Tom Tye II
308.237.3155; Beverly Mathiesen, 308.865.8208; Brandon Benitz, 308.865.1619

Six outstanding faculty and staff members on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus recently received awards during the Fall Faculty/Staff Convocation.

Three faculty received Pratt-Heins Awards, and three staff received Staff Awards for Excellence. Each award recipient received a $1,000 cash award along with a plaque. This fall marked the 30th consecutive year for the Pratt-Heins Foundation awards.

“For the past 30 years, the Pratt-Heins Foundation has recognized members of the university faculty for their outstanding contributions and achievements in the areas of teaching, service, and scholarship and research,” said Mike Tye, who presented the Pratt-Heins Awards. “It is a great tribute to this university that each year there are so many well-qualified and deserving nominees that it makes the selection committee’s job exceedingly difficult.”

The Pratt-Heins Awards and recipients include: Dr. Kim Carlson, associate professor of biology, the Pratt-Heins Award for Scholarship & Research; Dr. Martha Kruse, associate professor and former chair of the Department of English, the  Pratt-Heins Award for Service; and Dr. Krista Forrest, professor of psychology, the Pratt-Heins Award for Teaching.

The Pratt-Heins Award for Scholarship & Research is based on evidence of the consistent production of original work in the nominee’s discipline. Dr. Carlson has published 20 articles in national and international refereed journals, and has presented her research at more than 50 conferences. In addition, she has mentored more than 75 graduate and undergraduate student research projects. Dr. Carlson’s research topics have included studying a gene that could possibly lead to a new therapy for HIV, and her most current research–evaluating the OTK18 gene and its effects on the aging process.

The Pratt-Heins Award for Service is based on evidence of consistent outstanding service to UNK students, the university, education in general, and to significant state, regional or national education programs. Dr. Kruse has served as president and a member of multiple committees of the UNK Faculty Senate. She has also been a member of academic program review teams, the Affirmative Action Commission, Chancellor’s Strategic Planning Committee and numerous campus committees. In addition, she has served on the Language Arts Council, the Nebraska Writing Project State Advisory Board, National Council of Teachers of English, Council of Writing Program Administrators and the Western Literature Association. Further, she has presented, and acted as facilitator for, the Nebraska Writing Project Rural Site Institute and has lead community writing projects for the Nebraska Humanities Council.

“This year’s recipient (Dr. Kruse) indicated that when pondering a service opportunity, she asks herself two questions: ‘Can I contribute? Can I learn something?’ More often than not, she finds the answer to be yes,” Tye said.

The Pratt-Heins Award for Teaching is based on peer evaluations from departmental faculty, the department chair and dean of the nominee’s school. In addition, student comments are reviewed from course evaluations for recent courses taught by the nominee.

“Dr. Forrest has been involved in a multitude of undergraduate teaching and mentoring activities, and has repeatedly demonstrated her excellence as a teacher,” Tye said. “She is an enthusiastic teacher in the classroom, has excellent rapport with students, and is a leader in her department in the development and use of innovative in-class activities to enhance student learning.”

One student wrote: “She has passion for what she is teaching. She explains things clearly while encouraging us to seek out answers and apply the information that we are learning.”

Another wrote: “Good teacher. Good class. Hard tests.”

Staff Awards for Excellence went to Dee Goedert, head of Access Services at C.T. Ryan Library; Michelle Hamaker, director of Police and Parking Services; and Michelle Smidt, an office services associate for Intercollegiate Athletics.

The Staff Awards for Excellence presented to Goedert and Hamaker were funded by Fidelity Investments; the award to Smidt, from the Jim and Lynn Rundstrom Family Foundation Fund. Patrick Vaughan, senior managing director of Fidelity Investments, presented the awards to Goedert and Hamaker; Jon Watts, UNK assistant director of Business Services, to Smidt.

Goedert and her staff are responsible for scheduling both people and services in the C.T. Ryan Library for the 93 hours each week that the library is open. In addition, this past year, she oversaw a major library collection shift that involved moving hundreds of thousands of volumes, one item at a time. She and her staff also assisted in a major culling of the microforms collection, a project that involved individually handling hundreds of thousands of items. In the nomination, she was described as “…a professional, a go-to person who does the best job possible and sets a standard for others.”

Hamaker was cited for her efforts last spring to conduct a Kearney-wide emergency drill, which provided the city an opportunity to test its new emergency operations center and UNK an opportunity to further test its response plan. She also developed plans and obtained funding to repair and pave several campus parking lots, upgraded officer safety by enhancing equipment and training, and she supervised UNK’s response to a Cleary Act audit. She serves on the UNK Emergency Operations Team and has written numerous grants to support EOT projects.

In presenting the award to Smidt, Watts described as Smidt as  “…a team player who always puts UNK first.” Many Loper fans know Smidt, because she oversees ticket sales for all home contests, and for Conference and Division II National events that are hosted by the campus. She also is responsible for oversight of student-athlete insurance records and the payment of medical bills when injuries occur.  In addition to her regular responsibilities, she has been the co-director of the annual Women’s Walk which raises funds to support women’s athletics on the campus, and she is the founder of Loper Mates, a program that pairs UNK student-athletes and students with disabilities from within the Kearney Public Schools.