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Home > People > Awards and appointments, January 2007

Awards and appointments, January 2007

By Gayla Marty

Jan. 30

The new director of the Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center (AHEC) in Fergus Falls, administered through the U's Academic Health Center, is Laurissa Stigen. Stigen will lead collaboration with communities in a 13-county region to promote existing health programs and address health-care workforce concerns. Stigen previously worked as a nutrition and wellness facilitator for the Lakes Country Service Cooperative in Fergus Falls and is a U alumna. For more information, see the news release.

University of Minnesota Extension Services professor Jim Salfer, who works at the regional center in St. Cloud, has been appointed to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Dairy Profitability Advisory Committee. The 14-member committee is charged with recommending ways to maximize dairy profitability efforts and improve the competitiveness of Minnesota's dairy industry. For more information, see the news release. To learn more about the U's extension service related to dairy, see Dairy Extension.

Jan. 29

The new director of the English as a Second Language (ESL) and International Student Recruitment programs at the Crookston campus is Sean Shin (right). Shin brought ESL to UMC in fall 2005, working as a visiting professor in UMC's Learning Abroad Center. The ESL program became part of the curriculum in June 2006 and has grown significantly, largely through Shin's efforts in collaboration with chancellor emeritus Don Sargeant and study abroad coordinator Rae French. See also the news release.

Jan. 25

Physics professor Prisca Cushman was appointed for a three-year term, beginning this month, on the 20-member High Energy Physics Advisory Panel, which provides advise the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. For more information, see the HEPAP and her faculty bio.

Christine Williams, who earned her B.S. at the U of M-Crookston in December, received her commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force (USAF) in a ceremony in Kiehle Auditorium at UMC. The oath was administered by Col. Dan Berrenkott, her former commander and mentor. For more information, see the news release.

Jan. 23

U Regents Professor of Agronomy and Plant Genetics Ronald Phillips (left) and University of Liege (Belgium) professor Michel Georges are cowinners of the 2007 Wolf Prize in Agriculture, one of the world's highest honors in agriculture. They were cited "for groundbreaking discoveries in genetics and genomics, laying the foundations for improvements in crop and livestock breeding, and sparking important advances in plant and animal sciences." The award carries a $100,000 prize and will be presented at a ceremony in Jerusalem on May 13. For more information, see the story in UMNnews. Robert Kudrle has been appointed to the Orville and Jane Freeman Chair in International Trade and Investment Policy and will lead the Freeman Center for International Economic Policy in the Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs, Twin Cities campus. The center identifies and analyzes the major challenges of an increasingly interdependent global economy. Kudrle has been a member of the faculty since 1972 and served as associate dean for research from 1992 to 1996. He succeeds Regents Professor G. Edward Schuh, who retired in November. For more information, see the college news release.

Jan. 22

The 2007-09 McKnight Land-Grant Professors, named by the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost and the Graduate School this month, are Twin Cities campus faculty members Daniel Bond, microbiology and BioTechnology Institute; Kathleen Collins, political science; Christy Haynes, chemistry; Karen Ho, anthropology; Nihar Jindal, electrical and computer engineering; Marta Lewicka, mathematics; Helene Muller-Landau, ecology, evolution, and behavior; William Schuler, computer science and engineering; Kathleen Vohs, Carlson School of Management; Christophe Wall-Romana, French and Italian; and Chun Wang, biomedical engineering. They will be honored by the Board of Regents in March. The McKnight Land-Grant Professorship Program marks its 20th anniversary this year. For more information, see 2007-09 McKnight Land-Grant Professors.

Jan. 19

Congress voted to award Norman Borlaug, Twin Cities campus alumnus and 1970 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the nation's highest civilian honor, whose recipients include such luminaries as George Washington, Thomas Edison, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Borlaug is recognized for developing high-yield grain and farming methods to combat famine in countries around the world during the 1960s and '70s. The final vote took place last month, and Congress is now commissioning a unique medal that will be minted and presented sometime this year. For more information, see "The Father of the Green Revolution."

Medical School dean Deborah Powell was appointed last month to the board of directors for Minneapolis-based Pepsi Americas, which makes and supplies beverages in 19 states, central Europe, and the Caribbean. Her appointment was noted for bringing a new and different perspective to the board. Powell is a surgical pathologist and medical educator who came to the University in 2002. For more information, see the company news release and her faculty bio.

Jan. 16

University of Minnesota, Morris, vice chancellor for student affairs Sandra Olson-Loy (right) is one of 21 members appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court to the Commission on Judicial Selection. The commission solicits judicial candidates, evaluates applicants, and recommends three to five finalists to the governor for district court and Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals vacancies that occur during the term of a judge. Olson-Loy was appointed as a non-attorney member for the Eighth Judicial District. See the Minnesota Supreme Court news release at "Judicial Selection Commission Members Appointed" and Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

Recently retired professor Brad Pedersen was honored with a special service award by the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA) at the Minnesota Green Expo in Minneapolis this month. Pedersen served 19 years at the University of Minnesota's former campus in Waseca and 14 years at UMTC. At Waseca, he served as landscape maintenance supervisor for the 100-acre campus, which was honored during his tenure as Best Maintained Campus in the Nation by the National Grounds Management Society. In St. Paul, he taught and coordinated academic programs as well as the Department of Horticulture's display and trial garden. He was principal developer of the Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series Web site, which receives more than 10 million hits from 100 countries each year. The MNLA is Minnesota's largest green industry trade association, with more than 1,500 member companies. For more information, see Honoring Brad Pedersen (CFANS) and the MNLA news release.

Jan. 12

The University of Minnesota Foundation's new vice president of marketing and communications is Lisa Meyer, most recently an executive for media production enterprises and previously with Carmichael Lynch and Marquette Financial Companies. Meyer will lead the foundation's departments of communications, donor relations, marketing services, events, and annual giving as a member of the senior executive team. For more information, see the U of M Foundation.

UMD's James Boulger, professor of behavioral sciences and of family medicine and community health, has won the Lake Superior Medical Society President's Award. Boulger also directs alumni relations for the school, the Center for Rural Mental Health Studies, and the Family Medicine Preceptorship Program. He served as associate dean of the U of M Medical School Duluth from 1974 to 1990. More than 600 physicians from four counties are members of the society, which is part of the Minnesota Medical Association. For more information, see the news release.

The Graduate School's 2006 Distinguished Master's Thesis Award winner is Nicholas "Max" Handler, geography, Twin Cities. His thesis is a "geneology" of the Norwegian coast cod. Handler received his M.A. in 2005 and is now pursuing a doctorate under the direction of Bruce Braun, associate professor of geography. He will be nominated by the Graduate School for the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) master's thesis award. See the Graduate School spotlight.

The runner up for the award is Crookston adjunct professor and restoration ecologist Rhett Johnson, whose master's thesis topic was peatland trees (black spruce and tamarack) and hydrology in Marshall County. The thesis will be useful in wetland management with rising water tables due to road building, beaver activity, and rapid climate shifts. UMD associate professor of biology David Schimpf was Johnson's thesis adviser. For more information, see the news release.

The new interim senior associate dean of the U of M Medical School Duluth is Gary Davis, professor and head, Department of Behavioral Sciences. He will continue as department head and serve as associate director of the Center for Rural Mental Health Studies. Dean Richard Ziegler's term ended in 2006. A search for a permanent senior associate dean to lead medical school programs at UMD is underway. For more information, see the news release.

Jan. 9

New vice president for university relations Karen Himle (top photo) assumed her duties Jan. 9. Himle formerly served as executive vice president of Children's Hospitals and Clinics and president of the hospital's foundation and previously was affiliated with the St. Paul Companies for more than 17 years. She hosted TPT's Almanac Midweek from 1990 to 1994. At University Relations, she heads a staff with systemwide responsibilities, including government relations, news service, communications and publications, marketing, and information services. For more information, see the news release (Dec. 6).

Channing Riggs was named director of federal relations for the U Jan. 2. Since she joined the staff two years ago, she has worked to build strong relationships between the University and Congress, the executive branch, and federal agencies. Riggs came to the U with extensive experience in government affairs for the Pillsbury Company and Nestle. Riggs assumes the position formerly held by John Engelen, who became vice president for governmental affairs at Emory University in Atlanta this month. In addition, Dan Gilchrist will join the federal relations team. Gilchrist also brings extensive political experience, including several years as speechwriter in the Office of the President. For more information about the U's work at the federal level, see Federal Relations.

Lawrence Knopp, Jr., professor of geography at the Duluth campus, becomes associate dean of the Graduate School this week, with a special emphasis on UMD graduate programs. Knopp is a McKnight Land-Grant Professor who joined the UMD faculty in 1989. For more information, see Graduate School spotlights and his faculty bio.

Jan. 5

The founding director of the new Twin Cities campuswide honors program is Serge Rudaz, professor and director of undergraduate studies, School of Physics and Astronomy. Rudaz has been a member of the faculty for 20 years and was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society in 1995. The new honors program was recommended as part of the U's strategic positioning process and will aim to integrate current college-based honors programs into a single, more visible program. For more information, see the news release.

Jan. 3

China Center director Hong Yang, who joined the University in 2000, has accepted a position in the private sector. Assistant director Joan Brzezinski will serve as interim, and a national search for a new permanent director will be launched this month. For more information about the China Center, see China Center staff.

Learning Abroad Center associate director Lynn Anderson will leave the University this month to become dean of international education and director of the international center at the University of California, San Diego. Anderson played a key role in implementing the University-wide study abroad curriculum integration project, now a national model for involving faculty members in study abroad and dramatically increasing student participation on all types of university campuses. For more information, see Curriculum Integration.

Jan. 2

Professor of environmental health sciences Deborah Swackhamer, who also directs the U's new Institute on the Environment, is one of 15 citizens appointed by Gov. Pawlenty to the Clean Water Council. She will serve a two-year term through January 2009 in a seat representing the higher education system. The council was created by the Minnesota State Legislature in 2006 to advise on administering and implementing the Clean Water Legacy Act. It consists of 23 members, with 19 appointed by the governor. For more information, see the news release.

Crookston campus chancellor emeritus Donald Sargeant--who joined the campus in 1970, led UMC 1985-2003, and most recently directed UMC's international programs through a period of rapid growth--was honored at a retirement party Dec. 20. For more information, see the news release.

U faculty and staff selected as Fulbright scholars for 2006-07 include John Adgate, associate professor in the School of Public Health (Chile); Elisabeth Hilbink, assistant professor in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) (Spain); Michael Semmens, professor in the Institute of Technology (Norway); Michelle Wright, associate professor in CLA (Germany); and David Nordstrom, research associate in the Medical School (Ukraine). For more information, see Fulbright Scholar Awards for Faculty and Professionals.

Awards, appointments, and other items of note about faculty, staff, and outstanding students and alumni of the University of Minnesota campuses are published here as reported and summarized in Brief, the internal news digest of the U. Submit items for this page to

See also U Awards & Honors. Most awards listed on this page post names of recipients.