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2014 Alma Mater Award

Dr. Dennis W. Engels '64Dr. Dennis W. Engels ’64

In his profession, in his military service, in his community work and in his family life, Dennis Engels has shown himself to be dedicated to the very highest ideals. As a nominator wrote, he “lives an admired life daily with love and significance.”

Dennis distinguished himself throughout his nearly 40 years as an educator at UW-Madison and the University of North Texas, retiring from UNT as a Regents Professor Emeritus, one of only two professors so recognized in the 60-year history of the renowned counseling education program there. Thousands of graduate students passed through his classrooms, and he was given the Doctoral Mentor Award by UNT’s Doctoral Student Association, among many other honors.

Dennis is also widely considered among the most respected scholars and leaders in the counseling profession. He has more than one hundred published works, and has assumed leadership roles in national and state professional organizations and learned societies, notably the Association for Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling, and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. He is a Fellow of the American Counseling Association and the National Career Development Association.

Dennis’ career accomplishments, too numerous to mention here (a nominator notes that his vitae runs to 61 pages!), are all the more remarkable given his extraordinary contributions outside academia.

In the realm of public policy, Dennis was instrumental in changing and implementing student financial aid law, and establishing funding for Wisconsin Career Information System, helping youth and adults explore and plan meaningful careers; helping Texas become one of the first states in the country to professionally license counselors; and representing the U.S. for more than a decade in international symposia on career development.

In service to his country, Dennis attained the rank of colonel in the Army Reserve, commanding combat and strategic intelligence units focused on energy resources and security in support of the Defense Intelligence Agency; his units played important roles in Operation Desert Shield and other worldwide initiatives.

He was a 25-year volunteer in his school district of Denton, Texas; an assistant scoutmaster; chair of his parish stewardship committee; and guiding hand behind a premarital sponsor program for engaged couples. At home, he and his wife, Donna, raised three sons, each highly accomplished in medicine, dentistry and law, respectively. And with still more love to give, this remarkable (and apparently tireless) couple also served as foster parents ... twenty-two times.

For his service to his family, his students, his profession and his country, and for the values he has demonstrated in all aspects of his life, Dennis Engels is richly deserving of the 2014 Alma Mater Award.

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