When Merry Lee Lison helped lead UW-Whitewater's Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) chapter in the 1980s, she carefully recorded the group's many accomplishments.
Lison tallied of all the chapter's guest speakers, conferences and enrichment activities and she submitted the records to SHRM's parent organization, which rewarded UW-Whitewater's chapter with a Superior Merit Award.
The award is an annual SHRM accolade that encourages student chapters and promotes outstanding activities and programs.
The award materials that Lison gathered kicked off a tradition of achievement that would continue for decades.
UW-Whitewater's chapter recently received the 2013-14 Superior Merit Award, marking the 33rd consecutive year that the chapter earned the national recognition. It's one of only two student chapters nationwide to receive the award consecutively for more than three decades.
"This was another outstanding year for our chapter," said Jon Werner, professor of management and one of the group's advisers.
The success of the chapter can be measured in the workplace achievements of its members.
Lison, who graduated from UW-Whitewater in 1986 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in human resource management, today is director of human resources for Godfrey & Kahn, a Milwaukee law firm, and she's a lecturer in management at UW-Whitewater. She credits some of her success to her experience with SHRM in college, and later with the group's professional chapter.
"It helped me when I was a student to meet professionals in human resources," she said. "Going forward, pretty much every time I've switched jobs, I've benefitted from connections that I have made through the SHRM organization."
To receive the Superior Merit Award, a chapter must demonstrate that it does an exceptional job providing growth and development opportunities for its student members. For example, UW-Whitewater's chapter provides regular opportunities for its members to learn from industry professionals.
"It helps them see what it's like to be an HR professional outside the classroom," Werner said. "They can see it in reality."
Andrew Manthey, a senior human resources major who is SHRM's president, credits the success of his chapter to the enthusiasm of its leaders and members. Manthey, who is considering pursuing employee and labor relations, said he's learned a lot about his career path from SHRM.
"I learned that the field of human resources is so much bigger than I realized," he said. "There are so many different directions you can go."
UW-Whitewater was one of only 37 student SHRM chapters in the nation to receive the Superior Merit Award this year. Awardees included large institutions like Texas A&M University, Michigan State University and North Carolina State University.
Only Portland State has received the award as many consecutive times as UW-Whitewater.
The SHRM national organization formed in 1948 and aims to advance the interests of the human resources industry. It's the world's largest association devoted to Human Resource Management and it represents more than 275,000 professional and student members in over 160 countries. In the U.S., the group has more than 575 affiliated chapters and more than 450 student chapters.
-- Written by By Ben Jones; Photo submitted (UW-Whitewater's Society for Human Resource Management chapter in February participated in the "HR Games" at UW-Madison. Members tested their human resources knowledge in Jeopardy-style competitions and attended sessions led by experts in the field).