MADISON – Kris McGrew, director of the statewide UW-Extension Higher Education Location Program (HELP), and Jim Vance, director of the American Ethnic Coordinating Office at UW-Eau Claire, are recipients of the first UW System Board of Regents Administrative and Professional Academic Staff Excellence Award.

McGrew and Vance each received a $5,000 award at the June meeting of the Board of Regents, held today in Madison. The award may be used to support their professional development, or for other activities that will enhance a university program or function.

“This award was created to recognize and support the excellent and invaluable service provided by nearly 6,000 professional academic staff in the UW System,” said Regent President Sheldon Lubar. “The Board applauds Kris McGrew and Jim Vance for their professionalism, impressive accomplishments, and outstanding devotion to the quality of education of the University of Wisconsin.”

Kris McGrew, director of the UW-Extension HELP office since 1988, was nominated for the award because of her leadership in improving the ways in which HELP delivers information about the UW System to students and other clients across Wisconsin. Most recently, she led the design and creation of HELP On-Line, the high-tech version of a toll-free student information telephone service offered by the UW System for more than 20 years.

Thousands of individuals throughout Wisconsin and the world have used HELP On-Line to access information and assistance on UW admission, paying for college and financial aid, academic majors and programs, residence life, preparing for college, and much more. Gov. Tommy Thompson described HELP On-Line as “an excellent example of Badger ingenuity that puts Wisconsin on the leading edge of what technology can and must do for students.”

McGrew’s expertise also led to the fall 1997 implementation of the UW System electronic application for undergraduate admission. The customer-friendly application is included in the HELP On-Line website.

McGrew also represents the UW System to hundreds of high school counselors through outreach efforts across Wisconsin. In nominating her for the award, UW-Extension Interim Chancellor Albert Beaver said: “Kris McGrew’s innovation, leadership and commitment to student and UW institutional needs makes her a shining star, not only in UW-Extension, but within the entire UW System. Her work is an outstanding example of the professionalism and excellence that typifies so many academic staff throughout the UW System.”

Jim Vance, director of UW-Eau Claire’s American Ethnic Coordinating Office since 1988, oversees an exemplary campuswide program to improve educational and career opportunities for African American, American Indian, Asian and Hispanic students. His recruiting of multicultural students and pursuit of resources for scholarships to support their education is relentless. Under Vance’s leadership, scholarship awards to students of color have grown from a total of $5,000 in 1988 to more than $107,000 in 1997, while funds in support of precollege programs for multicultural students have grown from $3,000 to more than $80,000 during the same period.

Vance was an early advocate for UW System involvement in precollege programs that reach out to multicultural students in middle and high schools, exposing them to and preparing them for university learning. Once enrolled at UW-Eau Claire, students of color are nurtured toward academic and personal achievement through a range of counseling, leadership training and academic support services developed by Vance and his office colleagues.

In nominating Vance for the UW Systemwide award, V. Thomas Dock, dean of the UW-Eau Claire College of Business, noted that Vance teaches a “Diversity in the Workplace” course in the university’s MBA program, and donates the additional salary he receives to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation in support of multicultural scholarships for business students. “As an individual deeply committed to campus diversity, Jim commits his time, talents and personal financial resources to this effort,” wrote Dock.

In his current position and in similar roles at UW-Stevens Point from 1972 to 1988, Vance has had a hand in developing successful programs for students and faculty that have delivered more than $1.3 million in extra-mural funding. He is recognized throughout the UW System and Wisconsin as a “model” student services professional whose contributions and commitment directly impact student achievement and success. In his “spare” time, Vance contributes his expertise to a number of Eau Claire-area community organizations and presents diversity training workshops for local law enforcement personnel.


Jonathan Henkes
(608) 263-3362