Lakeland University Blog

Lakeland names top teacher for 2021

Lakeland names top teacher for 2021


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:

  • “Professor Meinnert's way of teaching is like nothing I've ever experienced. She is easily the most personable and understanding teacher I have ever had, and she makes learning fun and easy. I struggled a lot my first year at Lakeland, and after taking classes with Prof. Meinnert, she helped me realize that I can be successful in college.”
  • “Britanni is an expert in the hospitality industry, and her experiences shine through in her teaching. As someone currently working in the industry, I love comparing her experiences to my own.”
  • “Britanni has pushed me in the classroom more than any other teacher, and it has shown me that I am capable of so much more than I previously thought. I honestly do not think I would still be in college if it wasn't for her. Britanni is a person that I look up to, and is a role model for me and a number of other students.”
  • “I learn a lot of useful information in her classes that I will probably use in a career someday, but I have learned more about life from her than I ever thought possible, and I will forever be thankful for that.”
  • “As a student who has transferred twice, I certainly didn't expect a possibility of graduating in 3.5 years. Britanni has recognized my needs and wants as a student and helped carve a path best for me.”

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.

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