WMU set to honor two for distinguished service

contact: Deanne Puca
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A longtime Western Michigan University administrator and faculty member and a counselor who has helped build international student numbers at WMU are the recipients of this year's Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. Joseph G. Reish, dean of the University Libraries, and Juan Tavares, director of International Admissions and Services in the Haenicke Institute for Global Education, will be honored during the University's annual Academic Convocation set for 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, in the Dalton Center Recital Hall.

Dr. Joseph Reish

Photo of Joseph Reish.


Dr. Joseph Reish has been dean of University Libraries at WMU since 2002 and is a professor of French, who joined the faculty in 1972. He also served as interim dean and then dean of the Lee Honors College for 10 years.

He has been a driving force behind the Library Student Employee Scholarship program, Bronco Study Zone, development of the WMU chapters of the Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa honor societies and the French study abroad program. He also served as chair of WMU's United Way campaign for many years.

He was cited by nominators for helping the libraries be more proactive with its guests, leading many initiatives to improve service and overseeing the move of the Archives and Regional History Collections into its new home in the Zhang Legacy Collections Center.

"The period in which Dean Reish has led the University Libraries will likely be recognized in the future as one of the most dynamic," according to a colleague who supported his nomination.

Reish is a strong supporter of community and WMU fundraising efforts and has had an impact in many area of the University including the Lee Honors College, Medallion Scholarship and University Libraries, a co-worker noted. "It is no surprise to see Dr. Reish attending alumni events...He has opened many doors by creating opportunities in terms of fundraising efforts for the University." His many efforts and development of relationships with the University have "led to generous philanthropy and continues to benefit the entire WMU community, including Waldo Library's Rare Book Room programs, the Lee Honors College facilities and the Zhang Legacy Collections Center."

Reish earned a doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin, master's degree from Middlebury College and bachelor's degree from Georgetown University.

Juan Tavares

Photo of Juan Tavares.


Juan Tavares has held his current position since 2011. He joined the staff in 2006 and also has been general manager of international enrollment and senior international admissions counselor at WMU.

Tavares has been at the foundation of the University's global engagement and efforts to broaden its international presence and offerings. Along with recruiting and mentoring many new students from the Dominican Republic and other nations, he has been able to help the Dominican Republic's educational system by establishing an agreement with WMU that increases the percentage of doctoral degrees in that nation.

Phrases the best describe his work effort include, "genuine enthusiasm, skilled problem solving, unending dedication, distinct professionalism and sincere compassion," according to one campus administrator who nominated him. "Juan's progressive experience indicates a deep commitment to collaborative success, and he continues to facilitate international student support with sincerity and skill."

He has helped increase the number of international students at WMU to more than 1,800, a student advisor noted. And he "has been a great deal of help for our Dominican students, as an advisor and mentor. There are not enough words to describe my gratitude toward him."

A faculty nominator noted that Tavares sees what he does on behalf of WMU as "so much more than work."

"Juan is teaching us to think about global engagement as more than a goal; he is helping us understand that the essence of a meaningful WMU community only exists if it is a global community."

Tavares earned both master's and bachelor's degrees from Michigan State University.

Distinguished Service Award

Since the award was established in 1980, more than 50 faculty and staff members have been honored for careers that exemplify exceptional service to the University and to the larger community. Recipients receive a plaque and a $2,000 honorarium.

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.

Related article
State of the University address, awards to highlight 2015 Convocation | Sept. 28, 2015