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University of Iowa News Release


April 6, 2011

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

The University of Iowa honored outstanding students, faculty, staff and alumni on Tuesday, April 5, at the 94th anniversary Finkbine Dinner for representative Student Leaders, one of the university's most prestigious award ceremonies

Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin emceed this year's dinner, which was held at the Iowa Memorial Union.

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. UI President Sally Mason presented the medallions and student leader certificates.

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

--The winners of this year's Undergraduate Hancher-Finkbine Medallions include Christopher Michael Page, Roberto Paniagua and John Robert Rigby:

Page, a native of Iowa City, is majoring in political science, environmental studies, and has worked hard to learn Chinese. He has studied abroad at five different universities including the London School of Economics in London, England, and the Tianjin University of Technology in Tianjin, China. Outside of the classroom, Page has served as the finance chair for the University Lecture Committee and as a senator and the sustainability initiatives coordinator for UI Student Government. He served as the Associated Iowa Honors Students President, the UI Environmental Coalition's Director of Education, and as the UI Power Shift Coalition Co-Chair. He has served on the Sustainability Advisory Committee and on the IMU Advisory Board. Chris has participated in numerous local volunteer endeavors in Iowa City, also extending his service to assist earthquake victims in China and housing development in India.

Paniagua is a senior, double majoring in economics and political science from Westchester, Ill. Roberto has developed a fluency in three languages; Spanish, French, and Italian. He has studied abroad in the India Winter Program and in Lyon, France. He served on several organizations at the Tippie College of Business, including its Judicial Board, which investigates student Honor Code violations. He served as the fundraising chair for Tippie Build's Habitat for Humanity Project, president the Multicultural Business Student Association and was president of the Multicultural Business Association. He also has worked with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. He has been a Peer Leader for the Iowa Edge Orientation Program, a Student Ambassador for the University's Center for Diversity and Enrichment, and a Honors Program Peer Advisor.

Rigby is a senior from Cedar Rapids, majoring in African American studies and English. He is the current UI Student Government president and the vice president of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean's Student Advisory Committee. He is currently working on his honors thesis project about James Baldwin's art and activism during America's Civil Rights Movement. Rigby was involved in the UI Honors Program in 2009 and 2010 as a Summer Orientation guide and campus tour guide for the UI Office of Admissions. In 2009, John served as the president of his fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, where he was selected as a National Fraternity student representative to lobby federal lawmakers in 2009 and 2010. John was selected as the 2010 UI Homecoming King, was awarded the UI Office of Student Life Fraternity President of the Year Award in the spring of 2010.

--A Hancher/Finkbine Graduate/Professional Student Medallions went to Harb Harb and Lyndsay A. Harshman.

Harb, from Davenport, is a fourth-year student in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, graduating with a M.D. and a master's degree in public health. Harb is the first student to complete distinction tracks in teaching, research and service. He has completed 60 hours of teaching experience and helped implement the first feedback system for clinical evaluators. He has researched infectious diseases and was honored in February 2011 with the American Medical Association Excellence in Medicine Leadership Award. In 2010, Harb was recognized as a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. Harb has served as a team member for the Carver College of Medicine's Mobile Clinic. Harb also created the Health and Nutrition Curriculum Advancement Program, an after-school program that aims to educate children from low-income housing areas about wellness, health and nutrition. Harb has also served in several leadership positions, including the co-chair for student activities and as the student body president within the Carver College of Medicine.

Harshman, a native of Centerville, is a fourth year medical student in the Carver College of Medicine. During her time at the UI, Harshman has conducted research on human judgment and decision-making in conjunction with the role of chronic disease on human frontal lobe dysfunction. She was selected in 2008 as a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellow. The Carver College of Medicine is one of 12 schools in the United States that hosts this prestigious clinical year-out research fellowship for approximately five scholars at each site annually. Her commitment to research has produced four publications and three more are currently in press. She has served as the student body president of the Carver College of Medicine and is the current president of the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students, as well as being on the 21 Makes Sense Committee, and several Carver College of Medicine student committees. She has been an advocate to the Iowa Legislature about escalating graduate and professional student debt.

--The Hancher Finkbine Faculty Medallion went to Michael W. O'Hara, professor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He has served the UI for three decades and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Marcé Society in 2002, and has been named a Collegiate Fellow. He has touched the lives of many students through his mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students who are working on their honors, masters, or doctoral theses. He is always encouraging the involvement of other faculty at the UI, serving as a mentor to all those around him. He has served as the Chairman of the Department of Psychology and as the Clinical Area Coordinator and Coordinator of Graduate Studies in Psychology. Professor O'Hara has held the position of associate dean and has served as the faculty senate president and vice president.

--The Hancher Finkbine Staff Medallion was given to Lyra W. Dickerson, senior assistant director of Human Resources. She was worked at the UI since 1974 and has dedicated her career to serving the employees of the University. Dickerson has fostered the leadership of students by participating in activities that recognize student excellence or help to support the development of student excellence. She has served on the Student Employee of the Year Selection Committee for the last 15 years and for the last eight years served on the David Braverman University of Iowa Student Scholarship Selection Committee. In addition, she has shared her expertise and helped guide students through various employment topics such as interview skills and preparing for job fairs and job interviews. She has frequently spoken both to UI and high school students and has taught 33 professional development courses at UI and has participated in 160 UI educational sessions.

--The Hancher Finkbine Alumni Medallion was awarded to P. Sue Beckwith, M.D., a colorectal surgeon with the Iowa Clinic in Des Moines. She specializes in several complex surgical techniques and is renowned for her compassion and kindness to patients. She received her B.A. in Psychology in 1980 from the UI and completed her doctor of medicine degree at the Carver College of Medicine in 1984. Beckwith has shared her professional expertise as a clinical associate for the UI Department of Surgery since 2003. Beckwith is a founding member of the dean's advisory board for the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and serves as a member of the UI Foundation Board of Directors, the National Iowa Varsity Club, and the Kinnick Society. She is a member of the Presidents Club Gold, as well as the current chair of the Presidents Club. In addition, she gave the lead gift that helped build the new P. Sue Beckwith, M.D., Boathouse – the first UI building named solely for a woman benefactor.

--Distinguished Student Leader Certificates went to Lisa Gillette, Donna Lancianese and Pamela Florence Wong. This award recognizes students who have exhibited meritorious qualities in leadership, learning and loyalty.

Gillette from Ottawa, Illinois, is a senior finance and economics major in the Tippie College of Business and is pursuing a theater arts minor. As an economic research assistant, she analyzed Major League Baseball (MLB) data to find a correlation between physical characteristics and the performance of MLB pitchers based on 25 variables. She has held several leadership roles, including president of Delta Sigma Pi Professional Business Fraternity and a justice on the UI Student Judicial Court. Within the Tippie College of Business, Gillette has been named a Tippie Scholar, served as a business student ambassador, and been a member of the Tippie College of Business Judicial Board. She has been a Rhodes Scholar Nominee, named in the Tippie 21 Under 21, awarded the Frank Knight Economic Scholarship, and is a member of the Hawkinson Institute of Finance.

Lancianese, from Iowa City, is a Ph.D. student studying sociology. She is a member of the Graduate Student Senate where she served as vice president and treasurer. Currently, she is serving as the vice president of the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students. She has mentored junior graduate and undergraduate students, and trained students on specific experimental protocols, how to interview participants, and how to assess experimental conditions. She is currently the co-chair of the Graduate Student Senate's Educational Outreach Committee and has focused on reaching out to area and local high school students. Lancianese co-authored an article which won American Sociological Association Sociology of Emotions Section's Recent Contribution award

Wong from, Cedar Rapids, is a doctorate student in College of Pharmacy and is working on her master's degree in public health. She has been active in several pharmacy student fraternities, Pharmacy Student Council, and professional organizations, as well as being a mentor and tutor. Wong completed research related to smoking cessation programs and extensively researched various smokeless tobacco products to discover the risks and benefits of smokeless tobacco products compared to cigarettes.

Other awards announced at the dinner were:

-- Jennifer Wang was presented with the Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award. 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. Wang is a third year law student from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.  Throughout her time at the UI, Wang has shown a passion and commitment to secure and maintain human rights. She has been active with numerous human rights-related organizations, including serving as the president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, an advisory board member of the Women's Resource and Action Center (WRAC), and a member of the UI Council on the Status of Women.  Jennifer has made significant contributions to the law school's efforts to strengthen its commitment to diversity, and was selected as the Iowa Student Bar Association's Diversity Chair.  She has completed several internships, including one with the Iowa City Human Rights Commission.

--The Robert F. Ray Faculty Representative Award is 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 awards, named after a former dean and longtime UI faculty representative to the Big Ten Conference, went to Houry Gebeshian and Julian Vandervelde.

Gebeshian, a senior on the women's gymnastics team from Newton, Mass., will graduate in December 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in athletic training. During the 2010 season, she was the Big Ten balance beam champion at the conference meet. Houry was also a second team All-Big Ten selection for 2010 and was first team All-Big Ten in 2009. Houry has earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in both 2009 and 2010, was Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award (earning over a 3.7 GPA between fall 2009 and spring 2010 semesters) and is a five-time Dean's List honoree. Houry has volunteered several hours at the UI Hospitals and Clinics to prepare her for her post-graduate studies. She intends on attending graduate school to become a physician assistant. Houry plans to continue her gymnastics career and hopes to represent Armenia in the next World Championships competition.

Vandervelde, of Davenport, graduated in December 2010 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in both English and religious studies and also earned a minor in Asian language and literature. Vandervelde was a member of the Hawkeye Football Team from 2006 to 2010. Julian was selected to the Academic All-Big Ten team four times and selected as a Co-SIDA Academic All-American for his athletic and academic accomplishments on three occasions. Vandervelde was a four-time varsity letter winner, 2010 Second Team All-Conference performer. He was voted team captain for 10 of the team's 13 games. In addition to being an active volunteer, Vandervelde is also an accomplished singer. He most recently sang the national anthem before President Barack Obama spoke on campus in spring 2010. Julian hopes to play professional football before moving on to his academic pursuits as a graduate student.

--M.L. Huit Faculty Award is 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 to Carolyn J. Brown, professor of speech pathology and audiology/ otolaryngology.  Brown received her undergraduate degree from the UI as well as her PhD.  She joined the Iowa Cochlear Implant Team as a doctoral student and has continued to be a pioneer in the field ever since.  She has had a profound impact on not only her students but also the many people she has helped by creating cochlear implants.  Her empathy is clearly demonstrated in her dedication to a field that so significantly revolves around the improvement of living situations for others.  However, Brown expands this dedication to all aspects of her life.  Her students are not simply faces in a classroom, as she spends time to get to know them individually and demonstrates an interest in them once they cease to be her students.  She continually influences more people to dedicate themselves to this field.  

--James N. Murray Faculty Award is presented by the Beta Iota Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa honor society to a non-tenured faculty member who demonstrates outstanding rapport with students and creates an exemplary classroom atmosphere. This year's Murray award was given to Professor Lena Hill, who holds a joint appointment in English and African-American studies and teaches a variety of courses from introductory surveys to advanced graduate courses. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University and a Ph.D. from Yale in English literature and language.  Her nominator states that: "She meets students directly, sees their needs and strengths, encourages them to take themselves seriously as critical thinkers and helps them to envision and take steps to realize a future in which that can make a difference in the lives of others." One student stated that Professor Hill "gives so much to others so that none will neglect the gift that is in them." Her civic activities include serving as a featured speaker for TRiO support services and the InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship, a co-host of the UI Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Committee Convocation, a faculty panelist for the Iowa Summer Research Opportunity Program, and an official and unofficial mentor for students across campus.

For more information, visit the Finkbine website at

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,