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UW–Madison students, educators win Alliant awards

October 27, 2023

Two University of Wisconsin–Madison students and two educators were recognized Thursday by the Universities of Wisconsin and Alliant Energy Foundation for their achievements.

“I appreciate the Alliant Energy Foundation for generously supporting these awards to recognize student achievement and influential teaching,” said Universities of Wisconsin President Jay Rothman. “Congratulations to this year’s dedicated students and instructors on their impressive accomplishments.”

“We are honored to continue the legacy of these awards, which were created to recognize the hard work of students and faculty,” said Julie Bauer, executive director of the Alliant Energy Foundation. “These annual awards reflect Alliant Energy’s long-standing investment in education and our shared future.”

The Alliant Energy Erroll B. Davis, Jr. Achievement Awards recognize the outstanding academic and community-service efforts of students from traditionally underrepresented minority groups who are pursuing a degree in business or engineering at UW–Madison or UW-Platteville. This years recipients include:

  • Olivia Asare

    Olivia Asare, UW–Madison. A Chancellor Scholar, Asare has immersed herself in leadership roles on campus. She serves as a peer mentor in the Chancellor’s scholarship program and is president of Diverse Leaders of Tomorrow. She also supports students as a housefellow in campus dormitories. She interned for both the Boys and Girls Club of Fox Valley and for British Petroleum and worked as a youth advocacy consultant with Terraluna Collaborative. She earned first place at the P&G (Procter & Gamble) 2021 case study competition. Asare plans to graduate in May 2024 with a Bachelor of Business Administration, majoring in supply chain management, operations and technology management, and marketing.

  • Naomi Lewis

    Naomi Lewis, UW–Madison. Lewis is president of the UW–Madison chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. She has served on the Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity in Engineering Student Advisory Council and worked with campus leadership to advocate for the needs of engineering students, helping develop outreach and recruitment programs that seek to broaden participation among students historically underrepresented in Lewis has also served as a College of Engineering Student Ambassador providing presentations and tours to prospective engineering students. Lewis plans to graduate in December 2023 from UW–Madison with a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering with an emphasis in supply chain management and human factoring.

The Alliant Energy James R. Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Awards recognize outstanding commitment to undergraduate student success and the ability to inspire in students an enthusiasm for learning. The awards are presented to students and educators from Universities of Wisconsin campuses located within Alliant Energy’s service area. This year’s recipients include:

  • Kristy Burkholder

    Kristy Burkholder, teaching faculty member in human development and family studies in the UW–Madison School of Human Ecology. Burkholder seeks to create valuable educational experiences for her students through emotional connection and building community. In addition to helping students succeed academically, she is passionate about helping students discover their values, talents, and purpose in life with the goal of improving their well-being and the well-being of others. Most of her students are preparing for professional careers in which empathy, listening, and effective communication are essential, both to deliver effective services and to prevent burnout in emotionally draining professions. Burkholder advocates establishing “curriculums of consequence,” focusing on creating an integrated education that fosters effective strategies for solving persistent social challenges. Her strategies and objectives for supporting student learning are based on her knowledge of effective teaching practices and her understanding of human ecological theory, systems theory, and design thinking.

  • Howard Schweber

    Howard Schweber, UW–Madison political science professor. Schweber’s goal in teaching, whether he is teaching a large lecture course or small seminar class, is to meet students where they are, then take them somewhere new. Over his career, he has learned about the need to create and maintain an environment that is welcoming to students with different identities, ideologies, and backgrounds. He works to engage all students, from the most outgoing to the most reticent. Above all, he has learned that good teaching is based on self-reflection, openness to innovation, and constant improvement. During COVID-19, he redesigned his lecture courses in the form of short mini-lectures presented online and asynchronously. His teaching awards include the 2018 Excellence in Service Award from the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund. Schweber serves as the faculty advisor and coach for the UW College Mock Trial Team, the UW College Moot Court Team, and Wisconsin’s undergraduate politics and law journal, “Sifting and Winnowing.” He is the founding editor of Constitutional Studies.

The Alliant Energy Foundation established an endowment in 2006 to honor Erroll B. Davis, Jr.’s distinguished record of public service. Davis, the first African-American leader of a “Business Week 1000” company, is a former chief executive of Alliant Energy and a former member of the Board of Regents of the Universities of Wisconsin. He was interim Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools from 2012 to 2014.

The James R. Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Awards are given as a tribute to the energy company’s long-time senior executive, James R. Underkofler (1923–2015), who was a staunch proponent of excellence in undergraduate teaching. He spent his entire career with the Wisconsin Power and Light Co. (now Alliant Energy), ending with his retirement in 1990 as chairman and CEO.

Both award programs are administered by the Universities of Wisconsin Office of Academic and Student Affairs.