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Michael R. Lovell

In praise of our faculty and staff
February 2012

few weeks before each commencement ceremony, graduating students are asked to share stories about their semesters at UWM. The stories – many quite inspirational – are then interwoven with traditional segments of the commencement program.

Students are given a few prompts into the types of stories that fit best, such as telling me about the hardships or obstacles they may have overcome, specific class experiences, support received from family and friends, or the role UWM faculty or staff may have played in their

The responses received from students for the December 2011 commencement were especially focused on faculty and staff. In fact, more than one-third of the student stories received involved our employees – an especially high percentage.

The commencement ceremony only allows for telling a handful of stories on any given topic. I don’t want all those faculty and staff stories to go untold, so here are many highlights.

“I wanted you to know just how much my History dissertation adviser, Dr. Margo Anderson, and my program director, Dr. Amanda Seligman, have meant to me…. There were many times when I was discouraged by family, academic or personal setbacks, but both of them steadfastly reminded me that I had what it takes to succeed in a doctoral program – and even to survive statistics! …I greatly appreciate
Dr. Anderson’s and Dr. Seligman’s commitment to my education, and their clear and uncompromising dedication to our university.”

“Dr. Na Jin Seo [Industrial Engineering] accelerated my interest in neurological rehabilitation and encouraged me to apply for the Summer Internship in Neurological Engineering program through the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. I applied and successfully earned the internship. …I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for giving a student with no academic neurological knowledge and purely interest to have the opportunity or learn as much as I did and peruse an interest close to my heart.”

“After a car accident ended my 25-year career as a choreographer and performing artist and left me unable to walk, I thought I would never be able to rebuild my life.… But thanks to UWM’s unique interdisciplinary, self-directed Liberal Studies Progam, and especially thanks to professors Jeffrey Hayes [Art History] and Robin Pickering-Iazzi [Comparative Literature], I found a way to integrate my experience in the arts with historical research, biography and playwriting.”

“I am published now thanks to Professor R.L. McNeely [Social Work] with whom I did a report for the local NAACP. My experiences at UWM have been wonderful and great for a returning student
like myself.”

“I’ve been grateful to the professors at the School of Information Studies for the humanity they have shown in times of need. I took a reference class in the last trimester of my second pregnancy, and Dr. Thomas Walker allowed me to work ahead in case my daughter made an early arrival, and Dr. Dick Kawooya granted me extra time when my father had quadruple bypass surgery the day a project was due.”

“Two of my professors, Romila Singh [Management] and Susan Donohue Davies [Human Resources and Labor Relations], both served as mentors as well as professors; taking the time out of their schedules and lives to help me with both academia and personal matters.”

[Elementary logic Professor Richard] Tierney saw right through me too! He never gave me answers when I whined about how I didn’t understand concepts and always let me find out the hard and time-consuming way. …You’d expect me to say I started off with a C in the class and ended with a bright and shiny A. If ever I deserved one it would be for this class. However, the B+ I received was the most satisfactory B+ ever.”

“I can truly say that my adviser Alberto Maldonado and the kinesiology undergraduate coordinator Susan Cashin did everything they could to help me understand what I needed to complete to finish my degree. In one year, or 10 years, they may not remember me, but I will remember them, and how they helped me.”

“During my freshman and sophomore years, I had struggled to find my place at UW-Milwaukee. After meeting with Howard Spearman, my [Lubar School of Business] adviser at that time, he had instilled hope in me and told me I could make it. He guided me and helped me figure out what to do next. After having figured out my educational focus with Howard, I turned to career adviser Dan Neuwirth. He helped me understand my strengths and guided me towards finding my calling, a position in recruitment.”

A student with an extended illness that included time in the hospital said: “I was unable to communicate with my professors while in the hospital, but the wonderful School of Education staff, such as my adviser, John Lockman, communicated with my mom regularly and helped me get my grades completed, as well as support me through this long recovery process within the last two years of college. Lori Becker and Jennifer Mueller have been extremely supportive as teachers, advisers, mentors – people that I could count on while I was overwhelmed and stressed out during student teaching or just having
a bad day.

“One academic adviser I will never forget and who helped me through it all was Diana Edwards [African American Student Academic Services]. …She treated me as her own child and never turned me away or judged me. She always told me to keep pushing no matter how hard life gets because there is a prize at the end. For her being there morally shows me that the faculty at UWM were not there just for the money, they are there because they care. I love her as if she was a second mother to me. I thank her for everything and also I thank UWM for accepting me as a student.”

In my on- and off-campus presentations, one of my first topics is my pride for the faculty and staff at UWM. These stories received from students greatly reinforce my conviction that we have excellent people serving our university and community.


Michael R. Lovell