UI Recognizes Engineering Faculty, Student, Alumnus at Finkbine Dinner

Friday, April 16, 2010

University of Iowa News Release

Two Engineering faculty members, a graduate student, and a distinguished alumnus were among those honored at the 93rd anniversary Finkbine Dinner, one of the university's most prestigious award ceremonies.

The winners of this year's Hancher-Finkbine Medallions include:

-- The Hancher Finkbine Alumni Medallion went to Richard E. Emmert. He is a native of Iowa City and received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the UI in 1951. He then went on to complete his Master of Science and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware. Through his outstanding foresight and leadership over the years, Emmert has made several contributions to industry, academia, and the engineering profession. The majority of his professional career was with the DuPont Company, where he held several leadership positions and retired as vice president of electronics after 34 years of distinguished service. For eight years, Emmert served as executive director of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and he has served and continues to serve on numerous academic Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering and College of Engineer advisory boards. His contributions to the engineering profession were recognized by his election to the National Academy of Engineering, which is one of the highest honors bestowed upon an engineer. He is currently on the UI Engineering Development Council. 

-- A Distinguished Student Leader Certificate went to Michael Vernon Schaefer. This award recognizes students who have exhibited meritorious qualities in leadership, learning and loyalty. Schaefer is a graduate student in civil and environmental engineering from Ames. He has several publications and research presentations and is a recipient of one of 21 national highly prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Student Fellowships. He has extensive international experience including teaching and participating in the International Perspectives in Water Resources and Management study abroad course in Egypt, the Netherlands, and United Kingdom. Schaefer is a proponent of environmental justice having served as both president and vice president of the Engineers Without Borders student organization in which he oversaw a substantial increase in membership. He has also been active in the Engineers for a Sustainable World. Schaefer has been active promoting both the university and the College of Engineering in performing water purification demonstrations as well as participating in interviews on the Big Ten Network concerning engineering issues in Ghana.

-- The 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 Gene F. Parkin, professor in civil and environmental engineering. He holds a bachelor's and master's degrees in civil and environmental engineering from the UI and a doctorate in environmental engineering from Stanford University. Parkin is a world-renowned researcher in environmental engineering and contaminant remediation and is co-author of the leading textbook on water chemistry. Through his long-standing commitment to student learning and welfare, he has positively influenced the lives of thousands of undergraduate students and hundreds of graduate students. In the classroom, Parkin is a master of the question-and-answer lecture style, forcing students to truly think about course material in a meaningful and substantial way. In addition, Parkin has been an effective mentor of future teachers. Several of the institutions represented by his former students include top-20 graduate programs in environmental engineering and science or civil engineering.  His dedication to students and their success is evident in his more than two decades of outstanding classroom teaching at Iowa, and by his long-standing commitment to advising and mentoring students outside the classroom.

-- The 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 award went to Anton Kruger, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. He earned his doctorate with a focus on geophysical instrumentation systems and geophysical information technology from the UI in 1992, after receiving his first two degrees in electrical engineering at Potchefstroom University in South Africa. Kruger has been active in his field through various committee and organization positions, research, publications, consulting, and in the mentoring and advising of students. Among his accomplishments are helping to restart the student chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. His dedication to his students is evident from his willingness to provide research and learning opportunities to graduates and undergraduates. As a dedicated member of his department and profession, Kruger uses his expertise to promote the creation of new, more relevant courses, and improves upon existing courses and curriculum, all helping UI students become more proficient and competitive in the field.

Interim Vice President for Student Services Tom Rocklin emceed this year's dinner, which was held at the Iowa Memorial Union. UI President Sally Mason was among those who presented the awards. Richard Emmert, recipient of Hancher Finkbine Alumni medallion, gave brief inspirational remarks.

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.