2017 President's Award for Outstanding Service Recipients

2017 Recipients of the President's Award for Outstanding Service

Recipients are pictured above with President Eric W. Kaler, Professor Robert Geraghty, chair, President's Award for Outstanding Service Review Committee, and Vickie Courtney, director, University Awards and Honors, at a reception at Eastliff on June 15, 2017 (Not pictured: Karen Miksch and Bilin Tsai who were unable to attend the event. Heidi Barajas, not pictured here, accepted the award on Miksch's behalf).

Etty DeVeaux

Etty DeVeaux, chief of staff, The Graduate School, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, hasEtty Devenus a remarkable record of service in her 16-year tenure as a professional staff member. In 2005, DeVeaux was a member of the President’s Emerging Leaders Program (PEL) and received its inaugural Partnership Award for her service and contributions to PEL. She also served for three years as a PEL mentor. In 2010, she was selected by the Board of Regents to serve on the search committee charged to help identify and select the president of the University of Minnesota. In addition, she has served on the Northrop Advisory Committee, the University Administrative Policy Improvement Project, and several senior level search committees and awards committees. DeVeaux also served for numerous years as a hearing officer for the Office of Conflict Resolution and on the Board of Advisors for Employee Strategies. Her service to University Senate governance is exemplary. She is the current chair of the Academic Professionals and Administrators (P&A) Senate and the P&A Consultative Committee. In her role as chair, she has focused on issues such as campus climate, health and wellness, and financial issues affecting P&A staff. Prior to serving as chair of the P&A Senate, she served as co-chair of the P&A Senate Professional Development and Recognition Subcommittee (PD&R), where she and her co-chair initiated and delivered a forum titled “Developing Ourselves to Meet Grand Challenges: A future-focused discussion on the competencies needed to support the U’s mission, now and into the future.” She and her co-chair are also credited with increasing the awareness and stature of the P&A Senate Outstanding Unit Award. DeVeaux is considered to be an exceptional mentor. One person wrote, “Etty has a keen sense of the needs of individual employees and how best to support them. She doesn’t simply lead; she teaches others to delegate, set goals, and think beyond themselves.” To summarize DeVeaux’s service, another person wrote, “She is, in her work, in her service, and in her way of being an example for others, a model University citizen.”

Molly Dingel

Molly Dingel, associate professor, Center for Learning Innovation, University of Minnesota Rochester, Molly Dingelis a founding faculty member of the newest public campus of the University of Minnesota system. Her service to the University is outstanding. In addition to her work as a faculty member, she has served on 24 search committees in eight years, chairing many of them. Dingel was elected an alternate faculty senator, representing the Rochester campus, and is a member of the Serendipity Team of the Office of the Vice President for Research. The purpose of this system-wide team is to promote “a culture of serendipity where researchers can work across departments, colleges and disciplines – and with colleagues and communities outside the University – to think creatively and cultivate new ideas.” In addition, Dingel currently serves on the Student Based Faculty Promotion Committee, UMR Growth Planning Steering Committee, Faculty Space Working Group, and ROC (Recovery on Campus) Advisory Board, and she chairs the Public Health Faculty Search Committee. She has previously served on several other committees, including the Scholastic Committee, Research Committee, and the Curriculum Committee, to name just a few. In addition to her service to her department, campus, and the University, Dingel has served her external disciplinary colleagues as a reviewer for 14 different journals, and she has served three-year terms on teaching and learning related committees for the American Sociological Association and the Midwest Sociological Society. She has also organized workshops and panels for these professional organizations. One person wrote, “Without the effort and example of Dr. Dingel, Minnesota’s newest campus would never have gotten off the ground, much less started to level off into a soaring flight. If that doesn’t constitute outstanding service, I’m not sure what would.”

Mark Karon

Mark Karon, director and attorney, University Student Legal Service (USLS), Office for Student Affairs,Mark Karon University of Minnesota Twin Cities, is a mentor, teacher, and lawyer. For more than 36 years, he has provided extraordinary support to students who are facing difficult legal situations. He is credited with developing programs such as the Careers in Law Fair, which annually brings in local, state, and federal agencies to meet with and recruit students; and Emerging Leaders in the Law, which recruits high school students of color to job shadow and learn more about law related opportunities. His exemplary service on University committees includes the Alcohol Policy and Abuse Prevention (APAP) work group and the Office for Student Affairs Committee. He has given a wide variety of presentations on campus, including 15 risk management programs for fraternities, sororities, and other student groups. He has been a guest lecturer in many different classes at the University each year. Karon has also advised the Pre-Law Mentor Program and he is currently the advisor for the USLS Student Board. He has served as the president of the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association – Student Legal Services (NLADA-SLS) Section since 1984, and has organized annual conferences for 343 NLADA-SLS affiliated colleges and universities. He and two other SLS leaders from other universities have set the standards by which student legal service programs are run. In addition, Karon is also actively involved in the local legal community. A judge wrote, “As a person committed to equal justice and fairness, I am most pleased that Mark Karon continues to watch over students. And when I see one of his attorneys come into my courtroom with a student, I know that the client is in good hands, and that the good name of the University of Minnesota will continue to be upheld in the community. Because as he has done for decades, Mark Karon continues to provide outstanding service to the University community, and well beyond.”

Nicole Letawsky Shultz

Nicole Letawsky Shultz, assistant dean for student affairs and international programs, College of Nicole Letawsky SchultzBiological Sciences (CBS), University of Minnesota Twin Cities, is a true champion in the work of college student development. She has provided leadership, vision, strategic direction, and advocacy in student services for 14 years. Under her leadership, CBS Student Services has evolved into a comprehensive center, dedicated to student success. Letawsky Shultz is a leader in equity and diversity work, creating an intercultural competence initiative in CBS Student Services. She created the Dean’s Scholars Program, which provides extensive support to at-risk students. Because of her passion for working directly with students, Letawsky Shultz teaches courses in that program, and has taken three groups of students on learning abroad trips to Ireland. She is also known for her dedication to mentoring staff – creating leadership opportunities within her office, and then mentoring staff on their journey. Since 2010, CBS Student Services has won five national awards, one state award, and two U of M awards. In 2015, the University’s Disability Resource Center presented her with an Access Achievement Award for her work on behalf of students with disabilities. Letawsky Shultz has an outstanding record of service to her college and the University. She actively participates on the Directors of Undergraduate Studies Committee and engages with the Senate Committee on Educational Policy (SCEP). She also co-chaired the Provost’s Task Force on Undergraduate Advising. She has served on several campus-wide committees focused on advising excellence, integrating study abroad with undergraduate programs, integrating cultural competence and experiential learning, as well as various training and collaborative groups. In addition, Letawsky Shultz has made significant contributions to the field and the campus through her work on student affairs professional associations. One person wrote, “Nikki is an irreplaceable asset to the College of Biological Sciences, the University of Minnesota, and the greater campus community. She embodies the professional presence, leadership skills, and supervision techniques that define a true champion in the work of college student development.”

Karen Miksch

Karen Miksch is an associate professor of higher education and law, and serves as coordinator of Heidi Barajas receiving award on behalf of Karen MikschHigher Education Programs, Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development, College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), University of Minnesota Twin Cities. She has served the University since 1999 when she was hired in General College as a fellow and a pre-law advisor. Since her arrival, Miksch has demonstrated her dedication and commitment to student success through her ability to work with first generation students and students of color. Because of her leadership on access issues, Miksch was awarded the Rising Star Award by the CEHD Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle. Her service to University Senate governance is noteworthy. She is credited with being one of the primary people to consult on issues related to academic freedom, tenure policies and practices, and legal issues in higher education. Miksch was the first assistant professor to serve on the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee (AF&T), and has served as co-chair of that committee twice. Under her leadership, AF&T wrestled with issues related to some of the most visible cases on campus, including the Markingson case and the film Troubled Waters. In addition, she was instrumental in developing directions and guidelines for college constitutions across the University, and in rewriting the constitution of her college. Miksch served on the planning committee for the 2016 Graduate and Professional Education Assembly (GPEA), an annual event hosted by The Graduate School, which provides an opportunity for the members of the University’s graduate and professional education community to convene around important issues relating to how students are admitted and educated. She also co-facilitated a discussion at an event on avoiding implicit bias in graduate/professional student admission. In addition, Miksch played a key role in shaping the national Keeping Our Faculty of Color conference in 2016. One person wrote, “I believe Karen dedicates herself to service because of the depth of her belief in the University of Minnesota as an institution, her positive outlook, and her deeply held conviction that if we work together, all can be accomplished.”
(Pictured to the left: Professor Heidi Barajas accepts the award on behalf of Karen Miksch who was unable to attend the reception).

Susan Marie Pohlod

Susan Marie Pohlod, executive office and administrative specialist, Department of Applied Economics, Susan Marie Pohlod College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, has provided exceptional service to the University for over 41 years. She has provided outstanding administrative and technical support to faculty and has served as a mentor to fellow staff. Because of her dedication and commitment to the University, Pohlod has enthusiastically taken on additional projects, including researching a green initiative for old printers on campus, providing staff support for new faculty, serving on the department awards committee, and coordinating the Community Fund Drive effort, to name a few. In addition, throughout the years, Pohlod has purchased books from the departmental book sale to package and send to overseas military service personnel. She truly is an inspiration to others. One person related the following story: Years ago, Associate Director Jane Stockman attended an outdoor leadership opportunity at which a facilitator asked participants who they would want to be with them if stranded on a deserted island. "You guessed it," the nominator wrote, "she'd want Sue with her." Stockman mentioned this to Pohlod once after they had successfully finished a project together. Pohlod's reply: "And I can fish, too."

Les Potts

Les Potts, retired grounds superintendent, Landcare Central Services, Facilities Management, Les PottsUniversity of Minnesota Twin Cities, has dedicated 40 years of service to the beautification and development of sustainability practices on the Twin Cities campus and likes to introduce himself as the “U’s chief weed puller.” Because of Potts’ leadership, commitment, and dedication, the Twin Cities campus is known for being welcoming, functional, and beautiful in every season. Most recently, the Twin Cities campus was rated #1 in the “18 Most Beautiful Campuses” by BestColleges.com. He is credited with the creation of the Living Lab Program, which utilizes campus grounds for research; for developing a sustainable talent pool for the Landcare department; and for employing over 200 students every year. Under his leadership, Landcare instituted “Beautiful U Day.” He is also known for his ability to “stretch a dollar.” A recent survey of Big Ten peer institutions showed that the Twin Cities campus spends less on landcare materials per acre than any of these peer institutions. Landcare has won two Star Performer group awards, one for snow removal in a very difficult winter, and one for creating laboratory opportunities. We all have benefited from Potts’ contributions – students, faculty, staff, and visitors alike. His two nominators wrote, “Above all else, it has been a true delight to work with Les. His dry sense of humor, his deep regard for his employees and colleagues, his aesthetic eye, his quiet, unobtrusive demeanor, and his financial acumen have made him an invaluable colleague. Les is truly deserving of this honor.”

Kathryn Pouliot

Kathryn Pouliot, manager, Benefit Operations, Office of Human Resources, University of Minnesota Kathryn PouliotTwin Cities, has served the University for more than 30 years. She is credited with creating an excellent professional benefits service center and a service tracking system, fostering a tremendous learning environment for her staff, and playing a key role in the transition of University health and welfare programs from the State of Minnesota to the University as a self-insured employer. She is described as the voice and the heart behind the University’s health, dental, and wellness benefits. She is a tireless advocate to the more than 20,000 employees and their family members. She is a creative, hands-on problem solver who always wants to do what is best for employees and their families. Pouliot and her highly trained staff respond to more than 50,000 contacts annually. For almost two decades, Pouliot has served as an advisor to the Benefits Advisory Committee (BAC) and the Administrative Working Group for Health Insurance Benefits, again, always working for the best interest of University employees. Pouliot’s service on these two important benefits committees has been exemplary. One person wrote, “The University is a better, more compassionate place as a direct result of Kathy and her commitment. She exemplifies the idea of exceptional service to the University.”

Luis A. Ramos-Garcia

Luis A. Ramos-Garcia, associate professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, College of Luis Ramos-GarciaLiberal Arts (CLA), University of Minnesota Twin Cities, is a leader of policy and curriculum development related to Hispanic literatures, cultures, and language. He is a human rights scholar and advocate. He is well known for his collaboration with theater and arts groups in Colombia, Cuba, Peru, and Spain and for his work to raise awareness of political and gender injustice. Most recently, Ramos-Garcia’s scholarship in this area was recognized when he received the Grand Challenge’s Exploratory Research Award for his work in understanding violence, human rights abuses, indigenous communities, and the power and potential of art and artists in Latin America. Ramos-Garcia is described as an outstanding teacher, mentor, and volunteer. He is credited with promoting the advancement of human rights and social justice through his involvement on campus and in the external community. He has organized and raised money to fund The State of Iberoamerica Study Series, a symposium on human rights, for over 20 years. Ramos-Garcia also has an outstanding record of service to CLA, including volunteering every year since 1994 to represent his department by teaching Freshmen Seminars, participating in service learning programs, working with research student programs, working with student-professor minority projects, being a mentor, and chairing the Fulbright Committee for five years. One person wrote, “I will outline his deep commitment to service and outreach that far exceed expectations of faculty members and mark him as a true asset to our community; his efforts to support a diverse student body, numerous departmental programs, the campus and surrounding community, national policy, international collaborations, and human rights initiatives reveal how Dr. Ramos-Garcia always puts others first and uses his position to improve the world around him.”

Robert A. Stein

Robert A. Stein is the Everett Fraser Professor of Law, Distinguished Global Professor, Law School, Robert A. SteinUniversity of Minnesota Twin Cities. He has served as a faculty member for more than 40 years; as associate dean and dean of the Law School; as vice president for University Administration and Planning; as well as member or chair of an incredible number and range of University committees, task forces, and advisory groups. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated his deep commitment to diversity, supported and oversaw athletics, and stepped in to fill critical positions on a temporary basis when the University asked him, including acting as overseer of Men’s and Women’s Athletics and as acting general counsel of the University. Stein has also demonstrated his commitment to the Law School by creating and endowing the annual Stein Conversations, which brings leaders of the bench and bar and the governments of the United States and other nations together to share their insights on topics of national or international interest to the University. His service outside of the University is equally impressive, including his service on the American Bar Association, American Bar Foundation, American Law Institute, International Bar Association, and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. He is the author of numerous books and articles in legal journals. Stein also has many honors and distinctions, including the Global Engagement Award from the University of Minnesota (2016), and the first Lena O. Smith Humanitarian Award (for opening employment opportunities for minority lawyers) from the Minnesota Black Women Lawyers Network in 2002, to name just a few. One person wrote the following: “In the 1990s, the historic Silver Bible, a manuscript from the Middle Ages, was stolen from the Uppsala University Library. The thieves were eventually caught, but the bible had been sold into the secondary market, and had been purchased by an unsuspecting collector in New York. There were legal difficulties related to its return to Sweden. Bob Stein was able to use his knowledge of tax law to facilitate its return.” Stein has been an outstanding ambassador for the University and has contributed to and served the University in countless ways.

Bilin Tsai

Bilin Tsai, professor emerita, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Swenson College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), joined the faculty at UMD in 1976, making her one of the pioneer women faculty in the science departments that make up the Swenson College of Science and Engineering. Tsai was instrumental in establishing UMD’s Women’s Studies Department and developing a mentoring program for women students in science and engineering. She has been an outstanding faculty leader at UMD, the University, and nationally, and is known for advancing student achievement through teaching and mentoring. She has made significant contributions to diversity, especially in STEM fields and to the campus climate initiatives. Tsai has demonstrated her commitment to the University through her willingness to serve in several administrative leadership roles, including department chair, assistant and associate dean, interim associate vice chancellor for Academic Administration, and interim executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, as well as her service on many campus and University committees. She served on two University of Minnesota system committees in the 1980s, the search committee for the director of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity and the Commitment to Focus Special Committee on Minority Concerns. At UMD, Tsai has served on the Sexual Assault Advisory Committee and most recently, she served on the Community of Color, Employees of Color Council. In addition, from 2010-13, she acted as co-chair of the Campus Climate Initiative, which was charged with engaging the entire campus on issues of diversity, equity, and social justice. One person wrote, “She has given countless hours to the University through her tireless dedication and strong work ethic. She is widely respected on campus and in the community as a steady voice for inclusion, strong student educational opportunities, and exceptional planning for the future. Bilin is the most solid and respected colleague I have had the fortune of working with in my career.”