Faculty and staff recognized with system awards
Several members of the faculty and professional staff were honored during the recent All-Campus Meeting for receiving the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence.
The SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching was presented to Cornelius (Neil) FitzPatrick of the Department of English, a member of the faculty since 2017. In his Teaching Philosophy he wrote that his hope is that students “leave [his] class knowing a little more about how to read, write, and think critically, how to tell a story, how to pay attention, how to work collaboratively, how to find new possibilities for language, how to be open to contradiction and nuance, and how to imagine the complex inner lives of other humans.” In order to achieve this, Mr. FitzPatrick encourages students to think differently about themselves, and to “think of themselves as artists,” rather than students. Mr. FitzPatrick’s department colleagues describe him as a “highly valued member of the English department whose contributions both in and out of the classroom are essential to the ongoing success of creative writing [program] on campus.” Mr. FitzPatrick’s dedication to teaching can be seen not only in the admiration of his colleagues, but in the impact he makes on his students. One former student commented that “no matter what the level of proficiency, Neil treated all students, and their writing, with the utmost dignity and respect.”
The SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service was presented to Marc Levy, who is operations manager for the School of Music.
Since 2005, Mr. Levy has supported over 300 concerts and recitals each year. Each of the performances have unique technical and performer requirements, and it was noted that Levy’s attention to detail to ensure smooth operations has been noticed and commended by his peers.
SUNY Distinguished Professor Kay Stonefelt wrote, “In all of my years in performance venues with producers, managers, stage managers and stage hands, logistics teams and in the academic environment, Marc Levy is the most collaborative, level-headed, and efficient person that I have ever worked with in a service capacity.”
In addition to being extremely valued by his colleagues, the Chancellor’s Award committee also took notice of Levy’s volunteer and community activities. He has served as a board member for the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra, Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Arts Council, Iowa Arts Coalition and the National Society of Fundraising Executives. He has served as a youth soccer referee for the YMCA and the United States Soccer Federation.
The SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Dr. Lisa Walters, who is an associate professor in the Department of Business Administration/School of Business.
It was noted that since joining the Fredonia faculty, Dr. Walters has successfully taught various courses in management, and that her dedication to teaching was evident in course evaluations, peer reviews, and especially the broad range of responses found in her reference letters. Her candidacy was supported by current students, alumni, colleagues from the Department of Business Administration and professionals she worked with outside of academia.
Walters’ accomplishments in teaching go beyond engagement in the classroom. Working with her students, it was noted that her courses have successfully impacted businesses in the greater community. As one example of this, she and an upper-level student developed a tool that is readily used in the workplace when a business evaluates their supply chain. The particular tool was highlighted by the American Society for Quality on its website, and made available to the global ASQ member community.
Excerpts from the many letters of support speak of the 21st century skills Walters instills in her students. One colleague wrote, “[s]he is teaching her students not only critical business skills but also skills that they can use in their own communities.”
Walters also received many recommendations from students who attributed their successes in large part to her teaching. One former student wrote, “Dr. Walters' influence goes further than that gained in school; I now use the concepts she taught me at SUNY Fredonia in my everyday tasks required for my career in supply chain. Dr. Walters has become a reliable mentor; I have reached out to her for recommendations and advice through the years after graduating from SUNY Fredonia. I am thankful to have come across such a talented and influential professor.”
Also presented the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching was Dr. Courtney Wigdahl-Perry, who is an associate professor in the Department of Biology.
Dr. Wigdahl-Perry joined Fredonia’s biology department in 2014 and has taught a wide variety of courses that span from introductory undergraduate courses to capstone and graduate seminars. Student evaluations frequently describe her style as “enthusiastic,” and compliment her use of a variety of teaching techniques. One of her students explained the value of Wigdahl-Perry’s teaching saying “Courtney was able to utilize lecture time to include lectures, discussions and hands-on experiences to cover a diverse group of learning styles within the classroom.”
Wigdahl-Perry’s commitment to student services is clear in her approach to mentoring and advising students. Each student in her introductory courses is required to meet with her early in the semester. She explained the importance of this approach to a new undergraduate’s success, “[t]his is particularly critical for historically underrepresented students who may feel out of place or like they do not belong in the sciences or at Fredonia. Scientific innovation benefits from diverse perspectives and backgrounds, but only if we recognize our biases and actively support underrepresented groups.”
A former student writes of Dr. Wigdahl-Perry’s influence on his decision to continue into a doctoral program at Cornell University. He wrote, “I came to Dr. Wigdahl-Perry’s office hours to ask about potential careers in research and from that moment on, I was adopted as an unofficial advisee. This willingness to advise a new student despite no departmental obligation to do so demonstrates Dr. Wigdahl-Perry’s exceptional dedication to the service of students. After expressing interest in scientific research, Dr. Wigdahl-Perry welcomed me into her lab to help on a summer project: studying nutrient limitation for algae in freshwater lakes. She later supported my decision to switch research labs to work on a project that would expose me to more microbiology and molecular biology techniques. This unselfish act proved to me that her students’ interests are of the utmost importance. To further improve my chances of getting into graduate school, Dr. Wigdahl-Perry presented additional opportunities to me in the form of a research internship and student-led mentorship program. Coordinating these opportunities must have been extremely time consuming but her commitment to her students’ success never wavered.”
Wigdahl-Perry is also a prolific scholar who works with students to assist them in establishing a record of scholarly activity. Since arriving at Fredonia, she has authored more than 50 scholarly presentations, nearly half of them co-authored with students. In many of these, it is the students who present their research at academic events and conferences.
Wigdahl-Perry’s extensive service to the campus and her field is matched by her service to our community. She works with local organizations including the Chautauqua Lake Association, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District, Water Quality Task Force, Chautauqua Institution and the Bear Lake Association.
The SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service was presented to Todd Proffitt, a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance.
Mr. Proffitt began as a faculty member at SUNY Fredonia in 2000. The scope and impact of his service excellence extends beyond his home department to the campus and surrounding region. For example, Mr. Proffitt served as a member of the department’s Diversity Committee, Season Section Committee, Title Nine Department Committee and five search committees. He has twice served as Interim Department Chair and has worked on multiple curriculum revisions.
Proffitt has filled a number of roles in committees that contribute to university shared governance. He helped move the university’s General Education curriculum forward by serving for 12 years on the General Education Committee, including one year as co-chair. He has served on University Senate standing committees including the Faculty and Professional Affairs Committee, Academic Affairs Committee, and the Information Technology Advisory Board. He has also represented his colleagues as a University Senator, and has served as the Vice Chair of the University Senate Executive Committee.
Outside of Fredonia’s campus, Proffitt has been involved with the United States Institute for Theatre Technology since 2001. His involvement ranged from session organizer to volunteering to be part of the Light Lab, to serving as Vice Commissioner and Associate Commissioner for the Lighting Commission. He has been an outside adjudicator for 15 different tenure and promotion dossiers since 2007. Locally, Proffitt serves as a member of Fredonia's Scout Troop 277, and he currently assists the troop as Vice Chair and webmaster.
Also honored during the event was Sarah Laurie, director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety and Sustainability, who was the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service.
Ms. Laurie graduated from SUNY Fredonia in 2010 with a master’s degree in Biology and in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth Science Adolescence Education. She began her career at Fredonia while still an undergraduate – as a student assistant in Environmental Health and Safety. It was there that she “fell in love with the work and field of safety.” In her 15 years of professional employment at Fredonia, Vice President for Finance and Administration Michael Metzger noted that the campus trusted her with additional responsibilities and looked to her as a leader in the fields of employee and environmental safety. He added that this was exemplified by the role she played in the campus’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Interim Vice President for University Advancement Betty Gossett noted, “Sarah has shown extraordinary leadership and flexibility since March 2020 when the world changed and the safety of our students and employees was at risk. The campus had an emergency plan but nothing that prepared us for a global pandemic. Sarah helped lead us through what was necessary to build capacity and to move quickly as new pieces of information became available…Her support to the campus during this time has been invaluable.”
Ms. Laurie has offered her continual service through leading the campus’s initial response, reopening the campus, coordinating our campus pool-testing, serving as campus liaison to SUNY Administration, and advising other offices on matters related to safety guidelines for event planning and activities.
Beyond Fredonia, Ms. Laurie became a member of the State Environmental Health & Safety Association (SEHSA) and volunteered as a board member for several years. Her attendance at conferences enabled her to learn from other environmental health and safety professionals and bring expertise and knowledge back to campus to improve its programs.
Vice President Metzger noted that Ms. Laurie consistently demonstrates leadership and is routinely collaborative with departments and individuals across the Fredonia campus and beyond, and continues to help people get through these unprecedented times.
Also recognized at the meeting were Dr. Junaid Zubairi of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, who was promoted to SUNY Distinguished Professor, and Dr. Ted Lee of the Department of Biology, who was promoted to SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor. For more information on these two honorees, see online.