Lakeland names top teacher for 2021
Lakeland University’s Britanni Meinnert, instructor of hospitality management and a two-time Lakeland graduate, is the 2021 winner of the annual Underkofler Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.
Meinnert, who also serves as chair of Lakeland’s Business and Technology Division, is Lakeland’s 30th winner of the Underkofler, which recognizes outstanding performance in undergraduate teaching.
A full-time member of Lakeland’s faculty since 2015, Meinnert is known for being an enthusiastic advocate, advisor and mentor for her students and a joyful colleague. She is the architect of countless field trips, experiential learning opportunities, practicums, Co-Ops and internships that set her students up for post-graduation success.
In nominating Meinnert for the Underkofler Award, students offered these thoughts:
Meinnert, who graduated from Lakeland in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management and again in 2010 with a master of business administration, draws from 14 years of working in the hospitality industry.
Throughout her time as a Lakeland student, she worked at The American Club, the only 5-Diamond, 5-Star resort in the Midwest. Upon graduation, she was promoted into a leadership role in housekeeping, then moved to the front desk.
Scott Niederjohn, Lakeland’s senior vice president for advancement and Cooperative Education, was instrumental in hiring Meinnert to teach full time at Lakeland, a move he said is among those he is most proud of in his 17 years at Lakeland.
“The quality that most stands out to me about Britanni is that she cares,” Niederjohn said. “She cares about her academic program and the hospitality industry, of course, but, most importantly, she cares about her students.
“She genuinely flourishes with students that seem lost or disengaged. Britanni simply will not let them fall through the cracks and works tirelessly to identify the path that leads them to success. One might say she excels at meeting students where they are as opposed to where we wish they were. Lakeland is a better place because she has chosen to apply her craft with us.”
Niederjohn has seen her work up close as the two team-taught a course that traveled to Ireland in 2016 and they led a group of students to Malawi, Africa, in the summer of 2017.
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.