Self Graduate Fellowship announces 2021-2022 Board of Trustees

Fri, 09/24/2021


Stefani Buchwitz

LAWRENCE – The Madison and Lila Self Graduate Programs at the University of Kansas have announced the Board of Trustees for the Self Graduate Fellowship. Trustees include KU leaders and faculty members:

  • Jennifer A. Roberts, managing trustee, ex-officio. Roberts is the KU vice provost for academic affairs & graduate studies and professor of geology.
  • Barbara Bichelmeyer, ex-officio. Bichelmeyer is the KU provost and executive vice chancellor.
  • James Clarke, ex-officio. Clarke is senior vice president of KU Endowment.
  • Kyle Wetzel, Self Graduate Fellowship alumnus. Wetzel has served as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering.
  • Julie Christianson, professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, KU Medical Center.
  • Mike Wilkins, Larry D. Horner / KPMG Professor in the KU School of Business.
  • Elizabeth Friis, KU professor and chair of mechanical engineering.
  • Tarun Sabarwal, KU professor of economics and director of the Center for Analytical Research in Economics.

The Self Graduate Fellowship Board of Trustees was established in 1993. Trustees develop and approve actions designed to implement the donor-driven guidelines. Members are appointed by the KU chancellor with staggered four-year terms. Annually, one member cycles off, and one new member joins. Gregory Rudnick completed a four-year term as a trustee in June 2021, and Sabarwal is the new trustee who began a four-year term in July 2021. 

About Madison and Lila Self Graduate Programs

Madison and Lila Self Graduate Programs administers the Self Graduate Fellowship and Self Memorial Scholarship. Both programs support KU graduate students and align with the mission of the late Madison “Al” and Lila Self to “identify, recruit, and provide development opportunities for exceptional students who demonstrate the promise to make significant contributions to their fields of study and society as a whole.”

In 1989, the Selfs launched and permanently endowed their flagship program, the Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellowship at KU. The fellowship accepted its first two doctoral fellows in 1991.

In 2021-2022, there are 42 current Self Graduate Fellows. The fellowship is a four-year package awarded to incoming or first-year doctoral students who demonstrate leadership, initiative and passion for achievement. The fellowship covers full tuition and fees, provides graduate research assistant support of $32,000 per year, a $5,500 professional development award and a unique professional development program. The Fellow Development Program provides general education and training in communication, management, innovation, policy and leadership to assist Self Graduate Fellows in preparation for future leadership roles. The role of the development program is to complement the specialized education and training provided in doctoral programs. The total value of the four-year doctoral fellowship exceeds $180,000.

Before Madison and Lila Self both died in 2013, they also envisioned an additional program that recognizes outstanding undergraduates from KU who immediately transition into a first-year master’s or doctoral degree program at KU. This program, now named the Madison and Lila Self Memorial Scholarship, came to fruition in 2018 with 11 scholars. 

The late Madison Self was a 1943 KU graduate in chemical engineering.  The late Lila Self grew up in Eudora and attended KU with the Class of 1943.

More about the Self Graduate Fellowship Board of Trustees:

Jennifer Roberts, managing trustee, also serves as vice provost for academic affairs & graduate studies and professor in the Department of Geology. Roberts received her doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin and served as a National Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Water Research Division of the USGS before joining KU in 2001. Her research focuses on hydrochemistry and microbial geochemistry, bridging basic and applied science to better understand the role of microorganisms in mineral weathering as it applies to carbon sequestration, petroleum reservoir diagenesis, paleoclimate and water quality from nano- to landscape-scales. Prior to her roles with Graduate Studies, Roberts served as chair of the geology department. Roberts has received recognition such as the Professional Excellence Award from the Association for Women in Geoscience, the Docking Young Faculty Scholar Award and the Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett Women Mentoring Women Award, among others. Her work has also received multiple major funding awards from institutions such as the National Science Foundation, the Army Corps of Engineers, the American Chemical Society and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Barbara Bichelmeyer, an academic leader in the field instructional design and technology, was appointed provost and executive vice chancellor at KU in February 2020. Bichelmeyer, a Kansas City native, also holds an appointment as professor in the KU School of Education & Human Sciences. As KU’s chief learning officer, she is primarily responsible for advancing the university’s mission in concert with the chancellor, administrators, faculty, staff and students across the Lawrence campus. She leads the Lawrence campus in championing and furthering the goals outlined in the university’s strategic plan. Prior to joining KU, Bichelmeyer served as provost and executive vice chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, a position she held since August 2015. Previously, she served as executive associate vice president for University Academic Affairs for the seven campuses of Indiana University, as well as founder and senior director for IU's Office of Online Education. Bichelmeyer was also a tenured full professor at Indiana University-Bloomington.

James Clarke joined the KU Endowment in December 2015, where he leads a six-person team responsible for $2.7 billion in investments on behalf of the first foundation for a public university in the United States. Previously, he was a partner with Fiduciary Research & Consulting, an $8.5 billion outsourced chief investment officer firm in San Francisco. Clarke was also director of private investments for the $2.5 billion Kauffman Foundation. He began his career with Nations Media Partners, an investment bank specializing in telecom and media companies. As a private investor and entrepreneur, Clarke was involved in a start-up that went public on Nasdaq and others acquired by AT&T, Adare Pharmaceuticals and Macrogen. Currently he serves as chairman of Infegy, a data analytics company. In 2012, Clarke was elected as a trustee of the Washburn University Foundation and currently serves on its Investment Committee and board of directors. Other nonprofit board service and affiliations include Sheffield Place, PIPELINE Entrepreneurial Fellowship, Startup Weekend, the International Model United Nations Association and Topeka Phi Delta Theta Alumni Club. At KU, Clarke is a trustee of the Self Graduate Fellowship board, a member of the advisory board for the Self Memorial Scholarship, and a member of the investment and audit committees for the KU Center for Research. Clarke earned his bachelor’s degree from Washburn University and an MBA with an emphasis in finance and investments from KU.

Kyle Wetzel, alumnus of the Self Graduate Fellowship, works as an independent engineering consultant. He is an internationally recognized expert on wind turbine systems and wind turbine rotor blades. He has engineered state-of-the-art energy, aerospace and defense systems since 1993 in a variety of capacities, including as a consultant and researcher through his own companies, as technical manager of new product development at Enron Wind Energy (now part of GE Energy) and as executive vice president of Aerotech Engineering & Research Corporation and university researcher. Wetzel has served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at KU. He was principal investigator, project manager and/or technical manager on 19 government-funded R&D contracts and has consulted more than 75 private-sector clients. He has written or co-written over 60 journal and conference papers and holds 14 U.S. and international patents. Wetzel serves as the chairman of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group for the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Technical Committee TC88. Wetzel is an associate fellow of AIAA and a fellow of ASME. He holds a master’s degree in aeronautical & astronautical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a doctorate in aerospace engineering from KU. 

Julie Christianson is a professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology and director of the clinician scientist and research track within the anesthesiology residency program at KU Medical Center. She received her doctorate in anatomy from KU studying an insensate mouse model of diabetic neuropathy with Professor Doug Wright. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Brian Davis at the University of Pittsburgh in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition. She began her faculty position at KU in 2010, and her research is focuses on understanding the influence of early life stress on the development of chronic pain, metabolic and affective disorders later in life. She serves on the editorial boards of Pain and Frontiers in Pain, and she regularly serves on NIH study sections. She has also served in several capacities within the former American Pain Society and is a member of the basic science committee for the Society for Urodynamics, Female Pelvic Medicine, and Urogenital Reconstruction.

Mike Wilkins is the Larry D. Horner / KPMG Professor at KU, where he also serves as the doctorate coordinator for the accounting area. His research addresses issues related to auditing and capital markets. Wilkins recently completed a three-year term as an archival auditing editor at The Accounting Review and currently serves on the editorial boards at The Accounting Review, Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory and Accounting Horizons. Wilkins teaches accounting theory in KU’s Master of Accounting program as well as the introductory empirical research seminar in the doctoral program. Wilkins received his bachelor’s degree in finance and master’s degree in accounting from the University of Kentucky and his doctorate in accounting from the University of Arizona.

Elizabeth Friis joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2001 and is now professor and chair. Before coming to KU, she was a research scientist at the Orthopaedic Research Institute from 1987 to 2001. Friis’ main research interests are in biomaterials and biomechanics, with emphasis in spine biomechanics and mechanical testing and design of implants. Friis helped develop the Product Design and Development track in the KU Bioengineering Graduate program and served as its co-director from 2007-2020. She has received several teaching awards, including the KU Outstanding Woman Educator Award in 2007 and a Kemper Fellowship in 2006. She is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. Friis has led several efforts at KU to incorporate technology entrepreneurship education into the engineering curriculum. Friis serves on the Editorial Board of The Journal of Biomedical Materials Research – Part A since 2007. In 2004, Friis was a Kauffman Entrepreneurial Faculty Scholar and was in the charter class of an entrepreneurial development program (PIPELINE) in 2007. She served as the director of the Graduate Fellowship Program for the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation from 2009 to 2011. Friis has received several National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research awards, and has licensed technologies that are currently commercialized.

Tarun Sabarwal is professor of economics and director of the Center for Analytical Research in Economics. He recently published a new research monograph, “Monotone games: A unified approach to games with strategic complements and substitutes.” During his 14 years as a faculty member at KU, he has served as director of graduate studies and associate chair of Economics (2016-20), member of the Executive Council of Graduate Faculty (2018-20) and chair of the nationally well-known annual research-seminar series on economic theory (2009-present). He led and implemented an extensive redesign of the doctoral program in economics, providing students a comprehensive roadmap with annual milestones from the beginning of the program to its end and delivered many measurable improvements along the way. Many of his doctoral students are leading successful careers in their chosen paths in academics and outside. He has supported excellence in graduate education with service on the Argersinger Dissertation Award Committee and numerous additional contributions to graduate education in economics and related disciplines. Sabarwal studies decentralized decision-making and its collective influence. His research uses analytically rigorous arguments and quantitative methods to derive conclusions that are more likely to survive the test of time. Sabarwal also serves on the Faculty and University Senate.

Fri, 09/24/2021


Stefani Buchwitz

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Stefani Buchwitz

Self Graduate Fellowship