Each year, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, honors six faculty and six staff at the University of Iowa for their extraordinary contributions and sustained record of excellence. Each award recipient receives $1,000 and is honored at a special awards ceremony and celebration. The 2019 award ceremony has been delayed due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The University of Iowa is the outstanding institution it is because of our incredibly talented and dedicated people, and these Regents Award recipients are a prime example of that fact,” says Montserrat Fuentes, executive vice president and provost. “Collectively, they have made extraordinary contributions to education and research, and they have had a tremendous positive impact on the university and the communities we serve. I am so pleased we have the opportunity to recognize them in this way.”
“I am proud to work at this institution and support these individuals who have dedicated themselves to hard work, innovation, and service,” says Cheryl Reardon, chief human resources officer and associate vice president. “In fields ranging from medicine to literature to information technology, these awardees exemplify our institution’s values and its mission of research, education, and public service. I gladly applaud their accomplishments and look forward to what they’ll do next.”
The faculty and staff award recipients were selected by committees appointed by shared governance in collaboration with UI administration and confirmed by the Regents.
Board of Regents Staff Excellence Award Recipients
Wendy Beaver, Division of Sponsored Programs
Beaver has worked at the UI for 35 years and serves as executive director of sponsored research, helping faculty, staff, and students obtain external funding for research, training, and service activities. Under her leadership, the Division of Sponsored Programs has enjoyed success despite national economic challenges. In fiscal year 2018, Beaver increased support from federal agencies, secured additional grant funding for the College of Nursing, and increased funding from the NASA and the National Institutes of Health. She developed an electronic application that reviews and tracks 550 grant proposals and awards each week. Her other accomplishments include standardizing contract terms with state agencies and pursuing collaborative research agreements and subaward contracts with Iowa businesses and community organizations.
Leslie Finer, Office of Outreach and Engagement
Finer began working for the UI in 1995 and is the director of arts and humanities in the Office of Outreach and Engagement. She has built an arts outreach program unrivaled in Iowa that is garnering national attention for innovation and partnerships. She is responsible for programming more than 300 arts events, activities, and projects in K–12 schools, colleges, community centers, public libraries, and other venues in 92 of Iowa’s 99 counties. She has given particular attention to underserved and rural communities and enhanced Iowans’ quality of life. More than 250 UI students and faculty as well as more than 20,000 Iowans annually participate in programming organized by Finer. She often is the first professional employer of many arts graduate students at the university.
Michael Kaplan, Information Technology Services
Kaplan has worked for the UI since 1997 and is the director of administrative systems, Information Management/Human Resources. Throughout his career, Kaplan has focused on envisioning and implementing solutions to complex problems and enabling fast, productive development. He has overhauled, created, and innovated many campus software applications that have resulted in efficiencies, annual savings, and improved user experiences. For the past 12 years, Kaplan has led the overall strategy for enterprise HR Applications at Iowa, resulting in comprehensive, efficient, integrated systems, including Universal Workflow, Time and Attendance, and the improved Employee Self-Service. Most recently, Kaplan provided technology expertise in developing a suite of HR data dashboards. His work has been pivotal in successfully moving the HR enterprise and the employee experience in a positive direction for 20 years.
Wanda Pfeifer, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Pfeifer has worked at the UI since 1992 and serves in numerous roles supporting children’s vision. She is a certified orthoptist and ophthalmic technician who assesses children’s vision and strabismus, and she writes grants and Institutional Review Board proposals. As an electrophysiology coordinator, she helped propel the UI to a national reputation in ocular gene therapy and in unique clinical service to children. She teaches orthoptic and medical students, residents, and pediatric ophthalmology fellows, and her expertise makes the UI one of the best orthoptic training programs in the country. She assisted in the creation and development of an electrophysiology suite that draws patients from across the nation. In addition, she works as a KidSight screener on the weekends. Countless children have improved or retained their eyesight because of Pfeifer.
Tracy Scott, Information Technology Services
Scott has worked at the UI since 1998 and serves as IT director for ITS Enterprise Services, where his efforts and contributions have benefited the university through leading enterprise technology initiatives. He was instrumental in the successful implementation of the IT component of the Transparent, Inclusive, Efficiency Review (TIER) initiative at the UI, which contributed to cost savings of about $4.4 million annually. Scott is heavily involved in new UI directives for increased collaboration between ITS and Health Care Information Services, the two central IT providers for the academic and health care enterprises of the UI, respectively. He leads nearly all the planning for upcoming projects concerning shared IT service management tools and processes, campus ID efficiencies, email migration, and Voice Over IP (VOIP) for campus.
Nathan Young, College of Engineering
Young has worked intermittently for the UI for a total of 19 years since 1996, and is a research engineer at the UI’s IIHR—Hydroscience and Engineering, associate director of the Iowa Flood Center, and director of IIHR’s Lucille A. Carver Mississippi Riverside Environmental Research Station. He was the primary investigator of the $12.5 million Iowa Statewide Floodplain Mapping Project, which developed floodplain maps showing the probability, extent, and depth of flooding in 85 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Young and his team developed flood inundation maps for 25 Iowa communities to help citizens better prepare for impending flooding, and he is currently leading implementation of the Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA), a $97 million statewide project helping redefine how river communities work together to address water quantity and quality issues. The IWA promises to serve as a model for the state and the Midwest.
Board of Regents Faculty Excellence Award Recipients
Kurt Anstreicher, Tippie College of Business
Anstreicher began teaching at the UI in 1991 and is an award-winning instructor and world-recognized expert in optimization and operations research. He holds complimentary appointments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, and the interdisciplinary graduate program in applied mathematics and computation science. He has won seven MBA teaching awards (voted on by students) and has been recognized three times in Bloomberg Businessweek’s list of Outstanding Business School Faculty. Anstreicher is an Association of American Universities-recognized fellow whose research is frequently cited. He is a fellow of INFORMS, the major international organization for operations research/management sciences and has served as editor for top journals in his field. Anstreicher has also served consistently on campus committees and in administrative roles.
Lan Samantha Chang, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Chang is the Harriet Wenger Crafton Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and, since 2006, has served as Elizabeth M. Stanley Professor in the Arts and as the first female program director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the world’s premiere creative writing MFA program. She is the author of three books and has received numerous prestigious awards for her fiction, including the PEN/Hemingway/Deross Prize and the PEN Beyond the Margins Award for the Novel. She has received creative writing fellowships from Stanford University, Princeton University, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. During her tenure as program director, she has made extraordinary fundraising efforts and has served on a variety of departmental committees for campus publications, academic programs, and fellowships. In her service to campus and beyond, she has supported and enriched literature in countless and immeasurable ways.
Stephen Dunbar, College of Education
Dunbar has taught at the UI for 38 years and serves as Hieronymus-Feldt Professor of Educational Measurement and co-director of Iowa Testing Programs, which develops learning assessment and prediction tools used around the world. He is a member of numerous professional, national, and state organizations, including the American Educational Research Association, the National Council on Measurement in Education, and the Iowa Educational Research and Evaluation Association and is an active reviewer for peer-reviewed journals. Dunbar is the lead author of the most widely used achievement battery in the U.S. and is active with the Iowa Department of Education, helping keep Iowa on the cutting edge of educational assessment. His research projects have raised roughly $26 million in grant funding and contracts, he consistently receives high ratings from students, and he has served on comprehensive examination committees for more than 100 graduate students.
Jose Morcuende, Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine
Morcuende has taught for the UI for 22 years, currently serving as professor in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, and is the Marvin and Rosalie Pomerantz Chair in Orthopedic Surgery. He succeeded Ignacio Ponseti as the world expert in using the Ponseti method for treating children afflicted with clubfoot, is the president of the Ponseti International Association, and has been a leader in starting and supporting educational programs for treating clubfoot in underdeveloped countries. In addition, Morcuende has authored and co-authored important papers on congenital hip dysplasia, scoliosis, and a range of other childhood orthopedic disorders. He has participated in and led basic scientific studies on chondrosarcoma and genetic aspects of children’s orthopedic disorders. His CV lists more than 30 grants awarded and more than 100 publications.
Corinne Peek-Asa, College of Public Health
Peek-Asa has taught at the UI since 2001 and serves as both associate dean for research and as a professor in the College of Public Health, where she is described as the leading injury control researcher of her generation. Her work has inspired national legislation, and she helped develop injury and violence data collection systems in five countries. Peek-Asa created a workplace violence prevention program that was implemented in eight U.S. cities, and in Iowa, she collaborated with the Cedar Rapids Community School District to create an innovative and unique arts-based bullying prevention toolkit for educators. She is a widely sought speaker and has served on national boards. On campus, she sits on the executive committee for the UI’s Public Policy Center, where she has developed and conducted research and led grant applications. She has developed courses for new undergraduate programs and developed service-learning programs with the Cedar Rapids Community School District. She has helped faculty in her college remain competitive as traditional sources of grant funding shrink, and her teaching and research has been recognized with local and national awards. She has received the UI May Brodbeck Distinguished Achievement Award for outstanding accomplishment or a lifetime record of service and achievement that provides a role model for women and/or girls. In February 2020, she was the UI’s 37th Presidential Lecturer.
Barbara Rakel, College of Nursing
Rakel began working for the UI in 1980 as a staff nurse and is a professor in the College of Nursing. She has become a leading scholar in pain management, exploring chronic pain after joint replacement surgery as well as non-drug interventions for pain care. In addition, she reviews manuscripts for five journals related to pain issues and serves on the Editorial Board for the interdisciplinary Journal of Pain. She co-authored the widely-used Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice to Promote Quality Care. These efforts have drawn numerous awards and recognitions, including induction as a fellow into the American Academy of Nursing. In addition to teaching courses and mentoring junior faculty and students, she contributed important expertise to redesigning the PhD core curriculum in the College of Nursing.