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Appleton Education Foundation Names UWFox CEO Perry as 2010 'Scullen Award' Winner

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Jim Perry

Jim Perry, campus executive officer and dean at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley, was named the recipient of the 2010 "Thomas G. Scullen Leadership Award."  The announcement was made in the Tuesday, April 27 issue of (Appleton/Fox Cities) The Post Crescent, and appears on pg. B1 in the hard copy version.  The story covering Perry’s selection was written by veteran Post Crescent education staff writer Kathy Walsh Nufer.

According to The Post Crescent, "The award honors a Fox Cities resident who is considered a leader in the field of education like its namesake, the late Thomas Scullen, who was an Appleton Education Foundation founder and superintendent of the Appleton Area School District until his death in 2007, at the age of 68. The award is intended to honor both Scullen's memory and his commitment to the rich history of educational excellence in the school district and Fox Cities community. [The] Recipient [is] selected for: strong history of sustained commitment to improving education in the Fox Cities, and demonstrated ability to collaborate with other individuals and organizations to enhance education in the region, advocate for education as a measure of the overall quality of life here and think creatively to enhance education."

Here is the text of Nufer’s story, reprinted with the permission of The Post Crescent.

Perry wins Scullen Award for growth,

Promotion of hidden gem in UW-Fox Valley

To brainstorm alongside Jim Perry is to be in the company of an education visionary, as his nominators. "He’s a bit of an idea factory," Jim Eagon, assistant campus dean for administrative services said of Perry, the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley’s campus executive officer and its longest serving dean.

"And he’s just as enthusiastic today as the day he arrived" in 1993, said Tom Frantz, director of instructional technology for the campus.

Both men, longtime colleagues of Perry, said Perry’s commitment, passion and imagination proved instrumental in breaking down "traditional campus/community walls" and his vision helped UWFV transform itself from a "well kept secret" to a highly visible force for higher education and outreach in this region.

Because of those accomplishments, Perry has been named the winner of the Appleton Education Foundation’s 2010 Thomas G. Scullen Leadership award, which he’ll receive Monday at a recognition dinner.

"Before Jim came, UWFV was a community college with a gifted and talented faculty, but a lot of people didn’t know who we were," Frantz said. "Now we have gifted and talented faculty and a lot more people know who we are.

The quality of this institution is represented best by the people we serve and we have a lot of success stories out there. We have a greater capacity to do our jobs better because of Jim Perry. A certain coming of age occurred with his tenure."

The "idea factory" comment gets a knowing but unapologetic smile from Perry. "I probably drive people crazy because I have so many ideas for how we can make things better for our students," he said.

While Perry has been at the helm for major building projects from the Barlow Planetarium and the Weis Earth Science Museum to the new $13.9 million Communication Arts Center, that bears his name [note: only the 362-seat main hall in the CAC actually bears Perry’s name.], bricks and mortar are the easy part, he said.

"The most important part of my job is helping faculty find better ways to reach today’s students. Things have changed a lot since 1993." 

In response to student and community needs, Perry has overseen everything from the shift to more interactive teaching to the addition of "learning communities" within the curriculum that led to such joint multidisciplinary efforts as studying water issues from multiple points of view.

"Those things make a huge difference in the educational outlook of students because that’s the way the world works," he said of efforts to make education at UWFV as relevant and accessible as possible.

Eagon cited the collaborative degree program with UW-Platteville in mechanical and electrical engineering as an example of how Perry has broadened and enhanced curriculum.

"That was Jim working with community and business leaders to figure out what was needed and how to do it," Eagon said.

Perry maintains the many UWFV milestones of the past 17 years are the result of "collective vision. I have never felt that I had ‘the"’ vision. I’ve been fortunate to have stellar people making me look good. We have some really innovative people here on the faculty and staff. You have to find ways to allow them to explore that creativity."

From his work with private donors and Outagamie and Winnebago County supervisors, which are strong supporters of UWFV, to his ability to inspire staff to "stretch themselves" and innovate, Perry has made an indelible mark here, Frantz and Eagon said.

Early on, Perry realized the "unique relationships" UWFV had with various Fox Cities organizations and worked hard to nurture them, Frantz said.

"We are a much stronger campus now. We have new ties to our community as a result of projects he has taken on like the Barlow, Weis and Communication Arts Center. They are facilities that benefit the campus but really benefit the greater community.

Perry agreed that has been a focus.

"It really has been a never-ending objective since the day I walked in – how can I get the Fox Valley community to realize what a gem is right in our own backyard?

"Each thing accomplished has brought new groups of people on campus to see first-hand the quality our faculty and students bring to the community, and that has been rewarding."

Perry said he’s honored to receive this award.

"Tom Scullen was a friend of mine and he was a true education visionary. He always had ideas going. To receive an award in his name is like one of those life achievements.

"When you respect somebody like I respect Tom, to be anywhere in his class, and in the company of the previous recipients (Don Brown and Dr. John Mielke), is really humbling."

Posted 04/28/2010