Leader of support for student-faculty research to retire in January

| Julie Poquette

Dr. Karen Havholm, leader and advocate for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s nationally recognized faculty-student collaborative research program since 2006, has announced she will retire Jan. 31.

A national search will begin this fall for new leadership of support for research, scholarly and creative endeavors of faculty, academic staff and students at UW-Eau Claire.

Havholm served on UW-Eau Claire’s geology department faculty from 1993-2005, achieving the rank of professor in 2003, before being named assistant vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs and director of the university’s Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research Collaboration.

Leadership toward outcomes of excellence

Dr. Karen Havholm

Dr. Karen Havholm

“From starting as a secondary science teacher in Tehran, Iran, to directing arguably the best student-faculty undergraduate research program in the nation, Dr. Karen Havholm has had a most illustrious career,” said Dr. Patricia A. Kleine, UW-Eau Claire provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Kleine noted that during Havholm’s 26 years at the university, she has inspired and supported scores of student-faculty research collaborations; made the Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity a premier event for UW-Eau Claire attended not only by campus faculty, staff and students, but also by faculty from UW-Madison, faculty and students from other regional campuses, and, most recently, researchers from Mayo Clinic Health System; and provided opportunities to celebrate the remarkable achievements of UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff by creating an authors’ event held each fall and a grant-writers’ reception each spring.

“I know it is common to say upon a person’s retirement that they will be difficult to replace,” Kleine said. “In the case of Karen Havholm, it  could not be more true.”

Dr. Darrell Newton, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, said working with Havholm has been “more than rewarding.”

“Dr. Havholm is a seasoned director with excellent interpersonal skills and has earned the respect of staff, students and faculty throughout the state and around the country,” Newton said. “I applaud her professionalism and generous support. She will surely be missed.”

At UW-Eau Claire, about 40% of students engage in undergraduate research with faculty. Under Havholm’s leadership, in 2016 UW-Eau Claire was honored by the Council on Undergraduate Research as the top master’s-level university in the country in providing excellent undergraduate research programs. In 2015, UW-Eau Claire’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs received the UW System Board of Regents Academic Staff Excellence Award for its successes in supporting the research, scholarship and creative activity of faculty, academic staff and students.

Key factors in those honors were the annual ORSP-hosted Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity, which continues to grow each year in participation by students and their faculty mentors; ORSP’s leadership role in securing grants and creating programming to improve undergraduate research across the UW System; and the sharing by ORSP staff at conferences and workshops nationwide their findings on best practices and strategies in research administration and undergraduate research.

During her tenure, Havholm was instrumental in expanding the diversity of students involved in undergraduate research; establishing excellence awards and professional development support for undergraduate research mentors; and collaborating to create the International Fellows Program, giving students and faculty experience in conducting research abroad and serving as a model program for internationalizing research.

“As a mentor, I loved watching my research students blossom into independent, self-confident professionals as they collected field data, analyzed results in the light of the literature, and presented their findings both at Student Research Day (as CERCA was called then) and at disciplinary conferences," Havholm said. "In ORSP, I have seen this valuable student experience multiplied all across campus, especially with the support of student differential tuition through the Blugold Commitment."

New fund for faculty-student research

Now, Havholm has taken steps to ensure her support for faculty-student research will continue after her retirement, establishing an endowment through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation that can continue to grow.

“I want to help secure the future of student research at UW-Eau Claire,” Havholm said. “To launch the Mentored Student Research Endowment Fund, my husband and I have committed to match all gifts made to the fund until it reaches the endowment level of $25,000.”

More information and a link to give to the Mentored Student Research Endowment Fund are available on the UW-Eau Claire Foundation website.

Havholm expressed gratitude for her time at UW-Eau Claire and acknowledged the support of others that made her many accomplishments possible.

“I just want to say how grateful I am to have found at UW-Eau Claire a professional home that has been both welcoming and challenging,” Havholm said. “I have grown intellectually, professionally and personally as a result of working with hundreds of Blugold colleagues and students over 26 years. I can’t think of much that I have accomplished on my own, and with a career with two distinct phases as a faculty member and an administrator, I have had the privilege of working with colleagues from almost every department and unit on campus, one way or another. So, a heartfelt thank you to all my current and former colleagues and students at UW-Eau Claire.”

Dr. David Lonzarich, a professor of biology who has worked with Havholm in his roles as a faculty researcher, an ORSP Faculty Fellow, and chair of UW-Eau Claire’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, expressed similar gratitude to Havholm for her selfless leadership style.

“I have witnessed Karen in many different professional settings — large conferences, small groups and one on one. Never in my more than 25 years as a professor have I come across a person who combines so many incredible talents and skills for managing people and professional responsibilities,” Lonzarich said. “Karen’s motives and visions always have been aimed at improving the welfare of others (faculty, staff and students alike). And while we all should rightly celebrate her accomplishments as the director of ORSP, in my estimation, her legacy is as much a product of who she is as a person: someone who always found time to listen, to advocate, to support and to see the good in the people lucky enough to have known her.”