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UI staff, faculty honored for excellence

Seventeen staff members and six faculty members at The University of Iowa received awards for excellence in 2009. The staff were recognized with one of three annual staff awards for excellence presented by the UI Staff Council, including the Board of Regents Staff Excellence Awards; the honored faculty also received Excellence Awards from the Regents.

Board of Regents Staff Excellence Award

Six Board of Regents Staff Excellence Awards were given to UI staff members for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to their institutions as well as to the State of Iowa. Established in 1993, the award was created to provide a statewide forum to recognize staff members in conjunction with colleagues from the other Board of Regents institutions. Their accomplishments have significantly benefited the University, brought honor or recognition to the University, and had a significant positive impact on the State of Iowa. Each winner receives a commemorative gift, and the University grants a $1,000 prize to each award recipient. Winners will be recognized at a University event in the fall and at an event held by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. Recipients are listed below.


Diana Bryant, Graduate College–Office of Graduate Ethnic Inclusion

Diana Bryant

Bryant, who has worked at the University for more than 30 years—and continuously since 1987—was recognized as the key staff person integral to building the highly regarded Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP). SROP offers minority students opportunities to participate in summer research experiences and then assists these scholars in applying to graduate school for doctoral research. Over the past 15 years, Bryant has recruited and mentored almost 300 SROP scholars at Iowa; nearly 40 percent of these students chose to pursue graduate or professional studies at Iowa. Bryant also opened important dialogues with campus leaders regarding concerns raised by students of color regarding their experiences in the local community, and is now facilitating focus groups to identify solutions.


Donna Pearcy, Department of Risk Management, Insurance, and Loss Prevention

Donna Pearcy ()()

Pearcy, who serves as chief risk officer in Risk Management, made crucial contributions in guiding the University during the flood of 2008 and throughout the recovery process that followed and continues today. She immediately began work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Homeland Security–State of Iowa, and the University’s insurance representatives to ensure the University’s appropriate engagement with each entity—vital work toward securing financial reimbursements. In an earlier review, Pearcy noted the need to insure the University’s steam tunnel network—this greatly reduced the University’s loss in the flood’s aftermath. Pearcy’s efforts were previously rewarded with the Distinguished Leadership Award at the Celebration of Excellence and Achievement Among Women.


Cindy Reed, Department of Ophthalmology

Cindy Reed ()()

Reed is the executive director of the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, which is affiliated with the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at UI Hospitals and Clinics. Upon her arrival in 2004, Reed put forth two specific growth strategies: joining the Cornea Collaborative, which increased donated corneal tissue in the state of Iowa; and the implementation of new procedures that enabled Eye Bank employees to prepare tissue for surgeons across the nation, generating revenue. These initiatives took the clinic from a situation of financial deficit to a surplus of nearly $1 million by 2008. Reed also developed the Iowa Lions Donor Memorial and Healing Garden, a place for families to remember their loved ones and reflect on the gifts they were able to donate.


Ann Ricketts, Office of the Vice President for Research

Ann Ricketts ()()

Ricketts serves as the director of research development while also serving in the Office of Government Relations—the workload of these high-profile positions demonstrate her high level of commitment to the University. Ricketts has developed a network of grant administrators across the University who work full time to facilitate grant applications and help assure University compliance with increasingly complex requirements from federal and private funding sources. She coordinated numerous grant applications this past year, including securing a $2 million flood-related grant, which will be used to restructure the sidewalk flood wall on the east and west sides of campus. Ricketts serves on numerous UI committees, including the Faculty Advisory Council and the Executive Committee of WiderNET, an organization that improves digital communication in developing countries.


Penni Ryan, College of Dentistry

Penni Ryan ()()

Ryan, director of alumni relations and continuing education in the College of Dentistry, has expanded the scope of course offerings that are presented to state and regional dental professionals. This expansion includes web-based programs, hands-on courses in conjunction with the Iowa Dental Association state meeting, and nationwide programs in collaboration with other U.S. dental schools. She has been active on numerous University and collegiate committees, including the External Relations Committee, the Health Care Reform Task Force, and the UI Dental Alumni Association Board of Directors. Ryan is an active member of the American Association of Dental Education, holding offices in the sections on development, community and public relations, and continuing dental education.


Rebecca Whitaker, College of Engineering Student Development Center

Rebecca Whitaker ()()

Whitaker, the K–12 outreach coordinator in the Student Development Center, is responsible for the oversight of numerous programs in multiple locations throughout the state of Iowa. She serves as the College of Engineering liaison for Invent Iowa, a statewide competition sponsored by the Belin-Blank Center that involves hands-on activities for participating students. Whitaker also coordinated a seminar, Go! Girls STEM Day, which introduces engineering concepts to fifth- and sixth-grade girls. In addition, she arranges for faculty speakers and presentations and applies for grant applications to support the aforementioned programs.


The University of Iowa Outstanding Staff Award

Nine staff members received the UI Outstanding Staff Award. The winners were recognized for “outstanding accomplishments and contributions that significantly benefited or brought honor or recognition to the University.” All recipients will be recognized at a University event this fall. Recipients are listed below.


Kellie Bodeker-Goranson, Department of Radiation Oncology

Bodeker-Goranson, a certified clinical research coordinator in the Carver College of Medicine with six years’ experience at the University, was recognized for her ability to transform the research of medical physicists into language understood by a host of audiences, and for taking on a deluge of work as her department has grown exponentially over the past four years. Bodker-Goranson also was cited for her work preparing American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant proposals.


Mary Conrad, Division of Performing Arts

Mary Kayt Conrad ()()

Conrad, director of operations for the Division of Performing Arts, was noted for her leadership and assistance to the School of Music and the Department of Theatre Arts during the flood of 2008. She found buildings, classrooms, and recital spaces for music and theatre students for the summer session and the fall and spring semesters. Conrad worked closely with Facilities Management and Risk Management to provide information about losses, needs, finances, and budgets. She also responded personally to faculty, staff, and student inquiries during this trying time.


Dan Heater, Facilities Management

Dan Heater ()()

Heater, director of building and landscaping services, guided a department that during the flood of 2008 provided carpentry, painting, mechanical, custodial, maintenance, grounds, and moving services. The efforts of Heater and his team in the face of unprecedented flooding were credited with reducing losses—for example, he realized that emergency diesel fuel tanks in flooded areas could cause river pollution, so the tanks were run dry beforehand. Heater’s calm, decisive leadership was noted for keeping staff motivated during stressful situations.



Lorelei Kurimski, University Hygienic Laboratory

Lorelei Kurimski ()()

For the past 10 years, Kurimski has served as the program consultant for Grant-to-Counties, which aims to provide free water testing to Iowa residents whose primary source of drinking water comes from private wells. Her dedication was recognized as a key factor in expanding this program throughout the state of Iowa. Kurimski also implemented and coordinates the UHL Lean program, in which she aligns people and systems to improve efficiency and create more effective work processes. Evidence of this work can be seen in the 3.5 tons of unneeded/unused items that have been removed/recycled from UHL in March 2009.


Kathy Last, Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity

Kathy Last ()()

Last, who has 21 years of experience at the University, the last four with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, has played a key role in several diversity projects and events. In particular, she was responsible for organizing and marketing the University’s first veterans recognition event in November 2008. Last has held officer roles—one year as president—on the Staff Council Diversity Committee. In addition, Last has implemented web and social networking technologies to help attract attention and support for the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.


Glen Mowery, Facilities Management

Glen Mowery ()()

Mowery, director of utilities and energy management, made the decision days before the flood of 2008 to locate and procure two temporary boilers to ensure that steam service—a vital element in both the heating and cooling systems at the University—could be provided to the UI campus in the event of a service interruption. His leadership and collaborative work throughout the months following the flood were cited as important factors in getting the UI Power Plant back online within five months of the June shutdown. Mowery’s oversight of UI utilities was noted by UI officials as a key reason why additional large operational disruptions were not incurred.


Janet Steenlage, Physician Assistant Program

Janet Steenlage ()()

Steenlage, a 30-year staff member at the University, handles a wide variety of tasks for the Physician Assistant Program, not the least of which is gaining familiarity with the students and their families as they make the adjustment to Iowa City, the University, and the rigors of the educational experience. Steenlage’s colleagues and PA students credit her with being an extraordinary ambassador for the program, which during her time has climbed to the top of the rankings among programs of its kind in U.S. News & World Report.


Joni Troester, Human Resources

Joni Troester ()()

Troester, director of UI Wellness, started her tenure in 1997 as the health promotion coordinator in counseling and health promotion services; since that time, UI Wellness has grown to be a leader in worksite health promotion among colleges and universities. Troester championed a pilot project with Facilities Management to do more targeted programming around health-related lifestyle changes—this program led to the current liveWELL program, which has yielded health improvements for UI staff in areas of nutrition, exercise, smoking, and stress. She cochaired the UI Smoking Policy Task Force, and serves on the national Health Enhancement Research Organization.


Gerald Wickham, Office of Student Affairs and Curriculum

Gerry Wickham ()()

Wickham, clinical curriculum coordinator in the Carver College of Medicine, has been involved in and directed a variety of educational projects. He spearheaded numerous reforms and helped initiate new programs, including a mentoring program that pairs medical students with faculty. Wickham has assisted the chair of the Clinical Experience Committee for oversight, and helped direct a one-week course in the College of Medicine, which was successful despite the fact that the flood of 2008 had hit the UI campus just one week prior. During his tenure as associate director of internships in the Pomerantz Career Center, he developed a program that enabled students to participate in a paid internship while also attending classes.


The David J. Skorton Staff Excellence Award for Public Service

The David J. Skorton Staff Excellence Award for Public Service is given annually to individuals who have made significant contributions and have shown “exceptional imagination and dedication to improving the university community.” Service must include activities of high quality in staff governance, committee work, policy improvement, program creation, etc. and must be outside normal job responsibilities. Recipients will receive $500 and a commemorative gift. Recipients are listed below.


Edudzi Etsey, Health Care Information Services

Edudzi Etsey ()()

Etsey, who currently serves as the systems delivery and operations manager for Health Care Information Services, has initiated and implemented several programs and projects that seek to improve the productivity and efficiency of the department, as well as ease of service provision to UI Hospitals and Clinics. He played a leadership role in a pair of training programs for staff and students—Building Our Global Community and Bridging Domestic and Global Diversity, respectively. Etsey was recognized for putting in many hours to help ensure a smooth transition to UIHC’s new electronic medical record system.


Martha Greer, International Programs

Martha Greer ()()

Greer, international studies coordinator and past president of UI Staff Council, guided the council through controversial campus issues—the smoke-free policy implementation and the Funded Retirement Insurance Committee flexible benefits recommendations, to name two—during her term as president. She helped lead the campus response in the face of sexual misconduct on campus and unprecedented flooding. Greer produced a monthly advertisement that appeared in the Daily Iowan that included agendas for upcoming meetings along with timely articles on issues relevant to UI staff.


2009 Regents Award for Faculty Excellence

Six University of Iowa faculty members have won the 2009 Regents Award for Faculty Excellence. Given by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, the award honors faculty members for work representing a significant contribution to excellence in public education. Each honoree will receive $1,000. Recipients are listed below.


Er-Wei Bai, electrical and computer engineering and radiology

Er-Wei Bai ()()

Bai, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering and professor of radiology in the Carver College of Medicine, was recognized for his work on system identification, parameter estimation, and their applications, as well as his interdisciplinary work with medical colleagues improving CT angiography and more accurately modeling certain cell dynamics. As a teacher, Bai was recognized for his creative approaches to teaching challenging material and his compassionate mentorship.


Mark Blumberg, psychology

Mark Blumberg ()()

Blumberg, F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was recognized as an internationally prominent senior investigator in the area of developmental psychobiology. His primary focus is on the development and function of sleep and other biobehavioral regulatory processes. Blumberg was acknowledged as an outstanding teacher in both undergraduate and graduate classrooms. He is especially well-known among undergraduates and among his colleagues for the large-enrollment introductory courses he teaches, even while conducting a major research program.


Willard Boyd, law

Sandy Boyd ()()

Boyd, Rawlings-Miller Professor of Law in the College of Law and president emeritus of The University of Iowa, was recognized for his composure, judgment, grace, intellect, commitment to learning, and commitment to civil rights. Boyd’s creation and continued direction of the Larned A. Waterman Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center was acknowledged as a commitment to service to the state of Iowa. Through publications, consulting, outreach, and education, the center reaches out to Iowans and their organizations across the state to increase the vitality of Iowa’s nonprofit sector. Boyd was recognized as a master teacher who has had a transformative influence on the lives and professional careers of generations of law students.


William Coryell, psychiatry

William Coryell ()()

Coryell, George Winokur Professor of Psychiatry in the Carver College of Medicine and director of inpatient service in psychiatry, was recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities in the evaluation, course, treatment, and teaching in the area of mood disorders. For more than 20 years, Coryell has taught a series of lectures and provided hands-on instruction to residents, several times earning him the award for best teacher on the inpatient service.



Katherine Tachau, history

Katherine Tachau ()()

Tachau, professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was recognized as a renowned scholar in the religious, social, and political ideas of medieval scholastic philosophers and humanists. Tachau created a number of new undergraduate courses in her field and has directed six MA programs, earning her praise as someone who effectively sparks interdisciplinary dialogue among faculty and students and as a teacher who is equally effective in the undergraduate and graduate classroom. She was also acknowledged for her role in University leadership as a former Faculty Senate president.


Daniel Tranel, neurology and psychology

Daniel Tranel ()()

Tranel, professor of neurology in the Carver College of Medicine and professor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was recognized as one of the most preeminent behavioral neuroscientists in the nation, known throughout the world for his work in experimental neuropsychology. Tranel’s pioneering work in complex human behaviors such as facial recognition was acknowledged as having elevated the understanding of the central nervous system origins of human emotion. His leadership as director of the graduate program in neuroscience was recognized to have made the program one of the most prestigious in the country.


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