A recognition ceremony to honor faculty and staff accomplishments will be held on Thursday, October 3, at 12:15 p.m. in Rockwell Hall Auditorium.
The event will recognize Buffalo State recipients of Chancellor’s and President’s awards (see list below). In addition, all new faculty and staff members will be welcomed to campus.
The entire campus community is invited to participate in this second annual event. A reception will follow in the auditorium lobby of Rockwell Hall.
SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service
Lynn K. Bennett
Lynn Bennett, secretary 1 in the Philosophy and Humanities Department, has proved to be consistently superior in her service to students, faculty, and staff. In addition to being thoroughly competent and reliable, she demonstrates her desire and commitment to serving Buffalo State’s best interests by continuously performing at an exceptional level.
Bennett began her assignment in the department in fall 2008. The department had not had a full-time secretary since 2003 and, at various points during that five-year period, had no secretary at all. Bennett accepted this challenge and worked beyond her required hours to reorganize the office and transform it into an efficient, smoothly running operation. She handled this sizable task with grace, humor, and the wisdom of experience.
She unfailingly anticipates the needs of department members and students, responds immediately and accurately to numerous requests, keeps the department calendar and appointments, and is indispensable in putting together the faculty’s schedule of classes, guiding faculty members through advising, orientation, department meetings, student and faculty colloquia, guest lectures, conference trips, and more.
Bennett has created a feeling of “home” in the department, which contributes greatly to its collegial atmosphere. Her desk is always stocked with fresh flowers and a bowl of candy that features the specific preferences of full-time and part-time faculty members. The sign above her desk reads: “It’s nice to be important. But it’s more important to be nice.” Bennett lives by this creed, and it is the reason she is beloved by faculty members and students alike. In short, she is a highly valued member of the department team.
SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service
Joan L. McCool
Joan McCool, director of the Counseling Center, has dedicated the past 31 years to helping Buffalo State students achieve academic and personal success. She is tireless in her compassion and caring for all individuals, and her knowledge and experience as a clinician and administrator have been of the utmost value to the campus.
As director of the Counseling Center, McCool is a visionary, proactive, and intelligent leader, with an admirably collaborative style. She has the ability to bring people together to solve problems, provide more effective service to students, and help the campus community be a place where all members can grow and develop. Her commitment to empowerment, involvement, and positive thinking are at the core of her ability to lead others to creative solutions.
In addition to carrying her own student caseload, McCool has led the Counseling Center to an impressive set of accomplishments, including establishing a partnership with the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, participating in the creation of the Association of SUNY Counseling Center Directors and the Western New York Higher Education Network for Critical Incident Stress Support, spearheading Mental Health Awareness Week on campus, attaining full accreditation from the International Association of Counseling Services, and completing the conversion to an electronic record-keeping system.
McCool’s success in writing major federal grant proposals has allowed the Counseling Center to tackle serious issues such as suicide, violence against women, and response to sexual violence. The center’s online educational program on suicide prevention has won especially high praise from students, parents, faculty, and staff. In addition, McCool leads the center’s college crisis response team that has assisted students in the aftermath of September 11 and other traumatic events. As the needs of students have changed over the years, McCool has continuously demonstrated creative and innovative approaches to addressing those needs.
SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service
Lisa Berglund, chair and professor of English, is a noted leader in the English Department, across the campus, in the community, and in her profession. She is always willing to take on difficult tasks and do the work necessary to produce successful outcomes.
Since coming to Buffalo State in 2001, Berglund has served on 11 departmental committees, chairing five of them, including the time-intensive English Curriculum and Assessment committees. Her willingness to take on the complex work of curriculum (she oversaw the drafting of 11 new course proposals and 18 course revisions) has resulted in an improved and more efficient department. At the campus level, she has been active in the Middle States accreditation process and serves on the college’s Assessment Advisory Board as well as several other academic committees.
As a colleague and teacher, Berglund is always willing to share her research work, which she has presented on campus and at national conferences. She is a participant in team teaching, an instructional method in which she and another faculty member combine their expertise to deliver a deeper, more rounded learning experience for students. Since 2006, she has advised five English students who were awarded Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowships. Most of these students have advanced to graduate studies with Berglund’s encouragement—and several have continued to collaborate with Berglund on research projects after attaining their undergraduate degrees. In addition, she is the editor of the English Department’s biweekly newsletter, in which she promotes the accomplishments of faculty and students.
Berglund’s scholarly service beyond campus has brought recognition to Buffalo State. She is a nationally recognized authority on the history and technology of the dictionary and has served as the executive secretary for the Dictionary Society of North America since 2007. She is also vice president (and president-elect) of the Northeast American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and a member of the Modern Language Association (MLA) Discussion Group on Lexicography. The academic community is richer for having her as a colleague, teacher, and leader.
SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities
Zhang Jie, professor of sociology, has established himself as one of the world’s leading scholars on the subject of suicidology. In addition to performing extensive and diligent research on this important topic, Zhang is a dedicated classroom teacher who has the ability to explain esoteric concepts to his students in an understandable manner.
Since beginning his career at Buffalo State in 1997, Zhang has produced a particularly robust volume of work. He has published more than 100 journal articles, coauthored four books, and written more than a dozen book chapters, many related to suicidology. His articles have appeared in top international journals such as the American Journal of Psychiatry, Psychological Medicine, and Social Sciences in China. His research has been interdisciplinary (he works on projects with collaborators from the fields of social science and medicine, as well as with undergraduate student researchers at Buffalo State) and creative (his new “Strain Theory” of suicide was the result of studying suicide risk factors for rural, young females in China).
Taking his research beyond the pages of academic journals, Zhang was instrumental in establishing Buffalo State’s Center for China Studies in 2000 and Shandong (China) University’s Center for Suicide Prevention Research in 2011. He serves as director of both centers and has been responsible for the successful exchange of ideas between students and consultants in the United States, China, and other countries.
Zhang has built an internationally recognized program of research focusing on suicide that would be the envy of any major research university. His record of obtaining highly competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), totaling more than $2 million to date, is groundbreaking for Buffalo State. His work is a shining example of the success that can be achieved by a scholar in the classroom.
SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities
Pamela Schuetze-Pizarro, professor of psychology, is well known for her scholarship and her enthusiasm for sharing that scholarship with a wide range of students, from novice researchers to those preparing for graduate school.
After completing a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship at the Emory University School of Medicine, Schuetze-Pizarro joined Buffalo State’s Psychology Department in 1996. She quickly began to develop a vital and consistent research and teaching focus on developmental psychology. Her major research concentration is the study of prenatal experiences and their impact on future development. In particular, her research on the impact of substance abuse and maternal addictive behaviors on infant development has led to a productive collaboration with the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, where she serves as an associate research scientist. She also holds an appointment as research assistant professor of pediatrics at the UB’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Schuetze-Pizarro’s record of successful national and local grants speaks for itself. She and her co-investigators have secured funding from national agencies for numerous projects, resulting in more than $10 million in grants since 1999. She has published 34 articles in such leading journals as Development and Psychopathology and the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and has presented her work at 68 conferences. On a national level, her many invitations to review grants and manuscripts and sit on conference abstract review panels reflect her stature in the field. Her work has clearly influenced the field of developmental psychology.
At the same time, she is thoroughly dedicated to her students and excels when teaching independent study and honors students about research. She is a valued mentor to the department’s top students and involves many students in her research process from conception to publication. Several of her students have participated with her in national presentations and have served as coauthors on her publications. Schuetze-Pizarro instills in them not only an understanding of the intricacies of research but also the all-important joy of discovery.
President’s Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Equity and Campus Diversity
Lynne C. Sommerstein
Lynne Sommerstein, lecturer in the Exceptional Education Department, has advanced the ideal of diversity at Buffalo State by providing leadership for several important programs and activities. In doing so, she has enriched the lives of countless members of the college community and beyond.
In 2001, Sommerstein cofounded the College-Based Transition Program (CBTP), a Buffalo Public Schools program housed on the Buffalo State campus. The program offers college-age individuals with severe intellectual or developmental disabilities the opportunity to study alongside their same-age peers in a modified academic setting. To date, more than 80 Buffalo State professors have incorporated the program into their classes.
In support of the program, Sommerstein also founded the Buffalo State chapter of Best Buddies, a global nonprofit organization that creates one-to-one friendships, integrated employment opportunities, and leadership development for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The chapter pairs Buffalo State students with CBTP students and individuals from community organizations such as People Inc. In 2012, the Buffalo State chapter was named the Outstanding College Chapter of the Year at the 23rd annual Best Buddies International Leadership Conference.
In addition, during the past two years, Sommerstein has spearheaded the “Spread the Word to End the Word” program on campus. This international initiative was developed to end the use of the word “retarded” and to encourage more respectful and inclusive language. In championing these various programs, Sommerstein adds to the long and distinguished tradition of leadership by the Exceptional Education Department at Buffalo State.
President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Advisement
Anthony J. W. Chase
Anthony Chase, assistant dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, collaborates with the associate dean of arts and humanities on advisement strategies and processes. In addition, as the founding coordinator of the arts and letters degree program, he is the first contact for students designing a personalized humanities curriculum.
Chase is readily available to assist a diverse group of students through appointments and walk-in visits. Welcoming and friendly, he creates an inviting environment that encourages students to feel comfortable discussing their challenges and dreams for the future. With admirable skill and sensitivity, he asks probing questions in a gentle and genuine manner to help students discover their own solutions. He is particularly adept at helping students match their talents and interests with curricula and future employment—and is equally adept at trumpeting their successes once they become alumni of the college.
In addition to advising students face-to-face, Chase works with his long-established network of colleagues in offices and centers across campus—including Admissions, Registrar, Financial Aid, Career Development, and Counseling—to obtain results on behalf of students. His knowledge of college regulations, policies, and procedures is unparalleled and, in this regard, he is the ultimate student advocate.
An accomplished and well-known advocate and critic of theater and the arts, Chase is a role model for high academic and cultural standards. He is the standard-bearer for a liberal education and continually works to ensure that students not only earn a diploma but also graduate as educated citizens. In this way, he heralds the classic and intrinsic value of a liberal education with the value of being trained for career success.
President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Advisement
Awilda Ramos Zagarrigo
Awilda Ramos Zagarrigo, assistant professor of exceptional education, has excelled at advising students since joining the Exceptional Education Department in 2008. Immediately upon her arrival at Buffalo State, she spent a great deal of time and effort learning about the advisement process. She attended advisement workshops each semester, shadowed her mentor during advisement sessions, and asked her mentor to observe and critique her during her first advisement sessions. Zagarrigo quickly learned the process, the requirements a student needs for graduation, and the department policies for advisement.
Because exceptional education majors become dually certified in special education and elementary education, advisement for these students is complex. Zagarrigo has thoroughly studied the requirements and is now the most trusted source of information, for both students and fellow advisers, about course scheduling in this program area. Her efforts have resulted in more timely graduation for students.
Zagarrigo is frequently in her office beyond normal office hours. She has an open-door policy and is always welcoming to students and colleagues. She meets with students when it is convenient for them, as early as 5:00 a.m. or as late as 9:00 p.m., as well as on weekends. She responds to students by e-mail and phone in a timely fashion and has even used Skype to contact advisees who are studying abroad. In addition, she works closely with the Career Development Center and the Disability Services Office to refer students for additional services.
Zagarrigo goes beyond what is expected when helping plan her advisees’ academic careers. She advises, counsels, and mentors each student with thoughtfulness and a caring attitude. She sees her role not only as an adviser but also as the person who is always available to support students in all ways during their time at Buffalo State. Students feel comfortable going to her for advice in many areas of their lives and for a shoulder to lean on during challenging times. In that way, she is also a mother figure to many students.
President’s Award for Excellence in Service to the College
Kelly M. Frothingham
Kelly Frothingham, associate professor of geography and planning, has demonstrated superior commitment to her department and to the college since arriving on campus in 2000. Her efforts on behalf of faculty and students have resulted not only in successful academic outcomes but also in successful community-building outcomes.
As department chair, Frothingham uses skill and initiative to guide a department with two related yet quite different undergraduate programs: the B.A. in geography and the B.S. in urban and regional analysis and planning. In addition to leading curriculum revisions, she has worked to increase the department’s visibility both on and off campus. This has resulted in a 25 percent increase in enrollment during the past several years. At the same time, she has connected assessment results to resource decisions in order to effectively advance the department.
Frothingham’s most recent accomplishment is the creation of two new master’s degree programs in Great Lakes ecosystem science. While discussions about starting such programs were held for nearly a decade, Frothingham took a leading role in making them a reality by facilitating agreements between four participating departments and writing program proposals for approval by the state.
Frothingham’s service extends beyond her department. A graduate of Buffalo State’s McNair Scholars Program, she now serves on the program’s advisory board. She is also a member of the board of directors for the Buffalo State Child Care Center and has served on numerous college committees. In the wider community, she served as president of the Middle States Division of the Association of American Geographers, and as a member of the Niagara Habitat Conservation Strategy Technical Advisory Committee and the Niagara and Buffalo Rivers Watershed Plan Advisory Committee, among other positions. The depth, effectiveness, and importance of her work are commendable.
President’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creativity
Jill M. Gradwell
Jill Gradwell, associate professor of history and social studies education, has spent nearly a decade producing important scholarly and creative work as a member of the Buffalo State faculty. Her work has had a lasting effect on her field and has received national recognition.
As coordinator of the social studies education program, she continually addresses changing standards, expectations, and needs within the teaching profession. She constantly looks for ways to incorporate new methodologies and approaches to these challenges. Her prolific body of published articles, along with Teaching History with Big Ideas, a book she co-edited with S. G. Grant, speaks to her belief that today’s social studies education goes beyond the mere recitation of historical facts; in her view, it is the comparisons, contrasts, and controversies that offer the real lessons. In short, she is an advocate of challenging students in new and engaging ways. In addition, her work on the Social Studies Inquiry Research Collaborative, a three-year national project to address the ability of social studies teachers to engage in authentic intellectual work in high-stakes-testing settings, has had widespread influence.
Gradwell’s collaborative approach to scholarship involves both students and colleagues. For example, three graduate students coauthored a lesson plan and article with Gradwell about life in Lackawanna during the peak of its steel production years. Their work was published in the journal Social Studies Research and Practice. In another case, Gradwell invited fellow faculty members (specialized content historians) to offer daylong teaching workshops for K–12 educators at Fort Niagara. This program was supported by a grant she received through the U.S. Department of Education.
Dedicated to her department, Gradwell took on the vital behind-the-scenes task of completing the NCATE Specialized Professional Association reports. These in-depth reports required extensive research and analysis and resulted in full national recognition of social studies education programs at Buffalo State through 2023. At the same time, she is noted as an outstanding classroom teacher who is adept at preparing future teacher and museum educators for their professions.
President’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creativity
Howard P. Riessen
Howard Riessen, professor of biology, is a highly respected aquatic biologist who is well known for his meticulous observations and carefully designed experiments. His vast knowledge of Daphnia, the tiny crustaceans that are the base of the food chain in aquatic ecosystems, makes him an inexhaustible source of information in his field. He is, in fact, recognized as one of the world’s experts on Daphnia.
Since joining the faculty at Buffalo State in 1988, Riessen has published 17 peer-reviewed papers. He was first author on 12 of those papers, and his graduate students were first authors on three papers. He has published three influential articles in top international journals in the past four years. He has accomplished this, while maintaining a substantial teaching load, by focusing on the questions that matter, by being persistent in his pursuit of answers to novel research questions, and by regularly attending and presenting his research at scientific congresses and meetings around the world, where he is inspired by cutting-edge research in his field.
Respect for Riessen is evident in the frequency with which he is chosen to review papers and grants. The list of publications for which he reviews manuscripts represents a who’s who among ecology and evolution journals. The fact that editors seek him out as a reviewer is a testimony to his status in the field. In terms of grantsmanship, Riessen has been successful in obtaining internal funding at Buffalo State, which he has used to produce a body of valuable scientific research.
An outstanding researcher and creative scholar, Riessen is a strong advocate of scholarship as a central academic mission of the Biology Department. Not only has he directly mentored the scholarship of many undergraduate and graduate students, but he has also constantly advocated that the department maintain the highest standards for student scholarship. This insistence on quality and rigor has helped elevate the academic reputation of the department both within the college and beyond its walls.
President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Dwight A. Hennessy
Dwight Hennessy, associate professor of psychology, has distinguished himself as an outstanding educator both in and out of the classroom since arriving at Buffalo State in 2000. While he is recognized around the world for his pioneering research on roadway aggression, Hennessy is known on campus for his highly effective teaching abilities.
Hennessy is adept at teaching a broad variety of courses, including introductory courses, highly specialized courses in the field, and courses required within the major. He is equally effective teaching a class of 12 students or 185 students. Regardless of the section, students are enthusiastic about his approach to teaching. During a two-year period of department course evaluations, Hennessy received and overall evaluation of “good” or “excellent” from nearly 98 percent of his students. Although his courses are challenging, students appreciate Hennessy’s engaging style and sense of humor, and the high quality of his lectures.
Hennessy is an active instructor outside the classroom as well. He regularly teaches the research methods course for the McNair Scholars Program and is a dedicated mentor for students completing independent study and research projects. Hennessy often includes students as fellow researchers in his own scholarship, and almost 100 of his students have given presentations at the Student Research and Creativity Celebration. Undergraduate students have coauthored seven journal articles, six book chapters, and 17 conference presentations with Hennessy. With his encouragement, at least 27 of Hennessy’s former students have gone on to master’s-level programs, and five have entered doctoral work.
In addition to formal experiences, Hennessy invests substantial time as an academic adviser for students, as a club adviser for the Psychology Club and Psi Chi honor society, as a liaison to the Career Development Center, and as a member of numerous professional committees. The quality of his work and depth of commitment to his academic field is matched only by his dedication to Buffalo State students.
President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Lisa A. Rafferty
Lisa Rafferty, associate professor of exceptional education, is a bright and effective teacher who has consistently maintained high professional and ethical standards. Her performance in teaching, research, writing, and assigned professional responsibilities has been exemplary.
Evidence of Rafferty’s excellence in teaching is comprehensive and compelling. Her student course evaluations, observations by peers and colleagues, and letters from students indicate that she is an excellent classroom teacher. Students recognize Rafferty as an expert in her field who can relate to their learning needs, stretch their capacities to learn, and treat them as valued pre-professionals. She routinely uses innovative, evidence-based practices in both traditional and online courses. Her effectiveness covers a wide variety of courses at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.
In addition to imparting important lessons to students in the classroom, Rafferty is involved in a significant number of activities and membership on numerous committees that support student growth. Of particular note, she is chair of her department’s awards committee that assists students in developing their portfolios and recognizes their outstanding work; she is also the co-adviser of Buffalo State’s chapter of Best Buddies, which was named as the nonprofit organization’s Outstanding College Chapter of the Year in 2012.
After graduation, many of Rafferty’s former students maintain professional relationships with her as she continues to provide advice and guidance in their scholarly and service endeavors. These students often use information and instructional strategies learned in Rafferty’s classes as they teach their own classes. Not only have these students become lifelong learners, but Rafferty has also become their lifelong teacher.
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