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Awards for top alumni part of outreach to UW-River Falls graduates

Falcon News Service

November 16, 2016

UW-River Falls is accepting nominations for awards given to alumni during the spring, including one for relatively recent graduates.

Members of the UWRF External Relations Committee and the Alumni Advisory Board are encouraging people to submit nominations for three different awards honoring outstanding alumni. Selected nominees will be eligible to receive the Outstanding Alumnus award, the Outstanding Young Alumni award or the Lifetime Achievement award.

UWRF Director of Alumni Relations Dan McGinty said it is important for the university to recognize students after they have graduated.

“We are an institution of higher education and we’re putting students out there in field,” said McGinty. “For us as an institution to come back and recognize an individual who’s done some exemplary work, it certainly seems to be very rewarding and beneficial from our perspective as well.”

After the nominations are submitted, a selection committee reviews candidates for each award. Developed in 2014, the Outstanding Young Alumni award is considered only for those who have made great accomplishments in their field since graduating during the past 15 years.

The Lifetime Achievement award and the Outstanding Alumnus award are considered for older alumni. The Outstanding Alumnus award is the most prestigious award and requires a selection committee made up of members from the UWRF Faculty Senate as well as the Alumni Advisory Board. Once deliberations on the candidates are finished, Chancellor Dean Van Galen approves the Outstanding Alumnus award recipient. However, McGinty said the awards share similar qualifications.

“Someone with high integrity is a very high value that we take a look at,” he said. “Obviously, recognition from their peers is also a very important credential, too.”

According to statistics provided by McGinty, UWRF has graduated a total of 46,132 living alumni as of July 2016. Reaching out to them through awards is only a small portion of what the university does to maintain a relationship after graduation. The university connects with alumni through outreach programs including fundraising, facilitating mentorships with current students and scholarships.

Assistant Chancellor of University Advancement and President of the UW-River Falls Foundation Chris Mueller said having a connection with alumni is essential to the university.

“The quality of the university is directly correlated to the level at which alumni are willing to support it,” said Mueller. “That support can be volunteer work, it can be financial support, it can be advocacy work on behalf of the institution or it can be any of the three in combination.”

The university even has an engagement model designed to help the university determine if an alumnus is actively involved in the university. Alumni receive points based on the different areas they fulfill such as alumni-sponsored event attendance, university volunteer work and participation in affinity programs through Westconsin Credit Union and Liberty Mutual. One point is earned for every example of involvement and if a alumnus gains three points, they are considered active in the program. During the 2014-2015 school year, 27 percent of living alumni were active participants.

The Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the Outstanding Young Alumni Award will both be presented at a banquet held the night before the spring commencement ceremony. The Distinguished Alumnus Award will be given out on the day of the ceremony.

Anyone wanting to nominate an alumnus must submit the nomination by Wednesday, Nov. 23. The nomination form can be found at uwrf.edu/Alumni/AlumniAwards/.