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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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MnSCU Honors Four Administrators, Staff from Minnesota State Mankato

System office honors were for excellence in financial management during 2014.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 1-8-2015

Mankato, Minn. – Four individuals from Minnesota State University, Mankato have been honored by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system office for excellence in financial management during 2014.

Vice President of Finance and Administration Rick Straka, who has served since July 2008 in his current position, has received the Chancellor’s Award, which is presented to individuals or teams whose efforts support the MnSCU Strategic Framework and result in system-wide improvements in financial management, services or processes. Award criteria focused on innovation, collaboration and new work that is above and beyond regular duties.

Three individuals from Minnesota State Mankato were recognized with Outstanding Service Awards, which are presented to individuals or teams who provide outstanding service at the campus level. Award criteria focused on those who have made significant system-wide contributions that warrant recognition.

Minnesota State Mankato Outstanding Service Award recipients included Associate Vice President for Budget and Business Services Steve Smith; Accounting Officer Debra Norman (Office of the Provost); and Purchasing Card Coordinator Helen Wenner (Business Services).

Minnesota State Mankato President Richard Davenport said the awards reflected the recipients’ dedication to the University as well as their professions.

“Rick Straka’s leadership and expertise in the area of budgeting and contracts has had a direct and positive impact on the financial stability and strength of Minnesota State Mankato,” said Davenport. “Most importantly, Rick’s efforts are focused on our students and promoting their success.”

Davenport also congratulated Smith, Norman and Wenner on their awards, saying each should be “commended for their commitment to the institution and student success.”

“Steve, Helen and Debra represent the hard work that goes on behind the scenes at Minnesota State Mankato,” said Davenport, “and I want to thank them for promoting customer service, training faculty and staff and their ongoing efforts to increase efficiency. They are well-deserving of their Outstanding Service Awards.”

The Minnesota State Mankato award recipients were among 12 honored by MnSCU for the 2014 calendar year. Straka was one of two Chancellor’s Award recipients, and 10 Outstanding Service Awards were presented.

“These awards go to the often unsung heroes on our campuses – leaders who are dedicated to the health and success of our colleges and universities,” said Chancellor Steven Rosenstone. “They have provided innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems. I am particularly impressed by how many of this year’s winners worked as teams to collaborate on complex challenges.”

The Chancellor’s Award and the Outstanding Service Award were first presented in 1997 and publicly recognize outstanding contributions of college and university employees who work in financial management.

A complete list of award recipients were listed in a Minnesota State news release.

For more information about the awards, please contact Doug Anderson, MnSCU director of communications and media, by phone at 651-201-1426 or by email at

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,376 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 31 state institutions.

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