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Eight Alumni, Friends to Receive Awards
from UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association

RELEASED: May 9, 2006

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Alumni Association will present awards to six UW-Eau Claire alumni and two friends of the university at a May 20 luncheon and ceremony in conjunction with spring commencement.

"I am pleased to have the opportunity to honor these high-achieving, creative persons who are using their talents and skills to benefit others," said John Bachmeier, UW-Eau Claire director of alumni relations. "It reflects well on the university to be represented by such outstanding individuals."

Mary Campbell Bliss
Mary Campbell Bliss

Mary Campbell Bliss, a clinical nurse specialist for the Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region in Sacramento, Calif., and Harry M. Kaiser, a professor of applied economics at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., will receive the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes distinguished service to the community, state or nation in a manner that brings credit to the recipients and UW-Eau Claire.

Bliss, a perinatal clinical nurse specialist, works with nursing and medical staff to promote evidence-based standards of care, develop new programs and educate nurses. Throughout her nursing career, Bliss has served in numerous leadership positions, including nursing director of maternal child inpatient units at Sutter Roseville Medical Center and Methodist Hospital in California, and St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center in Madison. She also held obstetrical staff nurse positions at Methodist Hospital in Madison and Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire.

Bliss received her bachelor of science degree in nursing from UW-Eau Claire in 1978 and her master's degree in maternal-child nursing in 1985 from UW-Madison.

She is a recognized advocate in the area of domestic abuse. She chairs the Healthcare Domestic Violence Network in California, a health care subcommittee of the Sacramento County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. She is a past member of the board of Women Escaping a Violent Environment and currently serves on the group's program and finance committees. She also is a member of the Sacramento County Domestic Violence Death Review Team, focusing on improving the community's response to domestic violence deaths. Her work on the issue of domestic abuse was recognized in 1996 by the Sacramento region with the Heroes in Healthcare Award.

Bliss is an advocate for quality initiatives, the role of nursing in improving the health of women and children, and nursing staff development. She is the clinical nurse coordinator of the March of Dimes Preterm Labor Assessment Toolkit, which has been endorsed by the National March of Dimes and the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine as a safe process for assessment of women with symptoms of preterm labor. Bliss is one of the founders of the Sacramento Perinatal Consortium, is the co-leader of the Sutter Woman and Infant Nursing Group and has served on the advisory committee of the California Preconception Care Initiative.

"Mary's passion for her profession and for serving those who can't speak for themselves — the unborn and the abused — is unprecedented," wrote Elaine Wendt, dean of the UW-Eau Claire College of Nursing, in a letter to the nominating committee. "Her standards of conduct are those that all should seek to emulate."

Harry M. Kaiser
Harry M. Kaiser

Kaiser, who received his bachelor's degree from UW-Eau Claire in 1979, has taught at Cornell University since 1985. He completed a master's degree and doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota in agricultural and applied economics in 1981 and 1985, respectively.

Currently he is a professor of applied economics at Cornell University, where he teaches and conducts research in price analysis, marketing and quantitative methods. He has written more than 80 journal articles, three books, numerous book chapters and more than 200 research bulletins. Kaiser has also served as editor of the academic journal "Agricultural and Resource Economics Review" and as associate editor of "American Journal of Agricultural Economics" and "Agribusiness: An International Journal."

Active in professional associations, Kaiser is currently president of the Northeastern Association of Agricultural and Resource Economics. He also just completed a three-year term on the board of directors of the American Agricultural Economics Association.

He has received numerous professional awards, including Outstanding Journal Article of the Year from the Northeastern Association of Agricultural and Resource Economics and the Outstanding Outreach Award from the American Association of Agricultural Economics.

"Harry is a world expert in the area of generic promotion of agricultural products, as well as a skilled graduate and undergraduate teacher and well deserving of recognition from his alma mater," wrote Dr. William Lesser, chair of the department of applied economics and management at Cornell University, in a letter to the nominating committee.

Dr. Aina Galejs
Dr. Aina Galejs

Dr. Aina Galejs, a retired pathologist from Minneapolis, Minn., and Vicki Lord Larson, interim chancellor of UW-Eau Claire, will be awarded the Honorary Alumnus Award, which is presented to nonalumni who have demonstrated great love of and service to UW-Eau Claire.

Galejs, who was born in Riga, Latvia, received a medical degree in Germany in 1950. In 1951 she came to the United States, becoming a Minnesota licensed physician in 1952 and specializing in pathology. She practiced pathology in the Twin Cities from 1956 to 1976 and continued to serve as a pathologist in a number of states until her retirement in 2002.

Galejs is committed to the advancement of education of Latvian youth. For the past 13 years Galejs has provided 36 scholarships to students from Lativia to study at UW-Eau Claire.

"The selfless generosity, and the commitment of Dr. Galejs to supporting the international education of these young individuals, is a compelling testimony to her humanity," wrote Karl Markgraf, director of the UW-Eau Claire Center for International Education, in a letter to the nominating committee.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions to education and health in Latvia, Galejs was awarded its highest civilian honor, the Order of the Three Stars, by the Latvian government in 2002.

Vicki Lord Larson
Vicki Lord Larson

Larson was named interim chancellor at UW-Eau Claire in February 2005 and will conclude her service June 1, 2006. Larson was a logical choice for the interim position, having previously served the university in both faculty and administrative roles. She first became associated with UW-Eau Claire in 1973 as an assistant professor of communication disorders. She later was promoted to professor and served as chair of the communication disorders department from 1978-83. In 1984, Larson was named assistant dean for graduate studies and university research. In 1989, she was promoted to associate dean, a position she held until 1991 when she became dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research at UW-Oshkosh. From 1994 until 2000, she served as the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UW-Oshkosh. From 2000-01 she served at UW System. From 2001-04 she was an acquisitions editor for Eau Claire-based Thinking Publications before taking a leave of absence to serve as interim chancellor of UW-Eau Claire.

Larson holds baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees from UW-Madison and is well known as a scholar in her field. She is a past president of the Wisconsin Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Association. In 1991 the American Speech-Language Hearing Association named her as an ASHA Fellow, one of the association's highest honors. She also served as an ASHA legislative counselor, is a board-recognized specialist in child language and currently serves as president of the WSHA Foundation.

"Chancellor Larson through her years of service to UW-Eau Claire has shown her devotion to this university, its people and mission," said Steve Tallant, UW-Eau Claire interim provost in remarks to the nominating committee. "Chancellor Larson has dedicated a significant portion of her career to UW-Eau Claire. Her loyalty to this institution, her respect for higher education and her longtime service and commitment to UW-Eau Claire certainly merits this award."

Robert Gilberts
Robert Gilberts

Robert Gilberts, retired dean of the College of Education at the University of Oregon in Eugene, and Ann Gunderson Thornburg, a national leader at one of the world's largest accounting and consulting firms, will receive the Lifetime Excellence Award, which is presented to UW-Eau Claire alumni who have demonstrated longtime and successful commitment to their careers and communities. These individuals have made a positive and dramatic impact through enthusiastic dedication to service and living their lives as a testimony to UW-Eau Claire's motto, "Excellence."

Gilberts graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1950 with a bachelor of science degree in education and earned master's and doctoral degrees from UW-Madison. His career in education spanned 43 years. For 23 years he served as dean of education at the University of Oregon, following terms as superintendent of schools in Denver, Colo., Madison, Oconomowoc and Shell Lake. He also served as a vice principal and teacher in Wausau.

During his tenure in higher education, Gilberts served on the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the board of directors of the National Cooperative for Career Education and the program committee for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

He served in various roles with the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped and in 1981 he co-chaired a national meeting on local, state and federal policy relating to the handicapped in Racine. In 1980, Gilberts chaired a United States Conference of Mayors program sponsored by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Ann Gunderson Thornburg
Ann Gunderson Thornburg

Thornburg, who graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1971 with a bachelor's degree in accounting, has served as an audit partner, a member of the U.S. Board of Partners and Principals and leader of the Consumer Industrial Products and Services Industry, in the Northeast, for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

She has more than 25 years of experience providing audit services to major health care and nonprofit organizations. Her career, in a field dominated by men, has included several firsts. She was the first woman at PricewaterhouseCoopers to be admitted to the partnership in Boston. She was also the first woman elected to PricewaterhouseCoopers' U.S. Board of Partners and Principals.

Thornburg earned a master's degree in business administration from Boston University and is a graduate of the Amos Tuck Executive Program at Dartmouth College. She is a member of various professional organizations including the Health Care Committee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

She also is an active community volunteer. She has served as president and treasurer of the board of directors for Goddard House, a nursing and assisted living facility, as well as a member of various advisory boards in Boston.

In 1991 Thornburg received the Alumni Distinguished Service Award from UW-Eau Claire.

Brent Hafele
Brent Hafele

Brent Alan Hafele will receive the Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award, which acknowledges special achievements and great promise of alumni who are within 15 years of their graduation from UW-Eau Claire.

Hafele is the stewardship director and the interim education director for Hope Gospel Mission. Hafele received his bachelor's degree from UW-Eau Claire in organizational communication in 2002 and is working on a master's degree in philanthropy and development at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota.

Hafele has been successful in promoting and expanding the work of the Hope Gospel Mission, a rehabilitative shelter for the homeless. Among his accomplishments, Hafele successfully directed a $500,000 capital campaign in 2005 to open Ruth House Women's Shelter, a 12-bed shelter for single, homeless women, and a new educational center that provides literacy and math skills. Additionally he successfully raised $304,131 through grants, including a $275,000 Federal Home Loan Bank Grant.

In addition to his work with Hope Gospel Mission, Hafele is the treasurer and a member of the steering committee for the Chippewa Valley Fund Raising Professionals organization. He also served as a member of the capital campaign steering committee for Valleybrook Church.

Andrew F. Neuwald
Andrew F. Neuwald

Andrew F. Neuwald, an associate professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, one of the leading schools of biological science in the world, will receive the President's Award, which recognizes outstanding professional and personal achievements and service to UW-Eau Claire.

Neuwald received a bachelor of science degree in medical technology in 1978 and a master's degree in biology in 1983 from UW-Eau Claire. He completed his doctoral degree in microbiology in 1987 from the University of Iowa. In 1989 he completed a microbiology postdoctoral fellowship in the medical informatics training program at Washington University School of Medicine. In 1992 Neuwald received a master's degree in computer science from Washington University and in 1997 completed an IRTA postdoctoral fellowship at the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

A leading scientist, Neuwald has authored and been cited in numerous leading scientific publications and has presented at conferences worldwide.

Neuwald successfully applied Bayesian statistical methods to predict very distant relationships between DNA or protein sequences. This led to several key discoveries, including predicting that Barth syndrome, an inherited cardiomyopathic disorder, is due to a specific fatty acid deficiency; this prediction subsequently led to clinical confirmation and to potential treatments. As a result of this work, he received the Year 2000 Mitchell Prize with J.S. Liu and C.E. Lawrence for the best Bayesian application paper.

His recent work has focused on statistical inference of cellular molecular mechanisms in atomic detail.

"Dr. Neuwald is a purist and quintessential student," wrote Dr. Johng Lim, professor emeritus of biology at UW-Eau Claire, in a letter to the alumni awards nominating committee. "The greatest strength of Dr. Neuwald is his determination to persist and produce new knowledge, not for himself, but for the good of science and the benefit of humanity."

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KH

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