Alumna Rebecca Freer to Receive Outstanding Service and Performance Award

School of Education alumna Rebecca (Becky) Freer speaks at UWM event. for students

School of Education alumna Rebecca (Becky) Freer, interim dean of students at UWM, will receive the Outstanding Performance and Service Award at the annual Fall awards ceremony Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Union.

Freer served as assistant, then associate dean of students before being named interim dean in the summer of 2017.

She has worked hard to support, help and encourage students, helping remove barriers that impact many.

“As interim dean of students, Becky has overseen sweeping changes in the way that office operates, moving that office into new territory to deal with a changing student demographic,” wrote Rob Longwell-Grice, senior advisor in the School of Education in nominating her.

Among her recent accomplishments were organizing a team to apply for a grant from the Great Lakes Student Loan Association that has provided $630,000 in funding for emergency aid to students. So far that fund as helped 244 students who faced sudden issues that jeopardized their ability to complete their degrees. In addition, she worked with the Student Association to research the issues of student food insecurity and establish an on-campus food pantry.

In addition to serving on numerous campus committees, she also helped establish a response to support students and families impacted by a death, worked with other campus leadership to address issues of disruptive student conduct at PantherFest.

Having completed her own doctorate in Urban Education-Adult and Continuing Higher Education, she now teaches online courses in that area, and mentors interns.

She credits her studies in the School of Education for helping prepare her for her responsibilities as interim dean of students.

“I am a big picture thinker and my experience in the program has given me more tools so that I can be influential in creating conditions that promote equity and access in higher education,” she says.

Freer cites a number of specific key skills and knowledge from her studies that she’s been able to apply to her work:

– “While taking classes, I quickly noticed that I was able to speak more confidently in meetings. I trust my knowledge in understanding higher education research and I was able to apply this knowledge to my experience as a campus administrator. It especially helped me as I served on campus committee related to budgeting and the Chancellor’s Strategic Opportunities Work Group to help UWM achieve its goal to be an outstanding learning environment.
– “I can confidently use data to better understand students’ experiences and to strategically set goals. Because of my graduate coursework, I know how to navigate national datasets such as that in IPEDS, Institutional Research Data, find comprehensive resources on specific topics in higher education to guide our practices. Overall, I am better prepared to make well-informed decisions rather than solely relying only on my experiences.”
– “I specifically focused my research on working class and poor students. As such, I was able to apply my knowledge when I applied for the Dash Emergency Grant. UWM was awarded that $630,000 grant to help students overcome unexpected financial barriers.
– ‘I also have a greater understanding of systemic and structural barriers that may impede students’ success. With this, as Interim Dean of Students, I try to focus my efforts on improving our systems and structures to better support students who historically have not been well-represented in higher education.”

If you would like to help fund Student Success, please visit the Give to UWM webpage.

Or contact Carol Wacker at (414) 229-3080 or wackerc@uwm.edu to explore opportunities to support students, ensure research excellence and enable ongoing collaborations with community schools and organizations.