MENOMONIE — An assistant chancellor at UW-Stout has become the university’s first staff member on the judge’s panel for the Malcolm S. Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest honor for organizational innovation and performance excellence.

Meridith Wentz, assistant chancellor for planning, assessment, research and quality, was appointed last month to serve a three-year term on the panel, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology announced.

In 2001 UW-Stout became the first and still is the only four-year higher educational institution to receive the award.

As one of 12 judges on the panel, Wentz will be responsible for selecting which applicants receive site visits, and ultimately, are recommended to the Secretary of Commerce as Baldrige Award recipients.

“I think it is going to broaden my perspective of learning from other organizations,” said Wentz, of Menomonie. “Higher education has much to learn from other sectors. We tend to get stuck in the same ways of doing things, and the Baldrige framework helps us get unstuck by promoting cross-sector learning. Serving as a judge will give me the opportunity to see even more ways that the Baldrige criteria help organizations learn and grow.”

Wentz previously was a national Baldrige examiner for nine years, evaluating and providing feedback to organizations across the U.S, and was named a master examiner on the board in 2019.