Award-winning Alums

Congratulations to all our alums that have been recognized with major awards in their professions and also by the university. Below is a list of a select few:

Iowa Teacher of the Year Awards

The winner of the Iowa Department of Education’s 2017 Teacher of the Year Award and two of the remaining four finalists graduated from UNI, including:

Winner: Shelly Vroegh of Norwalk, fifth-grade teacher and instructional coach in the Norwalk Community School District


  • Amanda Schiller of Donnellson, middle school science teacher in the Van Buren Community School District
  • Laura Tracy of Swaledale, kindergarten teacher at North Butler Elementary School


More Educator of the Year Awards

  • Justin Wiese, Hopewell Elementary School physical education teacher, was named the 2016 Iowa Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the Iowa Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
  • James Heithoff, 7th grade history teacher at Winterset Junior High School, was named the 2016 History Teacher of the Year in Iowa, an award co-sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
  • Lynell O’Connor, principal of Williamsburg Junior-Senior High School, was named the 2017 Iowa Secondary Principal of the Year by the School Administrators of Iowa
  • Greg Ebeling, superintendent of the Pella Community School district, was named the Iowa Superintendent of the Year for 2017-18 by the School Administrators of Iowa


Department of Teaching Excellence in Mentoring Educators Award

The Department of Teaching implemented a new award this year to recognize and celebrate mentor teachers. The Excellence in Mentoring Educators Award honors retiring or transitioning teachers who have been dependable and outstanding mentors for UNI students throughout their careers. Sue Green, who retired in June after 37 years of teaching, most recently mathematics at Holmes Junior High in Cedar Falls, was the inaugural recipient of the award.


Postsecondary Education: Student Affairs IDEAL Award

The Department of Postsecondary Education: Student Affairs also implemented a new award to recognize alums that have demonstrated exemplary achievement in the field of student affairs. The first annual IDEAL Award (Innovative, Dedicated, Educational, Alumni Leader) was presented to Jon Buse, Vice President, Student Services, Kirkwood Community College.


Educational Leadership Legacy Award

This year’s Educational Leadership Legacy Award was awarded to Woodbury Elementary School Principal Anel Garza. The award, which is in its fourth year, is presented annually to an alum of the UNI principalship, superintendency or doctoral programs who exemplifies the program’s core values of leadership of learning, service and change.


Hall of Excellence Awards

The Hall of Excellence Awards are presented annually to School of Kinesiology, Allied Health and Human Services (formerly Health, Physical Education and Leisure Services) graduates that have:

  • Demonstrated mastery of the knowledge base within their profession.
  • Contributed significantly as a teacher, leader, executive and/or administrator and widely recognized for the quality of that contribution to their profession.
  • Demonstrated scholarly activity through publications and presentations related to their profession.
  • Contributed significantly to their profession while holding offices in professional organizations of state, regional, national and international scope.
  • Demonstrated cumulative record (including awards and honors) of effective and enthusiastic service to their profession with the intent to bring useful knowledge and pertinent information to their field.
  • Completed at least 10 years of service to the profession.

Congratulations to this year’s winners: Laurie Albert-Conner, Thomas Griffin, Kathy Green, Ken Green, and Bill Rauhauser!