2023 Faculty and Staff Award Winners

The UW–Madison School of Education would like to congratulate the recipients of our 2023 Distinguished Achievement Awards. The School’s highly regarded national reputation is due, in large part, to the dedication and talent of our faculty, staff, and students. Thank you to our award winners for your outstanding efforts.

Ann Wallace Academic Staff Distinguished Achievement Awards

The Ann Wallace Academic Staff Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes a staff member’s impact on the mission of the unit and their outstanding performance in that unit.

Anna Lewis

Anna Lewis HeadshotMedia, Education Resources, and Information Technology (MERIT)

Anna’s nominators and supporters all agree that what Anna does and the way she does it are extraordinary, and they identified three overarching themes to explain why.

First, they note her care and concern for staff and colleagues. Anna’s skills as a supervisor and mentor — and her ability to develop both her staff and a caring work culture — were repeatedly shared in letters supporting Anna’s nomination. One supporter noted that Anna “may be the most gifted supervisor in the School of Education,” while another said that “Anna is a shining example of humility and selfless service to her team.”

Anna was also praised for her leadership in the realms of the MERIT Library and academic technology. Anna has built an impressive 25-year career with progressively responsible experience, professional growth, and diverse service activities. Her leadership capacity is well known throughout the School, campus, and beyond, and she is sought after to serve on and/or lead numerous committees and initiatives. Her leadership has been critical to managing change — doing the challenging work of supporting staff and evolving services through a merger, organizational restructuring, and the pandemic.

Finally, nominators and supporters highlighted Anna’s dedication, passion, and encyclopedic knowledge of the School — and how this has fueled an extraordinary year in her career. In 2022, Anna simultaneously served as interim chief information officer for the School of Education and as director of MERIT; served as interim director of WCER Technical Services; led successful searches for the School’s IT director, WCER research IT director, and director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center; and co-led the School of Education’s new faculty orientation.

Former student staff member Michelle Bass stated, “If MERIT is the heart of the School of Education, Anna Lewis is the School’s aorta, whose steady supply of collaboration, support, and passion for all of the School’s diverse disciplines allows for the Wisconsin Idea to flourish.”

University Staff Distinguished Achievement Award

The University Staff Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes a staff member’s outstanding performance on the job, initiation or recommendation of innovative ideas that are implemented and result in better service or efficiency, and exhibition of grace under pressure.

Chhangla Ruit

Department of Kinesiology, Physical Plant Services

Chhangla Ruit has worked for UW–Madison’s Division of Facilities Planning and Management, as part of physical plant services, for 14 years.

Currently, Chhangla is serving as a custodian on the second floor of the Medical Sciences Center, which is home to parts of the School of Education’s Department of Kinesiology.

The scope of her responsibilities is to clean and disinfect the facility. She also monitors building security and safety by checking and locking doors after operating hours. Chhangla also takes time to get to know faculty and staff who are working on the floor. Such efforts of going above and beyond her job duties are both vital and often overlooked functions in her service to the university.

In her nomination letter, Arianna Murphy, the program and fieldwork administrator with the Department of Kinesiology’s Occupational Therapy program, writes: “I would be thrilled to see Chhangla receive this award to recognize her work and to remind our campus community of what we can learn from all our colleagues.” She notes how custodians “occupy the rooms, offices, and hallways when they are empty and disheveled — before these spaces become the picturesque UW shown on brochures and during campus tours.”

Adds Sharon Gartland, the program director of the Department of Kinesiology’s Occupational Therapy program, in her letter of support: “Those of us who work later hours in the building see her regularly go above and beyond by checking on our needs, inquiring about safety, and greeting everyone with authentic connection.”

For these reasons and more, we are pleased to present the 2023 School of Education University Staff Distinguished Achievement Award to Chhangla Ruit.

Faculty Distinguished Achievement Awards

The Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes faculty members who have made contributions and demonstrated continued excellence in each of the three areas of teaching, research, and service.

David Rosenthal

David Rosenthal HeadshotDepartment of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education

Since 2002, Professor David Rosenthal has served as a faculty member in the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education, where he has made many exemplary and impactful contributions. 

Throughout his academic career, David has mentored countless students and has consistently received top course evaluations from those students. 

He has been a productive researcher and scholar, having published dozens of papers, chapters, and other work that has provided important contributions to his field. David has also successfully competed for funding to support his work on grants totaling more than $30 million.

During his time as program chair and department chair, the rehabilitation psychology program maintained the No. 1 ranking among all graduate programs in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report. As an associate dean, he promoted equity and equality within the School and increased the visibility of our university by engaging and establishing relationships with numerous universities around the world 

Professor Emeritus Norman Berven shares that one of David’s most significant contributions has been his years-long project addressing mental health and health promotion in El Salvador with the many people who have been injured and traumatized by civil war. David and his graduate students regularly travel to El Salvador to work directly with the people, conduct workshops, and assist mental health providers in sustaining that work.

In a letter of support, Professor Tim Tansey eloquently sums up David’s work by saying that his “efforts to ensure equitable rehabilitation counseling services for all persons will serve as an enduring legacy that will benefit a generation of counselors to come.”

We are pleased to honor Professor David Rosenthal with the Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award.

Dick & Julie Daly Award for Education Student Staff Achievement

The Dick & Julie Daly Award for Education Student Staff Achievement recognizes a recipient who presents a positive image of the School through exceptional work and demonstrates creativity, problem-solving, excellent customer service, or other activities that go beyond the ordinary expectations of their role as a student hourly worker.

Hailey Ens

Office of Communications and Advancement

Working as a marketing and social media intern for the Office of Communications and Advancement, sophomore Hailey Ens has made a lasting mark on the School of Education and its outreach efforts. Hailey has demonstrated strong social media, analytical, and marketing skills in this position and has played an important role in helping the School of Education grow its social media presence by more than 12 percent in the past year.

“She pairs creativity with sharp writing skills to make original content that resonates with students,” one nominator wrote of Hailey’s efforts. “She connects with our online community, answers questions, and celebrates our students.”

Hailey has contributed to significant initiatives during her time with the Office of Communications and Advancement, including Day of the Badger, Fill the Hill, the Madison College transfer agreement email campaign, and student stories for our commencement celebrations, among other key efforts.

In her role as a marketing and social media intern, she has been able to connect with our students, Badger friends and family, and alumni across the country. Her writing skills and light and friendly tone have brought a fresh perspective to the School.

As one nominator wrote: “Her talent, dedication, and positive attitude make her an outstanding asset to the School of Education. I’m confident she will continue to achieve great things in the future.”

For these reasons and more, we are excited to honor Hailey Ens with the Dick & Julie Daly Award for Education Student Staff Achievement.

Award for Community-Engaged Scholarship

The Award for Community-Engaged Scholarship honors an individual who advances the Wisconsin Idea to a new level of partnership and reciprocity.

Andy Garbacz

Department of Educational Psychology

Since joining the Department of Educational Psychology as a faculty member in the fall of 2016, Andy Garbacz has focused his work on youth mental health. These research-based efforts center family voices and experiences, along with valuable school and community partnerships, with the goal of improving mental health systems and practices.

Examples of how Andy grounds this vital work in partnership practices is evident in several ways.

First, he and colleagues have established important research-practice partnerships with both the Milwaukee Public Schools, focused on addressing disproportionate discipline, and with the Madison Metropolitan School District, focused on youth mental health promotion. In addition to these collaborative ties with the state’s largest public school districts, he has also made important connections to rural schools and communities across Wisconsin by co-leading the development of the Rural Education Research and Implementation Center. 

Similarly but on the national stage, Andy co-led the development of the Family-School-Community Alliance, an organization that is grounded in a participatory approach with family members, practitioners, and researchers.

Devon Minch and Mark Weist of the Family-School Community Alliance wrote in their letter of support: “Andy’s work epitomizes that of a community-engaged scholar. Dr. Garbacz’s research (with very strong practice and policy implications) is grounded in a partnership-centered, participatory process that focuses on democratic decision making, social justice, and active participation across family members, youth, educators, and mental health professionals.”

For these efforts and more, James Wollack, chair of the Department of Educational Psychology, notes in his nomination letter that Andy was unanimously approved by faculty in the department to be nominated for this distinguished honor.

We are excited to recognize Andy Garbacz with the School of Education’s Community-Engaged Scholarship Award.

Excellence in Diversity Award

The Excellence in Diversity Award was established by the School of Education’s Equity and Diversity Committee in 2012. The award recognizes faculty and staff who have made significant contributions to campus climate toward building a diverse and equitable School of Education.

Brian Burt

Brian Burt HeadshotDepartment of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis

Brian Burt’s exemplary scholarship on how to promote the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education settings pairs perfectly with his personal commitment to fostering those ideals in his classrooms, research lab, and throughout the UW–Madison School of Education. 

Brian has published numerous studies on diversity in top-tier research journals and been recognized for his outstanding work by organizations including the National Academy of Education and National Science Foundation. 

But his colleagues and students say his scholarship is just the tip of the iceberg. 

In a letter supporting his nomination for this award, Carolyn Kelley, the Jim and Georgia Thompson Distinguished Chair in Education and a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, lauded Brian’s efforts to recruit diverse students to the School of Education — and to provide them with top-tier experiences. 

“Dr. Burt is a marvel both inside and outside the classroom,” Kelley wrote. “The School of Education counts Dr. Burt as one of its strongest instructors and mentors who cares deeply about diversity.”

In her nomination letter, Suzanne Eckes, the Susan S. Engeleiter Professor in Education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, said he has improved the culture and climate of the department — and the entire School. 

“In all his endeavors, Dr. Burt is inclusive, takes great care to ensure that students, staff, and faculty feel a sense of belonging in ELPA, the School of Education, and the university,” Eckes wrote.

Due to his distinguished contributions to scholarship and the School of Education’s community, we enthusiastically award Brian Burt the School of Education’s Excellence in Diversity Award.

Special Thanks

The Ann Wallace Academic Staff Distinguished Achievement Awards are sponsored by Ann Wallace. The Faculty Achievement Awards and the University Staff Distinguished Achievement Award are supported by the Charles Read Recognition Fund. The Student Staff Achievement Awards are funded by a gift from Jo Ann Carr (Dick & Julie Daly Award for Education Student Staff Achievement) and gifts to the School of Education. The Excellence in Diversity Award and the Community-Engaged Scholarship Award are supported by gifts to the School of Education.

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