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Upper Iowa presents 2014 Alumni Awards

Upper Iowa President William R. Duffy II (at right) presents the 2014 Alumni Awards to (from left) Robert Betz, Grimes, Iowa; Dr. William J. Daniels, Rochester, N.Y.; Sabrina Schmitt, Hawkeye, Iowa; and David Wenger, Albia, Iowa. Edith Sieg-Reed, Newport News, Va., was unable to attend but joined the October 4 ceremony by FaceTime.

FAYETTE, Iowa (October 6, 2014) – Upper Iowa University (UIU) presented the 2014 Alumni Awards to five alumni Saturday, October 4, during the annual Alumni and Awards Luncheon as part of annual Homecoming Festivities. In addition, they honored members of the Class of 1964 who returned for their 50th reunion.

Upper Iowa honors alumni each year who stand out because of their accomplishments – either as emerging alumni, through their service to community and to country, and their professional accomplishments. The recipients of the Upper Iowa University 2014 Alumni Awards are:

Robert Betz, class of 1989, received the Service to Country Award for demonstrating exceptional achievement in a professional career related to military service. A resident of Grimes, Iowa, Betz is a lieutenant colonel, retired, with the Iowa National Guard. Betz retired from the National Guard in 2002 after 34 years of service and is currently working as a specialist for the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs. In his last position he was responsible for emergency operations and security and worked directly alongside Iowa’s Homeland Security office and local governments. He helped to manage the response to the 1993 floods, the United Airlines Flight 232 crash, severe droughts, and deployments to Operation Desert Storm.

Dr. William J. Daniels, class of 1962, received the Professional Accomplishment Alumni Award. A resident of Rochester, N.Y., Daniels is a retired professor and dean of the Liberal Arts Colleges of the Rochester Institute of Technology. When he came to UIU from Chicago’s segregated DuSable High School in the late ’50s, he was the only African-American student at Upper Iowa. An outstanding student, Daniels set the academic bar for other UIU students and received the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, which helped him continue his education at the University of Iowa where he earned his Ph.D. in Public Law. He became a faculty member and eventually associate dean of undergraduate studies at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., and served as adjunct professor with the Graduate School at the State University of New York .Daniels became a Tom C. Clark Judicial Fellow in the Office of Administrative Assistant to the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1978 and received a Fulbright-Hays Lecturing Fellowship in the School of Law at Waseda University and the Foreign Service Training Institute in Tokyo, Japan. He also was an Alfred Smith Fellow with the New York State Executive Department for Budget Matters. In 1988 he became Dean of Liberal Arts at Rochester Institute of Technology and was appointed chairman of the board of Citizens for Law, Order and Justice.

Sabrina Schmitt, class of 2000, received the Service to University Award. Schmitt is a resident of Hawkeye, Iowa, and a dance and cheer instructor at Expressions Dance Studio. She was nominated for her work this past academic year in helping a group of students realize their dream of bringing back the UIU cheer team. Schmitt, a former Peacock Cheerleader herself, stepped up and volunteered to work with 15 UIU students who formed their own cheer team with the help of Kate Grover, director of the recreation center had the students, ready to cheer at a number of events. The squad performed at several home games and inspired alumna Diane Harms to provide a $1.65 million gift to the University to endow a competitive cheer program.

Edith Sieg-Reed received the Community Service Award. Sieg-Reed is a 2008 graduate of Upper Iowa University. In her home community of Newport News, Virginia, she established a partnership between her Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team (The Vikings) and the Hampton Roads Aging Meals on Wheels Program. She and her team of seventh grade boys contributed more than 100 hours of community service while delivering several hundred meals to elderly and military veterans. The award cited Sieg-Reed’s commitment to mentoring young people with a focus on teamwork, self-esteem and academics. Sieg-Reed attended the event via FaceTime. A traffic management specialist at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, she has just returned to the United States after being deployed with the Army for nine months in Kuwait.

David Wenger, class of 2006, received the emerging alumni award. Wenger is a junior high and high school teacher and wrestling coach in Albia, Iowa. For seven years, Wenger has been committed to developing and promoting the Albia Blue Demons Wrestling program. His work has had a significant, positive impact on a number of young people. He has coached an impressive list of state qualifiers and place winners. He also has been named district coach of the year, twice, and state coach of the year in 2014. The award notes that Wenger is much more than a wrestling coach. He takes young men and builds in them a sense of confidence and self-esteem, mentoring them with praise and encouragement.

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