The Excellence Awards - 2000

Excellence in Teaching
The Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes faculty members for their skill, innovation and dedication to teaching and academic advising. This year the University honors three colleagues for their excellence in this category.
Jeanette Altarriba Jeanette Altarriba joined the Department of Psychology in 1992 as an assistant professor of psychology. She was promoted to associate professor in 1998. Professor Altarriba’s ability to teach in three different disciplines — psychology, Latin American studies, and linguistics and cognitive science — is considered unusually broad.

She is a demanding instructor who sets extremely high goals for herself and her students, and she spends the time and effort necessary to help students achieve those goals. She accomplishes this through the structure of her class, the assignments and supplementary materials she provides, and, most importantly, the time she freely gives to students.

Altarriba structures the learning environment in such a way that her students are required to respond; they learn quickly that she responds to every assignment and question they ask.

Outside the classroom she is an adviser for student groups, which have grown in membership under her guidance. Finally, she effectively links from the classroom to research by training students to work in her expanding research agenda.

As a scholar, during the period of review, Altarriba published two co-authored books, six co-authored articles and one paper in refereed professional journals, as well as one co-authored book chapter. She has nine submitted manuscripts under review or revision, and has made 13 presentations at professional meetings.

Since joining the faculty of the Department of Public Administration and Policy in 1989, Dean of Undergraduate Studies Sue R. Faerman has contributed with distinction to four different areas of education in the University — doctoral, master’s, undergraduate, and international programs. She takes on teaching and advising loads well beyond the norm, while remaining active in research and attaining an extraordinary level of service to the University.

Faerman’s main doctoral courses are in Research Methods and Organizational Behavior and Theory. In course evaluations for her doctoral Seminar in Research Methods, she received outstanding grades in “overall effectiveness as an instructor.” Outside the classroom, she has chaired 11 completed doctoral dissertations since 1989–1990. She has been a member of the committees of 26 other completed dissertations across campus during that time.

Professor Faerman played a major role in the curricular innovation of Project Renaissance. In international education, she was among the first UAlbany professors to teach in Ethiopia as part of the SOMTAD program. More recently she has played a lead role in the University’s project in Bulgaria.

Finally her teaching record evolved as she was chairing the Educational Policy Council; serving as chair and chair-elect of the Senate; and chairing the Steering Committee for the Self-Study required by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Universities. Faerman was named a Collins Fellow in 1998.

Marjorie Pryse joined the Department of Women’s Studies in 1995. Since then, she has made outstanding contributions as a teacher in both English and women’s studies. She has taught nine different courses over the period covering the nomination, from introductory undergraduate courses to advanced graduate research seminars.

Pryse’s innovative teaching style provides a careful blend of a supportive learning environment and rigorous intellectual challenge. She is known for being a demanding instructor who sets extremely high standards for herself and her students. She spends enormous amounts of time through her work with the course materials and study guides to help her students achieve improved critical thinking skills, content mastery and writing skills.

Known for being generous with her availability to students outside of class, Pryse’s guidance on dissertation committees is frequently sought by students. She combines her commitment to course content with dedication to students, using skills she learned as a social worker in the 1980s.

An excellent, active scholar, Pryse has powerfully affected curricular inclusion, diversity and multiculturalism through the publication of two book-length monographs, Teaching with the North Anthology of American Literature and A Course Guide to Accompany the Norton Anthology of American Literature, Third Edition. Both works have made important contributions to the manner in which literature is now taught nationally.


Excellence in Professional Service is awarded to individuals who have repeatedly sought improvement of themselves and their campus, and, in doing so, have transcended the normal definitions of excellence. There are three winners in this category.

Lisa-Anne B. Donohue has been an employee of the University since 1982. A chemical safety officer, she served as chair of the President’s Task Force on Women’s Safety. In recognition of her contributions to the University, she was the recipient of a Bread and Roses Award in 1996.

During the past year, Donohue led a $3.4 million project to replace chemistry building fume hoods and to make other air quality improvements. She also shoulders the responsibility of making sure the University disposes of waste chemicals in safe and approved methods. She is seen as an inspiration to others in the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. Donohue also serves as acting department head when her supervisor is called away.

Her contributions in training the University community on the proper handling, usage and disposal of chemicals are well known; people voluntarily seek her assistance on these matters. Donohue has developed several videos for demonstrations which are very popular with laboratory personnel. When minor accidents do occur, she not only specifies what actions need to be taken, she also participates in the resolution of the problem, even if it means assisting with the clean-up.

Donohue has been awarded the designation of Certified Safety Professional in Management Aspects by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, demonstrating her continued dedication to improving an already broad knowledge base. She has participated in and provided leadership on a number of projects, including her collaboration on the start of the “Whistle Watch” program, the “Don’t Walk Alone” program, and the campus’s emergency blue light phone system. Her interpersonal skills have been praised frequently. She is known for her flexibility, optimism, efficiency, and time management expertise.

Wendell G. Lorang has made many profound contributions to the campus, but perhaps the most significant has been his work on enrollment modeling and projection. Changes in funding to the Resource Allocation Method (RAM) as well as plans to increase enrollment and improve academics have made it important to understand the motivations involved in students’ experience at the University. Lorang has been commended for his ability to comprehend both the funding mechanism and student enrollment behavior.

In his new capacity as Director of the Office of Institutional Research, Lorang has been influential in advancing the University’s challenge to improve student recruitment and retention, to increase student achievement, to allocate and manage resources more effectively, and to evaluate the performance of faculty and academic departments. He also has been praised for his ability to find creative solutions in selecting and testing options and in inventing the necessary management tools for measuring success.

Lorang also contributes much to his profession. He has written many articles for scholarly journals, as well as numerous reports for the University. He is a founding member of the Northeast Association of Institutional Researchers and was one of the four founders of the SUNY-wide Association of Institutional Researchers and Planning Officers. His colleagues are quick to pay tribute to his professionalism and devotion to the University.

Lorang has served on more than 100 campus and SUNY governance or administrative groups, an accomplishment few can match. In addition to these professional responsibilities, he can also be seen assisting people in other ways, such as volunteering to help the University Computer Store hand out computers to new freshmen during opening weekend.

Carol Stenger, coordinator for Health Promotion in the University Counseling Center, is dedicated to improving the quality of life for students. They, in turn, enthusiastically acknowledge the influence she has had on their experiences at the University. She devotes numerous extra hours, including evenings and weekends, to student-related programs and workshops.

In her position, Stenger tackles some of the most controversial and complex issues on campus and she does so with the utmost sensitivity and diplomacy. She is viewed as an outstanding role model who has shown a career-long commitment to teaching and service.

Stenger started her career at the University 19 years ago as a residence hall director. Her talents were quickly recognized and she was rewarded with several promotional opportunities within the department. She also teaches a Human Sexuality course for the Department of Counseling Psychology. In all these positions, she has been involved in developing programs that stress the health and well being of students.

An influential member of several University committees, Stenger has done particularly significant work on AIDS prevention on campus. She currently serves on the Vice President’s Advisory Council on AIDS Prevention. Stenger is committed to finding ways to prevent the spread of HIV and her accomplishments can best be seen through her relationships with students. She relates to students easily by understanding their concerns, fears, and where they may be lacking in knowledge. She provides them with advice and support as well as information to help students make their own lifestyle choices and encourage good health.


The Award for Excellence in Librarianship recognizes extraordinary achievement and dedication in Library Science. This year the University honors one colleague for her excellence in this category.

University at Albany librarian Catherine M. Dwyer has earned the 2000 Award for Excellence in Librarianship.

Since her arrival at Albany in 1989, Dwyer has been very active within the University Libraries’ governance and staff development groups, serving on six library technical committees that drew upon her knowledge of computerized databases and lending her expertise to 14 others. A prolific writer, she has published refereed and non-refereed articles in the Journal of Government Information, Reference Quarterly, and The Reference Librarian, and other journals; three book chapters and five book reviews. Dwyer has also shared her knowledge with colleagues throughout her field by maintaining affiliations with the New York Library Association, which she has served as president; the Eastern New York Association of College and Research Libraries; and other professional organizations. In addition, she has made five professional presentations and received two study grants.

Dwyer, who currently holds the title of associate librarian, is a recognized leader in the field of Government Documents Librarianship. She also heads the Reference Department’s management group.


The University Award for Excellence in Academic Service is presented to members of the teaching faculty who have demonstrated leadership and service to the University over a sustained period. There are two honorees this year.

His achievements as a longtime faculty member and administrator have brought Timothy Lance an Excellence in Academic Service Award.

Lance, a full professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, has also chaired the department for several years. His colleagues credit him with recruiting world-renowned faculty. Lance has also attracted high-quality graduate students, and Graduate Assistants for National Needs (GANN) awards to support them, to the University’s mathematics program. As a result, the department graduates an average of seven Ph.D.s each year. Lance’s other administrative duties have included terms as interim chair of the Department of Biometry and Statistics and associate vice president for information systems and technology; he has also served on a committee to draft a strategic plan for the College of Arts and Sciences. Lance has just assumed the vice chairmanship of the College Council of Chairs — his second time in that post.

An advocate of computing and technology, Lance established the mathematics department’s first computer classroom with funding from a Commodore Corp. equipment grant. He helped to launch one of the first general electronic research journals in mathematics, the New York Journal of Mathematics, which has afforded Albany increased visibility in the international mathematics community. Lance is also president and chairman of the board of NYSERNet, which provides Internet service to research universities throughout New York State. In addition, he has established himself as a highly successful fundraiser, forging relationships with businesses that have subsequently made gifts to the University and joining other Albany faculty in lending support to the recently concluded Campaign for the Libraries.

For more than a decade, Louis W. Roberts has exemplified service to the Department of Classics and to the University. In return for his efforts on behalf of his students, his colleagues, and the institution, he has been named a recipient of the Excellence in Academic Service Award for the year 2000.

Roberts came to Albany in 1989 to serve as professor of classics and director of the Center for Arts and Humanities. During his six years in the latter post, he organized intellectual events designed to bring University faculty together and afford them the opportunity to converse about those disciplines. Simultaneously, he volunteered to teach courses in religious studies, as well as in the humanistic studies doctor of arts program. Roberts maintains a demanding classroom schedule to this day, often teaching three or four courses — most of which enroll more than 150 students — per semester.

Aside from his teaching responsibilities, Roberts has undertaken a number of administrative assignments over the years. Between 1992 and 1998, he successively chaired the departments of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Classics, and English, reverting to the chairmanship of the classics department in 1998. In 1999, he served as interim director of the Humanistic Studies Program. Roberts, who is currently serving as chair of the University Senate, has also chaired a number of University and college committees during his years at Albany.


Excellence in Support recognizes staff members’ extraordinary achievement and contributions in support of the University’s academic and research aims, and its overall sense of community. Three individuals are paid tribute in this category this year.

Ida R. Canty, secretary to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, has been a key team player since joining the office in 1989. As one of the first points of contact for those seeking information or assistance from the Provost or her staff, she greets them with professionalism and courtesy. She is well known for her flexibility, tact, diplomacy, ability to listen, and cultural awareness. Canty’s polished interpersonal skills are a perfect fit for the complex nature of the office.

Able to handle unpredictable situations with calm and poise, Canty is a highly effective and innovative manager of office functions, contributing to the ability of the Provost and other staff to carry out their mission.

She exhibits exemplary organizational skills in supporting the mandated reviews conducted by the University Senate’s Council on Promotion and Continuing Appointments. She manages the required processes of the 15-member Council, ensuring that the members, candidates, provost or dean, and department chair are alerted of all actions. Canty has provided outstanding support to the University’s New Faculty Orientation process, contributes to the organization of data distributed at the University’s Fall Faculty meetings, serves as a manager to various accounts, has served on search committees, and is a frequent source of contact, from University staff, for information. Her willingness and ability to juggle multiple tasks are crucial to the performance of her duties, given the extraordinary activity in the office.

Outside the University, Canty serves as a friend of Unity House in Troy, dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people living in poverty, and has tutored high school equivalency students. She also has earned a certificate in beginner’s sailing.

Robert J. Morawski has been a general mechanic with the University for almost a decade. During this time he has progressed from Maintenance Assistant to Manager of the Residential Halls Maintenance Shop. He has taken on added duties as Construction Site Supervisor for the Residence Halls Building Rehabilitation Projects for the last two years. He is an important link to the Residential Life Community for the Physical Plant Department.

Morawski was involved with the rehabilitation of Morris, Pierce and Sayles halls, as well as several smaller projects in the residence halls. He has consistently extended himself well beyond his assigned duties and looks for new and innovative ways to solve problems. Morawski has also successfully taken on responsibility of the supervision of outside union workers with as many as 60 union tradesmen under his supervision.

Known for his positive, productive and supportive attitude and genuine willingness to “pitch in” regardless of the conditions or task at hand, Morawski consistently has the interests of the students and the University at the forefront. He has worked late into the night and has spent many weekends on campus to ensure that deadlines are met and that the comfort and safety of students and staff are never compromised. Both students and parents have commented on how quickly he responds to any issue brought to his attention.

Addie Napolitano, who joined the University in 1966, has been a dedicated and professional contributor to both the academic and administrative life of the Graduate School of Public Affairs for many years. In accomplishing her tasks, she employs a standard that places a premium on accuracy and thoroughness. She is known for taking a complex, messy, multi-tasked assignment and delivering a beautifully finished product.

As a Keyboard Specialist 2, she is known as an expert on all aspects of word processing, not only in the Graduate School of Public Affairs but throughout Rockefeller College. She is the sole provider of word processing support in the school and is willingly engaged in training to enhance her service role. Napolitano has familiarized herself with the latest techniques in desk-top publishing, which has assisted the GSPA in producing sophisticated promotional materials for student recruitment.

She has been willing to give of her spare time to instruct faculty in word processing, so that their skills will be up to date. She has been known to make “house calls,” providing faculty members with guidance as needed.


The Award for Excellence in Research recognizes outstanding research and scholarship by members of the faculty over a sustained number of years. There are three recipients in this category.

Marlene Belfort (Biomedical Sciences)

Belfort, who joined the University in 1985, is a full professor in the molecular genetics track of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, School of Public Health. An internationally known molecular geneticist, she is the only University at Albany faculty member who has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Belfort received her Ph.D. in molecular biology at the University of California at Irvine, mentored by Dan Wulff.

Within a very few years of arriving in Albany as a junior investigator at the Wadsworth Center, she and her colleagues identified the first intron, or intervening sequence, in a prokaryote. Later she discovered that these introns move from place to place on the genome. Then she elucidated the different molecular pathways in which introns splice and move by recruiting proteins of unusual structure and function. This work is leading to the use of introns in biotechnology and medicine. The biomedical field is an area of tremendous growth, with its potential to discover new treatments for disease and to create new pharmaceuticals.

Her excellence is further demonstrated in her mentorship and placement of Ph.D. students in top positions in the field. Her curriculum vitae provides evidence of strong grant support and a prolific publication record. In addition to her academic achievements, Belfort directs one of the nation’s leading research and public health centers in genetics, at Wadsworth Center.

Jerram L. Brown (Biological Sciences)

Jerram L. Brown has had a remarkably diverse research career, with significant contributions in neurobiology, ethology, evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology and sociobiology. In all of these areas, the hallmark of his work has been insightful thinking that has in each case brought new clarity to major conceptual issues in the field.

Brown, who joined the University in 1978, has published more than 80 papers in refereed journals, including Science, Nature and the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Two of his papers have been named Citation Classics.

Brown earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where he began his studies of the behavior of jays, a research theme that continues today. Beginning with a post-doctoral fellowship in Zurich, he began a series of studies on brain mechanisms controlling various relatively stereotyped behaviors such as bird song. These were among the earliest studies in the field of neuroethology, a term coined by Brown himself.

In 1975 he published The Evolution of Behavior, which has been ranked among the 10 most important books in animal behavior by the Animal Behavior Society. This book helped pave the way for the explosive development of the fields of behavioral ecology and sociobiology that occurred during the 1980s.

Brown spearheaded the first international meeting of practitioners in the emerging field of behavioral ecology in Albany in 1986. In 1987 he published Helping and Communal Breeding in Birds: Ecology and Evolution, which remains influential to this day. Brown is generally recognized as the world’s leading theoretician in the areas of cooperative and communal breeding in vertebrates.

Finally, Brown does not put his name on his graduate students’ work, allowing them to reap the full benefits of publication.

Myrna Friedlander (Educational and Counseling Psychology)

Myrna Friedlander, who earned her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, was nominated by the Doctoral Student Association of the Division of Counseling Psychology. Friedlander, who joined the UAlbany faculty in 1981, has been director of doctoral training since 1998. She has chaired approximately 30 dissertations and has acted as a mentor to countless students.

“Go see Micki. She has more ideas in a weekend than you or I do all month,” said one of Friedlander’s colleagues once to a doctoral student who was struggling with conceptualizing dissertation research.

In addition to her commitment to students, Friedlander is known for her superlative publication record. She was cited as the ninth most prolific contributor to the flagship journal of her field, the Journal of Counseling Psychology.

Friedlander’s membership on the editorial boards of five highly respected journals is evidence of the national and international respect for her thinking and writing. In addition, the students noted she is “actively involved in mentoring counseling psychology’s next generation of researchers, as her record of collaborative publication and presentation with her students amply demonstrates.”

Her research interests include the processes of mutual influence between counselor and client, change processes in family counseling, and counselor supervision. She is recognized as a leading proponent of the integration of research and practice in the field of counseling process.