Dr. James Graham, a professor of agricultural education, is the first recipient of the University Excellence Award in Service. The award recognizes exemplary service to UW-River Falls and/or the surrounding community. The award was announced at the fall Opening Meeting that kicks off the 2023-24 academic year.
Colleague and Horticulture Professor David Zlesak praised Graham for his work on committees in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES). Graham “is routinely sought out for the wise and thoughtful perspectives he brings. Dr. Graham has a rich service record to the university through chairing and serving on many university-level committees,” Zlesak said.
Working with students once they are on campus is a focus of Graham’s. Conversations with students include academic matters and schedules but often also involve career discussions and life matters, he said. Graham will find himself advising not only students assigned to him, but the broader student population.
“Student advising to me has been more than academic, but in assisting in the professional and personal growth of all the students I interact with,” he said.
Graham’s connections to students don’t end once those students graduate from UWRF. He said he enjoys working with graduates, helping them with everything from career advice to designing workshops.
“Those close connections made here at UWRF have enhanced my ability to consistently offer my expertise and experience to our young professionals,” Graham said.
Graham is also called upon by various groups and organizations to help them conduct meetings in an official manner. Recently, the Wisconsin Cooperatives Association contacted Graham seeking information about proper parliamentary procedure to run meetings.
In many ways, Graham is the embodiment of service to UWRF, Zlesak said. “This award is designed to honor faculty that provide exceptional service and support to all spheres within their influence – their department, college, university, community, and discipline,” Zlesak said. “For decades, service with excellence, thoughtfulness, kindness, and inclusivity in all these spheres is a hallmark of Dr. Graham.”