Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


April 20, 2009

UI recognizes students, faculty, staff and alumni at Finkbine Dinner

The University of Iowa honored outstanding students, faculty, staff and alumni April 14 at the 92nd anniversary Finkbine Dinner for representative Student Leaders, one of the university's most prestigious award ceremonies.

Nancy Hauserman, professor of management and organizations in the Tippie College of Business, emceed this year's dinner, which was held at the Iowa Memorial Union. UI President Sally Mason was among those presenting the awards.

The event began in 1917 to honor campus leaders and give them an opportunity to meet administrators, faculty, staff, fellow students and alumni. The dinner is named after William O. Finkbine, a Des Moines businessman and 1880 UI law graduate.

Several awards were presented for student, staff and faculty excellence.

The tradition of awarding Hancher-Finkbine medallions began in 1964. The awards, which recognize outstanding leadership, learning and loyalty, are named after Finkbine and Virgil M. Hancher, who served as president of the UI from 1940 to 1964. Nominations for the student awards are solicited from recognized student organizations and collegiate deans.

UITV will broadcast the dinner at a later time. Check listings for day and time.

The awards and winners follow:

* Hancher-Finkbine Undergraduate Student Medallions

Hancher-Finkbine Undergraduate Student Medallions went to Erin Cavanagh, a senior from Bettendorf, Iowa, majoring in accounting with a Spanish minor and a Certificate of International Business, and Alexandra Barrett Keenan, a senior from Urbandale, Ill., with a triple major in biochemistry, biomedical engineering and international studies.

Cavanagh traveled to Seville, Spain for a study abroad experience focusing on international business courses taught in Spanish. Her honors and awards include the Presidential Scholarship, Rhodes Dunlap Collegiate Scholarship, and Hawkinson Institute of Business Finance Scholar. She has conducted ecological research in Costa Rica as an intern for the World Food Prize. In addition to working as a research assistant for several management faculty in the Tippie College and as peer editor in the Frank Business Communication Center, Cavanagh completed summer internships at Ernst & Young and Merrill Lynch. As a member of Delta Zeta sorority, Cavanagh served as academics chair, new member educator, and philanthropy chair. Her leadership experiences include serving as vice president for community outreach for the UI Panhellenic Council and executive director for business for the 10,000 Hours Show of Eastern Iowa.

Keenan has received several awards and honors including the Presidential Scholarship, Virgil Hancher Award, and the Stanley Undergraduate Award for International Research. A Goldwater scholar, she has directed her abilities in sciences toward researching diseases that pharmaceutical companies tend to overlook.

Keenan is currently working in vaccine development to prevent the insidious parasitic infection visceral leishmaniasis, a disease with over 500,000 new cases annually. Last year Keenan participated in a social entrepreneurship program in Madurai, India where she produced a model for a community-based cervical cancer screening program for low-income women. She returned last summer to advocate for the program and develop a database to aid in its development, which resulted in a hospital starting the program. She was a key part of the award-winning Student Sustainable Design Competition team that focused on the delivery of safe drinking water to developing countries. As an undergraduate liaison and executive board member of the UI Mobile Clinic, she recruits undergraduate students to participate in weekly health camps that provide free health care for underserved Johnson County communities. As an active participant in Iowa Women Initiating Social Change through the Women's Resource and Action Center she has also been a tutor for students in the New Dimensions in Learning Program.

Keenan was also presented with the Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award at the dinner. This award is presented by the UI Human Rights Committee to a student who has made the most outstanding contribution to the advancement of human rights. It is named after the UI's first tenured African-American professor, a member of the first Human Rights Committee and former vice president for UI Student Services.

* Hancher-Finkbine Graduate/Professional Student Medallions

Hancher-Finkbine Graduate/Professional Student Medallions went to Alexandra Nica, from Brasov, Romania, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in economics in international trade and growth, and Florin Ilie Oprescu, who will complete his doctorate in community and behavioral health his year and who is also from Romania.

Nica's research focuses on understanding why people in other countries have such a high rate of savings. As a graduate teaching assistant, Nica has taught in a variety of areas of economics including international trade and econometrics, and received an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award and several "Thank a Teacher" notes from students in her classes. An active member of Graduate Student Senate (GSS), she has served in a number of leadership roles including her current position of vice president. In addition to organizing the annual Jakobsen Research Conference in 2009, she co-founded the GSS Academic Mentoring Committee and the GSS Educational Outreach Committee in 2008 to enhance the experience of graduate students at Iowa. Alexandra currently serves as an elected student representative to the Graduate Council and the GSS representative on the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students.

Oprescu originally came to the UI as a Fogarty Scholar from Romania in 2003 and has already earned his Master's of Public Health and Master's of Business Administration degrees. A recipient of the Seashore Ballard Dissertation Fellowship, Oprescu has received many awards and honors during his academic career at Iowa. He interned at the World Health Organization as a graduate assistant and volunteered for Ponseti International.

In fall 2008, Oprescu spearheaded efforts to train physicians throughout Romania in the Ponseti Method for the treatment of clubfoot, including fundraising, organizational details, and implementation of these training programs. He is a member of the College of Public Health Strategic Planning Initiative and on the College of Public Health Awards Committee. Florin is currently a member of the Global Health Council and the American Public Health Association. Author of several peer-reviewed publications, he has presented research at national and international meetings.

* Hancher-Finkbine Faculty Medallion

The Hancher-Finkbine Faculty Medallion went to Karen Ann Baker. This award is given to a faculty member on a rotating basis among each college. Baker joined the College of Dentistry's Dental Pharmacy Services in 1981 after obtaining her Master of Science in clinical pharmacy from the UI. In 1991 she became director of Dental Pharmacy. She is an associate professor in both the Department of Oral Pathology and Medicine and the Division of Pharmacy Practice.

Baker's unique professional focus in dental practice and education is patient-specific drug therapy. She is active with daily clinical work as well as pre- and postdoctoral teaching. Her reputation as an outstanding educator has resulted in 20 collegiate teaching awards from appreciative dental students. She has also mentored numerous graduate students and sat on more than 20 graduate thesis committees.

In addition to serving on the American Pharmaceutical Association's Oral Health Curriculum Task Force, Baker has been a member of the Iowa Pharmacists Association Board of Trustees, the UI Faculty Senate and Faculty Council, and the UI Council on Teaching.

* Hancher-Finkbine Staff Medallion

The Hancher-Finkbine Staff Medallion went to Fred W. Streicher, who has been the director of marketing and communications for the College of Engineering since 1994. One of the first collegiate marketing and communication directors on campus, he developed a model that has been adopted by other colleges across campus and at other educational institutions. Streicher has served as a mentor to students, staff and alumni. He helped establish the first U.S. technological Entrepreneurship Certificate for engineering students; pioneered the Student Leadership Institute; developed the Storer Engineering Student Entrepreneurial Start-up Awards program; and orchestrated a collegewide global awareness seminar series "Grabbing the Globe" for engineering students.

In 1999 he received the Iowa Board of Regents Staff Excellence Award. He is co-organizer and communications director of the Iowa Alliance for Wind Innovation and Novel Development (IA WIND), a consortium of state and local governments, community colleges, Iowa Board of Regents universities and the private sector.

* Hancher-Finkbine Alumni Medallion

The Hancher-Finkbine Alumni Medallion went to UI professor emeritus Yvonne L. "Bonnie" Slatton. She received her Ph.D. in physical education in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1970 and spent her career as a faculty member at the UI. She has been a teacher, scholar, counselor, facilitator, coach, advocate and administrator.

Slatton was the first student in Iowa and one of the first in the United States to focus her graduate work in the area of sports studies. She and her colleagues committed Iowa's sport studies program to focus on groups historically outside the mainstream of sport: women and minorities. Slatton served 12 years as department chair and her leadership abilities were tapped by prominent national associations and agencies related to student athletes and women in sport. She was one of the founders of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.

As a member of the UI Board in Control of Athletics for more than 20 years, she was selected as the UI faculty representative to the Big Ten Conference and to the NCAA. She has also been honored for her service to the university with awards that reflect her dedication to fairness, inclusion and equality.

* Distinguished Student Leader Certificate

A Distinguished Student Leader Certificate went to Atul Nakhasi. This award recognizes students who have exhibited meritorious qualities in leadership, learning and loyalty. Nakhasi is a senior from Waterloo who is majoring in biology and pre-medicine. He has received numerous academic recognitions and honors including the Presidential Scholarship, Dewey Stuit Scholarship, and Phi Beta Kappa. He is the chair of the Student Health Advisory Committee, American College Health Association, and founder of the World Health Initiative, which promotes awareness about major global health issues.

As president of UI Democrats, he was active in the recent national presidential campaign, increasing membership and involvement in this organization and hosting candidates to campus. His advocacy and visibility in a number of arenas has led to national publicity including an interview in the Wall Street Journal and several other broadcast media outlets. Nakhasi was named the 2007 Person of the Year by the Iowa City Press Citizen, the first time for a student. In the Honors Program he has been a peer advisor and orientation and served as public relations chair for the Indian Student Alliance.

Other awards announced at the dinner were:

--Robert F. Ray Faculty Representative Award, presented by the UI Board in Control of Athletics to a male and female student-athlete who demonstrates outstanding academic excellence, athletic excellence and leadership. The award, named after a former dean and longtime UI faculty representative to the Big Ten Conference, went to Robert Bruggeman and Colleen McGlaughlin.

Bruggeman went to Cedar Rapids Washington High School and came to Iowa as a walk-on offensive lineman on the football team in 2004. He earned a scholarship in 2006 through his hard work and leadership, and was a starter by 2007. He was appointed by Coach Kirk Ferentz to the football team's Leadership Council in both 2007 and 2008. In 2008 he was named an academic all-American for District VII by ESPN the Magazine and the College Sports Information Directors of America. Bruggeman came to Iowa in the honors program and was a member of the Dean's List. He also earned bronze medallion honors from the President's Committee on Athletics, and received Academic All Big Ten honors. Bruggeman earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in the finance area in December 2008 and hopes to further his career in professional football before furthering his education in finance and administration.

McGlaughlin, from Morton, Ill., is a senior infielder for the UI softball team. She began the 2009 season tied for 11th in career homeruns and 14th in career batting average. She has been an All Big Ten and National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-region selection the previous two seasons. Off the field she has above a 4.0 cumulative GPA, was named to Dean's List seven times, named to the President's List six times, and was selected to the ESPN Academic All-American first team in 2008 and All-District in 2007. She has accepted a position following her graduation in May as an actuarial analyst in the Property and Casualty Division of State Farm Insurance.

--M.L. Huit Faculty Award, presented by members of Mortar Board and Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Societies to a faculty member who demonstrates dedication to, concern for, and interaction with students. The award, named in honor of a former dean of students, went posthumously to James Pusack.

Pusack was an associate professor and chair of the Department of German in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the time of his sudden death in December 2008. Pusack received Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in German from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in Germanic languages from Indiana University. He joined the UI faculty in 1974.

As the undergraduate German advisor and chair of the department, Pusack was equally at home in both worlds. His innovative and entrepreneurial work created many learning opportunities for students, including the Autonomous Language Learning Network (AllNet); the Foreign Language Teaching Assistant program through Fulbright; and the first Foreign Language House, a learning community in the residence halls co-founded by Pusack and now called International Crossroads Community. He spent countless hours on student scholarship review committees and writing grants. A champion of study abroad, he was an internationally recognized author on the use of computer technology and media for language learning, for which he received national awards and special recognition.

--James N. Murray Faculty Award, presented by the Beta Iota Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa honor society to a nontenured faculty member who demonstrates outstanding rapport with students and creates an exemplary classroom atmosphere. The award, which honors a former UI political science professor, went to Alan Huckleberry.

Huckleberry joined the UI as an assistant professor of piano pedagogy and collaborative arts in 2004. He received his Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Michigan and equivalent Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees from Musikhochschule Karlsruhe in Germany.

Huckleberry works with students not only to improve their musical capabilities but also actively demonstrates how lessons of life can be applied to piano technique, and piano technique can be applied to life lessons. He is a dedicated musician, performing often in the United States and Europe. Professor Huckleberry represents the UI chapter of Music Teachers National Association, and takes several students with him to its yearly national conference, where they observe and present materials. Huckleberry has authored articles for music publications and has collaborated on numerous research projects with graduate students resulting in presentations of this research at national conferences.

For more information visit

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Office of the Vice President for Student Services, 319-335-3557; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,