MILWAUKEE – The Board of Regents today honored this year’s recipients of the Academic Staff Excellence Awards. These awards recognize exceptional service to the university and are the highest recognition bestowed by the Universities of Wisconsin on members of their academic staff.

Award recipients are selected for superior performance resulting in significant contributions to the department and institution; use of positive personal interaction to manage work changes; and a consistently creative approach that improves productivity and work quality.

“The tireless work of these recipients – along with the work of academic staff systemwide – helps to strengthen and invigorate not only our UW universities but also the broader communities in which they serve,” said Regent Jim Kreuser, chair of the selection committee.

Photo of Lynda BaderThe 2024 recipients include two individuals and one program:

  • Lynda Bader, Director, Clinical Trials Strategic Initiatives, UW Clinical Trials Institute, UW-Madison

“My strategy for success is to never stop trying to be qualified for the job,” Bader said. “One has to keep pace and adapt, to stay relevant and advance relevant work.” As a first-generation college student, she acknowledged the invaluable support she received along the way from educators, advisors, and others who “took me under their wing and empowered me to excel … with the skills, personal resources, and confidence to start my professional journey.”

Bader has enhanced the clinical trials landscape at UW-Madison, initiating strategic improvements that have catalyzed growth and increased performance. She orchestrated a collaborative effort involving multiple departments and disciplines to establish a universally applicable fee structure template for industry-sponsored clinical trials. This initiative facilitated efficient budgeting, leading to increased revenue from industry-sponsored research—an accomplishment that has gained attention and inquiries from other academic institutions seeking her guidance.

Guiding her work is the attempt to “reimagine a more patient-centric, compassionate way to provide clinical trials … one which embraces values of the UW and the Wisconsin Idea, and to increase the reach and impact of the leading-edge work we do … to improve the health, quality of life, and outcomes of people we serve.”

  • Photo of Jenna GraffJenna Graff, International Programs Manager, UW Oshkosh

“International education has come a long way from being study abroad or the junior semester abroad,” said Graff, who has been UW Oshkosh’s Director of the Office of International Education since its inception in 2003. During her tenure, she has facilitated study abroad trips for over 6,000 students, led by more than 100 UW Oshkosh professors and instructional academic staff to 50 countries.

“I really love this career because I get to dedicate myself to mutual understanding, respect, and justice through citizen diplomacy,” Graff said, adding that she works with academic colleagues to “develop strategies and solutions that become intentional learning experiences. What I do is make these strategies a reality.”

She calls international education “a life-changing adventure to increase confidence, and renewed excitement for how the world works.”

  • Photo of staff from the UW-Whitewater Children's Center; Director and Lead Teacher Chelsea Newman accepts the award on behalf of the program.Children’s Center, UW-Whitewater

“We have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood education. Investing in early childhood education is one of the best ways to ensure future success,” said Chelsea Newman, director of the center which provides over 6,000 placement hours annually for students completing fieldwork and student teaching in the Early Childhood Program. The program has built and strengthened partnerships across campus since its opening in 1974.

Newman noted that the partnership between the campus and the wider community has been “the cornerstone of providing learning opportunities and growth to all involved” and fostering their shared commitment to provide the highest quality of care that children and parents deserve.

Newman added that the award really reflects the continued and long-term commitment of both her current colleagues and predecessors over the past 50 years to creating a vibrant and enriching educational experience for students and communities.

Other members of the Academic Staff Excellence Awards selection committee included Regent Robert Atwell, Regent Haben Goitom, and Regent Mark Tyler.

Gov. Evers Addresses Board

Photo of Governor EversGovernor Tony Evers took the opportunity of addressing Regents to urge them to be bold when formulating their biennial budget request later this summer.

“I’m asking you to send a budget request that meets this critical moment and the urgent, significant needs of the UW System,” Evers said. “We must make historic and significant investments in the next biennial budget if we are going to prevent the further degradation of the UW System.”

Evers proposed a request for a $400 million increase in each year of the next biennial budget.

Evers, who served 11 years on the Board of Regents while state superintendent, said the UW has a long tradition of solving complex problems, marshaling world-class research, and innovation.

“I believe that the UW System and the campuses are among the most valuable assets we have in the state of Wisconsin,” Evers said, noting their vital role in the Wisconsin economy and delivering on the promise of public education and workforce training for the future.

“We must invest in the University of Wisconsin System. It’s that simple,” he said.

New Board Leadership Elected

Photo of Weatherly and BogostThe Board of Regents elected Regent Amy Bogost to a one-year term as President. Bogost, a graduate of UW-Madison and previously Regent Vice President, succeeds Karen Walsh, who has served as President since June 2022. The Board also elected Regent Kyle Weatherly as Vice President.

Bogost expressed her gratitude to outgoing President Walsh and for the ongoing support of board colleagues. “The most important quality of this board at the end of the day is we’re all driven by a mutual passion and unwavering dedication to see that our state’s most valuable asset, the Universities of Wisconsin, thrives and all of our citizens have access to this world-class education,” she said.

Weatherly told Regents he makes the commitment to always be available. “If you have questions, concerns, or ideas, I can’t promise I’ll have an answer or solution – but I’ll always listen,” he said.

The Board also approved election of other officers of the Board: Megan Wasley, corporate secretary of the Board; Christen Bock, assistant secretary; Steven Wright, assistant secretary; Sean Nelson, trust officer; and Charles Saunders, assistant trust officer.

Regents recognize service of former colleagues

Photo of Regent StatonThe Board recognized the service of two Regents whose terms of service on the Board have concluded.

Regent Jen Staton, who served as the nontraditional student Regent since May 2022, thanked Board colleagues, President Rothman, campus leadership, and others for their support and mentorship. “All of you have been more than welcoming along the crazy road of being a Regent,” she said. “The decisions being made here affect real people … and create opportunities for students across Wisconsin. Thank you for challenging my perspectives and giving me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Staton, who served in the U.S. Army from 2007 to 2014, recently graduated from UW-Parkside.

Regent John Miller, whose time on the Board ended in March, commended its members for “fostering a spirit of collegiality and decency” and being “smart advocates for the university system” who “come prepared to work to find solutions.” Miller urged his colleagues to continue their efforts to help the university succeed in its mission.

Photo of Regent John MillerIn other business, the Regents:

  • Approved a resolution of appreciation for UW-Milwaukee’s hosting of the June 2024 Board of Regents meeting;
  • Approved 2025 and 2026 Board of Regents meeting schedules;
  • Approved a UW-Madison 5-year master clinical trial agreement with Merck Sharpe & Dohme;
  • Postponed vote on institutional policies regarding campaigning in residence halls to allow consideration by the full board;
  • Approved the annual request for funding from the Vilas Trust Fund for UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, which this year totaled over $9 million. It will support Scholarships, Fellowships, Professorships, and Special Programs in Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Music;
  • Approved UW-La Crosse’s request for a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutritional Science;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for a Master of Social Work in Social Work – Advance Standing;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for a Bachelor of Science in Agroecology;
  • Approved UW-River Falls’ request for a Bachelor of Science in Community and Environmental Planning;
  • Approved the 2024 Report on Faculty Promotions, Tenure Designations, and Other Changes of Status;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for approval of the UW-Madison Report to Honor Veterans as part of the Camp Randall Sports Center Replacement Project;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to sell 12.5-Acre Parcel at the Marshfield Agricultural Research Station;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to lease Office Space for University Marketing;
  • Approved UW System’s request for authority to construct a 2023-25 Classroom Renovation/Instructional Technology Improvement Program Project. At UW-Madison, Brogden Hall Psychology Lecture Hall 105 will be renovated;
  • Approved UW System’s request for authority to construct 3 All Agency Maintenance and Repair Projects: At UW-La Crosse, the 1966 Heating Plant Chimney will be repaired. At UW-Milwaukee, the Union Parking Structure Ramp & Stairs will be repaired and reconstructed to meet ADA requirements. UW-Platteville will replace the Heating Plant Chimney Liner;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to construct the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (WIMR) East Wedge Cyclotron and Expansion;
  • Approved UW-Green Bay’s request for authority to construct the Cofrin Technology & Education Center; and
  • Approved UW System’s request to amend Regent Policy Document 19-5, “Delegation of Authority to Remove Unneeded Structures,” to modify policy provisions to define the UW-Managed process as the second option for removing structures.

Photos by Troye Fox/UWM

The Board of Regents for the Universities of Wisconsin will next meet on August 22-23, 2024, in Madison.