Commitment To Student Success Drives UW-Oshkosh Alumni Award Winners

Former UW-Oshkosh student-athlete Jamie Pollard (right) has been the Director of Athletics at Iowa State University since 2005.
Former UW-Oshkosh student-athlete Jamie Pollard (right) has been the Director of Athletics at Iowa State University since 2005.

Two former UW-Oshkosh student-athletes who excel in their commitment to student success are among select former students to be honored by the university.

Jamie Pollard will receive a Distinguished Alumni Award, and Joseph Fenrick will receive an Outstanding Young Alumni Award in October.

Exceptional Big 12 Conference Leader

Pollard, a 1997 business administration graduate, resides in Ames, Iowa, where he is the Director of Athletics at Iowa State University.

Pollard has been at Iowa State since 2005, the third-longest tenured athletics director in the Big 12 Conference. Prior to his arrival at Ames, he was the deputy of athletics at the University of Wisconsin, the associate athletics director for administration at the University of Maryland and the associate athletics director of internal operations at Saint Louis University (Mo.).

Under Pollard’s leadership at Iowa State, the department has significantly invested in upgrading facilities, engaged its fan base, tripled its revenues, recorded all-time program bests on the playing field and in the classroom and bettered attendance marks in its five major sports.

In nominating Pollard for the Distinguished Alumni Award, UW-Oshkosh alumnus John Schuh, a distinguished professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Iowa State and a member of the search committee that recommended Pollard’s hiring in 2005, said the Oshkosh North High School graduate should be commended for his dedication to Iowa State athletics and its campus.

“Jamie’s leadership in intercollegiate athletics, in my opinion, has been nothing short of superb, both at Iowa State as well as nationally,” Schuh said.

Since Pollard began at Iowa State, attendance has increased with 32 consecutive football games of over 50,000, routine sellouts for men’s basketball, and average attendance for women’s basketball in top 10 in the country, this year ranking third in the nation with an average of 9,106.

“Graduation rates for athletics at Iowa State routinely exceed the university’s six-year graduation rate for all students,” said Schuh.

During Pollard’s administration, Iowa State registered its all-time best athletics graduation rate (78 percent in 2009) and Learfield Directors’ Cup ranking (34th in 2010).

Other major landmark achievements for Pollard included securing a $25-million gift from the Reiman family – the largest ever received by Iowa State Athletics and the lead donation for the south end zone enclosure at Jack Trice Stadium and campus beautification project; and investing more than $160 million in new construction and facility renovations, impacting nearly every sport on campus. The athletics program also has eliminated all dependence on state and/or university funding.

Robert Bowlsby, Big 12 Conference Commissioner, said that because of Pollard, the Iowa State athletics program is universally considered one of the most efficient and best-operated departments in the nation.

“Jamie has taken fundraising to new and unprecedented levels while planning, designing and constructing many new facilities that have benefited sports teams and Iowa supporters as well,” said Bowlsby. “The Iowa State athletics program does not enjoy one of the larger annual budgets in the Big 12 but, despite that fact, the Cyclones compete for conference championships and postseason berths.”

For his excellence as an athletics administrator, Pollard received a 2003 Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal “Top Forty Under 40” award, the first college administrator honored and was named the 2002 Collegiate Athletic Business Manager of the Year.

Pollard was a NCAA Division III All-American in both cross country and track & field during his time at UW-Oshkosh. He was a six-time national championship qualifier and the 1987 NCAA champion in the outdoor 5,000-meter run. Pollard was elected into the UW-Oshkosh Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999 and named a UW-Oshkosh Outstanding Young Alumnus in 1996.

“Jamie greatly appreciates his history as a collegiate student-athlete at UW-Oshkosh and his experiences are reflected in the manner in which he interacts with and encourages young athletes,” Bowlsby said. “Jamie’s life work had its start at UW-Oshkosh, and I believe that the preparation and mentorship he received have been applied and amplified in the work he does every day.”

A Gift For Making Science Relevant

Fenrick, also a former UW-Oshkosh student-athlete, earned his bachelor’s (2006) and master’s (2009) degrees in education from UW-Oshkosh. He lives in Fond du Lac, where he is a science teacher at Fond du Lac High School and an associate lecturer in the geology and geography department at the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac.

After graduating from UW-Oshkosh, Fenrick jumped straight into teaching with the Fond du Lac School District. For the first five years, he taught physical science connection classes, which consist of students with disabilities and students who were deemed to be at-risk. He has since developed and implemented both geology and meteorology curriculum and revised and implemented an environmental science curriculum.

Nominator Julie Ziegler, a co-worker at Fond du Lac High School, said Fenrick’s ability to engage students and make science relevant has made him a beloved teacher.

“Joseph is an excellent science teacher who uses a variety of hands-on learning and critical-thinking experiments to challenge students, while at the same time making science interesting,” Ziegler said.

Well-liked and respected by his students and colleagues, Fenrick was named the 2012-13 Fond du Lac High School Teacher of the Year and was runner up for the award in 2008-09. He also was nominated for the Student Choice in Teaching Excellence Award at UW-Fond du Lac.

Chloe Haskin’s, a former student of Fenrick’s at both Fond du Lac high and UW-Fond du Lac, points to his ability to teach multiple subjects to all ages and abilities as a key to his success.

“Joseph has the ability to engage students, and these students come to class wanting to learn,” Haskins said. “Hands-on activities are often included, and he is flexible with his methods and has always been patient with students who may not understand a subject immediately.”

A four-year track & field letter winner and three-time WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll member while at UW-Oshkosh, Fenrick also spent four years as an assistant track & field coach at Fond du Lac High School from 2008 to 2012.

During his fourth year of teaching, Fenrick became active in the local teachers’ union, and in 2010 became their public relations director, a role he still holds. In 2015, he campaigned for the District 15 County Board seat. He ran against the longest serving member of the board – who held the seat for 20-plus years and won. He was elected to the Fond du Lac County Board of Supervisors with 78 percent of the vote.

Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Buechel sees a great future in public service for Fenrick.

“I have been impressed with Joe’s skills and his desire to learn everything about county government, and I respect him for every decision he has made on the board, including some controversial issues,” said Buechel. “I see a great future in public service for Joseph, because of his desire to serve and the passion he has demonstrated.”

Honors

Fenrick and Pollard will be among those honored at UW-Oshkosh’s Alumni Awards Celebration on Friday, Oct. 6, at the UW-Oshkosh Alumni Welcome and Conference Center. The cost is $30 per person and includes dinner. For more information or to RSVP for the event, please call (920) 424-3449 or send an email to alumni@uwosh.edu.

Written by Liz Smith