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UWRF wins Residence Life awards

February 19, 2009

Dedication and leadership skills were displayed when the UW-River Falls National Residence Hall Honorary Kinni Chapter brought home 11 out of a possible 14 awards during the Wisconsin University Residence Hall Association’s annual February conference. UW-Platteville hosted the conference in which 17 Wisconsin public and private colleges and universities were represented.

NRHH is a student organization comprised of the top 1 percent of residence hall student leaders.  It is limited to 24 members to represent the 2,400 students living on campus.

For a campus to be considered for the student of the year, NRHH member of the year, program of the year and small school of the year awards, they must submit a lengthy document-called a bid-outlining why they are deserving of the honor, Kristie Feist, NRHH advisor, said.

“It’s huge to win this many awards,” Director of Residence Life Sandi Scott-Duex said. “It’s absolutely unheard of.”

The bid process-beginning in December-is time-consuming and involved the collaboration of numerous individuals on campus.

“If schools are going to bid, they only do one or two,” Duex said.

The UWRF NRHH chapter worked hard to prepare and present five bids at the conference.

Letters of support were written by Interim Chancellor Connie Foster, Duex, Feist, Residence Life Coordinator Jason Neuhaus, associate professor Jennifer Willis-Rivera, Leadership Training Coordinator Amy Lloyd, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Gregg Heinselman and Amy Wickenhauser.

Rita Zawislak-Brandt, the graphic artist for Student Affairs, helped make the bids-which included themes of The Wizard of Oz and Pixar’s Cars-visually appealing.

“People’s willingness to contribute information to the bid process speaks very highly to the institute and the support we show for student-led initiatives,” Feist said. “It’s not too often that people get to toot their own horn.”

UWRF presented and won the small school of the year award.

“River Falls has the reputation of being ‘Moo U,’” NRHH President Mark Klapatch said. “People think that’s all we have to offer [and this] shows that we really do have an excellent residence hall system.”

Competing against a blood drive, the Fall pilot program iRock won the program of the year. According to the bid written by Klapatch, iRock is a program specifically designed for first-year students “with a focus on emotional resiliency, healthy relationships, fitness and nutrition and career and academic development.”

The conference was an opportunity to share the unique program with other institutions like Marquette University who showed interest in using iRock.

“It’s a compliment that other institutions want to do the program,” Duex said. “It’s another way to leave a legacy.”

Klapatch, a business administration senior, was nominated and received the NRHH member of the year award. Rebecca Peine, communication studies major, was nominated for and received the student of the year award.

The only bid lost was the advisor of the year.

In order to receive the philanthropy award, UWRF collected 350 pounds of pop tabs out of the 700 pounds the conference collected to be donated to the Ronald McDonald House.

The UWRF NRHH chapter won the school spirit award through cheers, networking and bonus points for hiking up to the Platteville’s heralded “world’s largest M” landmark.

Other awards included school banner and three top 10 group presenters. UWRF NRHH chapter won the gold recognition award for their involvement on the state level, Klapatch said.

The delegation of students included Klapatch, Alissa Baker, Danielle Cochran, Jennifer Phillips, Nicholas Swain, Peine, Kayla Haines, Jenna Clark, Alicia Hurkman and Stefanie Thorsen.

“I could not be more proud of our delegation,” Klapatch said. “They presented programs, led cheers, showed school spirit and assisted in the bidding and presentation of numerous awards. It was incredible to see all 10 of our delegates’ hard work pay off.”