, making him liaison to the Department of Public Instruction and proxy for the Dean. As mentioned by Geoff Scheurman, however, in his support letter for the award, Mike is also the college's "data manager, web master, program consultant and evaluator, as well as faculty and campus-wide adviser in every sense of the word. He is the 'go-to' person on every question that enters our sphere."

Brenda Wright noted, "[Mike] clearly knows and understands what students need in terms of support for their academic and overall growth in higher education. To make sure students get the time and attention they need, Mike goes the extra mile, every moment of the day."

Mike is also the 2010 recipient of the University's Adviser of the Year Award. He has been recognized at the state level for his talents in advising. Martin received the prestigious Wisconsin Academic Advising Association Advising Excellence Award at their state conference in September.

Mike has also served the campus, outside of his department, in numerous ways: on the Academic Staff Council, as a student org adviser, and through his service on a variety of committees (including the Parking Appeals Committee). Four years ago he initiated a very popular living-learning community called TEACH for incoming freshmen for which he even teaches an "introduction to teaching" course.


Those of you familiar with trends in student mental health issues are fully aware that the workloads and demands on counselors such as Jennifer are at record highs. Jennifer was instrumental in the development of the Counseling Center's intake model, which has allowed the university to serve more students in a time of decreasing resources. As a counselor and an individual, Jennifer is steady, caring, positive, and has a much appreciated sense of humor.

Jennifer coordinates support and marketing for campus-wide health and wellness programming and provides outreach activities that support wellness such as leading free weekly mixed-level yoga classes in the University Center. While her work in Counseling Services alone would make her a worthy candidate for this award, Jennifer has gone above and beyond in serving our students' holistic needs. Countless wellness efforts organized and often facilitated by Jennifer such as yoga, art therapy, zumba, disc golf, pet therapy, and the award winning iRock program have benefited hundreds of UW-River Falls students.

"Regardless of who walks into her office or who she encounters in passing, Jennifer has the ability to inspire and positively influence those around her," Ann Lawton, associate lecturer of art, said. "The disposition and fresh approach to counseling and wellness, and her overwhelming dedication to UWRF are undeniable."

She has wrote several grants related to mental health and engaged learning, co-created iRock wellness program, recipient of 2009 Chancellor's Award for Program of the Year, assist in maintaining Counseling Services website, coordinate Student Health and Counseling Wellness Program, lead free yoga classes on campus (certified Yoga Instructor through Yoga Fit), wrote Assisting Students During Emotional Distress resource for faculty and staff, presented at several National College Health Association conferences on mental health and wellness issues

Elsesser, of Hudson, began her career at UW-River Falls 12 years ago. She is a licensed professional counselor and coordinates support and marketing for campus-wide health and wellness programming. She has presented at several National College Health Association conferences on mental health and wellness issues and was the recipient of the 2009 Chancellor's Award for Program of the Year. Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in health education from St. Cloud State University and a master's degree in counselor education from Winona State University.

Jennifer has been selected to receive a 2015 Regents Academic Staff Excellence Award for an individual. She was be presented the award at the UW System Board of Regents meeting in June at UW-Milwaukee.


The 2013 Chancellor's Award for Excellence for Academic Staff was awarded to Kristen Allen.  Kristen was an employee at UWRF since 2003.  Her most recent position was an outreach program manager and assistant outreach director and helped to manage a number of programs aimed at off-campus leaners. 

Katrina Larsen shared that Kris always exhibited true leadership.  She would think deeply and thoroughly and asked the tough questions while being respectful of those around her.  She went on to say that Kris lived the university's strategic goals.  She always strived to improve and build distinctive programs with students at the core.  She was involved in global activities over the course of her time at UWRF. 

Kris was instrumental in getting the Sustainable Management Online Bachelor's Completion Program (SMGT) started.  It was one of the first collaborative degree programs of its type in the UW System.  Kris worked closely with academic directors, both at UWRF and other campuses, faculty from multiple UWRF colleges, Admissions, Registrar, Accounts Receivable, Financial Aid and DoTS. The SMGT program received the UW-Extension Chancellor's Award of Excellence in 2010 and the University Continuing Education Association named SMGT the 2010 Outstanding Program-Credit. 

Katie Chaffee, a community member who worked with Kris on various boards and committees, spoke of how Kris supported our community in many ways, bringing both the intellectual and physical resources of the University to serve many, many organizations.  Also saying that Kris was the perfect "outreach person" for the University, a questing and questioning individual with a curious, open mind and a zealot's view of the importance of education.

Jim Thies has served as the Sports Information Director at UWRF for the past 36 years. He is only the second Sports Information Director to work at UWRF, having replaced his predecessor after one year. Jim has worked with hundreds of students and student-athletes during his career. Each year Jim hires 10-15 students who help out with his duties covering all sports at UWRF. 

In 1995 with the help of his then student employee Brett Longdin, Jim set up the first website for the UWRF Athletic Department. 

"One of my proudest accomplishments was the fact that the UWRF Athletic Department had the first website of all institutions of higher education in the State of Wisconsin," Jim said.

"Friends have asked me why I've worked at UWRF for 36 years," Jim said. "The answer is simple – the students – they keep me young and involved and engaged in the world's activities."  

"What I find most gratifying is watching an 18-year-old freshman enter our doors, and four (and sometimes five) years later watch them as they go out into our communities with a great education in their professional field, and the skills and abilities to become a valued member of the community," Jim said. "It is my hope that I have been a positive influence on at least some of the students I have had the pleasure to work with." 

Jim has served on several College Sports Information Director's of America (CoSIDA) committees. He has also been active in several other organizations in the community including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the American Diabetes Association, the Hudson Hockey Association and St. Patrick's Parish. 
Thies, Jim

Dan McGinty has been selected for the Regents Academic Staff Excellence Award. Dan has been an employee at UW-River Falls for the past 28 years. He received both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in education from UW-River Falls.

In his career, Dan has worked as an admission's counselor and assistant men's basketball coach, as a counselor in the Financial Assistance office, as the coordinator of scholarships, and accepted a position in the University Advancement office in 1988, and still continues in this capacity today. Dan transitioned out of the coaching field in 1992 to work full-time in the Advancement Office.

Dan has had the opportunity to participate and witness significant growth to the Advancement Office and UW-River Falls Foundation during his career. Dan has been a part of the team that has see the growth of University Advancement from total assets of $1,000,000 in 1988 to excess of $16,000,000 today.

Besides his duties as serving as the director of Alumni Relations and Development, Dan has also served as the interim executive director of the University Advancement office and president of the UW-River Falls Foundation. This position has had its challenges as one would expect, but was also a very rewarding and worthwhile experience, according to Dan. The university was very fortunate to have two of our highest fundraising years on record while Dan served in this capacity. 

In Dan's current position in Alumni Relations, it is his responsibility to connect and engage the university's 40,000+ alumni in the life of our institution. Each year, UWRF average between 40-50 alumni events locally, regionally, and nationally, provides opportunities for alumni to serve on advisory boards, guest speakers, career mentors, produce a wide variety of external communications including two print copies of our alumni magazine, bi-monthly alumni electronic newsletters, electronic alumni invitations and special news announcements, and provide opportunities to acclimate and engage our current students about alumni relations and the importance of philanthropy.  

Dan has been a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) since 1988. He has presented at four CASE District V Conferences on topics related to alumni relations and have served as either a moderator or volunteer at numerous CASE conferences. Most recently, Dan has been invited to be a guest speaker at the Mid-America Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel 37th Annual Trio Conference. Dan has been an active participant in the UW System Alumni Director's Council and have participated in a wide variety of community service projects including Relay for Life, River Falls Day's celebrations, United Cerebral Palsy campaigns, River Falls Youth Basketball Association programs, and River Falls Chamber of Commerce activities.


For the past 13 years, Sarah has developed and managed programs to support new students and their families during their orientation and transition to campus. Sarah has a special interest in student success, leadership development, and organizational change. She is an active member of the campus community and regularly serves on administrative and shared governance committees. 

Sarah Egerstrom

Jim Murphy is a facilities engineer in the Facilities Management Department. Murphy has served the UWRF campus for nearly 30 years, has successfully brought the University Center to completion and has overseen construction of the Dairy Learning Center and the renovation of the Wall Amphitheatre.

Mike Stifter, director of Facilities Management, noted that Murphy “has developed positive relationships not only on campus, but also beyond the borders of campus. From contractors to division of state facilities and UW System staff, Jim is highly regarded for his work and commitment. It would not be an embellishment to say that Jim has likely managed $75 million in campus projects over the years--everything from rooftops and walks to major building projects and asbestos abatement--Jim has guided the work with a conscientious approach. Students, faculty, staff, and guests benefit on a daily basis from Jim's contributions.”

2010 All Award Winners

Mark Kinders has served as director of Public Affairs (formerly News Bureau) for UWRF since 1985. He is responsible for media, community, legislative and congressional relations, as well as overseeing the Photography Services and Sports Information offices. In December 2008, Kinders will assume the Vice President for University Relations position at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.

During his time in this position, Kinders has contributed significantly to endeavors at UWRF. He initiated several legislative advocacy programs, including Falcon Action Network, which helped secure funding for UWRF's health and human performance building.

Kinders is also the chair of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Advisory Council of Communications and Public Affairs, which advises the AASCU on its communications with Congress, the administration and the public. The AASCU's membership consists of 430 public higher education colleges, including those of the University of Wisconsin System. He has received numerous professional and service awards from various organizations.

He received his bachelor's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, a master's degree in history from UWRF and a master's degree in public affairs through the Executive Program at the Humphrey Institute of the University of Minnesota. He resides in Prescott with his wife, Linda.

Mark Kinders

Amy Lloyd, of St. Paul, received the Chancellor's Recognition Award for Excellence for Academic Staff. She received a bachelor's degree from the College of St. Benedict, a master's degree from St. Cloud University and a second master's from Cleveland University.

Lloyd is currently a leadership coordinator in the division of student affairs and was previously a student support services coordinator. Student Lucky Vang, who was Lloyd's advisee, said this in nominating Lloyd: "Amy has taught me to become a better person, how to get involved around the community, how to stand out, how to socialize with others in a calm manner, and many other things that have changed who I am."

Lloyd was a cofounder and organizer of several campus service efforts, including the receipt of a Campus Compact grant to establish the Falcon Fellows, a program that connects UWRF students with children in River Falls through the America Reads program; Gillette Children's Hospital Smiles 4 Kids; the Building Tomorrow project, which sent UWRF students to Uganda to assist in the construction of a boarding school; and "alternative" spring break trips to the various areas for service projects including Minneapolis and Gulfport, Miss. Lloyd also volunteers at Sharing and Caring Hands in Minneapolis.

Nominator and colleague Tyra Nelson says of Lloyd, "Serving is not what she does; it's who she is."

Amy Lloyd

Dale Braun has a long association with UWRF; he also received the Chancellor's Award for Students for helping to install the first campus-wide computer network. A graduate of Osceola High School, he started as an undergraduate in 1979 and worked in various capacities as a resident assistant, in the Computer Center, and as an educational services assistant. He graduated with honors in 1988, taking a double-major in history and geography, and subsequently beginning employment as the campus planner.

Over the years, Braun has been involved in the planning and budgeting phase of many building projects on campus, including the remodeling of South Hall, remodeling and addition of the Chalmer Davee Library, construction of the Wyman Education Building, the C.H.I.L.D. Center and George R. Field South Fork Suites, as well as the Hunt/Knowles locker room addition. Currently he is involved with the new student center, set to open in 2007, and in the planning stages for the new Dairy Learning Center.

In the mid 1990s, Braun was the project director of Collaboration Across Campus, a program established through a federal grant that utilized the campus as a learning laboratory for students in various disciplines who were interested in design and space projects.

He is a member of the Society for College and University Planning, lives in River Falls and is married with two children.

Dale Braun

Student Health Services Director Alice Reilly-Myklebust has been selected to receive the 2005 University of Wisconsin-River Falls Chancellor's Award for Excellence for Academic Staff. This award is in recognition of excellence in her work and dedication to the university community. Interim Chancellor Virgil Nylander presented her with the award at a reception April 19.

Reilly-Myklebust is also co-director of the personal and professional development center at UWRF. She has a master of science degree in nursing and is working toward a doctorate in public health at Walden University.

"Under her leadership, student health services has grown from a small, almost invisible service into an active, very involved and visible group of professionals who are making a real difference on campus by increasing student awareness of current health issues," said June Schubert, who was one of many to nominate Reilly-Myklebust for the award.

Reilly-Myklebust has worked to collaborate with the River Falls Medical Clinic, Pierce County Reproductive Health Services and Kinnic Falls Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services. All of these programs have expanded options for students' health care.

"The creation, development, maintenance and success of these programs belongs to Alice," said UWRF Senior Counselor Gretchen Link. "Alice is one of the most dedicated professionals with whom I have had the pleasure of working."

Throughout her career at UWRF, Reilly-Myklebust has organized workshops that address eating disorders, co-directed conferences regarding students' sexual behavior and relationship skills, worked on an annual "M*A*S*H" event to help reduce students' stress during finals, and organized the annual campus and community Health Fair.

"With her energy, positive outlook and work ethic, she is and exemplary role model. Alice is liked and respected by her colleagues and co-workers," said Sheri Strover, UWRF career counselor.

In 2003, a UWRF student died from Meningococcal disease. Reilly-Myklebust and her co-workers addressed the concerns of students and their families, implemented a plan to address the issue, and met with UWRF administrators and staff to create information that would educate the public. As a result of this effort, UWRF Student Health Services received the Partnerships in Public Health Award from the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services.

"Alice's leadership to students, parents, faculty and staff during that crisis fostered communication, calmed fears and prevented other students from becoming ill," said Linda Vigars, UWRF Student Health nurse.

Reilly-Myklebust has co-written and received numerous grants in support of education programs that focus on issues such as tobacco use, alcohol abuse, physical activity and sexual assault.

"A good leader is a teacher, a cheerleader, a critical evaluator, visionary and perpetual source of energy for the organization. That describes Alice," said Vigars.

A native of the Wisconsin Dells area, Reilly-Myklebust is also co-chair of the site council for the Public Montessori School in River Falls. She worked with other parents to write a grant that funded this school and continues to work on grants that will fund a new library. Her two children, Jens and Reilly, attend this school.

When Chancellor Nylander called Reilly-Myklebust to congratulate her for receiving the award, she was shocked. She attributes her success to the people with whom she works.

"I love my job. It's a great place to work where you feel like you make a difference in lives," said Reilly-Myklebust. "Everything we do is a group effort, and any success I have is everyone's success. I feel very blessed."

Alice Reilly-Myklebust

UW-River Falls Admissions Director Alan Tuchtenhagen has been selected to receive the 2004 Chancellor's Award for Excellence for Academic Staff, in recognition of excellence in his work and dedication to the University community. Interim Chancellor Ginny Coombs will present him with the award at a reception on Tuesday, April 13, beginning at 7 p.m. in the River Room of Rodli Commons.

Tuchtenhagen said he was surprised about receiving the award. "I had no idea that I had been nominated," said Tuchtenhagen. "It was very gratifying to me that the nomination came from a group of senior faculty members. I am very appreciative of their kind thoughts."

Several nominating faculty commented on his commitment to the University. Terry Ferriss, professor of plant and earth science, said Tuchtenhagen's office is one of the "most professional and user-friendly" offices on campus. "Students love to work for the admissions office," she said.

Others cited his professionalism as well. "Having worked with Alan during all summer registrations for many years, I have personally witnessed his enthusiasm, professionalism and regard for colleagues, students and their parents," said Nan Jordahl, associate professor of communicative disorders and director of faculty and student academic support programs.

Douglas Johnson, biology professor and assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, notes Tuchtenhagen's service to the campus as a member of Faculty Senate and the Academic Staff Council. "Alan has been a significant contributor to many areas of university life, always willing to serve effectively on various committees and task forces," he said. "And in the face of changing enrollment demands and requirements, he has been creative, innovative and remarkably effective."

Since 1986, Tuchtenhagen has served as admissions director at the University. His responsibilities include supervising student enrollment-related functions and serving on the University Enrollment Management Committee, coordinating both institutional and UW System enrollment objectives. He is also responsible for international student admissions, multicultural outreach and long-range enrollment forecasting.

Coombs cites Tuchtenhagen's "can-do" attitude. "Alan is not afraid to take on a challenge," she said. "In the spring of 2001 he responded to a request to recruit and admit more students who would pursue high-tech majors such as computer science and information systems and biotechnology, and he was successful. He's a can-do professional. And with good humor, he manages situations such as when prospective students and their families get parking tickets when they don't park in designated spots, or when a heavy snowfall covers the grounds on the day of a scheduled campus visit."

Tuchtenhagen received a B.S. in history from Westmar College in Le Mars, Iowa, and a M.A. in American history from the University of Nebraska. He earned a Ph.D. in Public Administration from Hamline University.

In 1992, he received a Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship to attend the Minnesota Management Institute at the Carlson School of Management and in 2001 attended the Harvard University Institute on College Admissions and Enrollment. He is the president for the Wisconsin Association of Collegiate Registars and Admissions Officers and is the Wisconsin representative to the ACT National Board.

He is a frequent presenter at professional educational organizations for enrollment planners and high school counselors such as the National Association of College Admissions Counselors and the American Marketing Association.

He is a past committee chair for the Boy Scout Troop 54 and is the citizenship merit badge counselor for four area troops. He also serves on the First Congregational United Church of Christ Senior Pastor Call Committee.

Before coming to UWRF in 1986, Tuchtenhagen held numerous academic and support positions that include the coordinator of pre-enrollment service at Iowa State University; assistant director of admissions at the University of Montana; associate, assistant and acting dean of students at Westmar College; and admissions counselor at Midland Lutheran College. He also was a field representative for U.S. Sen. John Culver in the late 1970s.

Tuchtenhagen credits his professional staff's role in receiving the award. "An award like this is only as good as the staff that surrounds it," he said. "I have an absolutely wonderful staff."

Alan Tuchtenhagen

June Schubert has been selected to receive the 2003 UWRF Chancellor's Award for Excellence for Academic Staff, in recognition of excellence in her work and dedication to the University community.

For the past 21years, Schubert has served as recruitment coordinator and career advisor for the University's Career Services office. Her responsibilities include counseling students and alumni about career options and hiring trends, job search skills and application procedures, and preparation of resumes and cover letters.

She also co-ordinates on-campus recruiting and serves as a liaison between employers and the University community. She is responsible for recruiting some of the top-quality companies to give informational presentations and interview students for positions. Her participation on a number of professional association boards has provided valuable links to area employers.

Schubert said she was speechless when Chancellor Lydecker called her with the news. When she learned that 18 letters of recommendation had been written in support of her nomination, she said, "I am very honored to receive this award and very humbled by the praise of so many. It is most gratifying, yet an awesome feeling of responsibility, to know that I have had an impact on so many people in some way."

Schubert's supervisor Carmen Croonquist, Career Services director and career counselor, had the highest praise of all for Schubert, noting her exceptional talents and her commitment to high-caliber work.

"She's sharp, articulate and has a way of making sure that everything is always done right," said Croonquist. "Her solid work ethic is admired and respected by all.

"In addition to her professional demeanor, June often displays a creative streak, coming up with novel ideas that greatly enhance our events and marketing initiatives. Moreover, June's upbeat, outgoing attitude contributes to the positive morale here at Career Services and make her a delight to work with."

Schubert's professional associates note the flawless job she does with the two annual events she supervises, the all-campus Career Fair and Student Teacher Professional Day, saying both are enormous undertakings that Schubert handled efficiently.

She received praise for her competency as a career advisor, having helped hundreds of students to locate great jobs with solid career paths and hundreds of employers to find talented employees to fill their workforce needs.

Lee Jensen, professor and director emeritus in the College of Education Career Services Office, hired Schubert 28 years ago as an assistant office manager.

"She immediately made a significant contribution," he said, referring to a new computer system that she mastered quickly. She later pioneered the talents.

"June was gracious and attuned to the needs of our students, faculty and employer patrons," he said. "Her personality is warm and optimistic. I can think of no one more deserving than June for this recognition."

June Schubert

The director of student life operations at UW-River Falls has been named the recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence.

Bob Sievert, who is a resident of Roberts, was named as the recipient by Chancellor Ann Lydecker at an awards ceremony on April 23.

The Chancellor's Award for Excellence is presented annually to a non-instructional academic staff member who has made an outstanding contribution to the University. Nominations come from faculty, students, and staff.

In announcing the award, Lydecker noted: "For 30 years, Bob Sievert has been a true leader on campus. He is bright, energetic, inclusive and extraordinarily effective in all of the many critical tasks that he performs. Throughout all of that, Bob is always seeking new ways to help our students with their experiences here on campus, and he has always been a tremendous mentor who actively develops the new professionals who are assigned to his service area.

"Throughout his tenure, Bob has always been a role model. This award is a way of formally acknowledging what we all know about his exceptional performance."

Sievert came to campus as a student in 1969 after completing a four-year tour of duty in the U.S. Air Force. He began work as a resident assistant for two years, and then we hired as a full-time staff member in February of 1972. Since then he has assumed responsibilities as the facilities coordinator of the Hagestad Student Union, oversight of food services, intramurals and as the Interim Associate Dean of Students.

While working full time, Sievert completed a master of science in education from UW-RF in 1988, specializing in supervision and instructional leadership. With those new skills came new responsibilities: Conferences and Events and the oversight of the Hunt Arena and the Knowles P. Knowles Physical Education and Recreation Center.

In 1996, Sievert was named the director of a reorganized Student Services Center. In his current position he oversees UW-RF facilities' budgeting and operations for food service, UW-RF's nine residence halls, the Intramural Recreation Complex, Hunt Arena, the Knowles Building, as well as the Hagestad Student Center.

Presently, he is taking a lead role in guiding the University's Student Union Planning Committee that is developing the design and program documents for a new $28.4 million student center. Groundbreaking for that building is expected in 2003. Sievert also is extensively involved in the planning of a new $10 MORE million residence hall and a new daycare center, which will both begin construction this year.

Assistant vice chancellor Mary Halada, who was among those who nominated Sievert for the award, noted: "His foresight, and his broad understanding of facilities, statistics, finances and the needs of the students have been invaluable to us as we plan for the future of this institution."

Robert Sievert

Art Director Tony Bredahl is the recipient of the 2000-2001 Chancellor's Award of Excellence at UW-River Falls. He will be officially honored by Chancellor Ann Lydecker at an awards reception on April 23.

The Chancellor0's Award for Excellence is presented annually to a non-instructional academic staff member who has made an outstanding contribution to the University.

Said Bredahl, a resident of Hudson, "My colleagues and student interns in the publications department deserve much of the credit for the work our group has produced. If the theory holds true that we are a product of our environment, I owe thanks for this award to the individuals I work with on a day-to-day basis."

"When I consider the people who received this award before me, I am overwhelmed at having been selected," he added.

Bredahl loves his work, and is doing what he has always wanted to do, which may explain why he has had so much success. Since earning a B.S. in art education at UW-RF in 1986, he has worked as a graphic designer at the University, and has been the recipient of five awards in visual communication for the UW System.

One of his most noteworthy accomplishments is the new visual identity he designed for the University, The project, initiated by Lydecker shortly after she took over as Chancellor in the fall of 2000, includes a University seal and logo, and re-design of the athletic logo. The new visual identity became official last April, and campus publications are in the process of being updated.

Bredahl's design group, a component of the publications office, provides a free service to campus, producing 400 to 500 projects each year with a turn-around time that averages two weeks. Bredahl's group can design anything from elaborate four-color pieces to simple, one-color projects such as tickets and flyers.

Tony Bredahl

Mary Augustine has received the UW-River Falls 2000 Chancellor's Award for Excellence, which is presented to the top professional member of the academic support staff.

Augustine, who will be retiring at the end of July, has been a vital part of the University for 32 years. She served as bookstore manager for her first 25 years, and spent the rest of her time as head of interlibrary loan at Chalmer Davee Library.

"I couldn't believe I had won this award; I didn't even known I was nominated," Augustine said. "It came as a shock and total surprise."

Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau had flattering compliments for Augustine. "Mary has served the entire University in the most exemplary manner," Thibodeau said in announcing the award. "Her knowledge, competence, and commitment to this University are to be commended."

The Chancellor's Award is given annually to a non-instructional academic staff member who has made an outstanding contribution to the University. The University has a committee composed of faculty and staff to decide whom to nominate for the chancellor¹s approval.

The chancellor¹s office received many letters in support of Augustine¹s nomination. One letter praised Augustine¹s work and felt her fondness for books never went unnoticed. The letter described Augustine as a "person who is prepared to go beyond her job description in her love of books and culture of the mind."

Another letter of support described Augustine¹s attitude toward her dedication to her work, saying, "Her attitude always expresses a kind of joy in being supportive, in meeting the challenge of a difficult find."

Augustine, who many staff members consider "the heart of the library," said interacting with students is the best part of her job. "I have seen a lot of drama go through this office," Augustine related. "I¹ve seen it all, from students beaming with sheer joy to students showing tearful gratitude for getting the research material they needed to complete their papers or projects."

Augustine has enjoyed reading and writing since she was a young, and landed the job of her dreams when becoming head of interlibrary loan.

"When I became head of interlibrary loan, I thought I had died and gone to heaven," Augustine exclaimed. "I was surrounded by books, and became part of a challenging and gracious department of the library."

Augustine is a member of the Wisconsin Library Association and in 1998 became chair-elect of the interlibrary loan roundtable, and chair in 1999. "I feel so fortunate to have been able to assist patrons in their search for information," Augustine said.

As she prepares for retirement, Augustine praised her co-workers who she has grown to know and appreciate through the years.

"I have had very wonderful co-workers who are dedicated to service as much as I am," Augustine said. "They practice diversity unconsciously, not because it is demanded as an execution of their duties, but because it is an intrinsic part of their natures."

One of the most important things in Augustine's life besides joy for her job is her family, and she feels the Chancellor's Award belongs to them as much as it does to her.

"I am overwhelmed to have received the Chancellor's Award, but not for myself, but for my parents, my family, and my beloved daughters, as they are recipients of this award as well."

Mary Augustine

This year's recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence is Gretchen Link from Counseling Services. The award is given to a member of the professional support staff for outstanding service to the university. As a personal counselor, Link provides a variety of counseling services to students. She works with issues regarding self-esteem, roommate and family problems, as well as depression and anxiety. She is experienced in a variety of areas, including personal issues, academic concerns, and career matters.

Link joined the UW-River Falls professional staff in 1981. She says she came to the university to find new ways to challenge herself. She accomplished that, according to her nominators, who included students, faculty an staff. One nominator noted, "She is an excellent team player, organized and has outstanding interpersonal skills."

Link also is involved with many areas on campus, providing services to faculty and staff. She coordinates the employee assistance program, participates on the Faculty Academic Development Board, coordinates the National Testing Program for ACTs, and helps with GED testing.

She also provides training and consultation services to residence hall managers and resident assistants who coordinate daily life for the nearly 2,000 students who live on campus. She is available to them for emergency situations that may arise outside of her normal office hours.

Link said she was surprised to learn that she had been selected to receive the award. She felt very honored that people would take the time to nominate her during such a busy time of the year.

One nominator sums up the reason Link received this award: "Her commitment to this university campus and its students becomes readily apparent to anyone working with her."

Link was recognized at the university's faculty and staff meeting that traditionally starts the school year in August. She also will receive an honorarium from the UWRF Foundation and will be the campus nominee for the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents professional excellence award.

Gretchen Link

UW-River Falls World Wide Web guru Marlys Nelson has been named the recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence. The award is presented annually to a member of the academic support staff for exemplary service.

In announcing the award, Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau said Nelson "joins a select group of professionals on this campus who have received the award."

Her outstanding work and talents were admired by her fellow staff members who nominated her for the award. One faculty member noted, "I was struck by her competence and professionalism, and my respect for her has only grown over the years." Another nominator said, "Her ability to troubleshoot complex problems is impressive, to say the least."

One nominator's comment sums up the basis of the Chancellor's Award and the reason Nelson has received it: "She is the most knowledgeable and professional computer person we have. She gives 200 percent!"

As network specialist, Nelson contributed her talents to develop many components of the university's cyberspace presence. She helped develop and implement campus web pages and policies; she supervised implementation of major web site features such as the undergraduate course catalog and calendar of events; she installed and supported databases, scripting languages, development tools and discussion boards used by web page authors and course instructors; and she supervised student programmers in their development of web pages and applications.

Nelson shared in national recognition through a Silver Medal presented by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education for her computer support to the bi-state St. Croix Valley Regional Tourism Alliance.

Nelson also assisted in the areas of network management and Unix Systems Administration. In network management, she was a key contributor in the design of the campus network topology; she installed, configured, and managed network routers, switches and hubs; she came up with a system that monitored, detected, and reported problems; she designed, implemented and maintained network security; and she supervised student technicians that assisted in network management. In Unix Systems Management, she installed and managed many servers that provided services to the campus; she wrote scripts, programs, and web pages to implement automatic account activation and maintenance for students and staff; and she developed procedures, programs, and scripts necessary to manage multiple servers.

Nelson has been with the university since her graduation from UWRF in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics with a computer science emphasis. 

Marlys Nelson

This year's recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence at UW-River Falls is George Hansen, assistant director of admissions.

As assistant director Hansen travels to many different high schools to recruit students to attend UW-River Falls. He also serves as the transfer coordinator, advising students who are transferring from other universities and community colleges.

But the award is given to someone who goes above and beyond simply the roles of their job, based on nomination of the faculty and staff.

According to Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau, Hansen "has served not only the Admissions Office but the entire University in the most exemplary manner. His knowledge, competence and commitment to this University are to be commended."

Hansen has been at River Falls since 1968 when he began as a college freshman. He earned his bachelor's degree in history and secondary education, then continued on to graduate school. He was hired in the admissions office upon graduation.

Hansen was a member of the choir all through school and continues to be active in the alumni choir. He also helps organize many other alumni gatherings and functions.

Since 1974 Hansen has handled public address responsibilities, announcing at various athletic events including basketball and hockey games. He has long been a scorekeeper at men's basketball games and contributes his musical talents at athletic events through singing the national anthem.

That deep connection to the University led one faculty member who nominated Hansen that he, "still has the undiminished zeal and enthusiasm that I first recognized in 1974."

Hansen helps out with public address announcing at special events associated with the Kansas City Chiefs training camp as well.

Hansen contributes his time and talents to the community as well, through leading congregational singing as a cantor at St. Bridget's Church and through many years of participation in the summer community theater and the Phipps Theater Community Choir.

Hansen said he was surprised when he learned he had been selected to receive the Chancellor's Award. "I had no idea I was even being considered," he said. "It is gratifying to hear the comments and compliments; it's nice to feel that what you do is appreciated. It really reaffirms your commitment to your job."

Another nominator noted of Hansen, "He has a great attitude, an excellent work ethic, a commitment to this University that is matched by few." But Hansen says that it comes naturally. He says he is only speaking and acting honestly about something he believes in because of the great experiences he had at UW- River Falls. "It is a good place to be for education, a nice community, it's close to the metropolitan area, it's all the things I tell students; there is real truth in my sales pitch."

One nominator's comment sums up the basis of the Chancellor's Award and the reason that Hansen has received it: "George invests himself fully in the life and character of UWRF."

George Hansen


Long-time publications director and River Falls community leader Liz Oostendorp has been named the recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence at UW-River Falls.

Oostendorp was cited for her extensive contributions as UWRF Publications Director, as the faculty representative to women's athletics, and for her community service that included leadership in the Chamber of Commerce, ambulance service, and River Falls Hospital Foundation.

In announcing the selection, Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau said Oostendorp's contributions led to his recognition of her as "an example of our professional staff. She's a good standard bearer."

"Liz is the classic example of a total effort by a professional involved in the life of the University and the community. In an era of rapid changes in technology, she does an exceptional job of keeping pace that is well-recognized by her peers."

Oostendorp joined UWRF in 1969 after teaching at the University of Rhode Island and then in the Ellsworth School District. At the University, she joined the faculty to teach speech, splitting her time with the Publications Office. Within the next year, she became the full-time director of publications.

As director, she is responsible for developing visual identity standards for the campus, setting printing guidelines, purchasing outside printing service, managing the campus Fast Copy Center, and overseeing copiers across campus.

Faculty and staff who nominated Oostendorp for the award cited her numerous contributions over the years. These include:

  • Participating in the founding of the national University and College Designers Association, serving in various committees and conference coordination.
  • Participating as a founder in 1976 of the Wisconsin Communicators Conference of state agency publications professionals, serving as president from 1983-85, and 1995. She was recently re-elected to her fourth term.
  • Serving on the Wisconsin Council on Printing, including as its chair, which provided advice on state-wide printing service to the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Administration, which oversees 22 state agencies.
  • Serving as the faculty representative to the Wisconsin Women's Intercollegiate Athletic Conference since 1984, with two terms as president. She is on a transition team that will merge the WWIAC with the Wisconsin State University Conference. As WWIAC representative, Oostendorp verifies the academic eligibility of student athletes.
  • Writing the WWIAC 1990 study on gender equity in athletics.
  • Selection as Citizen of the Year by the Lions Club in 1980.
  • Membership on the River Falls Economic Development Council.
  • More than 35 years membership in the River Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, including serving as its president and twice chairing the annual River Falls Days celebration.
  • Volunteering as one of the first Emergency Medical Technicians for the River Falls Fire Department
  • Ambulance Service, with 20 years service before retiring in 1992.
  • Serving nine years on the former River Falls Area Hospital board of directors, and as a board secretary of the current Hospital Foundation Board.

"I feel really fortunate that our administration, including Gary Thibodeau and (former Chancellor) George Field see university involvement on state committees as being helpful to UW-River Falls," Oostendorp said. She noted that oftentimes technical information is difficult to obtain without participating in statewide associations.

As an example, she noted that Wisconsin law will soon require all state agencies to ensure that 45 percent of all its paper is from recycled stock. While UWRF has nearly reached that goal, the Council members recently learned that Wisconsin's paper mills are reducing the portion of recycled materials in paper production. That likely will require the Council to seek a change in state law, Oostendorp said.

"The state has done very well in working toward a national position on recycling," Oostendorp said. "The state's done a wonderful job, but it can't control the paper mills."

Oostendorp said she was pleased and surprised to receive the award.

"I was really amazed when Chancellor Thibodeau told me. I think a lot of the work we (professional staff) all do is very necessary, but not very visible. I certainly believe in its importance.

"I have enjoyed trying to make things better, whether in the community, on campus or in the state. I like to see things go as smoothly as possible. I like this campus: I think we have one of the best campuses in the nation for a University this size.

"There are an awful lot of people that have worked hard for that," she concluded.

Liz Oostendorp

From the September 7, 1995, Student Voice, by James Molitor

There are people in this world who are the stars of the show, the people who usually get all the glory, the attention and the awards. Then there are the people who are not seen, but are just as important as everybody else, a "behind-the-scenes, get-things-done" type person.

Rudy Erickson is one of those people who is behind the scenes, but his 27 years of service at UW-River Falls haven't gone unrecognized. Erickson has been named the winner of this year's Chancellor's Award for Excellence.

His work with both the university and the city of River Falls have been instrumental in putting UWRF on the map in the agricultural community.

Since he started at the university in the summer of 1969, he has been responsible for the coordination of its two laboratory farm operations, including budget administration, staffing, physical facilities, crop production and livestock management. Along with that, Erickson has played a vital role in coordinating education and laboratory activities with faculty and the many courses that utilize the lab farms.

One of the most important relationships that he developed between UWRF and the city of River Falls was to compost "excess manure with leaves from the city of River Falls to help solve both waste problems, and in doing so has created a useful product," according to one nominator.

"The sum total of these activities and events requires a dedicated individual that has the ability to coordinate a vast array of activities on behalf of the university and the laboratory farms," a nominator said.

"Over the years our laboratory farms continue to be an integral part of our educational program."

"He has truly managed a large and difficult operation in a way that has benefited everyone associated with the university community," another nominator said. "His aptitude of making everything work for the common good is exceptional."

Erickson hasn't limited his efforts to the lab farms, however. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Indianhead Polled Hereford Scholarship and the Central Livestock Scholarship. He makes regular contributions to these scholarships and has aided many college students majoring in animal science.

Erickson has been vocal in a number of the environmental education classes, providing students with insights of the environmental impacts of farming.

He has also been "very visible and prominent" in a number of livestock associations statewide and regionally. Erickson is a member and has held an officer's position in beef and sheep associations over the past 30 years and has also been a long-term member of the local school board, county fair associations, insurance town mutual company and the cooperative education service agency.

"Through his involvement with industry people and industry organization, Rudy has been an ambassador for UW-River Falls," a nominator said. "Many students over the years have come to UW-River Falls because of his influence."

Erickson has also assisted with the Alpha Zeta National Agricultural Honor Fraternity, including conducting its annual "Farm Days."

The selection criteria for the Chancellor's Award for Excellence are success in fulfilling the overall responsibilities of the job, participation in university projects outside one's job responsibilities and success in human relations.

One nominator summarized Erickson's contributions in a single sentence. "Overall, I feel Rudy is a professional manager, a quality individual and a true supporter and promoter of the educational mission at our university."

Rude Erickson

Words like "enthusiasm, leadership, relentless efforts, creative and visionary" were used when describing Mark Meydam, the winner of the 1994 Chancellor's Award for Excellence, the highest honor given to academic staff at UW-River Falls.

Meydam is an assistant director of admission at UWRF, where he has worked for more than 10 years. He earned his undergraduate degree in agricultural education from the university in 1985. He is currently working for a master's degree at Metro State University in St. Paul.

Meydam's contributions to his job and the university have come in many forms: summer registration, budget manager, computer systems, professional organizations, adviser and academic staff governance.

A Fremont native, Meydam was a leader of the university' new student summer registration program, which is now a model of excellence. He led the admissions office into the computer age by learning networks and helped implement an automated system. He also serves as an in-house trainer for admissions office student workers and volunteers.

"All these activities point to a man who is genuinely concerned about students and their welfare," a nominator said.

He developed a college planning workshop for students and parents which covers aspects of a college search, selection and application process. "Mark has delivered this workshop in our community for several years now. It involves giving up an evening of his personal time to provide a service to our students, which we greatly appreciate," said a nominator from off campus.

Beyond the office he has served on several university committees, including minority affairs, public relations, online telephone registration and several search and screen committees to recruit faculty and staff.

He interacts with students and would-be students every day through his job and did in 1988-92 as the Alpha Zeta adviser. Meydam also has volunteered as a statistician at Falcons football games and as a clock operator at men's basketball games.

Meydam, who was married last February to UWRF agriculture education extension director Katrina Larsen, also is a member of several professional organizations: the American Association of Registrar and Admissions Officers; the National Association of College Admission Counselors; the Wisconsin Association of Collegiate Registrar's and Admission's Officers; and the Alpha Zeta Honor Society.

Selection criteria for the Chancellor's Award for Excellence are success in fulfilling the overall responsibilities of the job, participating in University projects outside one's job responsibilities, and success in human relations.

Mark Meydam

There was a recurring theme in the nominations of Janet Johnson for the UW-River Falls Chancellor's Award for Excellence: the very word "excellence" describes the way Johnson pursues her job as a specialist in employee benefits.

Johnson's competence, friendly manner and, as more than one nominator put it, "willingness to go the extra mile," won her accolades from UWRF employees and recognition by the chancellor, who named her the recipient of the highest award given the university's academic staff. Academic staff includes non-teaching professionals who work in such fields as student services, library and administration.

"Jan is simply outstanding in managing the benefits program for UWRF employees," said one nominator. "She always has prompt, accurate responses to questions."

"She is patient and understanding when people come to her with questions or problems," said another nominator.

Still another called Johnson "one of the really great unsung heroes on this campus. If anyone questions this, they should talk to people either entering retirement or the retirees!"

Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau called Johnson a role model for the university's professional staff, adding, "Jan represents the best in terms of interpersonal skills we value so highly around here. She's a gem!"

Personally and professionally, Johnson sets high standards, according to the chancellor, who said he is impressed with Johnson's ability to remain current with constantly changing health care and benefit issues. He also praised her ability to explain the complexities of fringe benefits in understandable terms and to treat everyone she helps in the way she would like to be treated.

Selection criteria for the award are success in fulfilling the overall responsibilities of the job, participating in university service projects outside one's job responsibilities and success in human relations.

Award winners receive $250 from the UW-River Falls Foundation, an award and a place of honor during the fall convocation that formally opens the academic year.

Among Johnson's responsibilities are to work with all university personnel on matters involving insurance, retirement, leaves of absence, tax-deferred annuities and other fringe benefits.

She has served on the university's committee for affirmative action and holds a position on the UW System Fringe Benefit Advisory Committee.

Johnson said her pleasure in coming to work has been contact with university employees. "I like working with the people here. It would be boring to have a job that doesn't involve working with people," Johnson said.

Johnson enjoys playing bridge and she and her husband, Bob, a teacher at Meyer Middle School in River Falls, enjoy traveling.

Janet Johnson

The Chancellor's Award for Excellence has been awarded to Judie Caflisch, coordinator of Extension Credit Outreach programs for UW-River Falls.

The award is given annually to members of the UW-River Falls academic staff who are nominated by their peers and evaluated on their success in fulfilling job responsibilities, participating in university service projects outside their job description, and human relations skills.

The award is presented by Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau and includes a $500 bestowal.

In announcing the selection, Thibodeau praised Caflisch "for her professionalism and her sense of responsibility and commitment to the university. I am delighted to honor her with this very special award."

Caflisch said she was pleased to receive the honor and added that her roots are deep at UW-River Falls. She came to River Falls in 1961 with her husband, Tom, expecting to work while he finished his bachelor's degree. "After three months it looked like he was enjoying college so much, I enrolled," she jokingly recalled.

The couple lived in the "barracks" that was housing for married students and, later, in a trailer park for married students with families. Both graduated in 1967.

Her relationship with the university continued when she became a limited-term employee in the office of the Dean of the College of Education. Fulfilling clerical duties at work, Caflisch also began taking credit courses toward a graduate degree.

"When I was in my fifth year, with nine or ten graduate credits, it was time to make a decision. I could either lose them or finish," she said. Often feeling "too old" to finish, Caflisch said she was persuaded by Jim Stewart, who now heads the Rural Development Institute in which her program is housed, to finish.

She became a full-time academic staff employee in 1988 and received her master's degree in supervision and instructional leadership in 1990.

The program she manages literally "extends" the offerings of UW-River Falls to students as far as 75 miles away. It reaches areas of Wisconsin where there is a need for teachers, in particular, to expand their educational experiences but who have little time or resources to come to a campus.

"Our mission is to meet the needs of students who cannot travel to the campus because of distance, family responsibility or employment. I believe in that mission because I have had a family and employment and I understand that people can't drive an hour or two to do the things they would like to do," Caflisch explained.

Faculty members travel to the classes, which often have 10 to 15 students who fit the description "non-traditional." They are usually over 25 and have jobs.

Caflisch has high praise for the UWRF faculty and the community education coordinators in the cities surrounding River Falls where extension classes are offered. Those coordinators, she said, "are the greatest help to me in my job. They tell me what their teachers need and what their district needs and that is how we decide what to offer in various school districts."

High praise for Caflisch was abundant in the nomination forms prepared by her colleagues.

"I have received numerous compliments from area school administrators and teachers regarding how good Judie is to work with," one wrote. "They cite her friendliness, her attention to details and follow-up as key characteristics that make her so effective. This, combined with Judie's contagious enthusiasm for UWRF, has resulted in an enhanced image for the campus in area schools."

Caflisch is in her first term on the River Falls School Board, an elected position she said she sought as a way to contribute her knowledge of education to her community.

Caflisch serves on a wide range of university committees including those dealing with long-range planning, multi-institutional planning, post-secondary options, academic staff development grants and statewide long-range planning for education.

Judie Caflisch

Mary Halada

Gary Eloranta

River Falls native Gerda Benedict is the recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence at UW-River Falls. The award is the highest that can be accorded to members of the university's "Fourth Division" of administrators and faculty members who work in support functions. The recipient is selected through nominations by faculty and staff members and is based on exceptional service to the university.

Benedict, who serves as the assistant director for University Services/Food Services, joined the university in 1979 and has been in her present position since 1982.

Thibodeau noted that Benedict "is a person who is a true professional. Her performance is consistently superior. She works in a fluid, difficult area that is filled with stress and time-lines that require her to respond to many demanding requests. She does that exceedingly well.

"She is a role model for other professionals; her contributions were recognized as outstanding by her peers, who nominated her for this award.

"Her professional interaction with her peers and the public is outstanding," Thibodeau said.

Her peers who nominated her for the award commented, "Gerda is hardworking, conscientious, loyal and trustworthy. She is willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure a successful program. She shows a great deal of care for those whom she works with and this care speaks well for the university."

Another wrote, "Daily contacts for Gerda vary from custodian and cooks to production managers and PFM's (Professional Food Services Management) CEO to faculty and administration, and, of course, students. Gerda has excellent human relations skills. She is a team player and sensitive to individual needs as well as that of the university as a whole."

Benedict and her husband DeWayne have three children: Paula, who is a UWRF senior; Michael, who is a UWRF freshman; and Corey, who is a junior at River Falls Senior High.

Gerda Benedict

Student Activities Director Carole Ryan has been named the Fourth Division Award winner at UW-River Falls.

The award is presented annually to a member of the university's professional support staff who is not assigned to a college in recognition of their contribution to the institution.

Ryan becomes the fourth person to win the award in its three-year history. It previously was bestowed on Registrar Melvin Germanson and Academic Computing programmers Daniel Lunderville and Beverly Shepherd.

A committee that reviewed the nominations noted that "Carole Ryan's administrative functions are numerous. The stated responsibilities of developing, administering and supervising a variety of programs within the student center and satellite facilities require the fine art of delegation and follow-up. Her role modeling of enthusiasm and support for all campus programs serve to inspire her students and staff."

In her role as Student Activities Director, Ryan provides professional assistance and direction to the Hagestad Union Board, Concerts and Lectures Committee, Student Senate, Greek Council, and some 110 student organizations. In addition, she works with the International Program and assists foreign national students with programming, policies and government paperwork.

In accepting the award, Ryan noted it reflected "the accomplishments of the people who work with and for me. We worked hard this year, and it reflects on their work as well as mine."

Ryan, who is a graduate of Menominee High School, received her bachelor's degree from UW-Madison. She joined the university in 1981 as assistant director of student activities and was appointed director the following year.

Carole Ryan

Bev Shepherd

The Red Computing Laboratory in Chalmer Davee Library was dedicated to Dan Lunderville, who worked as a senior information processing consultant in Academic Computing until his death in 1995. Lunderville worked to establish the original Red Lab in North Hall and maintained and connected it to the campus network and the Internet. He served as chair of the Academic Staff Council and received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in 1987, the university’s highest recognition award for professional staff.

Dan Lunderville

Mel Germanson