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Joe Abhold hopes earning the 2011 Regents Academic Staff Excellence Award will give him and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Counseling Center team he leads the opportunity to be even more innovative.

Abhold, Counseling Center Director and Interim Dean of Students, is one of two non-instructional staff selected by a special UW System Board of Regents committee for the award. He will be recognized at a presentation in mid-July.

As a recipient of the honor, which recognizes outstanding academic staff members throughout the system’s 13 four-year universities, 13 two-year colleges and UW Extension branches, Abhold was awarded funding to support professional development or other activities that will enhance a university program or function.

“As an administrator and practitioner you are so busy taking care of pressing daily matters that developing your knowledge base can take a back seat…I hope this award helps to keep me innovative and to have a scholarly basis for my ideas,” Abhold said. “I want to gain more knowledge about how we can maximize our student retention and further develop my leadership skills.”

Last year, the UW Oshkosh Counseling Center provided 289 outreach and training programs for more than 9,200 people on campus, Abhold said. Concurrently, the center provided more than 4,100 therapy hours, which is a 46 percent increase over what it provided in 1999 when Abhold first came to the Center.

The mission of the Counseling Center on campus is to offer confidential assistance to students who would like to be more effective in their academic, vocational and personal lives.

The Board of Regents informed Abhold of his award in a June 6 letter, stating: “The award pays tribute to your impressive dedication as a leader and counselor to the students and staff at UW Oshkosh and signifies the high regard with which you are held by your colleges, your institution, the UW System and the Board of Regents.”

In February, Abhold applied for the honor, citing a committment to professional service “grounded in taking a long-term approach to creating systems that create and reinforce student success, while maintaining a focus on the immediate needs of individuals.”

With the help of his staff, he believes he has played an active role in campus-wide student success during his time at UW Oshkosh. He has not only worked with individual students, but also student organizations, faculty, staff and the community through the system-wide Mental Health Task Force, Students at Risk Response Team, Victim Services Committee, The Campus Violence Prevention Program and other programs and causes.

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