BVU Alum Earns Education for Service Award

Dr. Ashley Farmer-Hanson was honored for her willingness to serve BVU in any capacity asked of her. She was described by nominators who cited her willingness to shower recognition on her staff and students, while never seeking the acclaim herself.

Dr. Ashley Farmer-Hanson, assistant vice president of Student Success/director of Community Engagement, earned the Education for Service Award during the annual Buena Vista University Employee Recognition Celebration held Friday, May 24.

“Her name has become synonymous with service at BVU,” said President Dr. Joshua Merchant in announcing the award, the most prestigious for staff members. “She is incredibly committed to this University. She makes BVU a better place for students to succeed.”

As attendees showered Farmer-Hanson with a standing ovation, she walked to the podium, thanked President Merchant and delivered a few remarks.

“To have my name to be included among mentors who changed my life is a privilege. I can only hope that I too can serve as half of a mentor as they were and continue to be to me.”

Dr. Ashley Farmer-Hanson

“We have a really special opportunity every day, the chance to inspire students,” she said. “To inspire them to serve their University and to serve their communities beyond BVU.”

The award, established by former BVU Vice President for Enrollment Services John Klockentager and his wife, Connie, sheds light on the unsung heroes of BVU who bring a steady focus to their work each day. A selection committee pared a group of 13 nominees to a trio of finalists, including Melissa Butcher, human resources director; and Ken Meissner, director of spiritual life/University chaplain; and Farmer-Hanson.

Merchant lauded all three for their tremendous works of service year-round, and said each has had an incredible impact upon the University.

Farmer-Hanson, a BVU alum, having graduated in 2007, stood out for her willingness to serve BVU in any capacity asked of her to further the success of her alma mater. Having a commitment that goes beyond her title, the Education for Service honoree was described by nominators who cited her willingness to shower recognition on her staff and students, while never seeking the acclaim herself.

Following the ceremony, Farmer-Hanson reflected on the honor and what it means to serve a place whose motto, “Education for Service,” permeates so much of what takes place at BVU on a daily basis.

“I am incredibly honored and grateful to receive the Education for Service award,” she said. “When I arrived at BVU as a first-generation college student, I questioned if college was a place for me. I soon learned that it was and that was because of my mentors who swept me up, supported, challenged, and encouraged me inside and outside of the classroom. Those two mentors, Leon Williams and Nichol Kleespies, were also recipients of this award.”

“To have my name to be included among mentors who changed my life is a privilege. I can only hope that I too can serve as half of a mentor as they were and continue to be to me.”

“I now get to come to BVU every single day to work with students who want to change the world, with colleagues who believe in our students and the transformation they can make now and once they leave BVU as graduates. I am blessed to get to live out my passions daily and I am forever grateful to the many people within my community who support me in doing so including my family, my husband Matt, and colleagues near and far.”

Along with a framed certificate noting the award, Farmer-Hanson received a professional-development stipend, and a glass plaque inscribed with the Education for Service Emblem.

Additional faculty and staff members were honored at the BVU Employee Recognition Celebration. The BVU Student Senate chose Joe Paletta, assistant baseball coach, as its staff member of the year. The Student Senate selected Dr. Richard Riner, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice, as its faculty member of the year.

Faculty development/research accolades went to: Dr. Mary Gill, director of the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership program and professor of speech communication, the New Century Advising Award; Dr. Amy Barth, assistant professor of education, the New Century Research Award; and to both Dr. Calle Friesen, associate professor of education; and Jerry Johnson, assistant professor of media studies, the New Century Creative Endeavor Award.

Donna Musel, director of Center for Academic Excellence, earned BVU’s Diversity and Inclusion Award.

Jamii Claiborne, associate professor of digital media, acting dean, director of assessment; and Lori Berglund, interim assistant dean of Student Life and director of Career and Personal Development, earned the Better BVU Award from President Merchant.

The president’s Eager Beaver Award was presented to Dr. Benjamin Maas, assistant professor of environmental science.

Faculty and staff retirees were also honored. Their positions and years of service follow:

  • Dr. Robbie Ludy, professor of special education and liaison to international education programs (23 years). Ludy was awarded emeritus status.
  • Dr. Kathryn McKinley, associate professor of social work (19 years). McKinley was awarded emeritus status, and was inducted into the Order of Cumberland and Tollefson.
  • Florene Cork, access services coordinator (21 years).
  • Jack Galvin, custodian (17 years).
  • Bill Henrich, senior security officer (20 years).
  • Cindy Jacobson, assistant office manager/custodian (18 years). 
  • Cindy McDonough, administrative assistant, Harold Walter Siebens School of Business (14 years). 
  • Ken Meissner, director of spiritual life/University chaplain (19 years). 
  • Jodi Phipps, office manager- University Development Alumni Engagement (16 years).
  • Sue Vaudt, secretary School of Science (28 years).

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