Chapter of the Year
  • 2019 – Mid-State Technical College
  • 2018 – Moraine Park Technical College
  • 2017 – Gateway Technical College
Institutional Representative of the Year
  • 2019 – Susan Brinkman – St Norbert College
  • 2018 – Stephanie Sklba – Gateway Technical College
  • 2017 – Faith Pawelski – UW-Eau Claire

To nominate an Institutional Representative or outstanding leader.

Outstanding Achievement Award

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2017 – Zina Haywood - Gateway Technical College
Zina Haywood, Executive Vice President/Provost, Gateway Technical College, has over 30 years of experience in Higher Education Administration.

Zina is responsible for the 60+ academic programs, the college libraries, Student Services, the Gateway campuses which are in Kenosha, Racine, Burlington and Elkhorn, and the Institutional Effectiveness Division which includes Research and Planning, Curriculum and Professional Development.

Ms. Haywood has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The University of Michigan and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Oakland University.  She was in the founding class of Leadership Kenosha in 1998-99.  She participated in the Wisconsin Leadership Development Institute in 1997-98 and the National Institute for Leadership Development in May 2001 – May 2002.  Zina is a member of the Racine County Workforce Development Board and the Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership (WWHEL) board.  She has served on the Board of the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce, the Jane Cremer Foundation and the 21st Century Preparatory School in Racine where she served one year as chair.

Zina has received various honors and awards including, the 2005 Gateway Association of Career and Technical Education award for Excellence in Administration and in 2006 the Living Legends Award from the Racine/Kenosha Ministers Wives Alliance, recognition as a Living Legend with the Sistas organization of Kenosha Unified School District and the Leadership award from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). In February 2008 Ms. Haywood received the Gateway Association of Career and Technical Education award for Excellence in Community Service and went on to receive the state award in the same category.  Zina is also the recipient of the 2010 Eagle award for administration from the Instructional Services Administrators organization of the Wisconsin Technical College System.

2014 – Karlyn Crowley - St. Norbert College
Karlyn Crowley is director of the Cassandra Voss Center and a Professor of English and Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at St. Norbert College.  She has been at the College since 2002 and helped to start Women’s and Gender Studies program at the College.  Karlyn has a Ph.D. and M.A. in English from the University of Virginia and B.A. in English and Women’s Studies awarded with honors from Earlham College.

Dr. Crowley is a rare leader, one who is able to navigate multiple areas of higher education, having an impact at the local, state, and national levels.  Arriving at St. Nobert College over 12 years ago, Karlyn worked tirelessly to found Women’s and Gender Studies (WMGS) in 2005 and continues to oversee that discipline.  She is an excellent teacher who asks her students to grapple with difficult documentaries and activities that push them to engage with their demanding content.  She is a scholar in this area too writing a number of books and articles including Feminism’s New Age: Gender, Appropriation, and the Afterlife of Essentialism which explores the relationship between feminism and New Age culture.

Nationally, she has long been involved in the National Women’s Studies Association, the flagship organization for Gender Studies nationally, and was a board member from 2005-2010.  She continues to publish widely on gender and popular culture and has recently joined the Girl w/Pen Blog: Bridging Feminist Research and Popular Culture where she has a monthly column.  She now also advises Re:Gender (formerly National Council for Research on Women).

On a community level, Karlyn is a well-known advocate for women and girls.  She is closely connected with major organizations such as the Greater Green Bay Women’s Fund and the Girl Scouts.  She bridges what can sometimes be a “public vs. private” divide between colleges, by forming coalitions and presenting with colleagues in the University of Wisconsin system as well as at other private institutions such as Lawrence University and Beloit College.

Karlyn has moved the needle forward in advancing women in higher education and so we honor her with the 2014 Outstanding Achievement Award.

2013 – Kaylen Betzig – Waukesha County Technical College
Kaylen Betzig, Vice President of Administrative Services at Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) overseeing Facilities, Information Technology, and Financial Services, has won the 2013 Outstanding Achievement Award presented by Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership (WWHEL).

Prior to joining the staff of WCTC she was employed at Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) for eighteen years, serving in various capacities including the Director of Institutional Advancement and the Vice President of Learning Support.  In this capacity she was responsible for the successful 2002 $17.5 million dollar referendum campaign adding needed facilities at both the Central and Monroe Campuses of BTC.

Kaylen holds a B.S degree from UW-Platteville in Criminal Justice, M.S. degree in Higher Education Administration from the UW-Madison and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. from UW-Madison in Higher Education.  She has presented at numerous conferences regarding accreditation, student outcome assessment, program evaluation, strategic and referendum planning. Her research interests are in student outcome assessment in two-year institutions and strategic planning for higher education.  Kaylen has received the Administrator of the Year presented by the Blackhawk Technical staff in 1995, 1997, 2000, and 2003.  In 2003 she also received the Greater Beloit Area Zonta Club award in business, and was the recipient of the 2004 International Chair Academy Leadership Award.

2011 – Julie Furst-Bowe – UW-Stout

Furst-Bowe had served as provost and vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wis., since 2005.  In her role as the chief academic officer for the campus, she supervised the academic colleges and the following units: Enrollment Services, Student Services, International Education, Stout Online and the Discovery Center: Applied Research, Economic Development and Technology Transfer.

After joining UWS as a faculty member in 1990, Furst-Bowe progressed through the administrative ranks as chair of the Department of Communications, Education and Training; associate vice chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs; and assistant chancellor, Assessment and Continuous Improvement.

She provided leadership to the nationally recognized quality improvement program at UW-Stout and served as a senior examiner for the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Program.  UW-Stout was the first higher education institution to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.  She currently serves as higher education chair for the American Society for Quality and is providing leadership to STEM education initiatives on a nationwide basis.  Furst-Bowe is recognized nationally and internationally for her expertise in quality higher education and has authored several articles and a book on this topic, Quality and Performance Excellence in Higher Education.  She recently edited a book on advancing STEM education and is an editor of the International Journal of Excellence in Education.  She is a founding board member of the National Consortium for Continuous Improvement in Higher Education.  She also has served on the Wisconsin Center for Performance Excellence and Sacred Heart Hospital Board of Directors.  She has served as a quality improvement consultant for numerous colleges and universities and is currently under contract to provide consulting services to Singapore’s Ministry of Education, Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University in Dubai and Ahlia University in Bahrain.  She was recently selected as a Fulbright Scholar and assigned to work with a new university in Azerbaijan through the Fulbright program.

Furst-Bowe earned an Ed.D. in work, family and community education in 1995 from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where she also achieved a professional certificate in human resource development during the same year.  She earned a master of science in media technology from UW-Stout in 1986.  The Chippewa Falls, Wis., native graduated magna cum laude from UW-Eau Claire in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Dr. Bowe is currently the chancellor of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

2010 – Leona Vandevusse – Marquette University

Dr. Leona VandeVusse, director of the nurse-midwifery program at Marquette University, has won the 2010 Outstanding Achievement Award presented by Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership (WWHEL).

Dr. VandeVusse’s nominators praised her pioneering leadership in nursing education, practice, and service, noting that her work has directly improved the climate of nursing practice in the State of Wisconsin and has impacted the health of countless women and children throughout the world.  She has served as a mentor to students and faculty colleagues alike, and her graduates have started new practices in rural and urban underserved areas, thus improving access to healthcare for women and families.  She is a founder and leader of Project BEYOND, an initiative to increase recruitment and retention of nursing students from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds, and her online curriculum in nurse-midwifery education has brought education in the practice to students far and wide.

“Dr. VandeVusse exemplifies the spirit of excellence that WWHEL strives to foster throughout higher education in Wisconsin,” said Mary Oling-Sisay, vice president of student affairs and dean of students at St. Norbert College and the current WWHEL state president.

2009 – Patricia Foster – UW-Platteville

Patricia Foster, director of the Patricia A. Doyle Women’s Center at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, is being honored with the Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership Outstanding Achievement Award.

Patricia Foster began her career at UWP as director of multicultural services in 2000.  Her responsibilities grew to include the director of the women’s center and pre-college programs, and a liaison for the UWP Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Questioning Alliance to the UW System Inclusivity Initiative.  Foster also works with non-traditional students on campus.  During her career in the UW System, Patricia Foster not only proved to be an excellent administrator, but also has continually strived to improve the climate and opportunities for all women.  She exemplifies the spirit of excellence that WWHEL endeavors to foster throughout higher education in the state of Wisconsin.

2008 – Kathleen O’Brien – Alverno College

Dr. Kathleen O’Brien, senior vice president for academic affairs at Alverno College in Milwaukee, has won the 2008 Outstanding Achievement Award presented by Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership (WWHEL).

“Dr. O’Brien exemplifies the spirit of excellence that WWHEL strives to foster throughout higher education in Wisconsin,” said Kaylen Betzig, vice president for administrative services at Waukesha County Technical College and the outgoing WWHEL state president.

O’Brien’s nominators praised her professional guidance and commitment to the improvement of the lives of women through the transforming power of education, calling her a role model “who leads with courage and compassion, with intelligence and patience.”  Her strong leadership extends into the greater Milwaukee community as well as into state, national, and international arenas.  She played a key role in the “Status of Girls in Wisconsin” research project, which looked at virtually every aspect of the life of girls age 10 to 19 in our state, and also helped to develop Alverno’s diagnostic digital portfolio that has become the gold standard in higher education assessment.

O’Brien, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis, received her bachelor’s degree from Alverno College, her master’s degree from Vanderbilt University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

2007 – Carol Sue Butts – UW-Platteville
Carol Sue Butts, Provost of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, has won the 2007 Outstanding Achievement Award presented by Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership (WWHEL).  The announcement came at the annual WWHEL state conference held October 18-19 at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton.

“Dr. Butts has been a superb mentor and role model for women in academia,” said Mari McCarty, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the outgoing WWHEL state president.  “She exemplifies the spirit of excellence that WWHEL strives to foster among all involved in higher education in the state.”

Dr. Butts’ nominators praised her professional guidance as she encouraged them to participate in organizations that in turn support other women in education, creating a multiplier effect.  One nominator said, “I could not ask for a better role model to work under as I hone my own leadership skills.”

Dr. Butts’ influence extended beyond her own campus to the state level, where she served two terms on the WWHEL Board, including a term as state president, during which time she established the WWHEL website and created an electronic archive to help preserve WWHEL’s institutional memory.  This initiative inspired others on a national level to follow her example.  In addition, she expanded the WWHEL sponsorship program, allowing WWHEL to bring in national speakers for conferences and to keep costs low to encourage the highest possible attendance.  In presenting the award, outgoing WWHEL president Mari McCarty said of Dr. Butts, “She embodies the spirit and purpose of WWHEL.”

2006 – Joan North – UW-Stevens Point
Joan North, Dean of the College of Professional Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, has won the 2006 Outstanding Achievement Award presented by Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership (WWHEL).  The announcement came at the annual WWHEL state conference held October 26-27 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Dr. North has been a superb mentor and role model for women in academia,” said Mari McCarty, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the current WWHEL state president.  “She exemplifies the spirit of excellence that WWHEL strives to foster among all involved in higher education in the state.”

A founding member of WWHEL, Dean North has supported the advancement of women and minorities in higher education throughout her career.  Under her leadership, the UW-Stevens Point WWHEL Advisory Board developed recommendations leading to internships through which women could gain the experience and insight necessary to move forward into administration.  A series of First Friday Breakfasts offered the opportunity for women to talk informally and share information, and with Dean North’s support, many new leaders were born. As Professor Joan Karlin of UWSP stated in her letter of recommendation, “Our conversation is no longer about the glass ceiling, but about the quality of our sunroof.”  Another participant in those early meetings was Mary Mosier, Director of Career Services and Academic Advising at UWSP.  She described the experience as “a leadership lab with hands-on, practical tips and constructive feedback.”  In presenting the award, WWHEL president Mari McCarty said of Dean North, “She embodies the spirit and purpose of WWHEL.”

2005 – Vicki Lord Larson – UW-Eau Claire
At the recent annual conference of the Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership (WWHEL) at Marian College of Fond du Lac, Dr. Vicki Lord Larson, Interim Chancellor, UW-Eau Claire, was presented the Outstanding Achievement Award for 2005 by Dr. Carol Sue Butts, President of WWHEL and Provost & Vice Chancellor of UW-Platteville at the dinner and reception at the Fond du Lac Ramada Plaza Inn on October 20.  A founding member of WWHEL, Vicki has supported the advancement of women and minorities in higher education in Wisconsin throughout her career.  Dr. Lord Larson joined UW-Eau Claire’s faculty in 1973.  Later she became a professor of communication disorders and served as chair of the department from 1978-1983.  From 1984 to 1993, she was assistant, associate, and ultimately dean for Graduate Studies and University Research at UW-Oshkosh.  In 1994 and 1995, she became acting and then official provost and vice chancellor at UW-Oshkosh.  After her retirement in 2000, she served as a consultant to the UW System president on women’s leadership development.

From highly visible top-level leadership positions such as co-chair of the UW System Committee for the Study of the Status of Women, she has been a courageous role model, providing an improved climate and opportunities for women and minorities to move into leadership positions in Wisconsin higher education.  In 1999, she directed a rigorous analysis of the experiences of women students, faculty, and staff in the UW system and co-authored a report which was accepted and endorsed by the UW System President and Board of Regents.  This report’s recommendations created a blueprint for action to improve the status of women at UW System institutions.  In 2001, she became an acquisitions editor and in 2004 acquisitions manager for Eau Claire-based Thinking Publications.  She is on leave from the business while serving as interim chancellor at UW-Eau Claire.

In her enthusiastic letter of nomination, Dr. Louise Root-Robbins noted, “It is truly remarkable that Vicki has managed to have such a successful academic career while continuously taking the time to provide assistance and vision on behalf of improving the status of women and thereby the effectiveness of the entire UW System organization.  It is also noteworthy that Vicki is highly respected by the people she works with; every person without exception that I have spoken to in reference to Vicki have unanimously positive comments.  I do not add this comment as evidence of her popularity but instead as an indicator of her effectiveness at collaborating and bringing people together around important, and often times controversial, issues such as gender equity in higher education. . . . [She] embodies the purpose and spirit of this award.”

2004 – Mary Dee Wenniger – Founder of Women in Higher Education monthly publication
The first WWHEL Outstanding Achievement Award was presented in October 2004 to Mary Dee Wenniger at the annual state conference held at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.  Ms. Wenniger is the founder/editor of Women in Higher Education (WIHE) and since 1992, this monthly publication has enhanced leadership opportunities for women.  Because the newsletter has an international readership, Ms. Wenniger’s influence extends far beyond the Wisconsin borders.  However, because WIHE is based in Wisconsin, the strategies and successes of Wisconsin women leaders in higher education are often presented as the model for the world.

Ms. Wenniger’s lifetime career of supporting opportunities for Wisconsin women in higher education began when she was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned BA and MA degrees in the 1960s. As her co-authored book with Mary Helen Conroy Gender Equity or Bust describes her career, “her true credentials are surviving being fired from three professional positions in fifteen years, in the academic, business and non-profits sectors of the workplace, attesting to the widespread failure in all three sectors to accept a woman with brains and an attitude.”  She was the only female at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Management Institute in a management position.  She inspires audiences of women to whom she speaks about the success of WIHE by highlighting her own career path of failures in the workplace, failures of leaders in the three sectors to recognize and value the alternative viewpoint she presents and to espouse the doctrines of fair play and diversity.  Their failures provide the foundation for Mary Dee’s success as a supporter of women’s opportunities for leadership.

Mary Dee Wenniger has promoted women into leadership positions in Wisconsin through her personal as well as professional life.  Mary Dee was born and raised in Waukesha.  For twenty-five years, she played on the Women’s Hockey club team, the team that finally led to UW-Madison approving an NCAA Division I team.  Those who know Mary Dee know that she has always been active in support of women’s equity issues.  She loves to play sports; she is an active tennis player and kayaker and has recently begun sailing. As a single mother, she supported her daughter Elizabeth, who grew up in Madison and earned an BA in 2000 from Smith College. Elizabeth is currently living in San Diego and is managing editor of the monthly publication.