Selected by Minnesota State Board of Trustees

Kari Peterson, MSUM’s Director of Recreation and Wellness, has been unanimously selected by the Minnesota State Board of Trustees for the 2019 University Service Award. She is from among six nominees submitted by campuses in the Minnesota State system.

The University Service Award is selected based on exceptional work performance; contribution to student growth and development; expertise, creative achievement and professional development; and advancement of the university mission.

Reviewers were impressed by Kari’s demonstrated commitment to diversity through the integration of more welcoming and inclusive language in department promotions and materials, the identification of gender-neutral restroom space in the Wellness Center, and the expansion of adaptive wellness programs to serve students who may need accommodations to be able to participate.

“Kari’s positive attitude and unshakeable determination have led to the creation of many new and innovative programs and services,” said MSUM President Anne Blackhurst. “I am particularly impressed by the opportunity extended to M State students to participate in MSUM club sports…She is a dynamic force that gets things done, always remembering that serving our students is why we are here.”

Kari joined MSUM in 2016 as the interim Wellness Center Director. She has also served as Intramural and Club Sports Director and is currently Director of Recreation and Wellness.

An NCAA DII volleyball player, Kari competed at Augusta University, Sioux Falls, S.D., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and fitness management. She earned a master’s degree in recreation management from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master’s certificate in sport management from Winona State University.

Among Kari’s accomplishments:

  • Merging the Intramural and Club Sports Department with the Wellness Center to create one comprehensive Recreation and Wellness Department.
  • Growing intramural and club sport participation over 350% since 2012.
  • Introducing innovative programming such as “Fitness on Demand,” allowing students to join classes remotely and glow-in-the-dark volleyball.
  • Collaborating with Minnesota State Community and Technical College to allow hundreds of their students the opportunity to participate in intramural and club sports. 
  • Mentoring 15 student club sports leaders to ensure they gain useful organizational and leadership skills.
  • Committing to professional growth and development through NASPA, the higher education student affairs professionals’ organization.
  • Directing the Athletic Dragon Fire 5K Splash/Dash Polar Plunge for students, alumni, and community members.
  • Working to implement an employee wellness program.  

“Kari is a caring leader whose compassion and commitment inspire others to follow. There is no doubt that she fulfills MSUM’s purpose of transforming the world by transforming lives,” Blackhurst said. “I cannot think of anyone more deserving of the Professional Excellence Award than Kari Peterson.”

Kari Peterson receives 2019 University Service Award.