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. Eighteen faculty and staff members received this tribute in 2008.


Excellence in Teaching (Full Time)

Sharon Danoff-BurgSharon Danoff-Burg*, Psychology

Professor Sharon Danoff-Burg has been teaching for the Department of Psychology at UAlbany since 1999. She was awarded continuing appointment and promoted to associate professor in 2005. She is currently the Department's Director of Graduate Studies. Dr. Danoff-Burg teaches in a variety of contexts, including large lecture undergraduate classes and small doctoral seminars, in addition to providing one-on-one research and professional advisement and clinical supervision of graduate students. Her Department Chair and nominator describes her as an astute clinician and an outstanding teacher, one of the best in the Department of Psychology. She is respected and admired for her versatility, her creativity in adding new courses to the curriculum, and her responsiveness to Departmental needs. Her student course evaluations are consistently very high, particularly in rating her approachability and her ability to produce interesting course materials and deliver engaging lectures. She has served on 20 doctoral dissertation committees and 23 master's thesis committees, including as chair for five and six respectively. Dr. Danoff-Burg has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and eight book chapters. She is also co-author of an instructor's manual for a widely used textbook in abnormal psychology. She makes a concerted effort to involve her students in research and as co-authors on research papers and publications. Generous with her time outside of class, she is highly valued as a mentor and research advisor, and a model scientist-practitioner.

*Chancellor's Award Recipient

Michael LandinMichael Landin, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Mr. Michael Landin is an alumnus of UAlbany and long-time Instructional Support Specialist with the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. He manages the Department's weather center and data archive and serves as academic advisor to all broadcast meteorology majors and a number of atmospheric sciences majors. Many of you may know of Mike from his daily weather commentaries which he has broadcast on WAMC public radio since 1977. Mr. Landin also teaches the introductory weather lab course and both introductory courses in weather forecasting and severe weather analysis, together with the hugely popular general education course "The Oceans". As an instructor, Mike works tirelessly to challenge and encourage his students. His student course evaluations are outstanding. Faculty peers observe that he is absolutely beloved even though he holds students to very high standards, literally putting them through "meteorological boot camp." He is also a superb mentor and advisor. In addition to his formal teaching, Mike is responsible for undergraduate internships at the National Weather Service and in local television stations, as well as all weather forecasting contests. Last year, the UAlbany team placed fourth in the nation's premier contest involving over 60 U.S. atmospheric sciences programs, and one of our students was ranked the top forecaster of all student participants.

Theresa PardoTheresa Pardo, Public Administration and Policy

Dr. Theresa Pardo is the Deputy Director of the Center for Technology in Government at UAlbany. She also holds academic appointments as Research Associate Professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy, as an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Informatics in the College of Computing and Information. Dr. Pardo has been teaching in Public Administration and Policy since 2001, primarily offering PAD650, Building a Case for Information Technology Investment in the Public Sector, which "introduces students to the complexities of public sector information technology decision making and to a set of analytical tools and techniques for identifying and managing those complexities." This course engages students in actual IT investment projects with clients in NYS government and is among the most current, path-breaking courses on technology innovation in the public sector in the country. Theresa's student evaluations in PAD650 are astonishingly high, often perfect. She is simply a superb teacher, extravagantly praised by students for her preparation, ability to communicate difficult material, and receptivity. Dr. Pardo also mentors PhD students enrolled in the Public Administration and Information Science doctoral programs. The unmistakable impression in her nomination dossier is of a gifted teacher working on tough problems with the best of current theory and practice, all focused on building student capabilities and confidence.


Excellence in Teaching (Teaching Assistant)

Dana Basnight-BrownDana Basnight-Brown, Psychology

Dana Basnight-Brown is pursuing her doctoral degree in cognitive psychology and expects to graduate this year. Throughout her graduate studies Dana has distinguished herself as a teacher, mentor, student, and scholar. As an instructor, she has taught perhaps the two most challenging courses in the Department of Psychology's curriculum: Statistical Methods; and Experimental Psychology. Both are required courses with minimum grades for admission to the major. Dana has done an outstanding job teaching these courses. Her teaching ratings are exemplary, much higher than the Department average for these courses. She received equally high ratings for an upper-level course – Memory and Cognition – which is a restricted elective in the major. Dana is very passionate about teaching and highly dedicated to her students. She makes herself available to students outside of class and is always willing to help them. In the classroom she is energetic and enthusiastic. Her syllabi are well-organized and comprehensive. Her grading policies are well-articulated, transparent and fair. She puts a lot of time into preparing her courses and the results speak for themselves. As a doctoral candidate, Dana has published in peer-reviewed journals and is active in professional societies.

Alice KrauseAlice Krause, Languages, Literatures & Cultures

Alice Krause is in her fourth year as a Teaching Assistant for the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. She is one of the Spanish Program's most active and successful TAs. She has taught all the 100 level courses and this past fall taught a 200 level conversation course with great success. Her classes are meticulously prepared and organized. Her student evaluations are consistently outstanding. She is able to reach all her students, maintains great classroom control while fostering a sense of comfort for all her students, and devises creative and communicative activities, assignments and exams. Alice has also been extremely helpful as a mentor to some of the Program's newer TAs, assisting them with ideas for their classes and exams. She makes insightful and valuable contributions to discussions during TA meetings and orientations. In addition to her impressive teaching, Alice is very dedicated to her doctoral studies and to the graduate program. She started a film series and has organized numerous graduate student workshops. She also started the Languages, Literatures and Cultures Graduate Student Organization.


Excellence in Research

Pradeep Haldar

Pradeep Haldar, Nanoscale Science & Engineering

Professor Pradeep Haldar is Professor and Head of NanoEngineering at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and Director of the Energy and Environmental Technology Applications Center at CNSE. He joined the University in 2001.

Professor Haldar's research focuses on building better alternative energy technology solutions utilizing nanotechnology to achieve greater yields at lower costs across a range of renewable energy power generation technologies. He has published over 170 articles in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings. His most recent publication, in one of the leading journals in his field, provided valuable insights to understanding the effect of nanotechnology in building larger and more efficient energy systems.

Professor Haldar is principal investigator on over $16 million in research grants in the past five years alone. He is involved in public policy initiatives to promote the implementation of solar and hydrogen technologies at the state and national levels. His nominator described him as a "highly effective, accomplished, and internationally recognized researcher and principal investigator who is well known in the materials research scientific community."

Lawrence Schell

Lawrence Schell, Anthropology

Professor Lawrence Schell is Professor of Anthropology and Epidemiology and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Arts and Sciences. He joined UAlbany in 1979, and is a founding faculty member of the School of Public Health. In 2004, he was the founding director of the Northeast Regional Forensics Institute and he is currently Principal Investigator and Director of the NIH-funded Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities.

Professor Schell has published widely on the effects of environmental toxicants on human physical growth and development. Many of his papers have been published in the top journals in biological anthropology. Through his research with the Akwesasne Mohawk community, he has developed a strong interest in methods for collaborating with communities impacted by environmental or socio-economic adversity. An internationally recognized expert on child growth and development, he is invited frequently to speak before professional audiences in the U.S. and other countries. Professor Schell has attracted more than $6 million in federal funding. He was recently elected to fellowship status in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Carolyn SmithCarolyn Smith, Social Welfare

Professor Carolyn Smith received her PhD in Criminal Justice from UAlbany in 1991, and is currently a Professor in the School of Social Welfare. Professor Smith's research focuses primarily on issues related to family problems, poverty, crime, and child maltreatment. She is a leading authority on the influence of childhood experiences on later-life delinquency. Her scholarship is interdisciplinary, spanning the fields of social work, sociology, criminology, and psychology. Currently, she is conducting groundbreaking studies on intergenerational patterns of parenting and consequences for children. Her work on the life course consequences of child maltreatment is influencing public policy and professional practice. She has published widely and in the most prestigious, selective journals of social work. She is highly respected for her ability to produce research that combines exemplary theoretical grounding and conceptual frameworks with statistically sophisticated analytical techniques. She has been Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on federal research grants totaling over $11 million. In addition to her research, Professor Smith chairs the social welfare Ph.D. program and mentors many doctoral students and junior faculty.

Dan WillardDan Willard, Computer Science

Professor Dan Willard joined the UAlbany faculty in Computer Science in 1983. Professor Willard's wide-ranging research program focuses on developing new paradigms in mathematical logic, improving computer science's sorting theory, and generating new pragmatic data structures that can be used in computational geometry and database theory. With the biologist, R.L. Trivers, he published the Trivers-Willard hypothesis, which revised and extended an earlier mathematical model of Darwinian Evolution. This widely cited theory has also received detailed discussion in the New York Times, Scientific American, and Psychology Today. Professor Willard's most recent research into Proof Theory and Mathematical Logic has yielded six major journal papers, including four published in the last two years that are providing a new interpretation into the meaning of Godel's Second Incompleteness Theorem. Professor Willard has received $585,000 in grants from the National Science Foundation, an unusually large amount for a theoretical mathematician and a further indicator of his productivity and importance in the field.


Excellence in Academic Service

Randall CraigRandall Craig*, English

Since his arrival in 1981, Professor Randall Craig has made an enormous contribution to the Department of English, the College of Arts and Sciences (and one of its predecessors, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts), and the University at Albany. Without ever drawing attention to himself, and without expecting any recognition, he is the person to whom new Chairs go for counsel, to whom new faculty members go for guidance, to whom administrators go for assistance in staffing crucial committees. Put simply, Randy Craig is a quintessential University citizen. He has served on nearly every major committee and council at every level of the institution, often as chair. The significance and importance of his contribution, however, is not only quantitative but qualitative. He may not often speak, but when he does, people listen: his judgment is always excellent. He knows how to get important and difficult tasks done – always fairly, conscientiously, and effectively. He is an unfailing voice of wisdom and compassion during crisis situations, modeling the qualities and temperament that are the hallmark of excellence in assignments that require extraordinary leadership at critical moments. His Department, College, and the entire University have all benefitted from his experience, his integrity, and his sense of responsibility and citizenship.

*Chancellor's Award Recipient

Reed HoytReed Hoyt*, Music

While many faculty members grow weary of service in the later stages of their careers, Professor Reed Hoyt has deepened and expanded his involvement, working tirelessly as an agent for positive change at all levels of the institution. Since joining UAlbany in 1986, he has served two terms as Chair of the Music Department, participated on an Arts Task Force that forged closer relationships among the fine arts departments together with the Performing Arts Center and the Art Museum, served as Interim Chair of the Theatre Department, and assumed leadership assignments on a host of college and campus-wide committees and councils. He is currently Chair of the Senate and member of the Executive Committee, an ex-officio member of the University Council, and a member of the Presidential Search Committee. Professor Hoyt is a good listener, calm under pressure, fair-minded in his judgment, and diplomatic in his relations with others. He is, as one admirer observes, "a Renaissance man both in his own academic interests and in the way he thinks of the life of the University professor. To him it is insufficient for a faculty member to dwell only on his or her area of teaching and scholarship. He believes that the University is a community of scholars, students and administrative staff, who must strive together to make the University a better place for all."

*Chancellor's Award Recipient


Excellence in Librarianship

Karen E. K. BrownKaren E. K. Brown*, University Libraries

Karen Brown is the Preservation Librarian for UAlbany. She has been a faculty member since 2001, and was recently promoted to Associate Librarian. Ms. Brown's work encompasses all facets of the preservation of library materials. She manages the preservation laboratory, repairs and conserves the Libraries' collections, and directs and coordinates broader preservation initiatives involving other departments within the University Libraries. Karen is also an active participant in digital initiatives, and she serves as the Libraries' resident expert on disaster preparedness and response. Ms. Brown has authored four book chapters and five articles, including two articles about preservation assessment published in Library Resources and Technical Services, a prestigious refereed journal. She also co-authored a special publication, "Integrating Preservation Activities," part of a series published by the Association of Research Libraries recognized as a reliable source for best practices and information on their topics. She is currently working on a six-part online workshop on the Fundamentals of Preservation. Finally, Karen's commitment to excellence is reflected in her service, at levels of the University, to the profession, and in the community. She is a wonderful representative for the institution in these many contexts.

*Chancellor's Award Recipient


Excellence in Professional Service

Linda KrzykowskiLinda Krzykowski, School of Business

Over the past 15 years, Ms. Linda Krzykowski has demonstrated a high level of commitment and impact at the University through a series of professional assignments in the School of Business, culminating in her appointment as Vice Dean for Administration. As Vice Dean she is responsible for critical core administrative functions including enrollment management, graduate and undergraduate academic program and curriculum planning, career services, and marketing and recruiting. She also coordinates a variety of initiatives designed to strengthen partnerships between the School and a host of external constituency partners. Under her direction, the quality of the evening MBA program, the School's largest graduate program, improved dramatically as measured by the credentials of entering students, student satisfaction, and academic rigor. Linda was also the School's lead professional for implementing the new dual degree "Nano+MBA," a joint program with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. And she designed "G3: Going Green Globally," an innovative, state of the art, week-long simulation that focuses on expanding businesses that are commercializing technologies for renewable energy in a global arena. She has also used her extensive contacts to attract top business executives to the new School of Business Advisory Council and to engage this group in School events and activities.

Candace MerblerCandace Merbler*, University Libraries

Ms. Candace Merbler's contribution to the University extends over nearly three decades. Starting as a classified employee, she moved to the first of a series of professional assignments in the University Libraries in 1980, following receipt of her B.A. in sociology. Since 1993, she has been a Reference Support Associate. She is widely admired for her dedication and service to students and faculty patrons. She has also worked very hard to find solutions, resolve issues, and strengthen Library operations and services. Candy's career is also marked in unusual ways by a sustained pattern of campus-wide service in a variety of appointed and elected assignments, often in leadership roles. She has served on more than 100 committees and councils, including as chair for several. Among the most important of these is her service in the University Senate, her service as Co-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Campus Safety, and her election as Treasurer, Vice President for Professionals, and President of the Albany Chapter of United University Professions. Ms. Merbler is a strong advocate for the University's faculty and professional staff, and a positive force for quality and fairness throughout the institution. In many respects her work has been held up as a model for other UUP campus chapters.

*Chancellor's Award Recipient

Ronald ThomasRonald Thomas*, Telecommunications

Mr. Ronald Thomas is Staff Associate and Telecommunications Project Manager for Information Technology Services at UAlbany. He is responsible for telecommunications in building construction and rehabilitation projects involving the movement of five or more staff on Albany's three campuses. The work is incredibly time-consuming, meticulous, and detail-oriented, requiring a large amount of coordination with end-users, vendors, and others responsible for facilities, budget, environmental safety, University code enforcement, and telecommunications. Ron is known and respected for developing and maintaining highly productive relationships with all these partners, as well as for a can-do style and special gift for lowering the stress levels often associated with selecting and installing highly sophisticated communications technologies throughout the institution's built environment. This past year, on top of his usual assignments, Mr. Thomas was asked to manage the move to the vendor Apogee in providing wired and wireless internet access for the 7200 students in residence at UAlbany. He was voted MVP at the conclusion of the project since everyone recognized that the campus would not have been ready for Apogee service in August without Ron's dedication and efforts. One of the colleagues who wrote on behalf of this nomination concluded "I consider Ron a good role model for other IT professionals because he is adept and comfortable in customer situations and with technical requirements."

*Chancellor's Award Recipient


Excellence in Support Service

Dawn Guinan, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy

Ms. Dawn Guinan first joined UAlbany as a keyboard specialist in the Registrar's Office and over the past decade has been appointed to a series of classified positions culminating in her current appointment as Secretary II in the Dean's Office of Rockefeller College. In that position she has served an outgoing dean, an interim dean, and a brand-new dean. To all who know her, Dawn brings a wonderful combination of skills and a sense of humor that makes her a delight to work with whether you are a supervisor, a peer, a faculty member, a student, a member of a foreign delegation, or a visitor to the University. She is a first-rate professional and a key staff member for Rockefeller College. Her efforts have been instrumental in making the Dean's Office operate efficiently, in relating to the College's Advisory Board, and in helping to create a positive atmosphere for the College's many constituencies. In her understated way, Dawn also presses for quality responses from others when things are not done right. According to her nominator, "if we all followed her example the university would function at a higher level."

Linda PapaLinda Papa, Department of Reading

Ms. Linda Papa has been part of the UAlbany family since 1986, when she was appointed as a Keyboard Specialist in the Center for Writing and Literacy. She subsequently worked in the Dean's Office of the School of Education and since 2002, has been Secretary I for the Department of Reading. In all these assignments, Linda has demonstrated a remarkable ability for operating in a highly complex and changing environment. Her organizational and support efforts were instrumental in successfully restructuring and reaccrediting the master's degree programs in Reading. Linda anticipates everything without ever having to be reminded, comments her nominator, who likens her to the Radar character on the TV series Mash. She possesses great "people skills" and is the consummate professional in her interactions and relationships with faculty, students, and staff. She is a great "first point of contact" for prospective students, visitors, and other guests. Linda is resourceful, always learning, and possesses a passion for fully understanding and mastering every aspect of what she does or is asked to do. She continually seeks ways to improve the administrative functions of her Department, to make them more efficient and especially more friendly to faculty and students.

Mary Lou WesemanMary Lou Weseman, School of Social Welfare

Ms. Mary Lou Weseman began her service to UAlbany in 1976, as a clerk typist for the Professional Development Program. She developed her many talents as a manager, organizer and team player through a series of positions in the School of Social Welfare leading ultimately to her present appointment, in 2001, as Senor Administrative Assistant for the Social Work Education Consortium. In her current role, Mary Lou serves a State-wide constituency across seven regions that includes most of New York's 57 counties and five boroughs. In addition to managing the Consortium's coordinating office in Albany, Mary Lou processes personnel and purchasing transactions through the program's fiscal agent, helps to set up field training sites, and provides general support and assistance in anticipating and addressing the many complex details and issues that often accompany large, distributed organizations. Mary Lou is praised in her nomination dossier for her ability to make things happen effortlessly, for the pride she takes in her work, and for her kind and generous spirit. She is a wonderful UAlbany ambassador in the surrounding community. Her nominator observes that "While I am sure you will review many outstanding applications, Ms. Weseman's record is sure to stand out for the duration and breadth of her service to the University, Capital Region and State."


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