The UW System Board of Regents will honor UWM’s Robin Jens with a 2022 Academic Staff Excellence Award at its June 9-10 meeting in Milwaukee. Jens, assistant dean of student services in the College of Nursing and interim student service director in the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, is one of two individual award recipients this year.
The awards recognize exceptional service to the university and are the UW System’s highest recognition for members of the academic staff.
Jens, who has worked at UWM for 16 years, leads the College of Nursing’s student affairs staff, manages the office and oversees recruiting, advising and retaining of undergraduate and graduate nursing students. Since 2020, she also has worked in a similar role for the Zilber School.
She has a leadership role in the merger of UWM’s three health schools/colleges into two colleges as part of the university’s 2030 Strategic Plan. Recently she helped fill a workforce need in south-central Wisconsin by with the establishment of a nursing program at UW-Milwaukee at Waukesha. As part of that project, she helped facilitate the adoption of nursing classroom technology at the Waukesha campus. She serves on numerous university committees and on the Wisconsin College Personnel Association at the state level.
Jens has represented the College of Nursing in a number of UW System initiatives. These included Math Pathways program and a Workforce Development/Department of Public Instruction initiative to create pathways into nursing for high school students.
Navigating through challenging times
She helped the Zilber School navigate through a challenging year of transition during the pandemic and introduced a learning circle focused on race and racism as a professional development activity for nursing’s student affairs staff.
“Robin Jens has had a sustained positive impact on student success at UWM in the College of Nursing, in the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and as a valued campus contributor on far-reaching student success and strategic planning initiatives,” said Johannes Britz, former UWM provost who on June 1 took on the role of interim senior vice president for academic and student affairs for the UW System.
The members of the College of Nursing’s student services team noted: “Robin has the remarkable ability to connect, influence and build strong relationships with students, faculty and staff at UWM, within the UW System and in the community at large. She has created an environment in which students feel ‘heard’ and part of the curricular and organizational changes within the College of Nursing.”
A visionary leader
Kim Litwack, professor and dean of the College of Nursing, added: “Robin has been a consistent leader within the College of Nursing and on campus. She has been a visionary leader in not just imagining what can be, but in creating the relationships and environment for things to happen.”
Jens sums up her goals: “I believe in the UW System’s central mission of helping our communities through our ability to heighten students’ intellectual, cultural and humane sensitivities while guiding them as they develop their purpose.”
The other individual receiving the academic staff excellence award is Ann Lawton, violence prevention coordinator, lecturer in art and art therapist in Student Health and Counseling Services at UW-River Falls. The UW Eau Claire Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning received the program award.
“This year’s outstanding award recipients reflect the many hats worn by our academic staff across the UW System,” said Regent John Miller, chair of the selection committee. “We are inspired by their commitment to creating vital education programs to support student success.”