EPFLS Alumni Awards

The achievements of our alumni in Educational Psychology, Foundations and Leadership Studies are contributing to multiple professions and organizations. Each year, distinguished alumni are honored with these awards:

  • UNI Educational Leadership Legacy Award
  • PSE IDEAL Award 

Educational Leadership Legacy Award

John Speer Legacy Award 2023
John Speer, Educational Leadership Legacy Award, 2023

Each year, the Educational Leadership team selects a distinguished graduate of University of Northern Iowa principalship, superintendency or doctoral programs who has demonstrated exemplary educational leadership as a leader of learning, service and/or change, the core values of educational leadership at the College of Education. 

The annual award was established with support of a gift from the family of Vernon Kirlin ('46, BA), a longtime educator and school administrator, to honor his legacy of educational leadership.

Honored in 2023 was John Speer, chief administrator with the Grant Wood Area Education Agency in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Speer earned his BA in English education in 1994, his MA in educational administration/secondary in 2000, advanced studies certificates in superintendency and principalship in 2002 and his EdD in the educational leadership intensive study area in 2017, all from UNI. He began his teaching career in 1994 and moved into administration as high school principal by 1999. Prior to joining the AEA in 2018, Speer served in superintendent positions with the College Community, Ballard and Allamakee school districts. 

Recent previous winners of the award include:

2022: Autumn Pino, '21, ASC/Superintendency
2021: Amy Schmidt, '99, BA; '14 ASC-Principalship 
2019: Jo Ellen Latham, BA, MA, EdD, K-12 Administrative Certificate
2017: Anel Garza 


IDEAL Award Wall DisplayThe IDEAL award is given annually to a postsecondary education: student affairs alumnus who has demonstrated exemplary achievement in the field of student affairs. The IDEAL award represents: 

  • Innovative 
  • Dedicated
  • Educational
  • Alumni
  • Leader

Past UNI IDEAL Award winners include:

  • Leah Rozeboom (2023)
  • Jenny Connolly (2022)
  • Sarah Goblirsch (2021)
  • Wilfred M. Johnson (2020)
  • Kimberly Matteson (2019)
    Kristi Van Gorder (2018)
    Jon Buse (2017)

Award Criteria:
Nominators may focus on the nominee’s work as it aligns with the ACPA / NASPA Competencies.
Nominations should include:

  • Nominator’s Name, Address, Email, Phone
  • Nominee’s Name, Job Title, Address, Email, Phone
  • Nominations should not exceed three word-processed pages.

Nominations should be e-mailed to David “Schmiddy” Schmid at david.schmid@uni.edu with the subject heading as “UNI PSE IDEAL Award Nomination.”
All nominations are due by April 1 with the award being presented no later than May 1 of each calendar year.

PSE IDEAL Award winners are listed on the wall outside the educational leadership and postsecondary education offices on sixth floor of Schindler Education Center.