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Aaron King
Publication date: 
August 6, 2021

Two members of the University of Minnesota Morris community have earned the University of Minnesota President’s Award for Outstanding Service: LeAnn Dean, director of Briggs Library, and Peh Ng, chair of the Division of Science and Mathematics and professor of mathematics.

LeAnn Dean's "Creative and Deep Dedication"

LeAnn DeanDean has worked at Briggs Library for over 30 years, and she’s prioritized students the entire time. “In the Briggs Library Operating Principles,” says Naomi Skulan, metadata and technical services coordinator at Briggs Library, “LeAnn states that student success is the first priority of the library. She advocates for student representation in all aspects of campus life and urges campus leaders to listen to students’ needs.” Skulan goes on to explain how Dean has helped the library evolve in response to student needs, expanding educational resources and affordable content as well as advocating for student representation in the library’s Collection Enhancement Grants.

Janet Schrunk Ericksen, acting chancellor, says, “LeAnn has served on an enormous number of campus and University committees and task forces, and she has been crucial to advancing several campus initiatives.”

Peh Ng—Leading Through Service

Peh NgNg’s nominators noted her many overlapping vectors of service: to students, to UMN Morris, and to the community and state at large. Stacey Parker Aronson, professor of Spanish and chair of the Division of Humanities, wrote about the myriad research opportunities Ng provides to students.“She has participated in mentored research with at least 24 undergraduate students,” she says, and many of those projects have gone on to be presented at the Undergraduate Research Symposium and national and even international conferences.

Other nominators noted Ng’s expansive knowledge of campus policy, her recruitment efforts, and her networking meals. But leading through service goes beyond the university setting. Ng, along with student research assistants, has worked on a number of projects for the local community:

  • Optimizing the bus route of the West Central Minnesota School District.
  • Finding the optimal yield of Minnesota Department of Transportation fleet vehicles.
  • Devising a more efficient recycling program for Otter Tail County.
  • Overhauling the scheduling process of the Regional Fitness Center.

Nancy E. Carpenter, professor emeritus of chemistry, succinctly summarizes Ng’s approach, saying, “She has never forgotten why she serves and why she is an educator: her students. Even as a division chair, a member or chair of a search committee, or member of a governance committee, she has in the back of her mind how she can make things better for students.”

About the President's Award for Outstanding Service

The University of Minnesota President's Award for Outstanding Service was established in 1997 to recognize faculty and staff (current or retired) who have provided exceptional service to the University, its schools, colleges, departments and service units. Such service must have gone well beyond the regular duties of a faculty or staff member, and demonstrate unusual commitment to the University community.