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The 2020 and 2021 Ratledge Family Award winners include Gerald Joseph McAdams Kauffman, Jr., Allison Karpyn, Kathleen Splane and Maria Pippidis. (Not pictured: Nancy Gregory.)
The 2020 and 2021 Ratledge Family Award winners include Gerald Joseph McAdams Kauffman, Jr., Allison Karpyn, Kathleen Splane and Maria Pippidis. (Not pictured: Nancy Gregory.)

Excellence in public service

Photo by Maria Errico

UD faculty and staff members receive Ratledge Family Award for Delaware Public Service

The University of Delaware’s Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration hosted in April the Ratledge Family Award for Delaware Public Service Celebration, an annual event that recognizes excellence in public service within the UD community.

Established by the Ratledge family, the Ratledge Family Award for Delaware Public Service reflects the family’s long-standing commitment to both the state of Delaware and UD. The award recognizes contributions of UD faculty, staff and students who exemplify excellence in public service to the citizens of the state of Delaware.

The 2021 recipients of the Ratledge Family Award for Delaware Public Service include Gerald Joseph McAdams Kauffman, Jr., director of the UD Water Resources Center (UDWRC) in the Institute for Public Administration (IPA) at the Biden School and associate professor in the Biden School and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ (CANR) Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences, and Kathleen Splane, family and consumer science agent in CANR’s Cooperative Extension.

This year’s in-person ceremony also recognized 2020 recipients of the award, who include Nancy Gregory, retired extension agent in CANR’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Allison Karpyn, associate professor in the College of Education and Human Development’s (CEHD) Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, and Maria Pippidis, extension agent in CANR’s Cooperative Extension and assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ (CAS) Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies.

“It gives me great pleasure to recognize the outstanding recipients of the 2021 and 2020 Ratledge Family Award,” said Maria Aristigueta, dean of the Biden School and the Charles P. Messick Chair in Public Administration. “These award winners not only exemplify the excellence in public service that the Ratledge Family valued, but also embody the community engagement missions of their respective colleges — the Biden School, CANR, CEHD and CAS — and the University as a whole. This group of recipients is especially notable for their dedication to preserving and ensuring access to Delaware resources that are critical to the health of our children, families and communities, including access to water, healthy food and nutrition education.”

About Gerald Joseph McAdams Kauffman, Jr.

As director of the UDWRC, Kauffman oversees the Water Resource Center, one of the 54 Congressionally designated National Institutes for Water Resources supported by the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Geological Survey at land grant universities in the 50 states, District of Columbia and island territories.

Gerald Joseph McAdams Kauffman, Jr., 2021 Ratledge Family Award winner and director of the UD Water Resources Center in the Institute for Public Administration at the Biden School.
Gerald Joseph McAdams Kauffman, Jr., 2021 Ratledge Family Award winner and director of the UD Water Resources Center in the Institute for Public Administration at the Biden School.

“As the director of the UDWRC, Jerry defined two key missions related to Delaware’s water resources — our precious groundwater aquifers and our streams, ponds, lakes and coastal waters,” said Jerome R. Lewis, director of the IPA in the Biden School. “The first is to support research, education and public outreach programs that focus on water supply, water management and water quality — issues of considerable importance to Delaware citizens who are concerned about the future of our water resources. The second mission is to foster and support training and education programs for the future water scientists, engineers, managers and policymakers who will lead the water resources research, planning and management efforts in our state in the future.”

Within the state of Delaware, Kauffman serves as Delaware’s first “Water Referee” appointed by the governor and General Assembly through the Water Supply Coordinating Council Act of 2000. Among other services to the Delaware region, Kauffman also co-chairs the Brandywine Christina Basin Clean Water Partnership, an interstate effort between the Environmental Protection Agency, the Delaware River Basin Commission, the state of Delaware and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to restore the watershed that provides nearly two-thirds of Delaware’s drinking water.

Within UD, Kauffman holds secondary faculty appointments in the Biden School and in the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in hydrology, watershed science and policy, governance and economics in the Biden School, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Geography. He also contributes research on water resources and watershed management.

“For me, Delaware provides one of the very finest settings in the nation to conduct public service through our institute, school and University,” Kauffman said. “Our land grant mission at the University of Delaware is a three-legged stool of public service, education and research based on the Delaware model. Our small yet progressive state provides us the ability to translate new knowledge from research in the laboratory and education in the classroom out to our citizens and governments by public service in a way that few states and universities can match. I am very proud to be a part of it all and quite glad to receive the Ratledge Family Award this year.”

About Kathleen Splane

As a lifelong volunteer, Kathleen Splane began her career within CANR’s Cooperative Extension as a master food educator volunteer in 1994 and a part-time employee working in the area of food safety. The Cooperative Extension brings University knowledge, research and resources to community members in Delaware through nutrition classes, master naturalist courses, youth clubs and programs that support local agriculture. Splane has since held various positions and responsibilities in her 27 years working in the Cooperative Extension.

Kathleen Splane, 2021 Ratledge Family Award winner and family and consumer science agent in CANR’s Cooperative Extension.
Kathleen Splane, 2021 Ratledge Family Award winner and family and consumer science agent in CANR’s Cooperative Extension.

In her current role as a family and consumer science agent, Splane contributes direct education, program leadership and grants management within the Cooperative Extension. With expertise in nutrition and food safety, Splane has offered many educational programs, including programs on dining with diabetes. Attendees in these programs report critical life skill changes that improve their health, such as eating on a regular basis, eating more fruits and vegetables, understanding ingredient labels and improving portion control.

“Nutrition and food safety have been at the forefront of Kathleen’s expertise,” said Michelle Rodgers, associate dean and director of the Cooperative Extension. “In a six-year period, Kathleen has offered 63 ServSafe certification trainings in Delaware, which provide certification to operate for over 1,100 restaurant personnel, volunteer organizational staff and childcare providers, all of which must maintain certification for state public health regulations. An example of Kathleen’s commitment to all individuals was making special accommodations to offer this training and exam in Chinese and Spanish. Kathleen shows visionary leadership and contributes high impact programs that exemplify the values of the Ratledge Family Award.”

Splane was also instrumental in the creation of the Cooperative Extension’s Master Food Educator Volunteer program. Master Food Educator volunteers are food or nutrition professionals or individuals without professional training who have an interest in nutrition, food preparation, health, wellness and the education of youth and adults. Provided with training through the program, these volunteers expand UD’s nutrition education efforts by working in their communities and by assisting with the ongoing initiatives of the Cooperative Extension.

“There are so many things that inspire me to serve Delawareans, but a few that come to mind are the supportive colleagues I work with and the vast knowledge I have gained from working with the various audiences I have educated through my work,” Splane said.

For more information about the 2020 Ratledge Family Award winners, see UDaily’s 2020 article, “Ratledge Family Awards.”

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