In 1973, the UW-Green Bay Founders Association was established to build campus-community relationships and encourage philanthropic support for a young University. One of the first initiatives of the Founders was to establish the Awards for Excellence program. The awards were created to honor the outstanding work of UW-Green Bay faculty and staff members, based on a cumulative record of sustained excellence, rather than a single noteworthy achievement.
While the Founders Association, as an organization, fulfilled its purpose and has disbanded, the mission lives on in the work of the Council of Trustees, the Foundation and other groups. A highlight each year at UW-Green Bay’s Fall Convocation (August 21, 2019) is the announcement of winners of the Founders Awards, kept confidential until the awards ceremony.
Award winners recognized for 2019:
Associate Professor Katia Levintova (Political Science, Global Studies) received the Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. Levintova is a dedicated advisor to her students. In a summary of her abilities, colleagues noted that Levintova possesses “all the qualities that UW-Green Bay looks for in an educator: high evaluations from students over a sustained period, teaching innovations, as well as the supervision of independent studies, honors projects and internships.”
Her recognition included “an engaging teaching style, enthusiasm for the subject, and genuine care for students. She oversees many varied independent studies, honors in the major projects, and internships, and strongly encourages her students to present their work at the academic excellence symposia and/or present at conferences.”
In the past five years alone, in addition to her regular teaching duties, Levintova supervised 20 independent studies in research projects, directed two honors in the major projects, and supervised 45 internships for a total of 67 different individualized learning opportunities.
Evaluations and observations of her teaching testify to her innovative and student-focused work in the classroom where she blends discussion and lecture with simulations and the signature pedagogy of her field. She also incorporates collaborations between students in upper- and lower-level courses to stage public opinion polls and a campaign.
As one student notes, “She put so much time and effort into me to show what UW-Green Bay has to offer and to get me involved. She helped me to create my sorority and mentored me in four internships. I already have a full-time job scheduled after graduation. She’s made me the leader I am today.”
Jen Jones (Public Administration) ’99 received the Academic Support Award for Excellence, given to a staff member who exemplifies a commitment to their work, demonstrates innovation and creativity, and is willing to devote additional time to get the job done. She is currently the acting assistant vice chancellor of Enrollment Services.
Jones’ extraordinary accomplishments related to admissions and enrollment services since she started at UW-Green Bay in 1999, includes initiating the Majors Open House program, the Refer-a-Phoenix program, the Phoenix Scholar Award, and the Rising Phoenix program. In 2018 she was recognized as one of Green Bay’s “Future 15,” a group of young professionals who are excelling in their careers and contributing positively to the Green Bay area.
Colleagues, in their nomination, characterized her as “selfless,” “an inspirational leader,” a “connector” for both staff and students and “the ultimate perfectionist.” Her team building skills, positivity, and creative leadership have led to significant increases in enrollment and helped in the successful campus restructuring in its first year.
As one colleague observed, “she inspires students and staff to get involved, become resourceful and make a difference in the community. One cannot use the phrase ‘Phoenix Family’ without thinking of Jen. She is simply wonderful.”
Associate Professor Patrick Forsythe (Natural and Applied Sciences) received the Faculty Award for Excellence in Scholarship. Since joining UW-Green Bay in 2011, Forsythe has developed a highly productive research program that is regionally recognized as a leader in freshwater ecology. Local fisheries management agencies, such as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have gained a greater understanding of many important ecological questions surrounding Green Bay from his expertise and research.
This research program has led to considerable grant money to UW-Green Bay. He is managing five grants totaling more than $860,000, which allows for a large number— often paid—student research opportunities to both graduate and undergraduate students.
Forsythe is known for thinking outside the box to accomplish goals. He leveraged several grants and start-up money to acquire a new Boston Whaler research vessel and partnered with St. Norbert College to acquire an electrofishing boat. He and his students and peers are working closely with The Farmory (a self-sustaining, year-round indoor agriculture center) to develop aquaculture capacity, increasing perch production and sustaining the traditional, regional Friday fish fry.
Forsythe also recently broke new ground by hiring post-doctoral researchers — a first for UW-Green Bay.
One colleague stated, “The number and quality of his peer-reviewed publications and presentations at professional meetings, and the quality of students (and post-docs) he is able to attract to his lab are all testament to his leadership in this highly collaborative scholarship enterprise. He stands as a great model of what is possible to achieve with scholarship on our campus.”
The University Award for Excellence in Institutional Development was presented to Clif Ganyard. Members of the Council of Trustees recently described Ganyard as the “central campus operational leader” and “the calm leader in the center of the storms of change.”
In 2010, Ganyard earned the UW-Green Bay Founders Award for Excellence in Teaching, followed in 2014 by the prestigious UW System Board of Regents Teaching Excellence Award. In 2015 he joined the Office of the Provost. In addition to his new duties, Ganyard became heavily involved with the innovative TurboCharge partnership; and the Crossing the Bridge seamless transfer collaboration between NWTC and UW-Green Bay.
His nomination stated “Ganyard is dedicated to this institution, and is one of those rare individuals who can represent a constituency while still keeping ‘the big picture’ and the welfare of our students and University at the forefront. He has approached all of his many roles at UW-Green Bay with a spirit of collegiality and respect that is obvious to all.”
Ganyard oversaw the significant and vitally important task of preparing for Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation. Perhaps the pinnacle of his contributions is his leadership to “Project Coastal” that focused on the integration of the Marinette, Manitowoc and Sheboygan campuses to UW-Green Bay.
Additionally, the nomination stated, “His passion and compassion for the University and for the people affected by Project Coastal have been the glue that held this initiative together. Through his work with accreditation and the UW system, he has truly created a legacy evolving UW-Green Bay from a one-campus footprint to a new four-campus configuration covering 16 Northeast Wisconsin counties.”
Chancellor Gary L. Miller observed, “It would be difficult to find someone more deserving of this award given the extraordinary level of leadership our honoree has shown this past year in both planned and unplanned institutional development opportunities.”
Sergeant Cindy Estrup (University Police) received the University Staff Award for Excellence, bestowed on a member of the University Staff in recognition of outstanding accomplishments and service within the institution and the community. Estrup has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to her work and positive interaction with peers, students, faculty and staff. The honoree has served in campus policing on UW campuses for more than 15 years.
Estrup was recognized as “a consummate professional who interacts in positive ways with students, staff, and faculty on a daily basis.” Her “creative and dedicated service also helps to ensure that our campus is a safe and supportive environment for us all to pursue the educational mission of the university.”
With two master’s degrees, Estrup is said to have the heart of an educator. She sees her job, particularly on a college campus, as one that is fundamentally about education and service. One student, now an alumnus, was inspired by our honoree to become a correctional officer.
Estrup is no stranger to accolades. She was awarded the 2017 NBCC Mental Health Fellow as well as the Harvey Milk Scholarship.
A nomination letter stated that “her friendly and familiar interactions with students of multicultural backgrounds give them the confidence to know that UW-Green Bay is welcoming and safe for them.”
The University Award for Excellence in Collaborative Achievement was presented to the steering committee for Excellence in Psychology Instruction (EPIC). Committee members include Associate Dean Ryan Martin, UW-Green Bay faculty members Goerjeanna Wilson-Doenges, Jason Cowell, Jenell Holstead and former Prof. Regan Gurung and off-campus collaborators Jeff Gumz, Stephanie Franks, Amy Ramponi and Christopher Hamp.
This group of individuals is said to be very active in the scholarship of teaching and learning and engaged in “best” pedagogical practices. EPIC was developed after this group of individuals collectively noted a scarcity of professional development targeted toward high school teachers in their field. The group formed a steering committee to develop a conference to collaborate and foster a relationship with high school teachers and share their knowledge. Now an annual event, the EPIC Conference creates an opportunity for high school teachers statewide, and beyond, to learn from UW-Green Bay faculty who are experts in their field while also allowing the University to better understand the perspective of high school teachers and the background of incoming college students. These teachers incorporate cutting-edge research and pedagogies into their classrooms.
Says one nominator, “I am amazed at how much they have been able to accomplish in just a few years. I credit the outstanding teamwork of the steering committee in making this happen. This is a true collaboration between the University and the community… the high school teachers are true partners and collaborators in creating this event with UW-Green Bay faculty.”
The Founders Award for Community Outreach was awarded to the Dietetics Program. Members of the program include faculty and staff members Debra Pearson, Sara Wagner, Leanne Zhu, Michelle Johnson and Heather Masters. The program has a long-standing commitment to reaching out to the community through education, research and service. Outreach programs are a key component to endearing institutes of higher education to their surrounding communities.
This year’s winning program gives presentations on nutrition for Medical College of Wisconsin students, Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (WAND), local clubs and organizations. Courses involve students partnering with their community for “service-learning” projects to teach principles of nutrition and support other health-related projects. Many of the classes incorporate community activities in which students give presentations locally.
The Dietetics Program also oversees internships with various community organizations, such as the Green Bay Packers, Veterans Administration, ThedaCare, Aurora, aging and disability centers, LIVE 54218, and Oneida and Menominee clinics.
The program has been awarded many grants that allow its students to continue their work in the community. Such grants have enabled grocery store tours to promote healthy eating habits, student-faculty research projects and attendance at workshops and conferences. Research projects include a study of food pantry donations from the community, involvement with the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), and the “Remember the Food 5 Drive,” which is designed to enhance the quality of food donated in food drives.
UW-Green Bay and community partners worked collaboratively in a “communiversity” event entitled UW-Green Bay National Food Day to promote all the “partners in business” including small business, food-related services and vendors, and UW-Green Bay.
The program also provides support to the newly formed partnership between UW-Green Bay and the Farmory, an urban aquaponics farm.
This community outreach program provides an outstanding service to both UW-Green Bay and the community. As one supporter states, “They promote giving to the community both in their actions as well as how they instruct their students and interns.”