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Congratulations, Kim Leigh Recipient of the 2021 Excellence Award for Graduate Contacts

Kim Leigh

The Graduate College is proud to announce that Kim Leigh (Department of Entomology) is the winner of the 2021 Graduate College Excellence Award for Graduate Contacts. The award is given annually as part of the Graduate College’s Annual Workshop for Directors of Graduate Study and Graduate Contacts, which takes place virtually this year, March 9-11, 2021.

Graduate Contacts are integral to the success of our graduate students and provide invaluable service to the university and its community of students, faculty, and staff. The award recognizes staff members whose service has exceeded expectations in enhancing graduate students' experiences and has positively impacted their graduate program or department's operations.

This year's pool of 16 nominees was extremely competitive, with strong recommendations from all over campus. The nomination letters from faculty, staff, and students were sincere and moving, often speaking of the nominees' strong commitment to their departments and their impact on students' success.

Kim Leigh's nomination materials included a letter cosigned by the leaders of the three programs she supports. "It is clear that Kim has made a lasting and significant contribution to students and other departments across campus as well as the departments and programs she supports: Entomology; Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior; and the Online Master of Science Teaching Biology," said Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, Dean of the Graduate College.

Leigh excels in her daily performance responsibilities for these programs and has identified areas to enhance existing resources. Other departments have adopted her systems and databases for tracking students' status, needs, and awards. Her support and critical feedback enabled 20 graduate fellowship awards for Entomology students.

From 2011 to 2019, Leigh assisted 39 students across campus as the graduate coordinator for the NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program. She supports LGBTQ+ students by attending multiple training workshops, openly displaying her certifications, and is always accepting and supportive. Leigh organizes the annual Insect Fear Festival and the biennial Entomology newsletter.

"The heartfelt comments in both the faculty and student nomination letters make it clear that the mutual respect and long-lasting relationships that Kim fosters in the department strengthen the program," Chodzko-Zajko said. "Her dedication to the program, faculty, and students certainly exceeds expectations."

From everyone at the Graduate College, congratulations Kim Leigh, and thank you for all that you do for your students and our campus community.