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Last updated:

May 21, 1999

Eleven Students Receive UW-River Falls' Top Honor

Eleven students have been selected for the Chancellor's Award at UW-River Falls, the highest honor for service to the University.

Recipients are Nelda Behnke of Lena; Jeremy Daus of Platteville; Julie Giese of Colby; Mac Guptil of Minnetonka, Minn.; Robin Newman of River Falls; Jaime Parrott of New Prague, Minn.; Jonathan Platson of Roberts; Scott Schlichter of Austin, Minn.; Susan Sharma of Vadnais Heights, Minn.; Sharaine Smith of Kenosha, and Kris R. Thompson of Waupaca.

The Chancellor's Award is the highest non-academic honor a student can receive at UW-RF. It is given to students for their leadership and service to the University during the course of their time on campus.

Typically, recipients are juniors and seniors. They are nominated by a faculty member, academic staff member, or their student peers through the Student Senate. Each nominee is considered by a committee that reports directly to Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau. After a select group of interviews, the committee deliberates with the chancellor, after which he makes his selections.

Nelda Behnke is a graduating senior from majoring in agricultural education with a minor in horticulture. She was nominated by Professor Gerald Matteson in the agricultural education department.

Behnke has taken an active role in campus and community activities, including the Agricultural Education Society, Falcon 4-H, Horticulture Society, Alpha Tau Apha, and Student Senate, through which she was willing to assist students, community members, and teachers alike.

She worked in the agricultural education department as a teaching assistant for the section on parliamentary procedure. She co-chaired the production and editing of the parliamentary procedure video tape developed by the Agricultural Education Society for high school students and was selected to be the Outstanding Freshman, then treasurer, and finally president of the Agricultural Education Society. Her five-year involvement with the Agricultural Education Society varies from Campus Clean-Up to the Ag Technology contest.

Through Alpha Tau Alpha, Behnke represented UW-River Falls at the National FFA Convention for two years and was a debate member for the Alpha Tau Alpha Conclave one year. In addition, she was a member of the Student Senate for a year and a half where she served on the budget, Student Organization Relations, and Reallocation and Review Subcommittees to improve students' environment and the University's services.

Behnke's leadership reached beyond the campus to 4-H and FFA members around the Wisconsin. As a Falcon 4-H member, she served as president and treasurer and assisted with programs that enhanced high school students' leadership and interpersonal skills. Serving as a former state FFA officer, she had the opportunity to work with FFA members from around Wisconsin and the nation to assist in developing their teamwork and leadership skills.

She also has served as a floral purchaser for the Horticulture Society and was a member of the University Poultry Judging Team.

Jeremy A. Dais is a fourth-year senior majoring in speech communication with an emphasis in business communication and a minor in English professional writing with an emphasis in business and government. Mary Halada, assistant to the vice chancellor for administration and finance, nominated Daus for the Chancellor's Award.

Through the past four years, Daus has been involved in many different areas of University life. Jeremy is a brother in Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity and is its executive vice president and Judicial Board chairman. Not only is he very involved in his fraternity, but he also volunteers his time in the community with the River Falls Area Ambulance Service. He has been working as a nationally registered Emergency Medical Technician for the past two years and hopes to join the River Falls Fire Department in the very near future.

Daus has also been extensively involved in the athletic department's athletic training program. For the past four years, Jeremy has mainly been active with the Falcon Football team, functioning as the senior trainer for the past two years. Jeremy will be back for a fifth year assisting trainer Gary Eloranta as his senior trainer with responsibilities in budgeting and training new student trainers about sports medicine. He also received an internship, because of his involvement in the training room, with the Sports Medicine Department for the Kansas City Chiefs during its summer training camps at UW-RF.

Daus also worked with the Student Senate to help with the design of a new Hagestad Student Center addition. In addition to school year commitments, Daus has worked for the Kansas City Chiefs Summer Training Camp as an assistant camp coordinator and courier.

Giese is a graduating senior from Colby, majoring in agricultural marketing communications. She was nominated for the Chancellor's Award by Melissa Abramowitz of the Student Leadership Development and Programming Center.

During her years at the University, Giese has been actively involved in many aspects of student life, especially with new students. Currently, she is serving as the hall manager for Grimm Residence Hall and has been a Resident Assistant and Community Coordinator the previous two years.

Last summer, Giese served as a Summer Registration Parent Facilitator, resulting in her interaction with more than 1,200 new freshman students and their parents. She was influential this past year in the promoting of the University's New Student Orientation Program by creating a first attempt at developing a video about the University that each new student received before arriving on campus. She did this through her position as activities coordinator at the Leadership Center.

She also served the College of Agriculture, Food, & Environmental Sciences through her position as the co-editor of its newsletter, The FencePost. She is involved in the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow student organization and participated on the Poultry Judging Team.

She also has served on the Special Events, Athletic, and Musical Arts Subcommittees of the Student Senate and has been a tour guide for three years with the University's admissions Office.

Guptil is a senior who is double majoring in political science and economics and hopes to graduate in the Spring of 2000. His activities at the University in the last four years have included, a representative on Johnson Hall Council, a Resident Assistant in May Hall, president of his fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa, a first-year orientation leader, vice president of the Student Senate, and his current service as president of the Student Senate.

Guptil is receiving this award not just because he was very involved, but for what those activities have done for him. Guptil believes that being involved and giving time to organizations made him more well-rounded and a better person. Not only did getting involved in activities at the University teach him a great deal about life, but he tried to pass on the knowledge and energy he got from his experiences at River Falls to other students.

Newman is a senior graduating with a degree in English and a minor in professional writing with a creative writing emphasis. She was nominated for the Chancellor's Award by Professor Richard Beckham, chair of the English department.

Newman came to UW-RF three years ago as a transfer student and has enjoyed being active in both the University and the surrounding community. At the University, Newman has served in many capacities: as the vice-president of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society; the student representative on the search and screen committee for a new creative writing professor; as an editorial staff member and editor for the student literary magazine, "Prologue". She has also worked as an intern in the grants and research office and as a tutor in the writing center for the past two years.

Newman has also been actively involved with community life in rural Wisconsin. She is a founding member of the Hammond Arts Alliance, a non-profit organization geared toward the promotion of the arts in Hammond and the surrounding area. She has served as a board member, secretary-treasurer, and grant writer for the Hammond Arts since its establishment as a non-profit organization in 1996.

Besides being an active student at UW-RF, for the past three years Newman has worked as an apprentice at Rising Sun Farm, an organic farm four miles east of River Falls, where she lives in a one-room cabin with wood heat and no running water. This experience has taught her to appreciate the simple things in life.

Parrott is a senior majoring in elementary education with minors in early childhood education and Spanish. Mark Meydam, assistant director of admissions, nominated her for the 1999 Chancellor's Award.

During her four years at UW-River Falls, Parrott has dedicated herself to being involved in many aspects of the life and growth of the University. As an admissions office intern, she worked with faculty and staff to design and execute a new on-line web registration program for new freshmen and transfer students. In addition to coordinating the summer registration program, Parrott also has been extensively involved in the volunteer tour guide program.

She promoted the University as a tour guide for two year,s giving tours to prospective students, families, faculty, staff, and visiting administrators. Currently, she supervises the tour guide program and does high school visits and college fairs to promote the University.

Her experience and leadership with the summer registration and tour guide programs allowed her to not only be an ambassador for the University, but to also follow through with more broader involvement with new students. She continued her work with new students as a R.O.A.D. Crew Leader. In this capacity, Parrott concentrated on welcoming and orientating incoming students. She also worked one-on-one with at-risk new students as an upper class mentor. Through the Student Alumni Association, Parrott visits high schools to speak to graduating seniors about the college experience and answers questions they may have about college life. This past fall at the state conference for the Student Alumni Association she gave a presentation on stress management for college students.

In addition to her work with new and prospective students, she serves on the University Centers Committee Board and helped in establishing the Christian organization Campus Crusade for Christ at the UW-River Falls.

She is a daughter of Roger and Mary Parrott of Duluth.

Platson is a graduating senior from Roberts, majoring in social work. He was nominated for the Chancellor's Award by Professor Jennifer Borup of the social work department.

Platson started his River Falls college experience as a transfer student. In the three years that have followed this transition, he has been very involved as a University student and developing professional.

Some of his activities include the UW-River Falls Student Social Work Association of which he has been a member since his arrival. In the past three years, he has served as a co-chair and treasurer.

In addition, Platson has been chosen to serve on the Social Work Program review board as a student member and also has been a tutor for social work curriculum. Also, he has facilitated team-building experiences for UW-RF student groups in on- and off-campus settings.

What sets Platson apart from many other University students are the efforts he has put forth to create linkages from UW-River Falls to the surrounding communities.Some examples of these linkages include volunteering at the River Falls Turningpoint for Victims of Domestic Abuse where he was selected Volunteer of the Year in 1997; working with the Families and Schools Together program in River Falls; being a committee member for the Pierce County Family Community Partnership; mentoring area youth and playing a central role in the development and implementation of the "Each One, Reach One" mentoring program in Pierce County; and working with the Pierce County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

In all of his numerous endeavors, Platson has represented the UW-River Falls in a very professional and positive manner and has demonstrated substantial initiative in creating a positive community perception of the institution.

Schlicter is a graduating senior majoring in agricultural engineering technology. He was nominated for the Chancellor's Award by Professor Robert Butler, chair of the agricultural engineering technology department.

During his two and a half years at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Schlichter has been involved in many aspects of institutional life. Last year, he was a Resident Assistant in May Hall, and this year he serves as the Undergraduate Hall Manager of West Hathorn Hall. His current project in Hathorn is to plan the annual HOGthorn Family Hogroast for the building's residents and their families.

Last year he was awarded a University of Wisconsin System undergraduate research grant. With this grant, he helped to establish Campus Organic Recycling, otherwise known as the composting project. Working with Professors Butler and Gerald Nolte, they began systematic composting of wastes from the residence halls and public areas of the Hagestad Student Center.

In addition, the Ag Mechanization Club voted Schlichter it's treasurer. As a member, he coordinated this year's highly successful Lawn Mower Tune-up, as well as helped with the Ag Technology Contest.

In addition to these activities, Schlichter is very involved in the Agriculture Honor Fraternity on campus, Alpha Zeta. This year he serves on the Farm Day Planning Committee as education chair.

Sharma is a graduating senior majoring in sociology. Professor Brian Copp, chair of the sociology department, nominated her for the Chancellor's Award.

During her four years at the UW - River Falls, Sharma has been extensively involved in many aspects of University life. Susan was a member of the Diversity Awareness Committee of the Student Senate for two years and played a key role in implementing the yearly campus diversity festival, "Unity in the Community." She also served as co-vice president of the Latino Student Organization for two years and helped sponsor various Latino activities. Aside from her committee involvement, Sharma actively participated in being a student mentor for two years, mentoring freshman students of color.

In addition, she was nominated to represent the sociology department for the Dean's Advisory Committee in the College of Arts & Sciences, and she has served as a sociology tutor this part year.

Smith is a senior majoring in English education. She was nominated for the Chancellor's Award by Lisa Reavill, director of Academic Success Center.

During her years at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Smith has been extensively involved in many aspects of the life of the University. She has been an active member of African American Alliance, and served as its program chair for two years. She has also been on the UW-River Falls Student Senate for two years and is currently the Director of Diversity Issues Subcommittee.

In addition to her shared governance activities, Smith's campus involvement has included two years as a Resident Assistant in the University's student life program and a regular worker at the circulation desk in the Chalmer Davee Library.

Finally, and as an exceptional honor, last semester Sharaine was awarded a University of Wisconsin System's "Women of Color Award" for her work with women of color as well as her untiring attention to issues related to diversity and multicultural education.

Thompson is a junior majoring in agricultural education. He was nominated for the award by the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Student Association Student Senate.

In the past three years at the University, he has been involved in many aspects of University life. In the Student Senate, he has been a Freshman Senator, Shared Governance Vice President, and Senator of the Term. He has served on numerous committees, ranging from Textbook Services to the New Residence Hall Project.

He is also highly involved in the Agricultural Education Society, currently serving as the president. His participation with parliamentary procedure during his years on campus is vast, from helping with workshops, to judging, to assisting in teaching a college level course.

In addition to Thompson's work in Student Senate and the Agricultural Education Department, he is the 1999 Career Fair Coordinator. He will divide his time this summer between classes, working on the Career Fair, and working with the Kansas City Chiefs Summer Training Camp.

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