Regents Awards recognize excellence among UNI faculty and staff
This year’s winners for the Regents Awards for Faculty and Staff Excellence at the University of Northern Iowa were recognized on Nov. 15. Each year, the Iowa Board of Regents presents these awards to faculty and staff who are “outstanding university citizens and who have rendered significant service to their institution and the state of Iowa.”
Regents Awards for Faculty Excellence
Alan Czarnetzki, a professor of meteorology in the College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences is the first recipient of the Regents Awards for Faculty Excellence. For more than three decades, Czarnetzki has been recognized as a highly regarded scholar who has provided excellent teaching and enriched learning opportunities for students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. A central goal of his teaching approach is to help students learn how to become active partners in constructing their own knowledge about the physical world. To date, he has obtained over 25 local, state and national grants totaling more than $5.5 million.
For five years, Lisa Jepsen has served as associate dean of the David W. Wilson College of Business in addition to her duties as a long-time professor of economics. In 2022, Jepsen was named the Robert James Waller Professor of Economics. She has authored 14 peer-reviewed articles in top academic journals and written several book chapters. In the classroom, she is known for establishing high standards and expectations for her students.
Aleksandar Poleksic is an award-winning professor in the Department of Computer Science. He has published 36 peer-reviewed articles and offered 19 professional presentations locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. He has diverse research interests including projects such as developing an accurate computational approach to drug discovery, sequence and structural bioinformatics, protein structure alignment, developing novel algorithms, among others. Poleksic tries to challenge his students and encourage them to “pursue new problems with more confidence than they tend to think themselves capable.”
Regents Awards for Staff Excellence
The first recipient of the Regents Awards for Staff Excellence is Nick Sullivan. His history working at UNI dates back to 1996 when he worked as part of the Upward Bound program with UNI-CUE. Sullivan then worked with the TRIO/Student Support Services Program before moving to the Office of Academic Advising in 2021. He played a vital role in creating the new institutional-based Panther Access, Connection & Engagement (PACE) program. Some of his greatest accomplishments include helping non-traditional students earn a bachelor’s degree, supporting homeless youth as they navigate life post-high school and assisting students with documenting their physical or learning impairments.
For 17 years, Cassie Luze has served as the development director for the College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences. During this time, she has been the primary fundraiser for the college, raising over $40 million to include the creation and support for 115 program funds, over 120 scholarships and most recently, support for the Applied Engineering Building project.
As the professional & scientific employment coordinator, Melissa Engdahl has served as a source of knowledge, reference and inspiration for many on campus. She sets herself apart from the many dedicated employees across campus in her adherence to following rules and regulations, putting the interests of the university and employees at the forefront, and doing both of these in a professional, kind and helpful manner. Engdahl has become an invaluable team member of the UNI Works project balancing her job responsibilities with the additional requests needed to keep the Workday project on schedule.