Excellence Awards

Each year, the University at Albany honors special members of its community with Excellence Awards denoting exceptional contributions to the life of the campus. Seventeen faculty and staff members received this tribute in 2012.


Excellence in Teaching (Full Time)

Glenn DeaneGlenn Deane, Sociology

All who know him praise the personal care and mentoring abilities that Professor Glenn Deane brings to his work with students. At the heart of his success is his ability to convey his enthusiasm and present difficult statistical concepts so that his students learn to think critically about sociological research while developing practical skills that can be applied outside the classroom.
Professor Deane knows that even advanced students approach his classes with trepidation. So, he fosters an informal environment, encouraging active participation and leavening his courses with “a nerdy statistics joke or two”. He stresses application over memorization, and demonstrates abstract concepts with real world data and examples.

He also provides extensive feedback, working individually with students until many leave his classes with research projects that are appropriate for presentation at professional meetings.  One student noted: “I recall my amazement at the time spent by Dr. Deane to drag us up to the level of understanding he expected, spending countless hours meeting with us individually, and even dropping in on our group study sessions regularly to gently steer us out of our collective confusion…I am convinced I learned more from Dr. Deane about what it means to be a responsible, productive, and effective scholar-teacher than I did from any of my formal training.”  Another noted: “I attribute much of my own success as a researcher to the skills I learned in his courses. His teaching has not only provided me with the tools necessary to succeed as a quantitative sociologist, but his pedagogy has served as model for my own teaching.” 

Professor Deane has served as Director of Graduate Studies and member of the department’s Teaching Committee, Graduate Committee, Undergraduate Committee, Graduate Methods Examinations Committee, and the College’s General Education Assessment Committee.

Glenn Deane exemplifies the committed teacher-scholar, who continually explores new research and who encourages students tirelessly and gives them the tools to do their best.


Susan GaussSusan Gauss, History

Susan Gauss is a role model for students and colleagues in History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Teachers of History have a challenge: the entire subject seems removed from students’ lives—too old, too foreign, too alien—to be of much interest. Professor Gauss has figured out how to overcome this alienation. She links today’s students to the past: connecting students with one another, with the rest of the world, and with other disciplines. Writing and debates are a key part of her classes, ensuring that students practice thinking critically about history, and transform the facts of history into historical analysis by examining them collaboratively. She uses her own work as a model of how this is done, bringing her research into the classroom for discussion and debate and showing students the kinds of interdisciplinary and analytical thinking that she requires of them. She is also widely known outside the classroom as a caring mentor, advisor and guide for first generation college students.

Students say…

  • “she is amazing and captivating”,
  • “a phenomenal instructor”,
  • “the best aspect of this course was the professor…She dealt with historical events in a broad cross-cultural and analytical way.  It was a class of not just facts but examining cause and effect relationships in history.”
  • “Dr. Gauss’ class was an intellectually transformative experience for me, pushing me to ask new questions and encouraging me to look beyond the borders of the United States in order to better understand such foundational concepts as class, race, gender and ideology.” 

Susan has also served on and led many committees in two departments including Graduate Studies, Assessment, and Undergraduate Studies.  She has been the Faculty Advisor of Phi Alpha Theta; a member of the Fulbright Review Committee for the University, Honors College Lecturer, and an active member of the Engaging Departments Initiative to streamline and revise the History Curriculum.


Martin HildebrandMartin Hildebrand, Mathematics and Statistics

Professor Martin Hildebrand is one of the top teachers in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. As Director of Undergraduate Advisement, he advises transfer students during the summer months, and undergraduate majors before they are assigned a regular advisor.  He directs MA theses and Ph.D. dissertations, and acts as teaching mentor to the graduate TA’s in the department.

Faculty who teach the courses that follow Professor Hildebrand’s note that the standard he sets in giving feedback and engaging students actively represents a high bar to hurdle.  Peers note that while his classroom atmosphere is relaxed, it is also business-like: “it is rare to see a class so completely absorbed in the learning experience.  I came away with a real understanding of why his students regard him so highly.  This was a masterful performance by an enthusiastic and accomplished teacher.”  Another notes: “He is an extraordinary and gifted teacher.  He loves teaching, he loves math and he loves what he is doing.  His face gleams when he is teaching! This enthusiasm is so contagious that students feel inspired by him.”  He reaches students by getting them to participate in the thinking of the course, not just to sit and ‘ingest’ a well-crafted lecture. One student wrote: “I was very nervous taking probability.  I didn’t know if I could pass it and not drop it again.  Well, this time I ACTUALLY understood what was going on.”  Others comment that he is “Kind, hilarious and helpful”, and “the most intellectual and challenging Professor I have ever had.  He stimulated my interest in Math as well as Economics.”

Experienced graduate students recommend all new TA’s attend Professor Hildebrand’s lectures to learn to be effective instructors. His department relies on him to mentor budding teachers of mathematics.  They praise his patience and kindness as he challenges and guides students toward an understanding of the theories in the field.  He leavens his interactions with an infectious sense of humor that disarms students and motivates them to learn and challenge themselves. 

Professor Hildebrand has the rare gift of being able to challenge our most outstanding Mathematics students, while, at the same time, engaging and motivating students with less mathematical preparation to reach higher.


Excellence in Teaching (Part Time)

Laura Wittern-KellerLaura Wittern-Keller, History

This award usually goes to folks who teach for us on a part-time basis. But today we have made an exception for a person of whom we see a LOT in the classroom and on campus. We don’t have a category of the excellence in teaching award for a
“dedicated — and — loyal — mentor — teacher — advisor — who —performs — excellently — as — an — indispensable — part — of — ou r— curriculum — but — is — neither — a — tenure — track — faculty — member — nor — a — part — time — faculty — member” .

But we did want to honor this gifted teacher.

Laura Wittern-Keller has taught in the History department as a full-time lecturer since 2007. She has offered 9 different courses, regularly teaches 100-level survey courses, 300-level majors courses and graduate classes. Observers of her classes comment that she uses a wide variety of strategies to reach her students: lectures; clicker technology used to get students to think more deeply; videos and historical documents to provide the ‘flavor’ of history and how it has been represented over time; and discussion groups where students pose and present answers to questions in order to master the material. She makes it look easy to teach large classes, effortlessly generating engaging discussions even in large lectures and communicating her infectious enthusiasm for her subject. Students and peers note her seriousness of purpose and sharp intellect which inspire them to reach higher than they would on their own: she inspires students to do extra readings, in addition to what is assigned because they want to learn more about the topics addressed in class! One of her peers—a Chancellors Excellence in Teaching Award winner no less—comments: “With her around, I feel obligated to step up my game to at least meet the standards she has established for teaching.” She challenges and prepares her graduate students well, resulting in many of them presenting work at academic conferences. She has a deep influence on students who go on to have their own teaching careers, serving as a model, a mentor, and a touchstone to future generations of teachers whom she has inspired with a love of history.


Janice PataJanice Pata, Biomedical Science

Janice Pata is one of the most influential and effective teachers in Biomedical Sciences.  She excels in the classroom, and spearheaded a transformation in the way the department prepares students to perform cutting edge biomedical research.  She made the department into a strong community of learners by building effective communication between graduate students and faculty.  She provided the impetus for a redesign of the Biomedical curriculum by assessing how well it met graduate students’ goals, then organizing curriculum design retreats and workshops for the faculty.

Dr. Pata teaches core courses and electives, has offered directed readings courses on several advanced subjects, and workshops on specialized research topics that fulfill students’ degree requirements.  She designed a new core course in response to feedback from students and faculty, for which she brought together an excellent team of instructors, designed a new internet-accessible classroom and worked with the Wadsworth Center to renovate an unused lab space dedicated to graduate courses. She has been extraordinarily innovative, implementing Team-Based Learning in her own classes and transforming the department’s teaching by helping other faculty adopt Team-Based and Active Learning strategies in their courses.  The result has been significantly increased student satisfaction, a more engaging experience for the department’s strongest students, and more successful recruitment of dynamic graduate students. 

The new focus on the mastery of research tools (rather than memorization of a body of knowledge) has provided Biomedical students with a way to bring their unique strengths to the learning process.  Their educational backgrounds range between math, engineering, biology, chemistry, physics and public health.  The new model of teaching Dr. Pata brought to the department allows for deeper inquiry and the inclusion of multiple disciplinary perspectives. Students now see themselves as valued partners in solving contemporary research problems and have improved research, writing and speaking skills.

As the primary force in creating a student-centered culture in Biomedical Sciences, Janice Pata is truly deserving of this award.


Excellence in Teaching (Teaching Assistant)

Nabila El-GuennouniNabila El-Guennouni, Languages, Literatures & Cultures

Literacy plays an important role in Nabila El-Guennouni’s life—she mastered classical Arabic and French, becoming an accomplished writer in both, though her mother never learned to read and write. She brings from her native Morocco to each of her classes a unique appreciation for the privilege of literacy and learning.  Her students say things like:  “In my college career I have never had such a passionate teacher who cared as much as she does about education and language…this teacher inspired me to appreciate a different culture.  Until now, I never cared too much about another language and now I can’t stop talking in French!”

This praise was hard-won.  When Ms. El Guennouni taught her first class, she was unfamiliar with student-centered teaching methods. She took suggestions from classroom observations to heart. She worked to strengthen her teaching, taking pedagogy courses in her department and learning strategies for student engagement at ITLAL.  Now she incorporates drama, structured writing assignments, and group work into her classes. The impact she has on students comes from the fact that she teaches them to think not only about what they are learning, but about how to learn. She spends hours outside of class in office hours, conversation and coffee sessions, and extra pronunciation sessions.  One student commented: “To this day, I still apply the same principles she gave me. She taught me much more than French.  I was given a new perspective on how to learn and step out of [my] comfort zone.” Ms. El-Guennouni accomplishes this without lowering standards.  The laughter she brings and respect she commands in the classroom has significantly increased enrollment in other pronunciation courses. To the SIRF question “Would you recommend the course?” one response says it all: 
“Yeah. Baptism by fire!”


Allen WongAllen Wong, Sociology 

Mr. Allen Wong’s teaching impresses colleagues and students alike.  To set the context: he was raised in Kingston, Jamaica, where he dealt with an ever-present threat of violence. Largely through self-education, he prepared himself to attend first Macalester College in St. Paul Minnesota, and now the University at Albany.  Because of this arduous journey to his own education, he feels a sense of duty to give all of his students, regardless of learning style or background, the best education they can receive.

Mr. Wong is extraordinarily versatile: he has taught Introduction to Sociology, Research Methods, Criminology, Juvenile Delinquency and Terrorism. Because of his expertise, he is one of very few graduate students who supervise independent studies.  He has lectured in the School of Criminal Justice, and, due to his own dedication to student success, presented on teaching students with disabilities. 

Mr. Wong challenges his students, focusing on critical thinking by marrying difficult material with engaging methods in the classroom.  One student writes: “instead of taking the readings as infallible truth, he made us think about whether or not the text had the right ideas and how they fit into Sociology.” He adeptly brings personal experiences, research and current events into the classroom.  His charming and responsive manner puts students at ease as he works to ensure that each of them has a fair chance at excelling in his classes.  Even in classes of over 120 students, he quietly and respectfully involves all of his students, expecting them to contribute actively.

He is also very accessible: encouraging students to talk with him outside of class, wherever their paths cross. And they respond, approaching him in dining halls, and even grocery stores to discuss course material.

Mr. Wong’s dedication to reaching students of diverse backgrounds makes him a deserving recipient of this excellence award.


Excellence in Research and Creative Activities

Graham Barker-BenfieldGraham Barker-Benfield, History

Ben Barker-Benfield has an extensive, widely acclaimed record of historical research with three books, an edited collection, 12 articles, and 35 paper presentations.  He has won several national and international fellowships including awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Shelby Cullom Davis Center at Princeton University and Cambridge University.

Professor Barker-Benfield’s contributions are witnessed by enthusiastic external reviewers who speak to the influence of his scholarship on their own work, and on the excitement of students as they engage with his ideas and original arguments.

His pioneering work in the 1970s and 1980s was critical to new directions taken by scholarship on gender, and to the birth of the history of sexuality as a legitimate field of academic inquiry. In the 1980’s and 90s, a broad and integrative field of gender history emerged. Historians began to explore the history of masculinity as they studied gendered power. Professor Barker-Benfield provided an important foundational scholarship for this expansion of gender history.  His early scholarship examined the relationship of industrial development and sex segregation in American life, offering a new approach to teaching an integrated gender history that explores both masculinity and femininity. He followed this work with his book: The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain.  Critics have called it “undeniably one of the most important books published by a historian in the past twenty years.”  Its influence reaches into cultural history, gender history, history of sexuality, history of medicine and the body, and Atlantic history. Professor Barker-Benfield’s scholarship has profoundly influenced the direction of an entire field, challenging traditional historians and standing on its own in its originality.



Peter JohnstonPeter Johnston, Reading

Peter Johnston is a leading expert in the field of literacy, with research contributions that focus on the complexities of reading/writing assessment, instructional policies, classroom discussion, and instruction for struggling readers. His research explores the consequences of teaching and assessment practices for the lives of children and teachers, and for the literacies children acquire.  

Professor Johnston is a rare educational scholar whose research allows him to converse with both scholars and classroom teachers about how to change learning in the classroom.   Early on, he introduced new ways to think about comprehension assessment and test bias.  His work has laid the foundation for successful research that has spanned over three decades, exploring the complexities and overlapping nature of assessment, instruction, and classroom talk.  Much of his work has targeted “struggling” readers, who are marginalized from learning unless placed in a situation where teachers know how to assess progress and use instructional talk to help students learn.  His work, anchored in classroom observational data, is also situated  in the context of current educational policy.  He most recently edited a book on Response To Intervention, a new policy that transforms the role of assessment and instruction in schools.

Professor Johnston has a sustained record of scholarship, publishing numerous books, peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, policy documents, and practitioner-based texts. He has been a PI on grant projects in the National Center for English Learning and Achievement and the Center for Teaching and Learning of Literature.  He has accomplished what many researchers find most difficult: developing a respected research agenda and perspective valued by other researchers that also directly impacts the understandings and instructional practices of teachers who apply his research.


Giri Kumar TayiGiri Kumar Tayi, Information Technology Management

‘Prolific’, ‘transformative’,  ‘fundamental’, ‘impactful’,  ‘leading’,  ‘path-breaking’, and ‘pioneering’: these are the words colleagues from across the nation use to describe Professor Giri Kumar Tayi’s contributions to his field.  His work has shaped and influenced several academic areas: He is the rare scholar who crosses academic disciplines and has a lasting impact on multiple fields, including Operations Management, Operations Research, and Information Systems.

Professor Tayi’s area of expertise is data quality and information resource management.  The models he has proposed have provided theoretically grounded methodologies for ensuring the quality of data resources.  His work has transformed the traditional approach to data quality enhancement.  His approaches have shaped academic research in the field, and have become part of the core reading for MBA and PhD level management information systems programs.
Professor Tayi has been invited to national thought-leadership roles where he conducts research, and guides and mentors scientists in the concepts and techniques of data quality.  He has been co-principal investigator in projects funded by the National Science Foundation, a rare achievement for information systems researchers.  He is a nationally sought-after lecturer, colleague, leader, advisor, reviewer, and editor.  His flair for effective heuristic development to attack practical problems in modern organizations leads to his ability to publish regularly in the leading journals of several disciplines.

Professor Tayi has been recognized with a number of awards, most recently with the Best Associate Editor Award by the editor of Information System Research, the flagship journal of the Information Systems Society.

He has contributed substantially to the growth of the public stature of UAlbany as a leading research institution, and it is my pleasure to recognize him with the Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activities this year.


Excellence in Academic Service

Karyn LoscoccoKaryn Loscocco, Sociology

Karyn Loscocco has achieved such an outstanding record of service, it’s hard to list all of her contributions: I’m not even going to come close.  To mention a few:

Karyn chaired the Sociology Department’s Teaching Committee, led the response to Sociology’s external review, and was Sociology Graduate Chair when she explored a dual degree program with historically Black Colleges.

She chaired the Educational Offerings and General Education Subcommittee, taking responsibility for writing a large portion of the university’s Self Study Report over 2 years for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. 

She served on the President’s Task Force on Sweatshop Labor, as Research Director, and interim Executive Director for the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society, as affiliate of the College of Arts and Science’s Institute for Research on Women, and affiliate faculty member to the Department of Women’s Studies. She served on the Campus Advisory Committee on Grievances and Arbitration and the Affirmative Action Grievance Panel, was a charter member of the University’s Difficult Dialogues Network and worked on the Gender, Diversity and Wellness subcommittee of the NCAA Recertification Panel. She has served on the editorial boards of 5 journals, and reviewed manuscripts for 14 journals, 7 book publishers and the National Science Foundation.  She has written national reports for the American Sociological Association and served on and chaired many committees for the ASA.

Karyn is particularly talented at uniting diverse voices to create new policies, bringing people to the table even around difficult topics. With the rare gift of seeing an array of possibilities the most ethical, just and strategic way of integrating them, she is unvaryingly cheerful, persistent, and personable as she pushes forward on tough issues.   One colleague noted: “She is a formidable, constructive presence. When she wants to make a point, and has evidence for it, she will not go away!”

What stands out to all who know her is the mentoring Karyn provides to colleagues and students alike. She is regularly approached by students and faculty from many disciplines for professional and personal advice. She assumes this nurturing stance without attention to personal gain or recognition, stepping up as needed to ensure that others live successful lives at UAlbany.  

Karyn is an engaged scholar, a respected colleague, and a valued mentor and friend to many. She clearly merits recognition for all of her outstanding contributions. 


Excellence in Librarianship

Gerald Burke Gerald Burke, University Libraries

Gerald Burke is Bibliographer for Art, English, Philosophy and Theatre.  During his more than 12 years with the University Libraries, he has willingly taken on bibliographic responsibilities in other disciplines when positions were vacant or colleagues were on sabbatical. His responsibilities represent one of the heaviest workloads in the Division of Collections, touching many students and faculty members who describe him as knowledgeable, professional, and generous with his time.

Mr. Burke provides reference assistance to library patrons who remark on his patience at the reference desk, particularly when assisting students. Students and faculty seek him out because of his in-depth knowledge of the library’s resources and his approachable style. He regularly teaches bibliographic classes that make a vital difference for students by enhancing their research proficiency and helping them to become library “regulars.”

Mr. Burke has served on twenty-two committees, including multiple search committees, several of which he chaired.  He served on the Undergraduate Academic Council and as a University Senator, and he is active in several professional organizations, including the State University of New York Librarians Association and the Eastern New York chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries.  He has a strong record of scholarship in information literacy.  He co-edited a book on teaching information literacy, has published many refereed journal articles, practical articles for the library community, book reviews and fiction reviews.

Mr. Burke sets high standards of excellence in his research and teaching. He keeps abreast of new developments and is indefatigable in his pursuit of professional growth. His dedication and enthusiasm are exemplary and he is a genuine asset to the University at Albany community.


Jane Kessler, University Libraries

Reference Librarian and Bibliographer, Ms. Jane Kessler brings expertise and creativity to the development of reference collections at UAlbany.  She is sought out by faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students alike for her skill in searching specialized databases. She transitioned the reference collection from a largely print-based resource to a hybrid environment of print and electronic holdings. She is known as an innovative early adoptor of library development tools, creating many research guides for the online reference collection and ensuring that the collection includes vital resources from all areas of study.  

Ms. Kessler has an outstanding record of service and leadership at the national, regional and local levels. She chairs the Online Public Interface Committee, which is charged with managing the display and functionality of online catalogs and bibliographic services, directly affecting patron access to library resources. Due to her excellent technical, communication and collection development skills she was recently appointed to chair a task force to evaluate how electronic books should be integrated into the Libraries’ collections. She is an active member of the American Library Association;  has served on the North American Conference Board of Directors of the Historical Novel Society and as editor for their journal;  been secretary for the Eastern New York Chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries;  and President of the Capital District Business Librarians.  She regularly serves on library governance committees, the Undergraduate Academic Council, and the Alpha Alpha of New York Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Ms. Kessler is smart, business-like, and known for her intelligent wit which helps make even the most confounding professional circumstance humorous.   Her scholarship assists the Libraries in deciding which databases they will purchase. She has co-authored several refereed journal articles and actively shares her scholarship in a broad variety of workshops, seminars, poster sessions and conferences.

She is an excellent colleague and deserving recipient of the President’s Excellence in Librarianship Award.


Excellence in Professional Service

Odetta FungOdetta Fung, Information Technology Services

Ms. Odette Fung has been an energetic member of our professional staff since 1992, and has worked in the Division of Information Technology Services for 15 years. She streamlined  the University’s telephone system’s billing, repair, and management functions. When she was promoted to her current position, Ms. Fung took on the responsibility of maintaining the integrity of the University telephone systems.  She researched and implemented additions to the system, and is the liaison between the University and external telecommunication vendors and contractors.  She goes beyond what is expected: she is always available in the middle of the night to respond to requests for announcements to the UAlbany emergency weather voice mail boxes. She ensures that problems after hours get  the same attention as during normal business hours. No matter what it takes, Ms. Fung strives to deliver the highest quality voice services to the University.  She also has exceptional leadership and organizational skills. She provided the leadership, creativity and vision needed to merge multiple diverse groups into what is now the telecommunications department.  She managed this through her approachability, warmth and compassion for her colleagues. As one colleague writes:  “Today, we are truly one single group thanks to Odette.”

She has a tremendous track record of service to a wide variety of organizations related to her work and to the University committee, including the President’s Task Force on Women’s Safety, UAlbany’s  Liga Filipina of which she was the founding President, and the Campus Children’s Center (U-Kids) where she is a board member.

Odette doesn’t ‘decide’ to go above and beyond, she does so as part of her personality and dedication to service at the University.


Mike JarominMike Jaromin, Student Involvement and Leadership

Mr. Michael Jaromin excels at wearing many hats, and managing multiple programs.  He came to UAlbany as Residence Hall Director in 1990 and moved quickly to his current position of Director of Student Involvement and Leadership. In 2010, he became Director of Campus Recreation in addition to his work as Assistant Director of Residential Life, developing new programs, and overseeing the overall management of recreational facilities. He manages his own budget and advises the Student Association on their $2.2 million budget. 

Colleagues credit Mr. Jaromin’s personal initiative and leadership style in making each program he works with a big success.  He easily accepts leadership roles, can be counted on to deliver results, and quickly becomes a trusted advisor to colleagues and supervisors alike.  They cite his “sage counsel in times of crisis” and admire his expertise in the area of student leadership. What stands out about Mike is first:  how he listens to students, and is able to talk with them with a clear eye on their personal development as human beings, and second: the dedication and enthusiasm with which he throws himself at every initiative that promises to provide new opportunities for student development.  Danes After Dark, Midnight Basketball League, the President’s Awards, Relay for Life, Candlelighting Ceremony, Campus Recreation and even the Office of Multicultural Student Success and its two resource centers all enjoy a high level of success because they were either directly created by Mike, or the organizers benefitted from his input and leadership while working to create them.

Mr. Jaromin is a dedicated, caring, and energetic member of the University community. His commitment to our students is unwavering and the University is a better place to work, learn and live because of his accomplishments and contributions.


Mike JarominMelissa Samuels, Alumni Relations

As Director of Alumni Programs, Ms. Melissa Samuels has demonstrated excellence in professional service and a strong commitment to the University at Albany.
She established a broad-based communication program that incorporates print and electronic media.  She spearheaded the redesign of UAlbanymagazine’s Carillon to provide more relevant content and to give the magazine a modern appearance. She led the redesign of the UAlbany alumni website, which resulted in a 200% increase in hits.  She introduced new social media tools to engage our alumni, fostered alumni involvement, championed the University’s mission, and collaborated with the development team to support institutional priorities.  Her colleagues praise her initiative and attention to detail, her ability to work with diverse groups and her willingness to take on new assignments.  She recognizes that she is not only in a job, but part of a profession.  She frequently attends conferences so that she can learn from colleagues. Last year she took on a leadership role by becoming member of the Board of Directors of the University at Albany Alumni Association.

Colleagues describe Ms. Samuels as tireless in her efforts to provide a higher level of service to students and alumni alike.  She established the Purple & Gold Student Ambassadors program, a select group of students who represent the student body to various University constituencies at local and regional events. She connects UAlbany students and alumni through social media, web-based and in-person mentoring events, and job-shadowing opportunities. As one colleague wrote: “There is no fear of her losing sight of our mission nor of her wavering when it comes time to get a task done; she is always there, ready, willing, and able.”

Ms. Melissa Samuels is an outstanding member of the University whose commitment to her professional obligations and to our alumni community is second to none.


Excellence in Support Service

Denise HeisermanDenise Heiserman, Human Resource

The hallmark of Denise Heiserman ‘s work is her particular attention to the human details that matter in every interaction.

Denise has been responsible for auditing time and attendance for all staff; administering FMLA and Workers Compensation applications; providing instruction on the online leave reporting system; and supervising the Time Records staff.   She focuses on the problems of each individual, never making distinctions between people according to ‘importance’, but treating everyone with respect and care, and going out of her way to seek out resources for them.

She has an extraordinary ability to inspire trust, becoming a sounding board, advocate and friend to those needing guidance.  She is the ‘go to’ person on questions of sick leave, occupational injuries, insurance claims, furloughs, and family leaves for staff around the campus. She is always the first person in her unit to take up a cause: she organized a fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina; cares for the ailing parents of a colleague by shopping for them and visiting them regularly; started a fund drive for a custodian who had lost his house and belongings in Hurricane Irene, and spends countless hours planning the Summer Employee Picnic and the Holiday Gala, making handcrafted door prizes and centerpieces for them.

Human resources staff—by definition—regularly deal with angry or worried clients.  Denise is recognized by colleagues from around campus as extraordinary for her humor, style and dedication as she cares for others.


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