Annual awards recognize leadership, learning, and loyalty
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

University of Iowa students, faculty, staff, and alumni received some of the institution’s highest honors on April 23 at the 102nd Finkbine Dinner. UI President Bruce Harreld and Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers presented the Hancher-Finkbine Medallions and Distinguished Student Leader certificates.

Hancher-Finkbine Medallions recognizing leadership, learning, and loyalty were presented to students Hira Mustafa, Nate Robinson, Sarah Ziegenhorn, and Jennifer “J” Verniero; College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty member Karen Heimer; staff member Jennifer Lassner; and alumnus Dale Baker.

Taha Gesalla, Dexter Golinghorst, and Jenna Pokorny received Distinguished Student Leader certificates. The Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award, which includes a $1,500 award, was presented to Dilon Goncalves and Carrington Buze.

Ben Colin and Molly Kelly received the Robert F. Ray Faculty Representative Award, which honors outstanding student-athletes and provides $1,000 grants to recipients entering graduate or professional school at the UI.

Elizabeth Willis received the M.L. Huit Faculty Award, and Will Story received the James N. Murray Faculty Award.

In 1917, William Finkbine and Carl Kuhnle hosted the first awards dinner for UI men. In 1921, Finkbine’s daughter, Dorothy Finkbine Sauers, and her aunts introduced a similar dinner for women. The events were combined in 1972 and to this day are supported by an endowment established by William Finkbine, as well as other alumni, friends, and the UI Center for Advancement.

Elizabeth Willis
Marion. L. Huit Faculty Award. 
Elizabeth Willis is a professor of poetry in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. During her tenure at Iowa, she has been instrumental in providing intellectual and aesthetic vibrancy to students enrolled in the program. Willis is known for meeting students at the level of their needs and abilities, understanding that academic life does not occur in a vacuum separate from students’ daily lives. Her most recent book, Alive: New and Selected Poems (New York Review Books, 2015), was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. A recent Guggenheim fellow, she has held residencies at Brown University, the MacDowell Colony, the Ucross Foundation, and the Centre International de Poésie, Marseille. Her poetry has been translated into French, Dutch, Polish, and Slovak. In addition to her writing and academic commitments, Willis makes time to serve as a liaison for extracurricular department events such as What Happens: Poets’ Theater Festival.

William Story
James N. Murray Award Recipient. 
William Story is an assistant professor of Community and Behavioral Health in the College of Public Health. His research focuses on better understanding of household and community factors critical to the improvement of maternal and child health in resource-poor countries and translating that research into effective interventions and policies. In the classroom, Story shares his passion for global health by emphasizing the importance of data reporting and the techniques used to access that information through real-world applications. His engagement with and encouragement of students to use academic knowledge is reflected in his role as a faculty member and a mentor. Story serves as a member of Iowa’s Immigrant and Refugee Health and Wellbeing Research Group (IRHWRG) where, in conjunction with faculty from the College of Public Health, he works with other colleges to create a collaborative research environment that shares resources. Working both locally and internationally, he has created partnerships with nongovernmental organizations and professional agencies.

Carrington Buze ​​​​​​
Phillip G. Hubbard Human Rights Graduate/ Professional Award.
Carrington Buze, of Phoenix, Arizona, is a third-year student in the College of Law. As current president of the Black Law Students Association, she introduced law students to diverse perspectives on race and the law through guest speakers and opening a conversation about and creating access to judicial clerkships for first-generation students of color. In fall 2018, she co-organized and moderated Reforming Juvenile Justice in Iowa, which drew an audience of students, law enforcement officers, social workers, public health advocates, and attorneys, bringing attention to the issue of youth in Iowa who are tried and incarcerated as adults. Buze has made a positive impact within the college and the Iowa City community. Under her leadership, the Safe Futures Team in the Clinical Law Program has worked with administrators and the Iowa City Community School District Board of Education to develop a district-wide policy that guarantees a clear standard of treatment for all parents, regardless of race or immigration status. Buze also has developed partnerships with community organizations and stakeholders, including the creation of the Voting Rights Restoration Clinic, a partnership with the Campaign for Youth Justice.

Dilon Goncalves
Phillip G. Hubbard Human Rights Undergraduate Award. 
Dilon Goncalves, of Chicago, Illinois, is a senior majoring in journalism and mass communication with a certificate in human rights. As co-director for Hubbard Scholars, Goncalves helped construct a curriculum for black men to talk about key issues surrounding microaggressions, health care, and education disparities in the black community. He also co-created the first ever Black Male Retreat for Hubbard Scholars. As president of the National Association of Black Journalists, Goncalves produced and broadcast stories about black people and the lack of black faculty representation on the UI campus. In addition, he has written stories about discrimination based on skin color and how that has affected the mindset of black people. In 2018, he organized an anti-racism workshop for students and community members regarding race neutrality and white supremacy, correlating how these issues relate to the UI campus.

Ben Colin
Robert Ray Faculty Athletic Representative Award. 
Ben Colin, a member of the Men’s Swimming and Diving team from Dubuque, Iowa,   graduated in May 2019 with degrees in sport and recreation management and journalism and mass communication. He also will earn a certificate in event planning and a minor in sports studies. Colin has received numerous academic honors, including Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, Academic All-Big Ten honoree, UI Dean’s List, and the UI President’s List. For the past two years, he has served on the Iowa Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (ISAAC) as both a representative and chair. During his tenure, he has been instrumental in creating a new ISAAC constitution and securing a liaison spot for student-athletes in UI Student Government. Additionally, he has served as a color commentator for Hawkeye Sports on the Big Ten Network Student U channel, as well as a contributing writer for FloSwimming. After graduation, Colin plans to pursue a postgraduate degree in sport and recreation management from the UI.

Molly Kelly
Robert Ray Faculty Athletic Representative Award. 
Molly Kelly, a native of West Liberty, Iowa, graduated from the UI with a degree in religious studies and international studies and a minor in Spanish in fall 2018 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish in spring 2019. For the past two years, she has served as a member of ISAAC, including as vice chair during the 2018–19 academic year. During her college career, she was two-year team captain for the Iowa Women’s Volleyball program, earning a scholarship during the 2018–19 season. She was a starter for her team and was named team MVP during her senior year. In addition to her athletic accolades, Kelly was named to the Dean’s List the past five semesters and the 2018 Google Cloud Division I Academic All-America Team Member of the Year, the first recipient in UI history. She has been actively involved in the community and has traveled internationally through the Coach for College program. She spent two weeks in Vietnam, where she taught English to low-income elementary school students, coached students in volleyball, and bridged cultural differences through sports and education.

Taha Gesalla
Distinguished Student Leader Award, Undergraduate. 
Taha Gesalla, of Des Moines, Iowa, a senior majoring in biomedical sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He grew up in Sudan and moved to the United States with his parents and five siblings in 2015. He serves as president of the Minority Association of Pre-medical Students and has tripled the number of active members to more than 600. Gesalla has been recognized with more than 17 awards, including being named to the All-Iowa Academic Team 2016–17 and a semifinalist for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Through his participation in the Biological Materials and Processes Research Experience program, he has conducted research on an artificial pancreas. In addition to helping fellow undergraduates, he also volunteers at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City, often translating for patients unable to speak English.

Jenna Pokorny
Distinguished Student Leader Award, Undergraduate.
Jenna Pokorny, of Des Moines, Iowa, is a senior majoring in finance in the Tippie College of Business and political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. As a student senator in the Tippie College of Business, Pokorny helped establish an internal funding process that mirrors the process used by student government. Pokorny’s involvement with student government culminated in her chairing the Government Relations Committee that conducted a voter registration drive, lobbied in state government in Des Moines, and coordinated a visit by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa to the UI campus. She also co-founded a new student organization, InvestHer, which provides professional support and guidance to women seeking careers in finance.

Dexter Golinghorst
Distinguished Student Leader Award, Graduate.
Dexter Golinghorst, of Maysville, Iowa, is a third-year student in the College of Law and is pursuing a master’s degree in health administration. Golinghorst is the current president of the Graduate and Professional Student Government and has worked to bring student voices to university issues of decision-making, including advocating for a state-level program to retain graduate and professional students in Iowa after graduation. As a research assistant for Anya Prince, associate professor of law and member of the UI Genetics Cluster, he analyzed the results of an empirical survey of state insurance commissioners, identified themes in the data, and drafted an article that he and Prince submitted for publication. As co-president of the Iowa Student Bar Association, Golinghorst was an advocate for student interests, working toward approval of hiring an in-house mental health counselor and working to enhance networking and job prospects for Iowa Law students. He also serves as a student board member on the Iowa Law School Foundation and as a student ambassador in the Alumni Relations Office, where he works to engage Iowa alumni and donors on behalf of students.

Hira Mustafa
Hancher-Finkbine Undergraduate Student Medallion. Hira Mustafa, of West Des Moines, Iowa, is a senior double major in ethics and public policy with a minor in philosophy from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. As the 2018–19 UI Student Government president, Mustafa has advocated for a range of student issues, including college affordability, medical amnesty, and sexual assault survivor rights. In 2018, she was selected to participate at the International Ethics Case Competition and her team took top honors. Mustafa was recipient of the 2018 Iris Marion Young Fellow for her dedication to advancing justice and equity through a philosophical framework. Mustafa also has applied her knowledge to improve the community she serves. As a resident assistant balancing involvement in eight student organizations, Mustafa always made time for her residents, attending their events or bringing them to hers. They list Mustafa as one of the most influential mentors at Iowa.

Nate Robinson
Hancher-Finkbine Undergraduate Student Medallion. Nate Robinson, of Plainfield, Illinois, is a senior majoring in ethics and public policy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Robinson was the co-coordinator of the first UI Black Male Retreat, a program focused on identity, mental health, and other issues that are not common topics of conversation between black men. Robinson also served as the co-executive director for the Hubbard Scholars. In collaboration with Alpha Phi Alpha and the UI-Prevention of Sexual Violence, Robinson spearheaded a campuswide campaign focused on decreasing sexual violence in the black community and in Greek Life. In the fall of 2018, Robinson was selected as a member of UI Homecoming Royalty.

Jennifer “J” Verniero
Hancher-Finkbine Graduate/Professional Student Medallion. Jennifer “J” Verniero, of Annandale, New Jersey, is a doctoral student in applied mathematical and computational science in the Graduate College. Verniero is an awardee of the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Verniero was elected student representative on Graduate Council and also served as an appointed student representative to the university’s Task Force 2020. Verniero’s leadership extends beyond campus, having led multiple outreach events at local elementary schools, encouraging a love for science and math in the local community. Verniero was part of an organizing committee for 2018 Sonia Kovalevsky Day, an annual outreach event to inspire high school girls to pursue careers in STEM fields, raising nearly $2,500. After graduation, Verniero will work on NASA’s latest mission to the sun at the UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory analyzing data and developing instrumentation.

Sarah Ziegenhorn
Hancher-Finkbine Graduate/Professional Student Medallion. Sarah Ziegenhorn, of Iowa City, Iowa, is a fourth-year medical student in the service distinction and humanities distinction tracks in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. Her research interests include ethnography and the intersection of women’s health and the war on drugs. She has also published studies on the prevention and treatment of obesity. Since founding the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition in 2016, Ziegenhorn has served as the organization’s executive director. She led the IHRC in expanding services to three Iowa communities (Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines), annually helping more than 4,000 people affected by drug use, and building an annual operating budget of more than $250,000. She leads and organizes an annual event that educates about 1,000 students and professionals on emerging approaches to drug use in Iowa communities. Ziegenhorn’s work has been credited with driving an 18 percent decrease in hepatitis C infection rates in Iowa and leading to more than 600 opioid overdose reversals and lives saved.

Karen Heimer
Hancher-Finkbine Faculty Medallion. Karen Heimer is a professor of sociology and collegiate fellow with a courtesy appointment in the Department of Gender, Women’s, and Sexual Studies and is an affiliate of the UI’s Public Policy Center. Heimer researches and teaches in the areas of gender and violence, juvenile delinquency, criminal punishment, and causes of crime and violence. During her tenure at Iowa, she has implemented many initiatives, including expanding online teaching, a grant-writing initiative, and increased participation in summer research opportunities for students from less advantaged backgrounds. She was fundamental in the creation of the criminology, law, and justice major, with almost 300 students declared as their primary field of study. Heimer is the 2018 president of the American Society of Criminology. Most recently, she served as a member of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean search committee, on the Anti-Violence Coalition Campus Climate Survey subcommittee, the Honors Steering Committee, Provost Task Force for Student Success, and the Public Policy Center’s executive committee. Heimer is a recipient of the 2018 Iowa Regents Award for Faculty Excellence and is the 2018 UI Presidential Lecturer.

Jennifer Lassner
Hancher-Finkbine Staff Medallion. Jennifer Lassner is the senior assistant vice president for research in the Office of the Vice President for Research. She has devoted 30 years to supporting the university’s research enterprise. Lassner is a key member of the Office of the Vice President for Research’s senior leadership team, helping chart policy and procedures on everything from faculty incentives and rewards and government and industrial relations, to internal awards and mechanisms. She established the Research Development Office, which streamlines services to minimize the administrative burden of research on faculty and staff. Lassner assists with the approval of human subjects for research, the assessment of fees for services, the humane use of animals in research, and helped researchers navigate the uncertainty created by the recent government shutdown. Her loyalty to the institution demonstrates her commitment to serving the greater good of the university.

Dale Baker
Hancher-Finkbine Alumni Medallion. Dale Baker’s UI education was the key to his success. After completing a BBA in accounting in 1968, Baker had a successful career with Ernst and Young before starting his own business, Baker Healthcare Consulting. Baker currently provides support for more than 40 scholarships in the Tippie College of Business. Since 2013, Baker also has funded the College of Education’s iPad Teacher Education Program, which provides iPads and training to education students. Baker served on the Department of Accounting’s Professional Accounting Council for three years, joined the board of the UI Alumni Association in 1998, and served as the chair of the finance committee and later president of the board. He served as a member of the Tippie Board of Visitors and as its representative to the UIAA board from 2001–05. He currently serves on the UI Center for Advancement Board of Directors and on its executive committee.

Willard L. “Sandy” Boyd
Hancher-Finkbine Honorary Medallion. Willard L. “Sandy” Boyd, former UI president, is a lawyer and an educator. In 1969, at age 42, Boyd became one of the youngest UI presidents to assume office and served as the 15th president from 1969 to 1981. He did so during one of the most tumultuous periods of student unrest in the history of the school. As president, Boyd supported increased funding for the institution, including higher faculty salaries. During the student unrest of the early 1970s, he was credited with maintaining dialogue between the administration and student leaders.

An advocate for human rights, Boyd was appointed in 1962 as the first chair of the university’s Human Rights Committee. From 1981 to 1996, he was president of the Field Museum in Chicago. In 1996, he returned to the UI to teach law. Among his many honors, Boyd was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000. In 2002, he was named interim president of the university after the resignation of Mary Sue Coleman. After serving as interim president, Boyd returned to teaching as the Rawlings-Miller Professor of Law in 2003; he also was the Chester Phillips Research Fellow at the Tippie College of Business at Iowa from 2000 to 2003. He has served as chairman numerous national, state, and UI boards, committees, and councils.