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Alumni that deserve recognition

The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented annually by the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation to outstanding alumni who reflect the ideals of UW quality and have established an exceptional reputation in their careers and communities.

The UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation is soliciting nominations from the public for the Distinguished Alumni Award. The criteria and selection process has been determined by the Friends of the University Committee of the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation. The nomination form should be submitted by April 1. When nominating someone via the nomination form, complete all required sections to the best of your ability. If you are uncertain of certain information, just indicate that in the narrative. IF YOU WOULD RATHER EMAIL a narrative to nominate a worthy alum, please include as much detail as possible and send your email to, subject: Distinguished Alum Nomination. You will be contacted if follow-up information is needed. 

2022: Dr. Angela Blums 

Angela Blums, PhD Distinguished Alum 2022 Barron County

Class of 2006
Lakewood, WA

A St. Paul, MN native, Blums (née Merritt) left high school during her junior year, earned her GED and moved to Rice Lake where she worked at the former Rainbow Home Center. Although college seemed unattainable, Blums eventually enrolled at UW-Barron County where she credits the guidance, encouragement, and mentorship of various faculty members for her success. While at UWBC, Blums was president of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, co-president of Campus Greens, worked as a Psychology tutor and received the Student Involvement Award in 2006.

Following her tenure at UWBC, Blums received a B.A. in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota, studied Psychology and Human Development at Freie Universitaet in Berlin, Germany, and in 2017 earned her Ph.D. in Child and Human Development from the University of California-Davis.

Currently, Blums works to improve teacher training opportunities, advocates for early childhood educators, provides free professional development and mentors undergraduate researchers at Pierce College, a community college in Lakewood, Washington. There, she developed a new Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree to increase access to 4-year degrees for student in underserved communities and was awarded tenure in 2018. She has worked with Washington state stakeholders to create policies that serve the best interest of early childhood educators and young children and has volunteered with youth in foster care and those experiencing homelessness.

Because she exemplifies UW-Eau Claire – Barron County’s mission of making education accessible to all and helping others to achieve success, the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation is pleased to name Dr. Angela Blums as its 2022 Distinguished Alumna.

Past Distinguished Alumni

2021: Dean Kallenbach, Class of 1977. Journalist and Wisconsin Public Radio Announcer

2020: Jean (Lenz) Anderson, Class of 1986. Librarian and Volunteer

2019: Knute Brekke, Class of 1983, WIAA Player of the Year/Soccer 1981, ROV Operator

2018: Terry Wiesner, Class of 1972, Drama Director

2017: Karla (Schreiber) Hulne, Class of 2002, Music Educator

2016: Mike Rogers, Class of 1975, Academic and Administrative Financial Management

2015: Kathe Nickleby, Class of 1991, High School Educator and Principal

2014: Chris Fitzgerald, Class of 1993, Law Enforcement; County Sheriff

2013: Peter Muschinske, Class of 1983, Minister

2012: Jeff Hile, Class of 1976, Artist, Art Educator, Entrepreneur

2011: Mark Gilbertson, Class of 1977, Chemical Engineer, Dept. of Energy

2010: Eric Ness, Class of 1981, Agriculture Engineer, SBA Director

2009: Karyn (Nelson) Schauf, Class of 1975, Agriculture Entrepreneur

2008: John P. Gamoke, Class of 1976, Stage and Screen Actor

2007: Lance Allan Hajdasz, Class of 1990, Sports Broadcaster

2006: Louis E. Muench Jr, Class of 1974, Master Meat Processor, Entrepreneur

Award Process

The UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation Board recognizes outstanding alumni of the The UW-Eau Claire – Barron County with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. The nominee’s professional, volunteer and personal achievements at the university, in the community, and in the world will be considered.

All nominations submitted to the The UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation by the stated deadline will be considered. The final selection will be made by the Distinguished Alumnus Award Committee. The award will be presented to the Distinguished Alumnus at the spring commencement ceremony. If your nominee is selected, you will be asked to attend the Commencement ceremony with the nominee if at all possible. An award will be presented that evening and you and the nominee will be included in festivities.

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