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Michael R. Lovell

In praise of our faculty and staff
June 2013

To prepare for the May 19 Commencement ceremonies, we again asked graduating students to share their stories about their time at UWM. Topic suggestions are offered, including our need for stories about the role faculty or staff played in graduates’ success.

This semester brought an unusually large number of stories on that topic, and I’d like to share a few with you.

A bachelor’s degree recipient from the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare had suffered a terrible injury while serving as a summer camp counselor. This student was appreciative for the support she received from Ann Kowaliczko in the Student Accessibility Center and HBSSW Director of Student Services Kelby Spann. Thanks to their support, this student became her immediate family’s first-generation college graduate.

The challenge of needing to work at a full-time job and finish a degree led a College of Letters & Science transfer student to seek and receive much-appreciated assistance from Anthropology Associate Professor Jean Hudson, Anthropology Professor Thomas Malaby and former teaching assistant Karen Esche-Eiff.

A woman earning an engineering bachelor’s degree recalled her need for a second chance at college and the support she received from Academic Opportunity Center Senior Adviser Jimmy Johnstone (whom the student called “one of the most wonderful people I know”) and College of Engineering & Applied Science Senior Adviser Tina Current (“She wiped my tears when I thought I wouldn’t make it, lectured and encouraged me when I needed.”). She concluded, “UWM and the Industrial Engineering faculty and staff have been my backbone. I am proud to be a UWM graduate.”

An individual majoring in Finance and Marketing singled out Lubar School of Business Lecturer Richard Taylor as his cure for “senioritis” and the inspiration for not only improving his grade in Taylor’s class from a “D” to an “A-minus,” but in all his other classes, too.

An undergraduate transfer student had great praise for the Department of Biological Sciences. She wrote: “I have never before met a group of professionals who are so eager to take you under their wings, and who really seem to truly care about their students.” She singled out Professor Mark McBride, former graduate student Ryan Rhodes and Professor Chuck Wimpee for their support. She called Wimpee “an engaging and fascinating teacher, but he is probably one of the most caring individuals that I’ve ever encountered.”

I really could go on, as other graduating students thanked Psychology Professor W. Hobart Davies, English Associate Professor Kristie Hamilton, Distinguished Professor of English Jane Gallop, the late Art History Professor Jeffrey Hayes, Sociology Senior Lecturer Thomas Moore, Career Development Center Senior Counselor Sherri Pfennig, Psychology Associate Professor Robyn Ridley, Honors College Director Charles Schuster, Chemistry-Biochemistry Associate Professor Alan Schwabacher, History Associate Professor Lisa Silverman, Black Cultural Center Adviser Ramona Sledge, Honors College Assistant Director Robin Weigert and Biological Sciences Associate Professor Jane Witten.

But I do want to share one more story, this one from a student who received an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Cultures and Communities certificate. For this young woman, UWM was her fourth college. She had been battling a chronic, systemic autoimmune disease since the age of 15 (she is now 27). It was only a few years ago that the Mayo Clinic determined appropriate treatment.

She wrote: “As a student with disabilities, I am forever thankful to find UWM, a school based on the principles of inclusion and social justice, and the ONLY university I have found that offered the flexibility, consideration and accommodations to allow me to finally finish my undergraduate degree.” I should note the student had a perfect 4.0 GPA at UWM and is going on to graduate school.

It makes me incredibly proud of the UWM faculty and staff to read all of these words and know that I work alongside the people who have created such a distinctive university. My thanks to all faculty and staff for your contributions during the 2012-13 academic year. I wish you a warm and successful summer.


Michael R. Lovell