Faculty and staff were awarded for their extraordinary service at MSOE during the 2023 Appreciation Dinner on May 4. The annual awards recognize those who exemplify the values and beliefs of the university’s founding family.

Dr. Wujie Zhang, associate professor in the Physics and Chemistry Department, received the Oscar Werwath Distinguished Teacher Award. The award was established by the university in 1967 to recognize excellence in teaching. All nominees for this award must have a minimum of seven years of full-time service to MSOE. Students choose the award winner through two rounds of voting. 

On their ballots, students described Zhang as a very good professor and very knowledgeable in his field; he is great at teaching, using different visualization methods and is accessible for students to get help; he is a wonderful professor who is great at communicating content, but more importantly he is great at connecting with students and making them interested in the content he teaches; he cares deeply for his students and encourages their questions. Students also said they adore Zhang for his personality, accessibility, excellent teaching skills and his approach to engineering; not only does he work hard in the classroom, but he also works hard outside of the classroom to promote diversity, equity and inclusion across campus and in Milwaukee.

JoEllen Burdue, senior director of communication and media relations, received the Johanna Seelhorst Werwath Distinguished Staff Award. This award is given annually to the employee who is considered to possess those attributes of excellence of character, outstanding ability, a high order of integrity, loyalty and dedication to duty and a sincere willingness to cooperate with others in maintaining the highest standards of staff performance and service to students, Regents, faculty, other staff members and the public. All nominees must have seven or more years of full-time service as a staff member. Officers of the university are not eligible for this award nor are previous award winners. The award recipient is voted on by MSOE faculty and staff.

On their ballots, faculty and staff described Burdue as professional, personable and pleasure to work with; she projects all the great characteristics of a quality MSOE community member; she always has a smile on her face; she is happy to collaborate and help with any project; she is kind and embodies the spirit of MSOE; has such a creative mind and is a consummate professional; actively shows leadership skills and is a pleasure to work with. They also said Burdue provides incredible customer service to fellow staff, students and faculty and is truly an asset to MSOE; she embodies each of MSOE’s core values through the way she interacts with colleagues and members of the MSOE community. She is dedicated to showcasing MSOE and the talent of our students, faculty and staff members through stories in our campus communications in Milwaukee and beyond.