Hamline News

Four Hamline Alumni & a Former Faculty Member Were Honored for Their Outstanding Achievements and Life's Work.


At Hamline University's 2011 Reunion Weekend, four College of Liberal Arts alumni and one former Hamline faculty member were honored for their outstanding contributions to society.

Nancy Johnson- Distinguished Service Award
Nancy Johnson, who graduated summa cum laude from Hamline in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in biology received Hamline's "Distinguished Service Award." This award is given each year to a degreed alumna/us of the college who has demonstrated distinguished dedication and service through volunteer activities at Hamline University (e.g. class agent, on boards or committees, leadership role as a volunteer, efforts on special projects.) 

While at Hamline, Johnson was a Presidential Scholar and was accepted into Phi Beta Kappa. She also played volleyball and basketball on some of the first post-Title IX teams on Hamline’s campus. After Hamline, Nancy attended graduate school at Harvard University where she was awarded a PhD from the Committee on Immunology, Division of Medical Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Upon graduation, she worked and lived in Washington, D.C. Her work there with the Office of Research, U.S. Agency for International Development brought her to Botswana, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Estonia, Ethiopia, Hungary, Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco, Thailand, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. In 2000, Nancy returned to Minnesota for law school. She received her JD in 2005 from William Mitchell College of Law.

Since 2002, she has been employed by the patent law firm of Mueting, Raasch & Gebhardt, P.A. As a registered patent attorney, she prepares and prosecutes biotechnology and biomedical patent applications for a variety of academic and industry clients. In recent years, Nancy has become extremely involved in the Hamline community, making an impact in nearly every area of the university. She is currently a class agent for the class of 1978; on the Advisory Board for Women in Philanthropy; has served as a class reunion committee member; has been part of the Alumni Career Network for six years; serves on the Board of Directors for the Piper Athletic Association; and has attended many local Hamline alumni events. Nancy currently lives in Lakeville, Minnesota and spends her free time traveling and quilting.

Robert Schilling- Outstanding Achievement Award
Robert Schilling, who graduated from Hamline with a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1970 has been honored with the "Outstanding Achievement Award." This award is given annually to a degreed alumna/us of the college who has done extraordinary work in his/her field or volunteer activities.  At Hamline, Schilling was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon and was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame as a member of Hamline’s 1966 championship football team.

Schilling is professor and past chair of the Department of Social Welfare within University of California, Los Angeles’ Luskin School of Public Affairs. Previously, he was professor of social work at Columbia University and a social worker in child welfare and child development settings. He received his MSW from the University of Wisconsin and his PhD from the University of Washington. Schilling’s research has focused on developmental disabilities, drug users, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases. He was principal investigator of the New York City site of the National Institute of Mental Health Multisite HIV Prevention Trial; a more recent study evaluated a disease prevention program among commercial sex workers in China. He has published more than 120 peer-reviewed articles and is the most cited social work scholar in the HIV/AIDS area. Schilling is a fellow in the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. Schilling told us his wife Sheryl Miller, a Hamline graduate from 1969, is his greatest asset.

Bob Packard- Making the World a Better Place Award
Bob Packard, who graduated from Hamline with a bachelor's degree in Spanish and French and a minor in Latin American studies in 1966 has been honored with Hamline's "Making the World a Better Place Award." This award is given to a degreed alumna/us of the college who has made the connection between learning theory and putting it into practice and connecting the liberal arts education to his/her profession and work within the community. This person is ethical and caring and serves society. 

After Hamline, Packard went on to study Spanish at Boston University and taught Spanish and French in Connecticut public schools for 35 years. While teaching, Packard was also director of the World Citizen Forum Project for 32 school districts in southeastern Connecticut. A highlight of his work was arranging for the first formal contact between the United Nations Ambassadors of Egypt and Israel to meet with 200 Connecticut social studies teachers. He later testified before a Presidential Heading on the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to teaching foreign languages and social studies. These ideas were implemented through the World Citizen Forum Project with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Connecticut Department of Education.

Since retiring from teaching in 2004, he and his wife Ella Mae Littlefield moved to his wife's family farm in Maine. The Packard-Littlefield Farm is under a permanent conservation easement which will allow farming, forest products, and open spaces.  Since 2007 their farm has hosted refugees from Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, and Guatemala to be trained on how to grow crops organically in a cold climate. Currently 50 refugee families participate and are in the process of being certified by the Maine Organic Farmers Association. The Packards have two daughters and four grandchildren. They have traveled extensively in retirement, most recently to Brazil and Argentina, on an agricultural tour.

Nicole Sawatzke- First Decade Award
Nicole Sawatzke, who graduated ten years ago in the Hamline class of 2001 received Hamline's "First Decade Award." This award goes to a degreed alumna/us of the college who has done extraordinary work in his/her field or volunteer activities within the first 10 years after graduation. 

Sawatzke is a television producer and writer.  She received her bachelor's degree from Hamline University in English, with a journalism emphasis. With the help of Hamline faculty member David Hudson, she learned a great deal about how to write for television, a much different medium than the academic papers she'd been writing, and spent five years working in local news, before becoming a freelance producer.

Since then, Sawatzke has worked on a variety of series for the Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network, & Discovery Channel.  As the producer, Sawatzke is responsible for planning shoots, directing talent and the crew, as well as determining the story and seeing shows through the editing process.  While every producing job requires the same set of skills, Sawatzke's favorite part of her career is getting immersed in subjects she may not have taken the time to learn otherwise.  Sawatzke has also had the opportunity to shoot internationally for the Travel Channel in China, Thailand, Turkey & Morocco – and traveled throughout the U.S. on projects for the Food Network.  

When Sawatzke is in town, she said you can find her trying to remember how to play piano at MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis.  Nicole also said she's proud of her youngest sister, Jaclyn, who a sophomore at Hamline University this fall.

Richard Mulkern- Outstanding Faculty Award
Richard Mulkern, who was a faculty member, coach, and athletic director during his 29 years at Hamline, has received the "Outstanding Faculty Award." This award goes to a current or past faculty member of the college who exhibits/exhibited exemplary teaching and/or writing in his/her field, and has been involved in activities which reflect support and interest in Hamline University.

During his time at Hamline, Mulkern coached 44 student All-Americans and was twice named Coach of the Year by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.  Since retirement, he has maintained an active athletic life, most recently winning the silver medal at the Worlds Masters Track Championship in Sacramento, California in the discus (65-89 age group). He also set age records in the discus and shot put at the Iowa Senior Olympics and the USATF Iowa State Championships.

Mulkern said, "In our lifetimes, we hope and dream that our careers will lead us to the one ultimate job and school. I was one of the lucky ones to have this dream fulfilled. Although I had some wonderful experiences and friendships at other schools, Hamline provided 29 years of unforgettable memories. I loved the heart in Hamline where the faculty’s main concerns were the students and their education. I also enjoyed the camaraderie between the faculty and administration. It was a joy to go to work. Hamline was like a big family. Truly my happiest days of teaching were at Hamline. Thanks to all of you for filling my heart so full."

Congratulations to all five award winners, and thank you for your amazing contributions to making our communities stronger.