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Awards and appointments March 2006

By Gayla Marty

President Bruininks addressing Board of Regents meeting with Apostolos Georgopoulos, wearing his Regents Professor medallion.
Regents Professor Apostolos Georgopoulos (left) and President Bruininks at the Board of Regents meeting March 10. See March 13, below.

March 28

The 2006 Distinguished McKnight Professors are John Bischof, mechanical engineering; Karin Musier-Forsyth, chemistry; Ilja Siepmann, chemistry; and Christopher Uggen, sociology. Awards are made to mid-career faculty members, who receive a grant of $100,000 over five years and the title as long as they remain at the University. For more information, see Distinguished McKnight Professors.

March 27

University of Minnesota Foundation president and CEO Gerald Fischer (below) is one of two recipients of the Commonfund Institutionally Related Foundation award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). The award recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to their foundations and to the the community of foundations. Fischer has headed the U of M Foundation since 1990. For more information, see the news release.

Gerald Fischer
Foundation president and CEO Gerald Fischer

March 22

The new general manager of University Enterprise Laboratories (UEL) is Randall Olson, named today by the UEL board of directors. UEL is a nonprofit bioscience incubator, established in 2005, which houses the U's Office of Business of Develoment and 13 biotech startup companies. Olson brings a strong background in business development for the technology sector. He most recently served as a marketing and business development director for a law firm. For more information, see the news release.

Emily Freeman, a student in the creative writing master of fine arts program, wrote the winning entry in the 2006 fiction contest sponsored by Minnesota magazine, publication of the U of M Alumni Association. Her short story, "Par Avion," appears in the March-April issue. Freeman received a $1,500 prize. Read the story online at Minnesota Magazine Fiction Contest.

March 21

Political science senior Joseph Walla, College of Liberal Arts (CLA) honors, Twin Cities, has been selected as one of 18 Luce Scholars in the nation. The Luce Scholars Program provides professional experiences in Asia for young leaders in any field who do not have experience in Asia. Walla will be assigned to a country this spring, when he will begin language training. For more information, see the news release.

Four Twin Cities campus juniors have been named 2006 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars. The scholarships support students in math, science, and engineering who intend to pursue graduate study and research-oriented careers. Institutions are allowed to nominate up to four students, and this is the second consecutive year all four of the University of Minnesota nominees were selected as part of the national group of some 300 scholars. The students are Elizabeth Barnes, physics, Institute of Technology (IT); Akash Kumar, chemical engineering/biochemistry, IT; Eman Haidari, chemistry and genetics, cell biology, and development, IT and College of Biological Sciences (CBS); and Kimberly VanderWaal, ecology, evolution, and behavior, CBS. For more information, see the news release.

Three CLA honors students have been selected for 2006-07 Katherine Sullivan Scholarships, which allow outstanding students from any University campus to enhance their undergraduate education with a fifth year of overseas study. The recipients, this year all on the Twin Cities campus, are Elizabeth (Betsy) Burr, anthropology and art (South Africa); Mark Foster, acting, anthropology, and political science (Tanzania); and Theodore (Ted) Meinhover, global studies and mass communication (Indonesia). For more information, see the news release.

Associate professor Janet Schrunk Ericksen
UMM associate professor Janet Schrunk Ericksen

Janet Schrunk Ericksen, associate professor of English at Morris campus (left), has been named as the 2006 recipient of the UMM Alumni Association Teaching Award. The award honors individual faculty members for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education. For more information, see the news release.

Crookston campus alumnus Nate Emery, '05, received the Student Conservationist Award from the Wildlife Society's Minnesota chapter. Emery received a degree in wildlife management and was active as president of the student chapter of the society and co-captain of the UMC football team. He was the driving force behind the Nature Nook project to restore habitat between Owen and Hill halls on campus, which includes boreal forest, prairie, and deciduous forest with oak savanna. For more information, see the news release.

March 20

Professor Leonard Polakiewicz
Professor Leonard Polakiewicz

Professor of Slavic languages and literatures Leonard Polakieiwcz (right), Twin Cities, has been awarded the National Council of Organizations of Less Commonly Taught Languages Ronald Walton Award in recognition of a career "distinguished by selfless service and noteworthy contributions to the fostering of less commonly taught language initiatives in the United States." He will be honored at the council's conference in Madison, Wisconsin, April 28. For more information, see his faculty profile and the council Web site.

March 13

The Board of Regents recognized the newest Regents Professor and the 2006-08 McKnight Land-Grant Professors at the March 10 meeting. Apostolos Georgopoulos (top photo) is a professor of neuroscience, neurology, physiology, and psychiatry in the Department of Neuroscience, Medical School, Twin Cities, and a world authority on neural mechanisms underlying movement. Regents Professor is the highest level of recognition given to faculty members at the University. Georgopoulos received a medal and certificate and was praised for his groundbreaking work that involves at least 20 departments across the U. For more information, see the news release (December 12, 2005).

7 of the 10 McKnight Land-Grant Professors for 2006-08 with Regent Baraga, President Bruininks, Provost Sullivan, and Vice Provost Dubrow
Seven of the ten McKnight Land-Grant Professors able to attend the regents meeting March 10 stood with Regent Baraga, President Bruininks, Provost Sullivan, and Vice Provost Dubrow. Photo by Patrick O'Leary.

McKnight Land-Grant Professors (left), also honored March 10, were named this winter by the Office of the Provost and the Graduate School for the period July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2008. These awards support the University's most promising junior faculty at a crucial time in their professional careers. They receive research grants in each of two years and a research leave in the second year. Recipients are Demoz Gebre-Egziabher, Yongdae Kim, Efie Kokkoli, Ronald Krebs, Angus MacDonald III, Steven Manson, David Rapp, Stergios Roumeliotis, Mark Thomas, and Cynthia Weinig. Their research areas and disciplines are posted on the award Web site.

March 10

The Twin Cities campus Parking and Transportation Services team won a Classic Award from the Minnesota chapter of the Public Relations Society of America on March 9. Jacqueline Brudlos, writer and coordinator for the project, won the award for her work in a direct mail brochure, "A Blogger's Diary at the U," which promoted the U-Pass discounted bus pass. For more information, see "Blogger transit diary wins public relations award for the U."

March 8

The University's top teaching and advising awards were announced today. They will be recognized at the Board of Regents meeting May 12. Recipients are at the Twin Cities campus except as noted.

  • Morse-Alumni Award recipients for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education are Frederick Asher, art history; Mark Distefano, chemistry; Pareena Lawrence, economics/management, Morris; James Leger, electrical and computer engineering; Donald Liu, applied economics; Randall Moore, biology, General College; Marshall Stern, animal science; and Barbara Welke, history.
  • Outstanding Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education Award recipients are Dennis Falk, social work, Duluth; Joan Garfield, educational psychology; Wendy Hellerstedt, epidemiology; Richard Leppert, cultural studies and comparative literature; Deborah Levison, public affairs; Jean O'Brien, history; and Michel Sanders, biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysics.

Teaching award recipients will be honored at a ceremony on Monday, April 24, at the McNamara Alumni Center?s Memorial Hall, Minneapolis.

  • John Tate Award recipients for excellence in undergraduate advising are Ted Fitch, College of Liberal Arts student services; Kitty Jones, General College student services; Alon McCormick, chemical engineering and materials sciences; and Robert Silberman, art history.

Advising award recipients will be honored at a ceremony on Friday, April 28, at the Radisson University Hotel, Washington Avenue S.E., Minneapolis.

Morris Cougar women's basketball team and coach Randi Peterson
Photo courtesy of UMM

March 6

Morris Cougar women's basketball coach Randi Peterson (with her team, right) has been named Coach of the Year by the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. In her first year as a head coach, Peterson took a team that won only 10 games last year and led the Cougar women to the playoffs this year. For more information, see "Cougar WBB season success" and the news release.

March 3

The Institute for Advanced Study, Twin Cities, has announced nine Residential Faculty Fellows for each semester in 2006-07. In fall 2006, they are (in the College of Liberal Arts, Twin Cities campus, unless otherwise noted) Tony Brown and Siobhan Craig, English; Tracy Deutsch and Kevin Murphy, history; Liz Kotz, cultural studies and comparative literature; Scott Laderman, history, UMD; Christine Marran, Asian languages and literatures; Jason Roberts, political science; Evan Schofer, sociology; and Ray Schultz, theater, Morris. In spring 2007, they are Lesley Craig-Unkefer, educational psychology, College of Education and Human Development; Jan Estep, art; Njeri Githire, African American and African studies; George Henderson, geography; Jason McGrath and Maki Isaka Morinaga, Asian languages and literatures; Patrick J. McNamara, history; Bic Ngo, curriculum and instruction, College of Education & Human Development; and Robin Stryker, sociology. For more information about IAS, see Residential Fellows.

UMD director of Continuing Education Student Support Services, Evening Classes, and Summer Term Karen Heikel is the new president-elect of the North American Associate of Summer Sessions. NAASS is an association of deans and directors of college and university summer programs located throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. For more information, see her staff page and the NAASS Web site.

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 to Gayla Marty at

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