About the Awards Program 

The President's Awards for Exemplary Public Engagement honor University at Albany faculty, staff, students, projects, programs and units that, in collaboration with community partners, have made outstanding contributions to addressing a significant societal need and enhancing public well-being through publicly engaged research, academic study, teaching, experiential learning, creative activity or service.

The awards affirm and support public engagement as a critical part of the University's mission and recognize the outstanding work the UAlbany community is doing to address our communities’ needs.  


A white and purple program with the words "The University at Albany President's Awards for Exemplary Public Engagement" sits beside a yellow rose in a vase


Nomination Instructions 

We invite you to submit your nomination for this year’s President’s Awards for Exemplary Public Engagement. The awards will be presented in a ceremony on UAlbany’s Uptown Campus in Fall 2024.  

The following individuals and entities are eligible for nomination: 

  • UAlbany faculty and staff members 

  • Full-time UAlbany undergraduate and graduate students with strong academic records 

  • UAlbany units (including colleges, schools, centers, institutes and departments) 

  • UAlbany projects and programs 

Current UAlbany students, faculty and staff may submit a Nomination Entry Form. Self-nominations are allowed. 

The deadline for 2024 Award entries is 11 p.m. Monday, July 1, 2024.

When submitting a nomination, please pay careful attention to instructions below. Only nominations that meet the stated judging criteria, follow the submissions guidelines and include all required materials will be considered. 

Nomination Materials

Nominators must complete the Nomination Entry Form. Note: Only authenticated UAlbany users can submit a nomination. Please sign in using your Net ID and password. 

The form asks for the following: 

  • Information about the nominee, nominator and community partner(s)

  • A statement from the nominator on how the nominee’s work meets the award criteria and why the nominee is deserving of the award (1,000 words maximum) 

  • The nominee’s CV or résumé (Note: If the nominee is a unit, project or program, please submit the project leader or manager’s CV or résumé.) 

  • At least two letters of support for the nominee 

    • If the nominee is a faculty or staff member, at least one letter must be from an external partner or collaborator.

    • If the nominee is a student, the first letter must be from the student's academic department chair and the second letter must be from an external partner or collaborator. 

  • Materials that support the nomination, such as photos, flyers, brochures, reports, videos, podcasts, news stories, webpages, etc. 

Judging Criteria

Nominations are reviewed by a selection committee of UAlbany campus community members, including faculty and staff members, who judge entries based on established criteria. 

The University is seeking to recognize exemplary publicly engaged work that:  

  • Addresses an important societal need and enhances public well-being. Please provide evidence, when possible, of best practices used in the work. 

  • Uses a collaborative or partnership approach between the University and a community or communities. Ideally, these relationships will reflect mutual, two-way benefit. In addition, the awards program encourages the recognition of individuals, projects, programs and units that are advancing and disseminating knowledge, discovery and scholarship that will benefit individuals, institutions and communities at home and abroad. 

  • Uses practices that build relationships and trust through such characteristics as mutuality and reciprocity, responsiveness, and respect for partners. 

  • Demonstrates significant community impact, including short- and long-term benefits. Impacts vary significantly but some examples include:  

    • progress towards reducing or preventing disease 

    • improved student success in urban schools 

    • businesses started and jobs created 

    • policy work that has been adopted 

    • creation of civic infrastructure, whether at home or abroad 

    • improvement in sustainable approaches 

    • heightened public awareness of critical social issues

  • Demonstrates a commitment to sustained effort. Continuity and committed effort over time are highly valued. The awards program will also consider important emerging work that demonstrates consideration for sustainability. 

Additional Guidelines

Additionally, nominators should keep these guidelines in mind: 

When nominating a faculty or staff member, or a project or program, your major focus should be the exemplary UAlbany publicly engaged scholarship, research, teaching, service or some combination thereof that makes a significant contribution to enhancing public well-being. 

When nominating a student, your major focus should be the exemplary work the student has done through UAlbany, such as: 

  • Course-connected engagement with an external organization or partner 

  • Research projects involving an external organization or partner 

  • Recognized national or international service programs 

  • Sustained service work with an external organization or partner, applying the student’s knowledge or expertise (often course-connected) 

Nominations for students can be supplemented by relevant volunteer activities (whether through personal initiatives or University-sponsored clubs/groups) and/or leadership efforts to involve other students in public engagement. 

These supplements should simply demonstrate the student’s level of commitment. The President's Awards for Exemplary Public Engagement are distinct from other University awards that primarily focus on volunteerism. 

Please contact the Director of Public Engagement, Mary Hunt, at [email protected] or 518-442-3470 with any questions. 

Thank you for reviewing these instructions. We are proud of the extraordinary, engaged work being done by our faculty, staff and students at UAlbany. 


Past Winners

Past recipients have exemplified the important role UAlbany and its partners play in improving life in our local and global communities, and/or advanced and disseminated knowledge, discovery and scholarship that benefit individuals and institutions. 

Note: The awards program was paused in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2023 Winners

President’s Award for Exemplary Public Engagement

Janine M. Jurkowski
Professor, Health Policy, Management and Behavior
School of Public Health

David Hochfelder
Associate Professor & Director of the Public History Program
College of Arts and Sciences

Internships in Aging Project
School of Social Welfare


Honorary Award for Distinguished Public Engagement

Annalisa Scimemi
Associate Professor, Biological Sciences
College of Arts and Sciences

Jianwei Zhang
Associate Professor, Educational Theory and Practice
School of Education

FLIP (Future Leaders in Planning)
Department of Geography and Planning
College of Arts and Sciences

2022 Winners
President’s Award for Exemplary Public Engagement

Meghan Cook, Program Director, CTG UAlbany, and Adjunct Professor, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy

Watch a video about Meaghan Cook and her partners' work.

Community Partners

  • New York State local government IT leaders, including leaders from New York City, Rochester, Plattsburgh, Buffalo, Syracuse, Plattsburgh, Yonkers and Albany

  • New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (NYS DHSES)

  • New York State Intelligence Center (NYSIC) 

UAlbany Partners

  • The staff of the Center for Technology in Government, UAlbany

Igor Lednev, Distinguished Professor, Chemistry and the RNA Institute, College of Arts & Sciences

Watch a video about Igor Lednev and his partners' work.

Community Partners

  • Dr. Ray Wickenheiser, DPS, MBA, FAAFS, Director, New York State Police Crime Laboratory System 

  • Dr. Earl A. Zimmerman, professor of neurology at the Albany Medical College and director of the Alzheimer's Center at Albany Medical Center

UAlbany Partners

  • Dr. Lednev’s lab team


Honorary Award for Distinguished Community Engagement

Christine T. Bozlak, Associate Professor, Health Policy, Management and Behavior, School of Public Health, and her partner, the Alliance of New York State YMCAs

Watch a video about Christine T. Bozlak, the Alliance of New York State YMCAs and their partners' work.

Community Partners

  • Kyle Stewart, executive director; Allison D'Antonio and Paige Hughes, former directors of healthy living; The Alliance of New York State YMCAs

Rui Li, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, College of Arts & Sciences

Watch a video about Rui Li and his partners' work.

Community Partners

  • Ruth Leslie, regional vaccine lead; and Dr. Angela Antonikowski, chief health equity, diversity and inclusion officer; Capital Region Vaccine Network

  • Dave Eslinger, general manager; and Paula Lemire, historian; Albany Rural Cemetery

  • Linda MacFarlane, executive director, Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region

UAlbany Partner

  • Kurt Swartz, adjunct professor (retired), Department of Geography and Planning

2020 Winners

Watch a video presentation about the 2020 Award winners. 


Capital District Writing Project  

The Capital District Writing Project is run by the Department of Literacy Teaching and Learning, within the School of Education. 

UAlbany Partners: Dr. Kelly Wissman, Dr. Carol Forman-Pemberton and Dr. Bob Yagelski from the School of Education 

Community Partners:  

  • Chris Mazura and Amy Salamone from Guilderland High School 

  • Christina Pepe from Shenendehowa High School 


Dr. Bryan Early  

Dr. Bryan Early is an Associate Dean for Research and Associate Professor who works for the Department of Political Science, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, and the Project on International Security, Commerce & Economic Statecraft (PISCES). 

UAlbany Partners:  

  • Daniel Whaley from the Office of Sponsored Programs 

  • Jim Levy and Lois Pownall from the Center for Policy Research 

  • Phil Baxter, Ryan Cathie, Nolan Fahrenkopf, Togzhan Kassenova, Jay Nash, Richard Young and Lara Stenberg from PISCES 

Community Partners: The Office of Export Control Cooperation and the Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation 


Electrical and Computer Engineering Capstone Experience 

This capstone experience was managed by the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. 

UAlbany Partners:  

  • Dr. Jonathan Muckell, Dr. Mustafa Aksoy and Dr. Dola Saha from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering 

  • Computer Engineering Chair Dr. Gary Saulnier 

Community Partners:  

  • Brian Bateman from New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID) 

  • Fred Erlich from Living Resources 

  • Chris Schelin from the Center for Disabled Services 

  • Chris Suozzo from Carmalink 


Smart and Connected Communities 

This project was managed by the School of Social Welfare and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. 

UAlbany Partners:  

  • Dr. Wonhyung Lee from the School of Social Welfare 

  • Dr. Charalampos Chelmis and Dr. Daphney Stavrou Zois from the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences 

Community Partners:  

  • Dahlia Herring from the Capital Region Refugee Roundtable 

  • David Gardam from 2-1-1 New York Inc.’s Board of Directors 

  • Jonathan Hentrich from Christ’s Church Albany 

  • Rushka Tcholakova 


The Confucius Institute at the University at Albany 

UAlbany Partners:  

  • Confucius Institute Director Dr. Youqin Huang 

  • East Asian Studies Chair Dr. Fan Pen Li Chen 

  • Chinese Students and Scholar Association President Xinyi Dan 

  • Paul Miesing from the School of Business 

  • Cheng Chen from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy 

  • Dr. Harvey Charles from the Center for International Education and Global Strategy 

  • Zai Liang from the Urban China Research Network 

Community Partners:  

  • Hua Lin from Albany High School and Edmund J. O'Neal Middle School of Excellence 

  • Sophia Tien-Hui Hsia from Tech Valley High School 

  • Jie Wang from Albany Chinese School 

  • John Powell from Albany’s Montessori Magnet School 

  • Li Zhang from the Chinese Community Center 

  • Ziaofei Li from the Albany Public Library 

  • Ellie Burhans from the Albany Institute of History and Art 

  • Ann-Marie Helldorfer from the Colonie Public Library 

  • Lucas Geller from the Chinese Martial Arts Academy 


UAlbany & The RED Bookshelf Collaboration 

UAlbany Partners:  

  • Holly Barker-Flynn and Sari Khatib from the Office of Orientation and Transition Programs 

  • Martha Asselin and Cheryl Simmons from the Center for Leadership and Service 

  • Vice Provost for Student Engagement Linda Krzykowski  

  • Sheri Stevens from the Community and Public Service Program 

Community Partners: Mary Beth Fowler and Rachel Eveleth from The RED Bookshelf 

2019 Winners

Click the links below to watch short videos about each 2019 award winner: 

Assistant Professor Beth Feingold, School of Public Health  

Adjunct Instructor Marcia Kees, Department of Geography and Planning, College of Arts and Sciences 

Professor Elana Gordis, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences 

Associate Professor Robert Miller, School of Social Welfare 

Assistant Professor Mariya Zheleva, College of Engineering and Applied Science 

School of Criminal Justice's Seminar in Criminology  

New York State Writers Institute  

National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI), School of Social Welfare  

The Triqui Project 

2018 Winners

Click the links below to watch short videos about each 2018 award winner: 

Professor Hal A. Lawson, Lifetime Achievement Awardee for Public Engagement  

Professor Justin Minder & the UAlbany Weather and Climate Camp, College of Arts & Sciences  

Luke Rumsey, Assistant Director of Neighborhood Life 

Living-Learning Community Program  

Associate Professor Duncan Cumming & the Youth Movements Festival, College of Arts & Sciences  

Professor Tomoko Udo & Chatham Cares 4U Program 

Professor Blanca Ramos & the Amsterdam Minority Health Task Force, School of Social Welfare 

2017 Winners

Click the links below to watch short videos about each 2017 award winner: 

Building Professional Learning Communities to Improve Student Achievement, School of Education

Professor Lani C. Jones, School of Social Welfare 

New York State Kinship Navigator Demonstration Project, School of Social Welfare 

Healthy Historic Walking Paths, Department of History, College of Arts & Sciences

Breathing Lights, Department of Art & Art History, College of Arts & Sciences

2016 Winners

Gary Kleppel, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences 

Schoharie Archaeological Field School 

John Delano, Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences 

Fellowship on Women and Public Policy 

UAlbany Navigators Program 

2015 Winners
Edmund Russell Altone  

Edmund Russell Altone, MA, MPH, is a faculty member in the School of Public Health who is working closely with refugee communities in the Capital Region to improve health and wellbeing, access to medical care, and cultural competency of medical providers. 

Partners: Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region, Inc., Capital Region Refugee Roundtable; Albany County Department of Health; US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants; Global Institute for Health & Human Rights  

Emerging Issues in the Nonprofit Sector 

Emerging Issues in the Nonprofit Sector is a joint initiative of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, School of Social Welfare and School of Public Health to build the capacity of Capital Region nonprofit organizations to improve programs and service delivery.  

Partners: United Way of Northeastern New York; Albany‐Colonie Chamber of Commerce; Chamber of Schenectady County; Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce; AVillage, Inc.  

Five Quad Volunteer Ambulance Service  

Five Quad Volunteer Ambulance Service is a UAlbany student‐run ambulance squad providing first response emergency medical care to the UAlbany campus and surrounding neighborhoods. 

Partners: Guilderland Emergency Medical Services; Regional Emergency Medical Organization; Albany Fire Department; Mohawk Ambulance Service; Town of Colonie Emergency Medical Services; Western Turnpike Rescue Squad; several internal UAlbany partners 

Healthy Families New York & Center for Human Services Research 

This a research collaboration provides expectant and new parents across New York with home visitation services and education on parenting, pre‐ and neo‐natal care, child growth and development, and school readiness.  

Partners: New York State Office of Child and Family Services; Healthy Families Schenectady; Prevent Child Abuse New York   

Just for the Kids NY 

Just for the Kids NY is a research collaboration using New York’s K‐12 student and school data to identify best practices of effective schools and to develop new interventions to improve schools and student learning outcomes. 

Partners: Greater Amsterdam School District; New York State School Boards Association; New York State United Teachers; Capital Region BOCES; New York State Council of School Superintendents; several internal UAlbany partners 

Looking at Lemon: Transforming Life through Literature 

Looking at Lemon: Transforming Life through Literature is a joint initiative of the New York State Writers Institute, UAlbany Performing Arts Center, University Art Museum and UAlbany Foundation to bring writer and performance artist Lemon Anderson to Albany High School to speak to students about the importance of the arts and literature.   

Partners: Albany High School; Albany Fund for Education 

National Youth in Transition Database Peer Caller Program & Center for Technology in Government  

This collaboration uses the input of youth in foster care to develop and implement a one‐of‐a‐kind model of peer support to improve outcomes for youth as they transition out of the foster care system.  

Partners: New York State Office of Child and Family Services  

Problem Gambling Research and Treatment Group  

Problem Gambling Research and Treatment Group is a 12‐year partnership of researchers and practitioners to develop and test an innovative treatment model to help individuals with compulsive gambling disorders.  

Partners: Center for Problem Gambling; Capital Counseling 

Derik Smith  

Derik Smith, PhD, is a faculty member in the Department of English who is developing community workshops on African American literature and teaching college credit‐bearing courses to prison inmates.  

Partners: Bard Prison Initiative; African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region  

2014 Winners

Small Business Development Center, School of Business 

Capital Area School Development Association, School of Education 

Center for Human Services Research Education, School of Social Welfare 

Associate Professor Akiko Hosler, School of Public Health 

PhD Candidate Michelle Feder, School of Education 

Junior FIRST® LEGO® League Expo, College of Computing and Information 

Professor Hal A. Lawson, School of Social Welfare and School of Education 

Lecturer Arlene Lev, School of Social Welfare 

Healthy Environments and Relationships that Support (HEARTS) Initiative, School of Social Welfare  

University in the High School, College of Arts and Sciences 

2013 Winners
Albany SNUG 

Albany SNUG is an innovative, multi-faceted and evidence-based public health approach to address and prevent violence among youth and young adults. SNUG is “guns,” spelled backwards, and based on the CeaseFire Chicago model. The Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region, Inc., has been the service provider for the past two years with its collaborative partners, the Albany Police Department and Albany Medical Center. During start up and the first year, the School of Social Welfare served as grant writer, administrator and program evaluator and continues to provide support for sustainability.  

Umaru Barrie 

UAlbany student Umaru Barrie is the founder and president of Sankofa Africa Organization, which undertakes local and international humanitarian efforts related to his interest in becoming a neurosurgeon and biomedical researcher addressing needs in underdeveloped countries. He has also been named as a Fundraising Board member of New Sudan Jonglei Orphans Foundation, Inc. 

The Center for Excellence in Aging & Community Wellness 

The Center for Excellence in Aging & Community Wellness' research, teaching and service works to build local and statewide infrastructure that prevents, reduces and better manages chronic disease among older adults and adults with disabilities. The School of Social Welfare, New York State Office for the Aging, New York State Department of Health, Healthy Hearts on the Hill Coalition, and many community partners participate in this project. 

Center for Humanities, Arts and Technosciences (CHATS) 

CHATS’ community-engaged research, teaching and service involve enhancing the intellectual and cultural life of the region, with a particular focus on public humanities. The Department of English and College of Arts and Sciences' project partners include The Albany Academies, Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Albany Institute of History and Art, University Libraries and the University at Albany Foundation. 

Committee on University & Community Relations  

Since 1990, the Committee on University & Community Relations has been engaged in service that addresses quality-of-life issues in Pine Hills and other areas of the community where off-campus students live. The committee educates students about their civic responsibilities as neighbors. The University Police Department, Pine Hills Neighborhood Association, and many City and community partners work together on this project. 

Going Green Globally (G3) 

G3 offers engaged teaching, learning and service opportunities to full-time MBA students through a collaborative cornerstone project. Student teams work with local organizations, faculty, local experts and policy makers to develop strategies for environmental sustainability that will manage the Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet and Profit. The Department of Management and School of Business work with faculty from the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, College of Arts & Sciences, and SUNY Poly College of Nanoscale Science and Engineer, as well as various Capital Region partners.  

Small Enterprise Economic Development (SEED) 

SEED is a unique public-private partnership creating jobs through engaged teaching, service and research. The initiative is enabling economically distressed individuals, particularly the underserved, to start a small business through access to capital in the form of character-based micro-loans as well as business supports that help remove barriers to success. The School of Social Welfare, its Center for Human Services Research, the School of Business, Small Business Development Center, SEFCU and Empire State Development partner on this program. 

Service Outcomes Action Research (SOAR) 

SOAR is a longstanding, community-based participatory research project involving faculty and two providers of residential and community-based care for high need youth. Faculty and practitioners collaborate on developing evidence-based practices to improve treatment services and outcomes.  Community-engaged teaching has been another important component of this project. The School of Criminal Justice, School of Social Welfare, LaSalle School and Saint Anne Institute are partners on this project. 

Women’s Health Project 

The Women’s Health Project is a community-based participatory research project and engaged teaching program that addresses the reproductive healthcare needs of low-income, underserved women in Hudson, New York. The team works to overcome barriers and to strengthen connections to community-based health and human service organizations. This is a project of the Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities, the Department of Communication and the College of Arts & Sciences, along with School of Public Health, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood and a peer outreach assistance team made up of community residents.