2013 President's Award for Outstanding Service Recipients

2013 recipients of UMN President's Award for Outstanding Service

2013 President's Award for Outstanding Service recipients below are pictured with President Eric W. Kaler and William Tolman, chair, All-University Honors Committee.

Linda DeBeau-Melting

Linda DeBeau-MeltingLinda DeBeau-Melting, associate University librarian for organizational development, college equal opportunity/affirmative action liaison and human resources director, University Libraries, has served the University community for the past 44 years spanning various roles. She is credited with contributing to the strong relationship between the Libraries and the Office for Equity and Diversity. Recently she demonstrated leadership in addressing the Libraries’ organizational structure. This resulted in a reduction of layers, investment in professional development, and the department’s recognition for excellence by University leadership. She has shown dedication to students and in 1990 she was recognized with the Gordon L. Starr Award for outstanding service to students. DeBeau-Melting’s expertise in employee relations is evidenced in her membership in the Human Resources Academy and in her role in the implementation of one of the first University AFSCME Technical Unit labor management committees, which has continued to meet for nearly 20 years. On numerous occasions she has provided counsel and analysis to the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) Human Resources: she conducted an assessment of CLA Human Resources in 2008, provided mentorship to the CLA Office of Information Technology interim director in 2011, and served on the search committee for the CLA human resources director in 2012. DeBeau-Melting’s service extends beyond the University. She initiated and continues to organize the biennial Institute for Early Career Librarians from Traditionally Underrepresented Groups, and she served in a leadership role in the International Institute of Minnesota. One person wrote, “Linda exhibits many of the greatest personal values: compassion, connection, respect, and wisdom, to name a few. She is one of the brilliant gems of the University; we are all made better by her presence.”

Sharon Emde

Sharon EmdeSharon Emde has been the administrative director of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), College of Science and Engineering, since its inception in 1998. She has served the University with distinction for over 40 years. Emde has contributed significantly to the overall successful operation of the MRSEC. She has proven time and again to be reliable, efficient, and a visionary in terms of creating processes that make the function and excellence of the MRSEC possible. The coordination of the budget, which exceeds $4 million annually, includes a complex array of reporting activities to the National Science Foundation (NSF). She meticulously collects and organizes data and every logistical detail in preparation for the annual NSF site visits. This involves summarizing data of student and postdoctoral involvement, publications, all other current and pending financial support, detailed lists of academic and industrial colleagues, and much more. Every six years the MRSEC must undergo competitive renewal. The preparation for renewal is a yearlong process. Emde has been an integral part of this preparation, and she has played a key role in the MRSEC’s renewed funding from the NSF. Described as a remarkable employee and a treasured colleague, Emde consistently displays grace under pressure, as evidenced in early 2012 when the MRSEC simultaneously submitted the 2011 Annual Report, hosted the External Advisory Board, and arranged the NSF site visit. She exemplifies outstanding service. One person wrote, “With her relentless commitment to quality, her attention to every detail, and her friendly yet determined support of all faculty involved, Sharon has pushed all MRSEC faculty to a higher level of performance.”

Emily E. Hoover

Emily E. HooverEmily E. Hoover, professor and head, Department of Horticultural Science, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, has been a valuable asset to the University for over 30 years. She is a long-standing advocate for the improvement of higher education and is described as an innovative leader in teaching and education. Hoover spearheaded her department’s Writing Enriched Curriculum initiative and served on the Writing Enriched Curriculum Advisory Council. She has served as a resource teacher for the Bush Program in Excellence and Diversity in Teaching, sharing her expertise and serving as a mentor to other educators. Hoover, a gifted educator, has been recognized with outstanding teaching awards from her college and with the Morse-Alumni Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. Not only has she contributed significantly to her department and college through her service on numerous committees, but she also has represented the University through her service on the American Society for Horticultural Science. In addition, she has made significant contributions as a member of University governance committees such as the Senate Committee on Educational Policy, the Committee on Committees, the Senate Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities for Women, and the Provostal Faculty Consultative Committee. Most notably, she served as vice chair (2007-08) and chair (2008-09) of the Faculty and Senate Consultative Committees (FCC and SCC). The year she was chair was particularly turbulent, as the restructuring of the Graduate School was announced during this time. She successfully navigated the myriad of strong opinions and ensured that all perspectives were heard. In all of her endeavors she has approached difficult topics with finesse and a fearless dedication. Her involvement is valuable on its own but made greater by her genuine commitment to her department, college, and the University. One person wrote, “When I started significant University service, particularly service in faculty governance, I viewed Professor Hoover as one of the superheroes who had done it all. I still do.”

Sandi Larson

Sandi LarsonSandi Larson, program and workshop coordinator, Center for Economic Development (CED), University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), is a 1991 graduate of UMD. She returned to the University in 2001 and has served ever since. In 2005, she began developing and marketing over 250 programs offered by the CED designed to assist entrepreneurs in starting and/or expanding businesses in Northeast Minnesota. In 2011, Larson was instrumental in securing a $150,000 award for CED from the Minnesota Mining Cluster Grant. In 2012, Larson led the charge to launch the “Teen Enterprise” program, after nearly three years of planning. She secured external funding and developed a partnership with Junior Achievement for the curriculum. Larson supervises UMD’s Student-to-Business Initiative Program and is credited with making it “the best student community engagement experience on campus.” Larson has served on the Executive Committee of Minnesota Indian Business Alliance, and she also is recognized as a leader for the Minnesota Small Business Development Center. Larson has proved she is “Driven to Discover” by continuously pursuing her own professional development to better serve the University and she is currently participating in the U of M Women’s Leadership Institute. Larson is an outstanding member of the broader community. For example, in June 2012 when severe floods affected Duluth and the surrounding area, she volunteered to staff the Disaster Recovery Center at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. She compassionately listened to the stories of business owners and helped them to find the services they needed to recover from the destruction. On another occasion, Larson, a trained first responder, administered care to a UMD employee who had a heart attack at a University event. The National Volunteer Ski Patrol, of which she is a member, recognized these actions and awarded her the highest meritorious service award, the Purple Merit Star. One person wrote, “I have known Sandi for many years and I know she will continue to do great things for the University of Minnesota, the Center for Economic Development, the SBDC Program and for communities in the northeast region. She is energetic, a hard worker and goes above and beyond on a regular basis.”

Juavah Lee

Juavah LeeJuavah Lee, assistant director for K-12 outreach and civic engagement, Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, Office for Equity and Diversity, is a member of the University community who leads by example. He also teaches Youth Studies and has led groups of students on study abroad experiences. The courses he teaches include “Hmong Language and Culture,” “First-Year Seminar on Hmong: Life in America,” and “Multicultural Health.” Committed to his community, Lee developed the Hmong Men’s Circle, a program for young Hmong men to be together in community, to support each other, and to receive guidance, coaching, and mentoring from him. He is also an exceptional supporter and mentor for the Hmong Minnesota Student Association, which sponsors activities for Hmong students and refugees. He has been a vital part of a training program at the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) developed for refugees who came to the United States in 2005 from the Wat Tham Krabok refugee camp in Thailand. Lee is dedicated to the mission of Tsev Hmoob, the University’s living-learning community for students who are interested in having an authentic Hmong experience on campus. Generous with his time and expertise, Lee conducts workshops and guest lectures on Hmong culture and the Hmong community. He demonstrates his dedication through service on both University and community outreach committees including the Community Engagement Advisory Board, the President’s Asian Advisory Committee, and the National Association for Asian and Pacific American Education. One person wrote, “As an immigrant to this country with the odds stacked against him, Juavah persevered and attained a strong education and has had a successful career serving students and the community, which is a great role model for our students. He is a man of great integrity, a hardworking professional who is committed to keeping students first, and an exceptional family man and advocate for the community.”

Victoria T. Munro

Victoria T. MunroVictoria T. Munro has served as the coordinator of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) in the Office of Undergraduate Research since 1986. She is credited with making significant contributions to the quality and impact of undergraduate education through a variety of ways, including involving students in research, expanding financial resources, increasing the number of student proposals through innovative and effective marketing strategies, collaborating with other departments, and initiating and organizing participation in national conferences. Dedicated to ensuring an outstanding undergraduate experience for students, Munro has been a tireless advocate for undergraduate research internally and externally. She believes the result will provide students with a powerful set of tools as they move ahead in their academic work and other life endeavors. Because of Munro’s work more than 800 students University-wide are able to experience the UROP opportunity annually. She also has had a tremendous influence on numerous faculty mentors and administrators and their involvement with undergraduate research. She is known to push students and members of the University community to think actively and critically and to solve problems creatively. She is credited with providing invaluable advice on the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and other essential University procedures. For example, she helped to clarify criteria to ensure substantive student research projects and has guided students through the necessary procedures to realize their projects overseas. This effort has opened up new overseas undergraduate opportunities for University of Minnesota students. Munro’s dedication and commitment has helped position the University of Minnesota as one of the top undergraduate research universities in the nation. One person wrote, “Vicky Munro has provided exceptional service to the University community for more than 26 years. Her dedication, skill, and ingenuity have made a real difference to our undergraduate students. Vicky Munro’s service is something of which all of us in the University community can be proud.”

Neal C. Nickerson Jr.

Neal C. Nickerson Jr.Neal C. Nickerson Jr., professor emeritus, Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, College of Education and Human Development, officially retired in 1996 after 32 years as part of the faculty. He is described as an inspiration, a mentor, and a superb teacher to multiple generations of school leaders in Minnesota. Although technically retired, he has not stopped teaching, serving on committees, supporting students, mentoring faculty, or serving the community. During his time as a faculty member, Nickerson served as advisor or co-advisor for more than 242 students and as a committee member for more than 720 students. Currently, six doctoral students are working with him on their degree completion processes. He will do whatever he can to keep them moving forward to complete their degrees or licensure programs. It is well known that he will travel to students or meet them at a location that is convenient for them. He will also drive anywhere in Minnesota and beyond to recruit potential scholars for the University or to support alumni. Nickerson is considered to be a legend among school administrators, having combined practice and academic learning in a meaningful way. He is credited with being “a strong bridge” between state professional associations and the University of Minnesota. He has served on numerous local, state, and national professional committees, boards, and associations. One person wrote, “It is difficult to conceive of a University faculty member who has been more energetic, influential, or dedicated when it comes to service to one’s community than Professor Emeritus Neal Nickerson. His are the shoulders on which many of us – campus and community colleagues, alike – have stood. He has held up hundreds of us over his many years at this great University.”

Margaret O'Neill Ligon

Margaret O'Neill LigonMargaret O’Neill Ligon, director, Personal Enrichment Programs, College of Continuing Education, is an alumna and an invaluable member of the University community. One of her earliest contributions was the development of the “Great Conversations” series that was held from 2002 to 2010. O’Neill Ligon designed this series and masterfully highlighted the University faculty to a wide range of audiences that far exceeded the usual scope of attendees. “Great Conversations” was just the beginning of her brilliance, and she continues to develop thriving programs such as: “Headliners,” “Witness to History,” “Century of Ideas,” and most recently “Saturday Seminars.” The success of these programs is due to O’Neill Ligon’s keen understanding of the talent and topics that bridge the gap between academics and those outside of the field. The series consist of in-depth intellectual content, yet they creatively apply to the needs and interests of extremely broad audiences. This connection has also been nurtured by O’Neill Ligon’s ability to attract media sponsors like MinnPost and MPR and through the relationships she has made with the Minnesota History Center, the Guthrie, the Walker, the Science Museum, and public libraries, to name a few. She has served outside of the University as a member of several committees for organizations like the Weisman Art Museum and the Goldstein Museum of Design. One person wrote, “It takes a rare individual who can connect the big ideas pursued by the talented workforce of the University to the broader interests and needs of the general public. Margy has done so superbly, and by doing so, strengthened the connection of literally thousands of citizens to the important mission and work of the University of Minnesota.”

Duane Rohovit

Duane RohovitDuane Rohovit has served as a counselor for the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) in the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance since 2005. His service to international students, scholars, and their families, and to faculty, staff, departments, and the University of Minnesota is exceptional. Rohovit’s work includes advising students, faculty, and departments on complicated legal matters, counseling and triaging students in crisis, creating programs and services to support international GLBT students, managing emergency aid and scholarships, and carrying a heavy immigration advising load. He has had a significant impact on international GLBT students feeling welcomed and supported at the University. He has done this through his talks at orientation about human rights and through his assistance in developing a website to address the needs of international GLBT students. Rohovit serves on the campus-wide GLBT advisory panel and is sought out by schools and programs around the country for consultation. He has also worked with transgender students on groundbreaking legal issues. If a student is charged with a crime, Rohovit works closely with University Student Legal Services to make sure the student gets the best advice and representation. His experience as a former public defender has provided him with the understanding about how immigration law intersects with other types of law. He is the creator of a presentation titled “Sex, Drugs, Rock-n-Roll,” which provides students with information on challenges they may face dealing with the United States legal system. In addition, Rohovit serves on the campus-wide Behavior Consultation Team. One person wrote, “Duane is well-known for going above and beyond what is expected of him. He is collegial and a great team member who willingly takes on additional responsibilities. He is warm and caring and is sought out by many students. Duane and the work he does is highly valued not only by students and ISSS, but also by the University community.”

George A. Sheets

George A. SheetsGeorge A. Sheets, associate professor, Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies (CNES), College of Liberal Arts (CLA), has served the University of Minnesota with distinction for 35 years. He also has held a courtesy appointment as an Associate Professor of Law in the University of Minnesota Law School since 2002. His record of service is outstanding. He has given tirelessly of his time and energy. In his department, he spent 12 years as department chair, navigating and leading through challenging times. Through his calm, thoughtful, and firm leadership, the CNES department was merged with the Department of Ancient Near Eastern and Jewish Studies. He is credited with bringing a major national Classics conference and an international conference of Hebrew-language educators to Minneapolis. He also is credited with developing department promotion guidelines for P&A’s (Academic Professional and Administrative employees). Sheets’ commitment to University governance is exemplary. He has served on the Faculty and Senate Consultative Committees (FCC/SCC), the Senate Committee on Faculty Affairs (serving two years as chair), the Senate Judicial Committee (serving more than a decade with five of those years as chair), and most recently (2012), he has served as one of the faculty legislative liaisons. As legislative liaison, Sheets spends a significant amount of time at the Capitol while the Legislature is in session, talking to lawmakers, observing committee meetings, arranging for testimony, and reporting back to the FCC and the University Senate. In each of these endeavors, Sheets has done an extraordinary job. One person wrote, “George is a wonderful example of a rigorous scholar who had dedicated himself not only to his academic field, but also to academia writ large. He has been a tireless contributor to the greater good of the University (and in so doing, to that of Minnesota and beyond). I admire George enormously for the degree to which he has embraced service as a scholarly imperative.”

Raymond Troyer

Raymond TroyerRaymond Troyer is an engineering manager of Classroom Technical Services in the Office of Classroom Management, Academic Support Resources. Joining the University in 1999, Troyer’s responsibilities include developing, designing, updating, maintaining, and supporting classroom presentation technology systems, meeting rooms, auditoriums, video conference rooms and courtrooms on the Twin Cities campus. The impact of his work can be seen throughout the University. His design work in the active learning classrooms has brought national recognition for being some of the most intuitive and best-designed classrooms for increased learning outcomes and student satisfaction. He is described as a consummate professional, a true expert, and an invaluable resource for his colleagues, University service partners, and departmental and collegiate clients. Troyer’s dedication and commitment is exceptional. He gives his time and knowledge readily, mentoring staff and coaching many people working in other areas of the University. It is not uncommon for Troyer to work evenings and weekends to make sure the classrooms are ready and working for a successful start of the semester. He also uses his personal time to keep up with and ahead of the advances in technology. One person wrote, “Day after day, year after year, tens of thousands of students have been taught using the presentation technology which operates using a control system designed and programmed by Ray Troyer. The reliability of his work assures the technology is continually operating and that teaching time is maximized. His sound guidance and expertise is without compare and his unwavering commitment and dedication to the success of the University is truly exceptional.”

Kris Wright

Kris WrightKris Wright, director, Office of Student Finance (OSF), Academic Support Resources, joined the University of Minnesota in 2002. Since her arrival, she has been a tireless advocate for students and has put the University of Minnesota on the map as a leader in financial aid management. She is credited with developing and creating various systems that have significantly benefited the entire University system, especially its students. These systems include STAR (Scholarship Tracking and Reporting), an online TILA (Truth in Lending Act) application, and a new Financial Aid Shopping Sheet, to name a few. STAR is a donor management tool that allows colleges and departments to identify available scholarship funds and connect those funds to students who are the best match for the scholarships’ criteria. It also allows OSF to connect students to their donors so they can tell their stories and thank their benefactors. The online TILA application was developed with input from students and staff and uses the current Financial Aid Step process as a guide. This process has proven to be less confusing and less time consuming for students. The new Financial Aid Shopping Sheet will help students better understand the type and amount of aid they qualify for and compare aid packages offered by other institutions. Wright also sponsored and led a team that developed Scholarship Search, an online tool that allows students to search for scholarship opportunities that are the best fit for them, as well as Net Price Calculator, a tool that allows current and prospective students to obtain accurate estimates of financial aid eligibility early in their decision-making process. Wright advocates for students on both the state and federal levels. She is actively involved in the National Direct Student Loan Coalition and has served as a representative for the institution on a federal negotiated rulemaking session. In addition, Wright played a pivotal role in the success of the 2013 P&A Women’s Conference Leading Through Change. One person wrote, “Kris Wright is a leader whose work has made a critical difference to the University of Minnesota and the students on all of our campuses. She has advanced the University’s financial aid so that our model has become an example for our peer institutions. We would do well to recognize her for what she has done for the University and, most importantly, for our students.”