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University of Iowa News Release


September 18, 2008

Two staff members win Lola Lopes Undergraduate Advocacy Awards

Two University of Iowa staff members have won the 2008 Lola Lopes Award for Undergraduate Student Advocacy in recognition of their support of undergraduate students. The recipients are Chris Peterson Brus, director of Women in Science and Engineering, and Luke J. Flaherty, director of Academic Programs and Services in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The award, which is administered by the Office of the Provost, was created in 2006 as a way for the University to recognize administrators, staff, or faculty outside of their teaching role who serve as strong and effective advocates for undergraduate students and the undergraduate experience. Recipients receive a $1,000 honorarium and a certificate, and their names are added to a plaque that is displayed in the Admissions Visitors Center.

The recipients were selected by a committee of staff, faculty and students.

Chris Peterson Brus is director of the UI Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, which works to expand and improve educational and professional opportunities for women in all fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (the STEM fields).

Under Brus's leadership, the WISE undergraduate peer mentoring program, which matches first-year women in STEM fields one-on-one with upper-level undergraduate women in similar majors, has grown to involve 100 first-year students and their mentors. The program has been shown to significantly increase retention of young women in STEM disciplines. A high percentage of first-year students being mentored choose to become mentors later, a direct testament to the program's success.

Luke J. Flaherty is director of Academic Programs and Services in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In that role, he meets daily with students, many of whom have run into difficulty completing degree requirements for a wide variety of reasons. Flaherty evaluates each student's situation and suggests options that will give the student the best opportunity for success.

Flaherty is known for dealing with each student with compassion and respect, whether that student's situation results from having made poor choices, from a learning disability, or because of a crisis such as serious illness or family trauma. Working with students, their parents, and instructors, he seeks solutions that will allow, as much as possible, seamless progress toward the degree.

The award is named in honor of Lola L. Lopes, former associate provost for undergraduate education and professor emerita of management and organizations in the Tippie College of Business. Lopes served as interim executive vice president and provost during 2007-08.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Thomas R. Rocklin, Provost's Office, 319-335-3565,; Charles S. Drum, University News Services, 319-384-0048,