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PRESS RELEASE

June 16, 2006

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Distinguished Service Award Presented to Department of Education Employee

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner John L. Winn today extended his congratulations to Connie Graunke, Ed.D. for being awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities (FACU). Graunke is being recognized for her work in overseeing the development and operation of FACTS.org, Florida's online student advising system.

"I am very proud Dr. Graunke is receiving this award," said Commissioner Winn. "Her efforts in both articulation and online guidance policy have contributed to Florida being a national leader in both areas."

The FACU Distinguished Service Award is given to individuals who have made significant contributions in the advancement of higher education for the citizens of Florida. Graunke was nominated by Flagler College President William Abare, Ed.D.

"Dr. Graunke is the consummate professional," said President Abare. "She is knowledgeable, experienced, and well-versed in all aspects of her work. What's more, she truly cares about the constituents she serves. In my view, she is most deserving of this award and the recognition for her distinguished service to all sectors of higher education in Florida."

Graunke's career spans more than 18 years in education articulation. She was cited for her work analyzing and developing academic and student services policy as Director of Articulation and Student Services with the State Board of Community Colleges. Graunke was also recognized for her efforts in developing a statewide articulation agreement with the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, initiating statewide agreements articulating associate in science degrees to baccalaureate degrees, implementing Florida's common pre-requisite policies, and facilitating the offering of baccalaureate degrees by community colleges.

FACTS.org helps students, parents and counselors track educational progress. Provided free of charge by the Department of Education, the site helps students plan and make informed choices to achieve their academic goals. High school students can determine their chosen career objectives, evaluate their high school progress, learn about higher education opportunities in Florida, apply to college online, access their college transcripts and grades, and track progress toward college graduation.

Given only in years when the nominating committee identifies candidates worthy of this prestigious recognition, the award can be given to one or several nominees. The award has not been given to anyone since 2003 and Graunke is the only recipient this year. Former recipients who have left their mark on higher education include former governors LeRoy Collins and Lawton Chiles, Senator Gwen Margolis, former Senator and Education Commissioner Betty Castor, and attorney C. DuBose Ausley.

For more information about FACTS.org, visit www.facts.org.