Graduate School Professional Awards for 2013


Graduate School honors alumnus, faculty, and staff for accomplishments

Each year the Graduate School presents awards to recognize four individuals for their contributions to excellence in graduate education.

Outstanding Alumnus Award

The Outstanding Alumnus/a Award recognizes an alumnus/a of the Graduate School for academic or professional achievements since graduating from the university.

Mary Wakefield

Mary Katherine Wakefield, an alumna of the School of Nursing at The University of Texas at Austin, has been named the Graduate School’s Outstanding Graduate Alumnus for 2013.

Wakefield, who earned both her master's (1978) and doctoral (1985) degrees from UT Austin's School of Nursing, has built a distinguished career around the country and the world. She has worked at public and private institutions of higher education, in the political arena, and in governmental agencies.

In 1979, Wakefield began her academic appointment with the University of North Dakota College of Nursing, while expanding her clinical experiences in caring for residents in a rural nursing home setting as a registered nurse in the intensive care unit. She was a model for students in nurse practice and role development. From 1987 to 1996 she served as legislative assistant and then chief of staff to North Dakota senators Quentin Burdick and Kent Conrad, winning her a reputation for developing collaborative solutions to difficult problems. During 1996 to 2001 she served as director of the Center for Health Policy, Research and Ethics at George Mason University in Virginia, and worked as a consultant to the World Health Organization's Global Programme on AIDS in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dr. Wakefield is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and was elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies in 2004, one of the highest honors in medicine and health.

In February 2009, President Barack Obama appointed her as administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services--the first nurse to hold this position. Wakefield oversees the investment of $2.5 billion in health care infrastructure and the training of health-care professionals. This same year, Modern Healthcare, a leading source in health-care business and policy news, research, and information, named Wakefield one of the "Top 25 Women in Health Care."

“As a nurse, a Ph.D., and a leading rural health care advocate, Mary Wakefield brings expertise that will be instrumental in expanding and improving services for those who are currently uninsured or underserved,” President Obama said in announcing her appointment. “Under her leadership, we will be able to expand and improve the care provided and address severe provider shortages across the country.”

Dr. Alexa Stuifbergen, Dean of UT Austin's School of Nursing says, "I am proud of how Dr. Wakefield has used the knowledge and preparation she gained as a graduate student at the School of Nursing to effectively provide access to health services for all Americans, including those in largely underserved populations: the elderly, the poor and residents of rural America ...her interest and expertise in policy began at The University of Texas at Austin in courses at the School of Nursing and the LBJ School of Public Affairs." Dean Stuifbergen adds, "... Dr. Wakefield has devoted her entire career to probing for solutions to the pressing dilemma of providing more affordable and accessible health care to those in need. Whether in the examinations room, classroom or boardroom, she has demonstrated a remarkable ability to inspire tomorrow's nurses and health-care professionals and forge partnerships with a broad spectrum of policymakers as a means to providing a more equitable and accessible health-care system for all."

Photo courtesy of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).


Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award

The Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award honors faculty members for outstanding teaching at the graduate level and for excellence in mentoring of graduate students. An award of $3,000 is presented to the recipient. Ann Twinam, Professor in the Department of History is being recognized with this year’s Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award.

Dr. Ann TwinamAnn Twinam, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of History

Dr. Twinam teaches key foundation graduate courses in Latin-American history. Her contributions to the training of young historians are exemplary; she is a “...tough but deeply caring teacher, and an innovative mentor...” says Graduate Adviser, Jacqueline Jones. A prize-winning scholar of colonial Latin America, Dr. Twinam has written books and scholarly essays that enrich our understanding of the Latin America past. Two examples are Miners, Merchants,and Farmers in Colonial Colombia (1982) and Public Lives, Private Secrets: Gender, Honor, Sexuality, and Illegitimacy in Colonial Spanish America (1999).

A dedicated mentor to her students, she has a "tough but fair" motto. Dr. Twinam is also extremely attentive to the everyday aspects of graduate education. Just as she excels in teaching, she also does in professional development for her students. Dr. Twinam has developed innovative and intensive grant-writing workshops, as well as mock-conference sessions to prepare students to give papers at national conferences.

Dr. Twinam’s work has earned her the position as one of the foremost colonial Latin-American specialists today; she serves as an inspiration and model for graduate students. "...she brings honor and credit to the graduate program of History as a whole..." says Graduate Adviser, Jacqueline Jones. Read more about Dr. Twinam.


Outstanding Graduate Adviser Award

The Outstanding Graduate Adviser Award recognizes a graduate adviser for exemplary service to a graduate program, and the award includes a $3,000 prize. Sheldon Ekland-Olson of the Department of Sociology is this year’s winner of the Outstanding Graduate Adviser Award.

Dr. Sheldon Ekland-OlsonSheldon Ekland-Olson, Ph. D., Amy Johnson McLaughlin Administrative Chair in Human Ecology; Rapoport Centennial Professor of Liberal Arts
Professor, Department of Sociology

Sheldon Ekland-Olson has served as the Graduate Adviser in the Department of Sociology since 2007, and now is recognized with the 2013 Outstanding Graduate Adviser Award. Dr. Ekland-Olson also serves as the Director of the School of Human Ecology and Department of Textiles and Apparel and consults with many programs across campus.

Dr. Ekland-Olson has put policies into place to identify graduate students who are struggling, and quickly recognizing those who are achieving at a high level. “He is a master at program administration and development; graduate student mentoring; recruiting and retaining top graduate students; and building a community of integrity and goodwill.” says Christine Williams, Chair in the Department of Sociology.

Read more about Dr. Ekland-Olson.

Read UT Austin Department of Sociology Graduate Blog post about Dr. Ekland-Olson: (October 12, 2012) A Crooked Piece of Time: As Navigated by Dr Sheldon Ekland-Olson


Outstanding Graduate Coordinator Award

The Outstanding Graduate Coordinator Award recognizes a graduate coordinator for distinguished service in support of the graduate adviser and other faculty in the administration of a graduate program. An award of $3,000 will be presented to Stephanie Crouch.

Stephanie CrouchStephanie W. Crouch, Graduate Coordinator in the College of Pharmacy

Stephanie has served as graduate coordinator for the College of Pharmacy since 2010. "Stephanie has been a graduate coordinator at UT for a number of years, but we were able to recruit her to our college in the summer of 2010, making her eligible for this award in our college for the first time." says Carlton K. Erickson, Professor and Graduate Adviser of the College of Pharmacy. Stephanie previously served as graduate coordinator in the departments of Astronomy (2003-2007) and Radio-Television-Film (2007-2010).

Her love for students and her knowledge of Graduate School staff procedures are two of the things most appreciated of Stephanie. She possesses an extensive knowledge of UT history, as well as a willingness to help wherever is needed. Dr. Erickson's says, "She is uncanny in her common sense, attention to detail, and her incredible knowledge of student needs."

Among other projects in her portfolio, Stephanie has collaborated with programmer Mary Kay Tiernan in developing a database that follows the graduate students' progress, while making pieces of this information available to others in the college according to their need. This project is in its final testing phase and once introduced it should lead to more student satisfaction and maybe shorter time to graduation in some cases.

Stephanie says of her graduate coordinator role, "While projects and other aspects of my profession can be quantified, one aspect of my position that brings me a great deal of joy cannot be measured with numbers. I work with, and coach, our international students to help them with their English... My language coaching often starts because they are preparing for the ITA exam, but we continue on even after they have passed the test... I love talking to my students and finding out what they consider valuable, and what their goals are."

In Dr. Erickson's words, "Stephanie Crouch is a gem."


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