2023 Association Award Recipients

At the 1953 Annual Conference of the National University Extension Association (NUEA), which was the forerunner of UPCEA, Robert Browne of the University of Illinois gave a speech honoring Tom Shelby, retiring Dean of the Division of Extension at the University of Texas. Browne conferred on Shelby the FX Key in honor of service to extension. Engraved on the key was “Fellow of Extension,” the year, and the Association’s initials. This was the first recognition award given by the Association.

The Association’s Awards Program has grown to include Association-wide, Community of Practice, and Regional Awards. Through these awards, UPCEA recognizes its members’ outstanding contributions to the Association and the field, as well as their achievements in innovative programming, marketing and promotion, community development, and services, research and publications, and many other areas.

To the following recipients of this year’s awards and honors, UPCEA extends its congratulations.

Julius M. Nolte Award for Extraordinary Leadership

The Julius M. Nolte Award for Extraordinary Leadership is the most prestigious of all UPCEA awards. First established in 1965, the award is given to an individual in recognition of unusual and extraordinary contributions to the cause of continuing education on the regional, national, and/or international level. The award honors the memory of Julius M. Nolte, a pioneer in the field of continuing higher education. Nolte served as Dean of General Extension at the University of Minnesota from 1934–1962. He served as NUEA President in 1950–51, and was Secretary/Treasurer of the Association from 1956 to 1964.

Headshot of Nelson Baker wearing glasses, a navy blazer, and a blue and gold tie.

Nelson Baker
Georgia Institute of Technology


Phillip E. Frandson Award for Literature

The Phillip E. Frandson Award for Literature recognizes the author and publisher of an outstanding work of continuing higher education literature. It is given in memory of Phillip E. Frandson, Dean of Extension, University of California, Los Angeles, and NUEA President, 1977–78.

Headshot of Aaron Brower, wearing a grey blazer and blue tie.

Aaron M. Brower

Headshot of Ryan J. Specht-Boardman, wearing glasses, a blue blazer, and green patterned tie.

Ryan J. Specht-Boardman

New Models of Higher Education: Unbundled, Rebundled, Customized, and DIY. Aaron M. Brower and Ryan J. Specht-Boardman. Image of hands holding graduation caps with tassels.

New Models of Higher Education: Unbundled, Rebundled, Customized, & DIY
Aaron M. Brower and Ryan J. Specht-Boardman
University of Wisconsin Extended Campus


Adelle F. Robertson Emerging Professional Continuing Educator Award 

The Adelle F. Robertson Emerging Professional Continuing Educator Award recognizes the scholarship, leadership and contributions to the profession of an outstanding continuing professional educator who has entered the field within the past five to 10 years. The Award is dedicated to the memory of Adelle Robertson, whose career in continuing education spanned 30 years. Robertson served as a member of UPCEA’s Board of Directors from 1979–1985 and as President from 1983–1984. Robertson set a standard of excellence in her own pursuits and inspired others to seek excellence in theirs.

Headshot of Jayzona Alberto, wearing a black blazer and paisley patterned top.

Jayzona Alberto
Stanford University

UPCEA Leadership In Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award

The UPCEA Leadership in Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award recognizes an individual or a program that represents best practices and demonstrates positive impact in promoting cultural shift in the organization that promotes diversity and inclusive excellence. This award will recognize outstanding accomplishment in one or more of the following areas: educational programs and services, administrative practice, workplace culture, community impact, regional economic development, or research. A key element is demonstrating innovative and systematic practices and measurable outcomes to advance the academic success, understanding, or quality of life of diverse perspectives and underrepresented groups. Examples of programs may include those that promote the educational success of diverse students, incorporate diversity and inclusive excellence in the curriculum and instruction, implement inclusive practices and awareness among faculty and/or staff, explore and remove institutional barriers and inequities, among others.

Headshot of Tondra Richardson, wearing a black blazer.

Pictured: Tondra Richardson, Director, Student Diversity & Inclusion at the University of Phoenix.

Office of Educational Equity
University of Phoenix

UPCEA Research and Scholarship Award

The UPCEA Research and Scholarship Award recognizes either 1) significant new research with implications for professional practice in the field of continuing higher education, or 2) an individual UPCEA member whose long-term commitment to the conduct of exemplary research has made a significant contribution to the literature and professional practice in the field of continuing higher education. Only one award in each category may be given each year.

Headshot of Kimberly M. Underwood. wearing a black blazer and black and white patterned top.

Kimberly M. Underwood
University of Phoenix

UPCEA Excellence in Teaching Award

The UPCEA Excellence in Teaching Award is presented to individuals who have provided outstanding teaching, course development, mentoring of students, and service to continuing education. This award recognizes those who have made significant contributions to credit or non-credit programs and who have provided inspirational teaching to continuing education students.

Headshot of Karen Gebhardt, wearing a navy top and looking to the left.

Karen Gebhardt
University of Colorado Boulder

UPCEA Outstanding Professional, Continuing, and/or Online Education Student: Credit Award

The Outstanding Continuing Education Student Award recognizes outstanding student achievement in professional and continuing education.

Headshot of Nancy Khasungu Makale, wearing a white, high-collared top.

Nancy Khasungu Makale
University of Pennsylvania

Dorothy Durkin Award for Strategic Innovation in Marketing and Enrollment Management

The Dorothy Durkin Strategic Innovation Award recognizes an individual for achievement in strategic planning, marketing innovation or enrollment management success. A key element in all areas is demonstration of creativity layered on a foundation of strategic thinking. Awardees will have exhibited leadership and commitment to achieving a responsive, student-centric culture at their institution.

Headshot of Therese Grohman, wearing a navy, teal, and red patterned top.

Therese M. Grohman
Northwestern University

UPCEA Outstanding Program: Credit Award

The Outstanding Program—Credit Award recognizes outstanding professional and continuing education programs allowing students to earn academic credit.

Saint Louis University logo - blue shield with a fleur de lis in the center.
Headshot of John Buereck, wearing a grey blazer and patterned tie.

Pictured: John Buereck, Interim Dean, Saint Louis University.

Cannabis Science and Operations Undergraduate Certificate
Saint Louis University

UPCEA Outstanding Program: Noncredit Award

The Outstanding Program—Noncredit Award recognizes outstanding professional and continuing education programs that do not offer credit.

Columbia University School of Social Work logo

Institute on Pedagogy and Technology for Online Courses
Columbia University

UPCEA International Program of Excellence Award

UPCEA recognizes globalization as one of the key forces molding higher education today. The Association encourages its member institutions and organizations, to extend their outreach globally and to facilitate international or global professional and continuing education in creative and innovative ways. The Association aims to play an active role in preparing individuals for effective participation in a global society by engaging in activities that promote the exchange of knowledge and ideas of global significance.

Northwestern University School of Professional Studies logo

International Leadership Through Partnership: Master’s of Data Science Programme
Northwestern University

UPCEA Business & Operations Award for Operational Excellence

The UPCEA Business & Operations Award for Operational Excellence recognizes outstanding individual contributions in operations, entrepreneurial, and intra-preneurial work that move an UPCEA member institution into a more favorable position, specifically in financial, human, administrative and IT operations in professional, continuing and online units at postsecondary institutions. The award also recognizes achievements and contributions to the UPCEA Business & Operations Network and may include in sharing, illustrating, demonstrating, best practices and/or emerging trends in all aspects of business and operations for the professional, continuing, and online units at UPCEA member institutions.

Headshot of Annette Webb, wearing a black top.

Annette Webb
University of California, Riverside

UPCEA Excellence in Advancing Student Success Award

The UPCEA Excellence in Advancing Student Success Award is sponsored by InsideTrack
UPCEA recognizes student success is paramount to the mission of every institution of higher education. Professional and continuing education units realize they must provide strategic and crossfunctional projects, initiatives, and services that maximize success of the adult or non-traditional student. To that end, UPCEA aims to play an active role in preparing members for advancing the success of students in both credit and non-credit programs by acknowledging best practices and initiatives that “move the needle” in the advancement of student success.

WKU C.A.R.E.S. Coaching for Academic Readiness, Excellence, and Success. WKU Online, Online Student Services logo.

Western Kentucky University

UPCEA Strategic Innovation in Online Education Award

The award recognizes an institution of higher education (i.e. campus, system, or consortium) that has, at an institutional level, set and met innovative goals focused on online education and been strategic in the planning, development, implementation and sustainability in line with the institutional mission. Examples include authentic institutional online organizational structure, partnership models to achieve specific goals, maximizing resource efficiencies, improving the learning experience for faculty and students, or the use of technology and learning design to advance online education and address institutional goals.

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences logo

Online Self-Paced Prerequisite Courses
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

UPCEA Innovation in Alternative Credentials Award

UPCEA Innovation in Alternative Credentials Award recognizes that innovation is the life’s blood of online, continuing, and professional education, and is critical in our members keeping up with the changing needs of students, society, and industry. Creating alternative credentials and innovative programs that align with current trends in the workforce will ultimately better serve students in their long term success. This award is presented to a higher education institution that has successfully implemented an innovative alternative credential program with positive results

Kennesaw State University logo

Micro-credential Initiative
Kennesaw State University

UPCEA Engagement Award

The UPCEA Engagement Award recognizes an outstanding mutually-beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources between a member institution and one or more external constituents such as local communities, corporations, government organizations, or associations. The recognized partnership will demonstrate a knowledge partnership that has resulted in a measurable and sustainable shared impact in areas such as economic development, community development, workforce training, or capacity building.

Stanford Medicine Continuing Medical Education logo

California Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network
Stanford University

UPCEA Outstanding Service in Postsecondary Instructional Design Award

The UPCEA Outstanding Service in Postsecondary Instructional Design Award recognizes outstanding service to the field of instructional design in one or more of the following areas: modeling and disseminating research (via workshops, webinars, conferences, papers, etc.), best practices, innovative methods, and/or mentorship, all for the betterment of the instructional design community. This award celebrates the connective power of instructional design professionals within the learning design process, chiefly their role in highlighting the critical need for educators of all roles to work in partnership in support of student success.

Headshot of Holly Fiock, wearing a black turtleneck, metallic necklace, and glasses.

Holly Fiock
Purdue University

This award is being presented at the 2023 Distance Teaching & Learning (DT&L) and Summit for Online Leadership and Administration + Roundtable (SOLA+R), July 25-27, 2023 in Madison, Wisconsin.