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Patti See to Receive Regents Academic Staff Award for Excellence

RELEASED: May 1, 2006

Patti See
Patti See

EAU CLAIRE — A respected writer, teacher, student service provider, and campus and community activist from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is the winner of the UW System's 2006 Regents Academic Staff Award for Excellence.

Patti See, senior student services coordinator in UW-Eau Claire's Educational Support Services, will receive the award during the Board of Regents' May 4 meeting in Madison. The award recognizes See's dedication, excellence of performance, personal interaction, initiative and creativity, and outstanding achievement.

"Since I was a student, I've loved the university setting," said See, who earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in English at UW-Eau Claire. "Where else could eccentrics and intellectuals, ex-hippies, Oxford scholars and local students find a common haven? UW-Eau Claire is a place where the children of state representatives and sanitation workers, neurosurgeons and domestic staff have an equal chance for a liberal education with practical application.

"Walking across the campus mall to my office each morning, I am thankful to be an integral part of something I glimpsed as a student: this community of thinkers that makes our corner of the world a better place."

Since 1994, See has served UW-Eau Claire through her work in the Academic Skills Center. She develops and manages tutorial programs for students with disabilities, multicultural students, and first-generation/low-income students, while also teaching developmental education courses. In addition, she regularly teaches courses for the Women's Studies Program.

"I pride myself on an innovative classroom where I incorporate assessments, literature and film clips, as well as students' own stories," See said of her teaching philosophy. "Students leave my classroom with a wider view of themselves and the world. My roles in and out of the classroom offer me a valuable perspective on students' needs."

See, a first-generation college student from Chippewa Falls, draws from her personal experiences to connect with students who may feel like outsiders for various reasons, Judith Blackstone, a senior psychologist at UW-Eau Claire, said support of See's nomination.

"Patti's efforts contribute to the retention and graduation of numerous students who just need a little extra guidance and kindness at some point in their academic lives," Blackstone said. "She exemplifies the spirit of UW-Eau Claire as a caring institution and of the UW System as a welcoming place for the sons and daughters of our citizens."

See has served as adviser for the College Feminists, planned Women's History Month and other cultural activities that promote gender justice, and has served on numerous campus committees. She's organized a Holiday Giving Project that provides gifts to non-traditional students and their families, recruited colleagues to prepare meals for the Community Table, and visited area schools and senior centers to discuss creative writing.

In July 2005, See donated a kidney as part of the Good Samaritan program at the Fairview University Medical Center in Minneapolis. "Becoming a non-directed donor was a life-changing experience, and I've been presenting and publishing about it to promote living kidney donation," See said, noting that she has yet to meet the recipient of her kidney.

"In my view, hers was a truly remarkable act," Wilma Clark, professor emerita of English, said of See donating her kidney to a stranger. "Those who hear Patti's story may not all donate kidneys, but I believe her action and her written reflections about her decision may inspire students, colleagues and others in the wider community, to think deeply about ways in which we feel morally obligated to act."

See's broad background helps her promote the university's mission to foster the intellectual, personal, social and cultural development of its students, said Interim Chancellor Vicki Lord Larson.

"She is a Renaissance woman with the ability to interact with students on all of these dimensions within the classroom, at student social and cultural events, and on a one-to-one basis in her office," Larson said.

One of the most published authors on campus, See's work has included fiction, essays and poetry in Salon magazine, the juried Journal of Developmental Education and Volume One. When she couldn't find a textbook to meet her teaching needs, she created her own, "Higher Education: Reading and Writing about College," now in its second edition.

UW-Eau Claire has recognized See's accomplishments in various ways, including awarding her the Student Recognition Award from the Services for Students with Disabilities, the Distinguished Service Award from the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and the institution-wide Academic Staff Excellence in Performance Award.

As a recipient of the excellence award, See will receive a $5,000 award for professional development or to enhance a university program or function.

-30-

JB

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