News Release

Poster Session at University of Minnesota Quality Fair Yields a Third Place Finish for Melissa Dingmann and Emily Knutson from Financial Aid Office

By ltollefs on
Thursday, February 11, 2010

Designed for employees to network and share best practices, the annual, systemwidedingmann_knutson_quality_fair_2010.jpg University of Minnesota Quality Fair is all about driving excellence. Included in this year's top finishers during a poster session was a poster by Melissa Dingmann, financial aid director and Emily Knutson, a financial aid counselor and workstudy coordinator at the University of Minnesota Crookston.  Their poster, entitled "Tracking Workstudy Study Funds Effectively Across Campus," was awarded third place overall of the 35 posters entered in the Quality Fair. Each year the top six entries in the poster session are recognized with a $500 prize for the department responsible for the poster's creation.

Dingmann and Knutson were interested in a better way to manage student workstudy. In 2007, the two enlisted the expertise of Tom Mulvaney, an information technology professional on the Crookston Campus. Mulvaney, in turn, built an online, Web-based database for them as a better way to manage the workstudy funds while allowing access by students, faculty and staff to help with such tasks as printing contracts and tracking hours. The database also automatically sends out timecard notices and let's students and their employees know when they are close to exhausting the available hours.

"It gives a lot of people access to information that is important to them," Dingmann says. "Before we had this tool, the whole process of keeping everyone informed was extremely time consuming."
Knutson, who works with the information daily, is especially pleased with the way they can track important information and how it gives easy access to those who need it. "We are looking at next steps to improve the database," Knutson explains. "We will be adding new things as time goes on and are currently considering the creation of a paperless timecard submission process." In 2008, the Morris campus decided to implement the database as a way to track the workstudy funds on their campus.

The U of M Crookston also was represented by another poster during the session.  Rand Rasmussen, Ph.D., director of the Academic Assistance Center and Professor Bill Peterson from the Math, Science, & Technology Department presented a poster on "Caring for the At-Risk Student."

The 2010 Quality Fair, held on February 4 at the TCF Stadium on the Minneapolis campus, was one of the most successful in its history with some 1,000 registrants. A keynote address was given by Stuart R. Levine on "Strengthening Your Leadership Capacity to Achieve Quality Results with Passion." Levine is current chairman and CEO of Stuart Levine & Associates LLC, an international consulting and leadership development company, and former CEO of Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc.

The U of M Quality Fair is designed to positively impact service and productivity, reduce costs, enhance revenue, education and research. It is sponsored by the Office of Service and Continuous Improvement (OSCI), an internal consulting group created by President Robert Bruininks in 2004 to enhance service, value, and efficiency at the University of Minnesota.

Today the University of Minnesota Crookston delivers more than 25 bachelor's degree programs and 50 concentrations, including several online degrees, in agriculture and natural resources; arts, humanities and social sciences; business; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of about 1,300 undergraduates, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit

In the photo: Melissa Dingmann (left) and Emily Knutson with their poster entered in the poster session at the University of Minnesota Quality Fair. 

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