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Three professors win award for service to Kansans

Monday, June 02, 2014

LAWRENCE – Three professors at the University of Kansas have won the Steeples Service to Kansas Award for their contributions to the people of Kansas through teaching and research.

Burdett Loomis, professor of political science; Wallace Meyer, director of entrepreneurship programs and lecturer in the School of Business; and Kristi Neufeld, associate professor of molecular biosciences, were awarded the Steeples Award.

Loomis has been a faculty member in the Department of Political Science since 1979. As an expert on political matters in Kansas, Loomis is a regular figure in regional and national media outlets as a thoughtful and civil contributor. He has served on the Public Employees Review Board and the Civil Rights Commission. He also served as the director of communication for the administration of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2005 and as the interim director of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics from 1997 to 2001. He has ensured KU students gain experience in politics and government by coordinating the KU internship programs in Topeka and Washington, D.C., for the past 30 years. These programs have fostered the next generation of government, nonprofit and interest group leaders.

Wallace Meyer has served as the director of Entrepreneurship Programs in the School of Business since 2005. Meyer created and developed the RedTire program, which matches rural business owners needing a successor with highly qualified graduates from Kansas universities or experienced business managers to take over the businesses. He also created and manages Jayhawk Consulting, which gives business and organizational consulting to Kansas companies while providing students with experiential learning opportunities. The E3 program (Entrepreneurship Education for Everyone) was created and is managed by Meyer. The program helps Kansans start and grow their own businesses. Additionally, this program has expanded to all U.S. Native American Tribal Colleges. Finally, Meyer created and manages students in his advanced entrepreneurship class, which has produced more than 54 new business plans for Kansas technologies and inventors since 2005.

Kristi Neufeld has been a faculty member in the Department of Molecular Biosciences since 2003 and in the KU Medical Center Department of Cancer Biology since 2013. Neufeld has worked tirelessly to gain National Cancer Institute recognition for the KU Cancer Center to advance research and improve the health of Kansans. She developed and led a multicampus Cancer Biology program with 44 faculty members from three institutions. Since 2004 Neufeld has worked to develop an NCI-designated cancer center in Kansas, which has included creating a graduate-level course in cancer biology, producing the NCI proposal and acting as a spokesperson for the initiative. In 2009 Neufeld became the program co-leader of the Cancer Biology research program, which includes coordinating the researchers’ cancer center activities at the Lawrence campus, Medical Center and the Stowers Institute.

Don Steeples, the Dean A. McGee Distinguished Professor of Applied Geophysics, and his wife, Tammy, established this award in 1997 to honor Don Steeples’ parents, Wally and Marie Steeples, and to recognize outstanding service by KU faculty to other Kansans. The award provides recipients with $1,000 and an additional $1,000 base adjustment to their salaries.

Funds for the award are managed by KU Endowment, the independent nonprofit foundation serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences confers the Steeples awards. The College encourages learning without boundaries in its more than 50 departments, programs and centers. Through innovative research and teaching, the College emphasizes interdisciplinary education, global awareness and experiential learning. The College is KU's broadest, most diverse academic unit.