2020-21 Recipients

Dr. David RayDr. David Rayl is the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research in the College of Music, a role he has held since 2006. He is also the college’s Faculty Excellence Advocate. Dr. Rayl’s responsibilities involve working directly with graduate students, faculty, academic specialists, and support staff. His nominators highlighted the range of areas in which he both leads and manages, including curriculum, mentoring, and budget, as well as his coordination of the college’s early music concert series and directorship of their choral programs. The committee was particularly impressed with Dr. Rayl’s scope of influence, which extends into the community and is exemplified by the 18 individuals in diverse roles who signed his nomination letter. The letter described Dr. Rayl’s intelligence and ability to see the “big picture”. It thoughtfully described the characteristics he displays when dealing with individuals – exhibiting respect, compassion, integrity, and openness to new ideas, as well as his advocacy for diverse students in the College of Music. The nomination noted that “the reason [he] should win this award is people: all of the people whose work is better because of Dr. Rayl’s mentoring, who graduate and succeed professionally because of his advising and support, who benefit daily from his wisdom and fairness, and who aspire to be future academic leaders because they have witnessed how astonishingly well the job can be done and how much of a difference it can make.”

2018-19 Recipients

Rex Lamore Rex LaMore is Director of the Center for Community and Economic Development in MSU’s Office of Outreach and Engagement, a role he has held since 1977.   He has been responsible for planning and supervising the development of numerous training, applied research, technical assistance, and community development projects.  This leadership involves federal, state, and privately funded research and outreach partnerships, and has had substantial impact on international community development activities.  Rex advances MSU’s land-grant mission by creating, applying, and disseminating valued knowledge through responsive engagement, strategic partnerships, and collaborative learning.  He focuses on empowering students, faculty and staff in partnership with public and private entities to create sustainable prosperity and an equitable society.  His nominators highlight that “his leadership style creates a feeling of teamwork, and he seeks to elicit the best from everyone.”

Kelly MillenbahKelly Millenbah serves as Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  She has been in this role since 2013, and is responsible for a very wide range of activities associated with research, outreach, budget, and academic programming.  Prior to this position, she was an Associate Dean in Lyman Briggs College (2010-2013).  According to her nominators, Kelly “believes that to succeed, you must value, empower and enable the people surrounding you.  [She] does this selflessly, lacking any reservation or insecurity.  With this approach she progresses not only the vision she has established for [her office], but serves as an integral leader for CANR, MSU and the higher education industry.”  Kelly recognizes the substantial challenges facing MSU and our students, and works tirelessly toward improvement across numerous types of initiatives and programming, always placing an emphasis on listening and taking into account diverse perspectives and opinions.