Palmer receives professional enrichment award
PLATTEVILLE-With aliases such as Captain Energy and Roger Recycler, University of Wisconsin-Platteville Auxiliary Services Facilities Operations Director Dennis Palmer has been known for his innovative environmental conservation programs. Following a recent trip to St. Paul, Minn., to attend the Upper Midwest Region - Association of College and University Housing Officers, Palmer will now be known as the UMR-ACUHO Professional Enrichment Award recipient.
"Dennis is known as the 'go to guy' to get things done on campus," said Director of Campus Life Gregg Heinselman, who was one of Palmer's nominators. "He works side by side with other professional staff and students to determine the best ways possible to address the ever-changing needs of student housing facilities, always taking the time to educate others and share his insights."
Nominated by colleagues Rhonda Viney, director of student housing, Ben Markl, resident director, and Heinselman, Palmer was recognized for his 33 years of outstanding service to UWP and 28 years of commitment to UMR-ACUHO.
"Dennis has cared for our facilities as though they were his own," Viney said. "He has saved our department and related areas more money than I can even imagine because he knows his resources, uses his own skills and expertise, recognizes quality, is creative and is the best problem-solver around."
As director of auxiliary services facilities operations, Palmer is responsible for the maintenance, repair and cleanliness of nine residence halls, university food services, the Pioneer Student Center and the child care center. His duties also include planning and directing building renovations, new construction, furniture and furniture replacement, and budget development and management for inventory, the computerized maintenance management system, damage assessment and billing and custodial and maintenance staff training.
"The contributions Dennis has made to the facilities and personnel at UWP are invaluable," Markl said. "His innovation, technology and know-how is amazing. I do not know of any question regarding operation, composition or preservation of any facility on campus that he could not answer. He is also a great role model for new professionals, such as myself. To see someone who has built a solid, life-long career in this ever-dynamic field and has remained at the top of his game is inspiring."
As a member of UMR-ACUHO, Palmer has served on the Comprehensive Training Committee, was chair of the Energy, Safety and Physical Facilities Committee, contributes articles for professional newsletters and journals, has been a conference delegate for more than 25 years, is a program presenter and is this year's Consultant in Residence.
"As I reviewed the criteria for the Professional Enrichment Award, I smiled to myself because Dennis has demonstrated a life-long commitment to the activities described within it," Viney said. "He has presented so many sessions at UMR conferences that we could never come close to listing all of them. And he never just has one program at UMR - he has at least two or three. He shares his information and experience wherever he is - at state-wide, regional and national conferences, via telephone consultations and with those of us who have had the opportunity to best utilize him, his UWP colleagues."
Prior to receiving the award, Palmer had no indication that his colleagues had nominated him for the prestigious recognition, let alone that he would be this year's recipient.
"I was really surprised to receive the award because I feel there are so many other people out there worthy of it," Palmer said. "I'm just doing what a lot of other people in my profession do, so I didn't anticipate or expect to get an award for that. It was an honor getting the award, but I thought what the people from UWP who nominated me said in their nomination letters was even more of an honor."
Palmer said this is the 28th UMR-ACUHO conference he has attended and after each conference, he returns to UWP feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the challenges the UWP campus offers him.
"UMR-ACUHO is a very open and sharing group," Palmer said. "Each year I usually do three to four programs and I definitely take away as much from those conferences as I put in. it's great to share with others what we are doing on our campus and to get back information about how other people in my profession are dealing with issues on their campuses, especially if it's a situation that may arise at UWP in the future."
More than 500 people attended this year's UMR-ACUHO conference held Oct. 23-25. The UMR-ACUHO region encompasses Wisconsin and seven other states west of Wisconsin. While a handful of people from UWP attended the conference, there were a number of former UWP employees at the conference who also cheered Palmer on with cardboard cutout photos on sticks of the honoree's face as he received the award.