Thursday, October 14, 2021

Twenty-eight University of Iowa faculty and staff members were honored with the UI’s 2021 Faculty and Staff Awards for achievements ranging from excellence in service to leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Read more about the recipients of these awards:

  • David J. Skorton Award for Staff Excellence in Service to the University of Iowa
  • The University of Iowa Outstanding Staff Award
  • The Richard E. Gibson Merit Staff Award for Innovation and Excellence in Customer Service
  • The Staff Award for Distinguished Leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • The May Brodbeck Humanities Fellowship
  • Michael J. Brody Award for Faculty Excellence in Service

The following awards given at the ceremony were previously announced:

David J. Skorton Award for Staff Excellence in Service to the University of Iowa


Ruthina Malone, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Ruthina Malone is administrator for the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, where she has contributed significantly to the department’s success. She was involved in every step of the design and construction of the new Psychological and Brain Sciences Building, organizing weekly meetings with the construction team to minimize disruption to research and teaching, and coordinating the highly complex move to the new building. Her many contributions as a member of the department’s new DEI Committee include organizing three highly successful workshops on diversity and inclusion. 


Cindy Opitz, Pentacrest Museums
Cindy Opitz is director of research collections for the Pentacrest Museums. She has critically improved facilities for the collections through grant awards totaling more than $500,000 and has integrated hands-on internships for students in multiple facilities-improvement projects. She has served the state as a member of the Midwest Registrars’ Committee, Johnson County Historical Society Collections Advisory Committee, and the board of the Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium. She promotes the UI internationally as a member and secretary of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections.

The University of Iowa Outstanding Staff Award


Cari Anderson, College of Dentistry
Cari Anderson, director of dental counseling and wellness support services in the College of Dentistry and Division of Student Life, has elevated awareness around mental health in the broader dental school culture. She has developed unique programming to champion mental wellness, including Body Image Week, Suicide Prevention Week, and Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Week. She created the Student Advisory Board to advocate for the student body, facilitate outreach, and further promote awareness and was named a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Change Agent honoree earlier this year. In addition, she has established workshops, trainings, and support networks for various student groups.


Mishelle Eckland, College of Law
Mishelle Eckland, administrative services coordinator in the College of Law Legal Clinic, plays a vital role in the clinic’s provision of legal services to low-income Iowans. She is the “face” of the clinic, communicating with judges and lawyers, faculty and staff, and current and prospective clients. She coordinates the schedules of five or more faculty members, helps to manage more than 30 students who are learning the practice of law and professionalism, and interacts with and assists clients who are often enduring traumatic experiences in their lives or making difficult decisions for themselves or their families.


Shuhui Lin, International Programs
Shuhui Lin, international student support and engagement coordinator in International Programs and the Division of Student Life, is an advocate for international students and has been an important mentor and resource to many who have felt isolated during challenging times. Dedicated to community-building, she has built influential collaborations across campus to address problems facing international students, promote interaction between new and continuing international students, share experiences around advocacy and activism, and raise awareness of how international students enrich our campus community. Her leadership has been critical to helping students feel more engaged and empowered, even when learning remotely from their home countries. 


David Long, Information Technology Services
David Long leads the ITS Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology Instructional Services Enterprise Instructional Technology team, which provides service management and central support for online teaching environments such as ICON, UICapture, Turnitin, Top Hat, UILearn, Respondus, and several others. He worked quickly to respond to campus needs when the university moved to virtual instruction in March 2020, overseeing the growth of Zoom from a niche tool for instruction to a critical tool for enterprise-wide communications. He has been a member of the Unizin Learning Tools, Strategies, and Operations group since 2017 and has served on the Big Ten Academic Alliance Learning Technologies Liaisons group, of which he is chair-elect for 2022–23.


Julie Nealson, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Julie Nealson, an academic clinical program management associate, is recognized for her role as administrative services coordinator for the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the Carver College of Medicine. She provides administrative assistance for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) in Microbiology program, a National Science Foundation-funded summer program that brings eight mostly underrepresented undergraduates from around the country to campus for a 10-week research experience. A recognized campus expert, she has advised many other units seeking to establish summer programs. In addition to her REU responsibilities, she coordinates all department courses, offered to more than 1,700 undergraduate, graduate, and medical and health professional students annually.


Julie Weber, Student Health
Julie Weber, nurse manager at the UI Student Health Clinic, is a student-centered leader who was an outstanding leader during many months of uncertainty and rapid change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was central to planning mass vaccination clinics that served thousands of students. In addition to her work within Student Health, she was an important resource for collaborating partners such as Housing and Dining, Orientation Services, the Office of International Students and Scholars, and the various health science colleges.

Richard E. Gibson Merit Staff Award for Innovation and Excellence in Customer Service


Valerie Waterhouse, Department of Family Dentistry
Valerie Waterhouse, a dental assistant III in the Department of Family Dentistry, manages a team of assistants in both the Family Dentistry faculty practice and fourth-year student auxiliary clinical practice.  Among other duties, she assists faculty and students in direct patient care and completes associated laboratory work. In 2005, she took the initiative to become a dental assistant, allowing her to provide more service to patients. In her personal time, she learns the latest techniques in digital dentistry and has become a key partner in helping design prosthetic appliances. 


Mary Jo Yotty, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Mary Jo Yotty, secretary III in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is charged with managing all issues related to the department’s highly ranked graduate programs in speech language pathology and audiology. She has helped more than 4,000 potential students navigate the application process. As the person students first encounter as they make decisions about graduate programs, she is a major contributor to the department’s ability to recruit top students.

The Staff Award for Distinguished Leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Joe Hetrick, Information Technology
Joe Hetrick, senior IT director for research services, is a leader in developing hiring programs to employ people from underrepresented groups in the field of information technology at the UI, and in creating a more welcoming, team-based, and inclusive working environment. He is committed to using inclusive hiring practices and actively encourages other managers of technology staff to do the same. In order to bring more underrepresented students into the IT field, he has collaborated to build a cross-campus hiring pipeline and to lower barriers of entry for diverse populations.


Theresa Ho, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Theresa Ho, associate research scientist in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, is dedicated to enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the department, college, and university, and is active in outreach activities that aim to increase participation of underrepresented K–12 students and girls in STEM. She serves as faculty advisor for the Microbiology Undergraduate Student Association, and through that group engages UI students in outreach activities with K–12 students of color or from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. When the pandemic began, she found creative ways for undergraduates to interact with K–12 students virtually, continuing to provide experiences that will serve students well in their future careers.

The May Brodbeck Humanities Fellowship


Katrina M. Sanders, College of Education
Katrina M. Sanders, associate professor of educational policy and leadership studies in the College of Education, is a historian of education with research interests in the areas of American race relations, African American education, and Catholic education. She is receiving the fellowship in support of her work to establish the College of Education Social Justice Institute, envisioned as an annual event where interdisciplinary scholars and students will utilize their research to collaborate on race, culture, and diversity issues with Iowa teachers. This project will position the College of Education and the UI as leaders on race relations in Iowa and the Midwest.

Michael J. Brody Award for Faculty Excellence in Service


George Bergus, Carver College of Medicine
George Bergus, professor of family medicine in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, has influenced virtually every aspect of medical training at the UI, as well as in the state and nationally. He is past director of the residency training program; co-created one of the first dual residency programs in family medicine and psychiatry; was instrumental in the creation of the Masters of Medical Education Program; created the Performance-Based Assessment Program, which is used to evaluate the skills of all medical students; and has served as medical director for the physician assistant program since 2011, during which time that program has risen to be ranked first in the country.


Venise Berry, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Venise Berry is professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and departmental executive officer for the Department of African American Studies, both in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Throughout her sustained administrative service, she has been an advocate for the interests of historically marginalized faculty, staff, and students. As the longtime faculty advisor for the Unity Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, she has mentored dozens of underrepresented students; as a longtime member of the African American Council, she has advocated for greater inclusion of African American themes in the general education curriculum; and as a member of the UI Lecture Committee, she helped increase the diversity of visitors brought to campus.


Michael Pentella, College of Public Health
Michael Pentella is clinical professor of epidemiology in the College of Public Health and director of the State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL), where he oversees monitoring and testing of emerging infectious disease threats in Iowa. A recognized state, national, and international subject matter expert, he has been an exceptional resource for public health officials, laboratorians, health care providers, and individuals across the state of Iowa and beyond. He and his staff have played a vital role in the COVID-19 pandemic response, greatly expanding the SHL’s capabilities to meet soaring demand for testing and providing invaluable guidance to the Iowa Department of Public Health, local public health departments, and health care providers across the state.


Peter Snyder, Carver College of Medicine
Peter Snyder is professor of internal medicine and associate dean for faculty affairs and development in the Carver College of Medicine. He previously served as vice chair in the Department of Internal Medicine, where he oversaw faculty development for more than 400 faculty. He has contributed extraordinary service to the university, particularly as secretary, vice president, president, and past president of the Faculty Senate. In each of those roles, he acted as an advocate for faculty across the university. During his time on the Faculty Senate, he guided the creation of the instructional track faculty policy; oversaw the drafting of the senate’s statement on freedom of expression; and strengthened the relationship between Faculty Senate officers and senior administration and the Board of Regents, establishing the framework for a more effective, collaborative shared governance structure.


Jodi Tate, Carver College of Medicine
Jodi Tate, clinical professor and senior vice chair for clinical services in the Carver College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, has improved care for people suffering from mental illness and those with intellectual disabilities through education, clinical service, and systems reform at the local and state level. She led the charge to open UI Hospitals & Clinics’ innovative Crisis Stabilization Unit—the first in Iowa and one of only 30 nationwide—which has improved patient wait times and quality of care. She developed a specialized intellectual disability unit within UIHC, also the first of its kind in the state, which has attracted national attention; and she has developed a nationally recognized training curriculum describing specialized care for people with intellectual disabilities.


Adrien K. Wing, College of Law
Adrien K. Wing, Bessie Dutton Murray Professor and associate dean for international and comparative programs in the College of Law, has been invited many times to various parts of the world to provide her expertise, including as an advisor on three constitutions. She has directed the UI Center for Human Rights since 2013, the summer study abroad program in France since 2000, and previously directed the semester-long London program. She has made a difference in countless careers through skilled mentorship, and she has long advised many law student organizations. In 2020, she volunteered to lead the Iowa Law Anti-Racism Action Committee, an intensive effort over the summer that resulted in the creation of a new position—director of diversity, equity, and inclusion—among other initiatives.