Lakeland University's Jodie Liedke, assistant professor of composition, is the 2017 winner of the annual Underkofler Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.
Liedke joined Lakeland's faculty in 2014, and she graduated from Lakeland summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in writing in 2006. She is Lakeland's 26th winner of the Underkofler, which recognizes outstanding performance in undergraduate teaching. The award was presented on April 5 at Lakeland's annual Honors Banquet.
Liedke was recognized for creating a supportive classroom environment. Her students described her teaching as passionate, energetic and inspiring, and her students lauded her for her creativity, empathy and humor.
One student wrote, "She is so full of life and I honestly look forward to her classes every week. I wish more teachers were like her. I have yet to leave her class confused on an assignment. She has every qualification and trait to be an outstanding teacher."
Nate Lowe, dean of Lakeland's School of Humanities and Fine Arts, said Liedke has a deep respect for people and for the hard work that goes into teaching and learning.
"You see, it's very simple: Jodie genuinely believes in her students," Lowe said. "And they know this. They know this because she is always prepared to support their needs. They know this because she will not stop challenging them to achieve more. There is a word for this: trust."
Joshua Kutney, assistant professor of composition, served as her mentor when Liedke joined the faculty. He recalled having a meeting with Liedke in her office, and having to stand at the end of a long line of students waiting to see her.
"The students were not required to meet with Jodie," Kutney said. "They wanted to meet with her. They were eager for her advice because they knew it would benefit them. The lines outside of Jodie's office have only grown as her reputation as an outstanding teacher has spread across campus."
In addition to her teaching, Liedke is chair of Lakeland's fine arts and convocation committee, assists with the Great Lakes Writers Festival, is a member of the Lakeland Community Book Read Committee and has served as guest interviewer of the visiting author and she served as Core I Coordinator for the 2015-2016 academic year. She won the Golden Musko Award for Most Valuable Female Professor in 2015.
Liedke, who has a master of fine arts from Wichita State University, previously worked at Globe University in La Crosse, where she was named Faculty Member of the Year in 2010. A published author who has given a number of readings, Liedke previously won Lakeland's Clarence H. Koehler Campus Senior Award.
The Underkofler Award is presented through the Alliant Energy Foundation and the Wisconsin Foundation for Independent Colleges, Inc. The Underkofler Endowment Fund was created in honor of past Wisconsin Power & Light president and chairman James R. Underkofler to recognize his 48 years of service to the utility industry.