Glennis Nagel
Director, Media Communications, 308.865.8454

Six top University of Nebraska at Kearney awards, three Pratt-Heins Awards to faculty and three Staff Awards for Excellence, were presented Friday during the Faculty/Staff Convocation.

This year’s Pratt-Heins Awards recipients include: Dr. Darleen Mitchell, music, the Pratt-Heins Award for Scholarship/Research and Creative Activity; Dr. Kimberly Ann Carlson, biology, Pratt-Heins Award for Service; and Dr. David Hof, counseling and school psychology, Pratt-Heins Award for Teaching. Staff Awards for Excellence went to: Joan DeHaven, accounts payable manager in the Finance Office; Cyndi Schroeder, student records coordinator in the Office of the Registrar; and Claris Lewis, office associate in the Division of Facilities Management and Planning. Each award recipient received a $1,000 check and a plaque.

Presenting the prestigious Pratt-Heins Awards was Tim Tye II of Kearney, a trustee of the Pratt-Heins Foundation. Tye noted: “For more than 30 years, the Pratt-Heins Foundation has recognized members of the UNK faculty for their outstanding contributions in the categories of teaching, service, and scholarship and research.”

The Pratt-Heins Award for Scholarship/Research and Creative Activity is based on an annotated listing of research documents, publications or productions; evaluations from qualified individuals in the field; and administrative evaluations from the department chair and dean.

“This year, we defined ‘scholarship and research’ to include ‘creative activity’ which I like,” Tye said.

Dr. Mitchell has created more than 119 musical compositions for various groups—including symphonic, concerto and opera. She has received prestigious grants from the Chicago Arts Council, the Illinois Arts Council and the Nebraska Arts Council. In 2005 and again in 2011, the Nebraska Arts Council honored her with individual artist fellowships and Distinguished Artists Awards. Further, she has been honored by the national league of American Pen Women Composition Competition for her work “Vision.”

Her compositions have been performed throughout the United State and in Europe by the American Chamber Society of Chicago, Aurora String Quartet in San Francisco and the International Guitar Festival in Greece.

Shulamit Ran, University of Chicago distinguished professor and artistic director, wrote that Dr. Mitchell “…is an excellent composer who writes music notable for its imagination, musicality and top-notch craft. Her music, through various shifts and exploration of style and language over a lifetime of composing continues to impress me with its power of expression, freshness and characteristic command of compositional tools. No matter what the media and size of the composition, she has the ability to keep her listener engaged and delighted.”

The Pratt-Heins Award for Service went Dr. Carlson. Criteria for the service award include evidence of consistent outstanding service to UNK students, the university, education in general, and to significant state, regional or national educational programs. Each nominee’s application, together with peer evaluations, is reviewed by the selection committee to judge the value and quality of the service rendered.

In presenting the award, Tye said: “This year’s honoree (Carlson), like so many UNK faculty is deeply passionate about her colleagues, her department, college, university, the community and the neighborhood where she lives, and most importantly–her students. She is the person who is always willing to volunteer and then give something extra to her department.

“She has served on numerous search committees, the curriculum committee, the graduate committee, and she helped restructure the department’s undergraduate catalogue making it more student-friendly. To her students, she serves as the faculty mentor for undergraduate and graduate student research, and for the UNK Wildlife Society, she not only participated in, but won, the ‘Kiss the Snake’ contest.”

In the Kearney community, Dr. Carlson is active in the Centennial Neighborhood Association as well as the Kenwood Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization. On the campus, she is the sponsor of Alpha Phi Omega, a national service organization. Through APO, she has done highway pick-up projects, community blood drives, door decorations for nursing homes and other projects.

This is the second Pratt-Heins Award for Dr. Carlson. Last year, she won the Pratt-Heins Award for Scholarship and Research.

The Pratt-Heins Award for Teaching is selected based on peer evaluations from department faculty, the department chair and the dean of the nominee’s college, along with student comments on the nominee’s course evaluations.

Dr. Hof has been at UNK for 12 years, and during the entire time, his student evaluations have averaged 4.87 on a 5.0 scale He is described as “…an extremely effective teacher who is interesting, stimulating, nurturing, approachable, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and …fun!” He actively promotes student research and presentations, and under his guidance, the UNK chapter of the student honor society has continued to receive national recognition.

In addition, he has led innovative programs such as the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Advocacy Program where he and his students experience, and engage with, Native Americans and their struggles at Pine Ridge. Many students have commented that this opportunity was a life-changing experience. He is also a licensed independent mental health practitioner who skillfully facilitates personal and interpersonal growth for students in his counseling classes.

“We should all feel very reassured that the next generation of talented counselors graduate from UNK under the guidance of teachers like Dr. David Hof,” Tye said.

Two of the Staff Awards for Excellence are supported by Fidelity Investments. Those were presented by Patrick Vaughan, senior managing director for Fidelity Investments.

In presenting the first award to Joan DeHaven, accounts payable manager in the Finance Office, Vaughan said: “In summary, let me say that her contributions to UNK are consistently outstanding.”

DeHaven also serves as the accounts payable trainer, asset records manager, provides support in the areas of capital plant and equipment and revenue bond activities, and has been instrumental in enhancing the SAP Fixed Asset reporting capabilities for all NU campuses and in the deployment of the SAP automated travel system.

A nominator described DeHaven, saying: “Her knowledge of tax regulations, and her remarkable ability to translate complex regulations into understandable processes, provides UNK the essential skill set and perspective that has made her a ‘go to’ person for tax-related research and guidance. Her colleagues depend on her for technical hardware and software support as well.”

DeHaven holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Chadron State College, with a double major in accounting and management information systems. She is also a CPA and maintains an active permit.

The second award went to Cyndi Schroeder, student records coordinator in the Office of the Registrar. In presenting the award, Vaughan noted: “Cyndi is passionate about her work, and it shows.”

Schroeder, who has been involved in a number of complex software implementations and conversions in the past several years, continued to manage day-to-day office operations. As the lead on the Transfer Credit module, she often worked well beyond the regular eight-hour day and throughout the weekends to keep projects on schedule.

She is also UNK’s campus lead for the Degree Works implementation, which required extensive trouble-shooting, guidance and solution developments.

In addition, she continued to maintain articulation agreements with 16 different institutions, oversaw the awarding of Phi Theta Kappa scholarships, and focused on the recruitment and retention of transfer students. She is also active in statewide professional organizations, serving on committees and hosting statewide conferences.

The third Staff Award for Excellence is supported by the Jim and Lynn Rundstrom Family Foundation Fund and was presented to Claris Lewis by Jon Watts, president of UNK Staff Senate.

“Claris has been part of the Loper family for more than 35 years, which has made her an invaluable asset to newcomers and seasoned veterans alike,” Watts said.

The nomination noted: “She works with consultants, contractors and various off-campus agencies; she is a liaison between her division and the community at large; she is a mentor and confidante to co-workers; she is a vital member of the Sustainability Committee; and quite often, she is the first contact non-university people have with the campus, a responsibility she takes quite seriously, understanding that first impressions tend to be lasting impressions. Her supervisor describes her as a team player who knows how to listen. Good judgment and trustworthiness are also musts, and she is highly respected in both of those categories.”

Beyond her regular duties, she served in the staff organization that preceded UNK Staff Senate, and for many years, she organized an annual holiday event for staff across the campus. She also participates in the International Friendship Program. Many students stay in touch with her long after they return to their native countries, and she has traveled abroad to visit them and meet their families.

“Claris Lewis, UNK is better, because you are here,” Watts said in making the presentation.