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UW-Stevens Point faculty, staff honored at University Awards

May 8, 2023
Professor Sarah Orlofske, biology, and Mike Okray, athletics, were among those honored at the 2023 University Awards.
Professor Sarah Orlofske, biology, and Mike Okray, athletics, were among those honored at the 2023 University Awards.

Outstanding faculty and staff members were recently recognized at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for their work during the 2022-23 academic year. 

The Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship and Service Award was given to Assistant Professor Sarah Orlofske, biology. She is a supportive teacher, working closely with students to help them think like scientists. She promotes student research and is a principal investigator on a $1.5 National Science Foundation grant. Orlofske also serves on several university and professional committees and advises student organizations.

The winner of the Carolyn Rolfson Sargis Award, recognizing employees with more than 25 years of service who work behind the scenes, was Mike Okray, recreation equipment coordinator in Athletics. He manages equipment for 23 sports and the Stevie Pointer mascot. He lends a hand where needed for athletes, the department and the university. He also has donated $150,000 in animal mounts to the campus museum and funds for the Strength Center.

Those selected for the Excellence in Teaching Award include:

  • David Chunyu, associate professor of sociology, has a philosophy of personable learning, approachability, adaptability, mentoring and high expectations for his students.
  • Amanda Jonsson, associate professor of chemistry, invests in her students’ success by connecting instruction to learning outcomes, mixing teaching styles for all needs.
  • Ellen Meier, assistant professor of psychology, encourages critical thinking, inclusivity and active learning that prepares her students for graduate school and their careers.
  • Tim Wright, professor of education, models empathy, flexibility, building connections, hands-on lessons and effective teaching for his students’ future classrooms.

Recognized with the University Scholar Award were:

  • Nathan Bowling, professor of chemistry, has an impressive record of research that he uses to help student projects throughout the year and has been recognized nationally.
  • Qiang Sun, professor of biology, stands out for his scholarship and for including students in all aspects of his work, including co-authoring and conferences.

The University Service Award recipients were:

  • Jess Bowers, associate professor of sociology and social work, coordinates student internships and experiences, advises student organizations and is active in community service groups that help marginalized communities.
  • John Kluck, custodial lead, helps his co-workers with technology, maintains Facility Services web pages and has volunteered with 90FM WWSP for many years.
  • Robert Michitsch, professor of soil and waste resources, serves the state as an expert in composting and waste disposal, educating as he works. He is active with university committees, student organizations and professional groups.

The recipient of the Academic Staff Excellence Award was Tobias Barske, assistant dean of the School of Humanities and Global Studies. He created collaborations, common solutions and promotions for the new school, which includes the departments of history and international studies, English, philosophy and religious studies and world languages and literatures.

The Academic Staff Spirit of Community Service Award was given to Gina Smith, resource specialist for the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education. She created new lessons and updated learning materials for K-12 classrooms, promoting inclusivity and critical thinking.

Several staff members were recognized for Outstanding Work Performance:

  • Melissa Bailey, library cataloging assistant, who served as collections move coordinator and helped relocated thousands of books and materials from Albertson Hall.
  • Tammy Larson, custodial supervisor, leads a team that produces a highly efficient and creative cleaning service that other UW campuses emulate.
  • Shaun Przybylski, library assistant, coordinated the move of library shelving and serves as a liaison between the new off-site for the library and the campus.
  • Steph Schlegel, military science, has created efficiencies, promotions, collaborative relationships and events for her department and its students.