Brye, Waldie, Freeman Win 2023 Geren-Koski Awards

From left: Collis R. Geren, Kristofor R. Brye, Mike Waldie, Michael C. Freeman, Patricia R. Koski and Curt Rom
Cassandra Thomas

From left: Collis R. Geren, Kristofor R. Brye, Mike Waldie, Michael C. Freeman, Patricia R. Koski and Curt Rom

The Graduate School and International Education has announced the winners of the 2023 Geren-Koski Awards for excellence in graduate education: Kristofor R. Brye, university professor of applied soil physics and pedology, won the Outstanding Faculty Award; Mike Waldie, assistant dean of the Walton College Graduate School of Business, won the Outstanding Staff Award; and Michael C. Freeman, director of international students and scholars, won the Outstanding GSIE Staff Award.

The Collis R. Geren and Patricia R. Koski Awards are given to faculty and staff members who demonstrate exceptional commitment to graduate education. The award was initiated in 2010 in honor of Geren, who served as the dean of the U of A Graduate School for nearly 20 years. It was renamed in 2022 to honor Koski, who served as dean and associate dean of the U of A Graduate School for 25 years.

The awardees will receive a monetary award, in addition to having their names placed on permanent plaques outside of the GSIE Dean's Office in Gearhart Hall. The awardees were also recognized during a reception in Gearhart Hall April 19.

More information on the awards can be found on the GSIE website.

Kristofor R. Brye

Brye came to the U of A in 2001 as an assistant professor of applied soil physics before being promoted to associate professor in 2005. In 2009, he was promoted to professor and received the university professor title in 2020, a title recognizing outstanding U of A faculty who have gained national or international recognition for their academic work.

Brye, who serves as a faculty member in the Environmental Dynamics graduate program and has served as an administrative board member for the program, has maintained a steadfast commitment to graduate students and their success.

"I have never seen a professor who cares so much for the well-being and education of his students," his nomination letter stated. "He is the number one advocate for his students, but does not hesitate to 'nudge' them if they get off track. Every student in ENDY who has had Dr. Brye comes to realize that he truly listens to their concerns, creates a plan of action, understands what they need to succeed, and he is prepared to guide them toward their goal."

Mike Waldie

Mike Waldie is the assistant dean in the Sam M. Walton College of Business Graduate School of Business, where he administers 10 master's programs, four graduate certificate programs and the college's Ph.D. programs. He has also led the Walton graduate school's direction toward a greater focus on students, responsiveness and innovation, in addition to collaborating with campus partners.

Waldie came to the U of A in 2008, initially as a foreign student adviser in GSIE, before moving to the College of Business, where he has served in numerous roles, including academic adviser, assistant director of student services and associate director of admissions.

"Mike is a tireless advocate for our students with a real depth and wealth of knowledge about university policies, immigration, program changes, funding and the student experience," his nomination letter stated. "The Walton College expanded our graduate programming dramatically in the past few years, and I am consistently impressed with Mike's ability to professionally and thoroughly field the many issues and headaches that arise. In managing our master's program, I know that my job would be immensely more difficult without Mike, and I truly appreciate his many contributions."

Michael C. Freeman

Michael C. Freeman serves as the director of international students and scholars in GSIE and has worked at the university for nearly 40 years. In his role as director, Freeman leads programming, resources and support for university international students, a majority of which are graduate students. His office works across campus to raise awareness of the crucial role of international education at the university, and designs programs that strengthen the relationship between international students and the university and local community to enhance their sense of belonging and community.

Freeman has served as director of the ISS Office since 1991 and served as a foreign student adviser for six years prior.

"On this campus, Michael Freeman's name is synonymous with international education," his nomination letter stated. "International graduate alumni almost always mention Michael as one of the individuals who made the biggest impact on their education and their time while at the U of A. His compassion and genuine caring are unmatched. He is a consummate professional and great problem solver and goes above and beyond to ensure that students are treated fairly and professionally."


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