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Distinguished Alumni

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. 

2020: Jean (Lenz) Anderson

Class of 1986
Madison, Wisconsin

Jean (Lenz) Anderson of Madison, Wisconsin was named UW-Eau Claire – Barron County’s 2020 Distinguished Alumnae at the May 21 virtual commencement ceremony by the Foundation’s board president, Sharon Masek.

Anderson attended what was then the University of Wisconsin Center — Barron County from 1984-1986. After receiving her associate degree, she attended UW-Eau Claire, UW-Madison, Utah State University, and received her Masters in Library and Information Science degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she received the Ralph A. Parker award for an Outstanding Graduate Student in Library Science. As a student, Anderson was a member of the French Club, Phi Theta Kappa honor society, the Dean’s List, and was featured with her future husband on the cover of the Campus Preview publication.

Anderson has been an active member of the various state Library Associations and has served as President of the Wisconsin Library Association as well as serving on and chairing various WLA committees. She is also a Continuing Education Consultant for the South Central Library System, providing continuing ed opportunities for library staff in the region and state-wide.

According to her nomination, Anderson has carried with her the life lessons of community service, connection and lifelong learning that is present on the Rice Lake campus. Through her running activities, she motivates young girls to be strong and independent in the Girls on the Run Program, and continues this positive mentoring within the women’s running group Fellow Flowers. She has worked diligently to promote the public library system and provide engaging and needed continuing education to the librarians and staff. Serving others is a character trait she exemplifies, whether it is her family in planning a bridal shower for a niece, helping at local community meals when visiting Rice Lake, or serving in her local church.

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

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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