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Faculty and Staff Recognition Ceremony: October 14

Posted: October 12, 2021

Sixteen Buffalo State College faculty and staff members will be recognized with President’s and Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of the college, the State University of New York, and the greater community during the Faculty and Staff Recognition Ceremony on Thursday, October 14, at 12:15 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall.

The ceremony also recognizes the significant awards and major grants of faculty and staff members and welcomes all new employees to campus. The entire campus community is invited to participate in this 10th annual event. Please observe all campus COVID-19 protocols.

SUNY distinguished faculty ranks recognize consummate professionalism, groundbreaking scholarship, exceptional instruction, and the breadth and significance of service contributions. Appointments constitute a promotion to the State University’s highest academic rank and are conferred solely by the State University Board of Trustees.

SUNY Distinguished Professor
Gerard J. Puccio, Ph.D.

Gerard Puccio, ’85, ’88, chair and distinguished professor of creativity and change leadership, began his academic career at Buffalo State College in 1990 and has been promoted through the ranks to his current position, as head of the internationally recognized Center for Studies in Creativity, with international campus partnerships in Taiwan, Canada, China, and Colombia. His devoted commitment to his students is paralleled only by his tireless and extraordinary contributions to the field of creativity. The enormous impact of his work spans more than three decades, with uniquely agile applications crossing into both the academic and corporate arenas. His tireless commitment, selfless leadership, and distinctive expertise make him a model scholar, mentor, leader, and example not only for Buffalo State but also for the SUNY system as a whole.

As a scholar, Puccio models a research balance: he moves from acclaimed traditional scholarship to practical, applied research with uncanny ease and great aplomb. His exhaustive scholarship includes the most respected publications in the field of creative studies. His scholarly publications include 26 refereed journal articles, 19 chapters, and eight books, including his most recent, The Innovative Team, coauthored with Chris Grivas. He was awarded the Research and Scholarship Award from the Research Foundation for the State University of New York in 2005; the Buffalo State College President’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creativity in 2007; and the Tudor Rickards Best Paper Award in 2005 for an article in Creativity and Innovation Management.

Deemed “One of America’s Great Lecturers” by the Teaching Company of Washington, D.C., Puccio is among the most sought-after speakers in his field, a highly engaging presenter who is equally comfortable sharing his research on the global, national, or local stage. He is a member of the International Association of Creativity and Innovation and the Creative Leadership Academy advisory board, as well as the editorial boards of the Journal of Creative Behavior and Creativity and Innovation Management.

Puccio’s nontraditional, applied scholarship also has practical corporate applications. He developed FourSight, a self-reporting creativity measuring system that is used in workplaces around the world and has been translated into seven languages. His Creative Thinkers Toolkit, also used globally, provides a tangible and practical application to multiple industries outside of academia. He has provided training, facilitation, and consulting services to more than 100 organizations in more than 20 countries, including the BBC, AT&T, 3M, Exxon, Dupont, Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, and IBM. These partnerships have brought prestige and enhanced international reputation to Buffalo State College.

Nominator: Marie Mance, M.S., Associate Director Emerita, Creativity and Change Leadership


SUNY Chancellor's Awards for Excellence provide systemwide recognition of consistently superior professional achievement. These awards underscore SUNY’s commitment to sustaining intellectual vibrancy, advancing the boundaries of knowledge, providing the highest quality of instruction, and serving the public good.

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service
Mary E. Codick, M.S.Ed.

Mary Codick, administrative assistant 1 in the Teacher Certification Office, consistently demonstrates outstanding dedication to the Buffalo State campus community through excellence in her job performance, friendly and efficient support to students, and extensive volunteer leadership and service on numerous campus committees. She is hardworking, dependable, and courteous.

Codick possesses a thorough understanding of the often-confusing and ever-evolving policies and procedures of the Teacher Certification Office as related to New York State teacher certification. Students and faculty alike benefit from her expertise, which she always delivers with professionalism and a smile. She regularly goes above and beyond to assist students with issues relating to teacher certification as well as unrelated issues, by identifying appropriate resources and referring them to appropriate offices and personnel. Her proficiency and kindness are critical in a two-person office.

Codick demonstrates her commitment to the campus community through her service on many committees, including the President’s Council on Equity and Campus Diversity, the Community Emergency Response Team, and not one, but three CSEA committees—the Education and Training Committee, the Robert J. Elmes Jr. Memorial Scholarship Committee, and the Election Committee—all of which she is either currently chairing or has chaired in the past. She volunteers for Freshman Orientation, Academic Convocation, the Anne Frank Project, and Commencement. In her most recently acquired role as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) coordinator, she has completed extensive training in order to effectively and confidentially assist Buffalo State employees and their family members in finding professionals in the community who are best suited to help solve problems or address concerns.

Her excellence in job performance and participation in the campus community is reflective of her personal values, ethics, and genuine desire to make a positive difference in the lives of the people around her. Her commitment to a higher standard is a benefit to Buffalo State, SUNY, and all with whom she interacts.

Nominator: Patricia A. Recchio, M.S.Ed., Teacher Certification Officer, Teacher Certification Office

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching
Johanna M. Fisher, M.A.

Johanna Fisher, lecturer of English, is an exceptional instructor with a diverse background in teaching, having previously worked in public and private schools in the Western New York area as a Montessori teacher and as a teacher of French, mathematics, religion, music, and dance. She has demonstrated her commitment to serving as a role model to her students, and her high-quality instruction is worthy of recognition.

Fisher, who will soon celebrate 20 years as a member of the English Department, was an early adopter of online teaching. She routinely shares with colleagues her insights into effective distance learning. Her wide-ranging intellectual interests and versatility have made her critical to the success of the college’s Intellectual Foundations (IF) program. She has taught 11 different IF courses over the years. Students in Fisher’s general education courses may enroll simply to fulfill a requirement, but thanks to her inspiring pedagogy, they emerge as reflective, creative thinkers committed to making room in their lives for poetry and literature.

To further strengthen her effectiveness in the classroom, Fisher has participated in professional development opportunities, such as remote learning training offered by Buffalo State, or webinars such as this summer’s “Zoom Meetings for Education” (hosted by Zoom) and “After the Synagogue Shooting: Pittsburghers Reflect on Antisemitism and Racism” (hosted by the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Pittsburgh).

Throughout her two decades as a Buffalo State faculty member, she has remained active as a scholar, participating in online, local, and international conferences and publishing essays, creative work, and commentaries. She served as a member of the English Department’s Adjunct Faculty Concerns Committee. For several semesters, when the department lacked creative writing faculty, she served as the adviser to the student creative writing magazine, even though as an adjunct faculty member she was neither expected to perform such service nor compensated for it. This generosity typifies the way Fisher seeks to support both her students and her colleagues. For Fisher, to teach is to be involved in facilitating self-agency for young people in the community, whether that be the academic community or the social community at large.

Nominator: Lisa Berglund, Ph.D., Chair and Professor, English

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching
Maureen A. Porter, M.A.

Maureen Porter, lecturer of theater, has proved herself to be a leader, mentor, and collaborator on campus, involved in many campus initiatives in support of the college’s Strategic Plan. She exhibits dedication to student learning and welfare, expertise in her discipline and craft, and commitment to personal and professional growth. As an educator, her dedication to exploration, bravery, generosity, and rigor permeates her approach to so many aspects of her life.

Porter works collaboratively on projects. For example, in spring 2016, she joined an interdisciplinary group on a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning study looking at how role-play could be used as an effective tool in teaching Education Psychology. In a related subsequent study, Porter worked as lead investigator and engaged another adjunct lecturer in the process.

In the Theater Department, her colleagues are impressed by her willingness to broaden her pedagogical reach. Over the past few years, she has been involved in Learning Communities, the Honors Program, the College-Based Transition Program, and Approved Applied Learning. In each program, Porter seeks to engage students at the highest levels, to encourage them to invest in themselves, and to support her partners in their own journeys. Almost every semester, the department chair receives requests for Porter to teach in one or more of these programs.

As a valued member of the faculty who is also working toward her second master’s degree, Porter is a mentor and role model for her students and colleagues. She has stepped up to support the department as a director for a theater production and as a mentor for a student director. She has walked students from class to the chair’s office for support and to various other services on campus, always making the well-being of others a priority. Porter regularly checks in on her students and supports them in their path to graduation. Her teaching is woven with innovation, her collaborations with mutual respect, and her artistry with bravery and thoughtfulness.

Nominator: Ann R. Emo, M.F.A., Chair and Professor, Theater

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service
Meghan E. B. Pereira, M.Ed.

Meghan Pereira, director of instructional design and distance learning, has exuded the tenets and transcended the normal definition of excellence at all levels during her nearly 15-year tenure at Buffalo State College.

Pereira is responsible for supporting the academic community on campus through development of trainings on educational technologies, supervising staff members to implement those trainings, and aligning all efforts with SUNY standards and initiatives. From 2012 to 2014, she led Buffalo State through a migration of learning management systems (LMS) from ANGEL to Blackboard. In 2016, she designed and implemented an innovative program called the Fostering Innovation in Teaching and Technology (FITT) Academy for faculty and staff members on campus. This program was well received by the campus community and has been touted as one of the most transformational professional development experiences available.

In response to COVID-19, Pereira was asked to serve on the Incident Management Team as well as the Presidential Advance Planning Team. In addition, she developed the college’s Keep Teaching website and mobilized a team that provided 350 faculty development sessions over a six-month period, reaching more than 530 distinct full- and part-time faculty members. She provided stellar leadership in the face of an unprecedented challenge.

Because of her expertise during the LMS migration process at Buffalo State, she was selected to review LMS products at the SUNY level. Additional service outside the job description includes several leadership roles and spearheading numerous initiatives, participation on nine SUNY-wide committees, and service as the vice chair of SUNY’s Directors of Online Learning and Distance Learning Environments, as well as the foundation of the Western New York Blackboard User Group, a consortium of more than 300 members from 47 institutions in the region. Additionally, Pereira has received Innovative Instructional Technology grants totaling $100,000, has developed and implemented an AccessMOOC that has nearly 2,500 participants, and is the designer for one of the key pillars of the college’s $2.2 million Title III grant.

Nominator: John D. Draeger, Ph.D., Professor, Philosophy; Director, Teaching and Learning Center

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service
Linda A. Rainforth, M.S.

Linda Rainforth, associate director of financial aid, has risen through the ranks of the Financial Aid Office over her nearly 40-year career at Buffalo State. She began as an entry-level CSEA stenographer and currently serves as associate director, demonstrating her passion for lifelong learning, personal and professional development, and most importantly, student success.

In her associate director position, Rainforth has exuded care and compassion for students and works tirelessly to educate, clarify, or problem solve to provide accurate and clear direction for students. Her meticulous attention to detail and ability to swiftly address issues are legendary. In addition, as the Financial Aid lead on the Title III grant proposal, her noteworthy contributions played a critical role in attaining approval for a $2.2 million grant that served as a transformative opportunity for the college to enhance its overall retention and persistence to graduation rates by providing a variety of academic supportive services to its student body.

Rainforth has made significant and lasting modifications to the systems and processes that have made the Financial Aid operation more efficient and user friendly for campus partners. For example, she was part of the initial implementation of the Financial Aid module of Banner and on multiple occasions has identified forms and processes within the system that could improve functionality for both the Financial Aid Office as well as the Student Accounts Office to create a more efficient system. She has even gone out of her way to provide necessary training for colleagues from the Student Accounts Office. She is a consummate professional who models correct procedures for her team and peers.

Beyond her role in Financial Aid, Rainforth works collaboratively with departments and colleagues in support of common goals around student success. She is quick to volunteer her service and expertise on numerous committees and working groups, such as the workshop “Being Mindful of Financial Aid Implications When Advising Students,” a partnership between academic advising and the Professional Development Center to instruct faculty and staff on critical information that directly affects persistence and success.

Nominator: Connie F. Cooke, M.S., Director, Financial Aid Office

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Pamela Schuetze-Pizarro, Ph.D.

Pamela Schuetze-Pizarro, professor of psychology, has demonstrated excellence in all aspects of her career since joining the Buffalo State faculty in 2007. She teaches a variety of courses, from small team-taught sections, such as the Hulicka Scholars course she co-created, to larger courses that reflect many years of development and feedback. Her student-focused teaching style, techniques, and formats have been carefully perfected and are evident in the success of her students, many of whom have won departmental and collegewide awards and grants, and have gone on to excellent graduate programs and professional careers.

Schuetze-Pizarro is an accomplished scholar, having previously received both the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2013 and the Buffalo State College President’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creativity in 2005. In addition, she has been awarded more than $15 million in federally funded research grants, published 58 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and presented at more than 100 conferences. Students benefit from the fact that she is a leading expert in her field.

Schuetze-Pizarro has contributed significantly to Buffalo State, the Psychology Department, and her students through her service on various committees, boards, and working groups. She believes that teaching does not stop at the classroom door. She goes out of her way to provide services that help students at all levels. She is an active and faithful adviser to approximately 60 students each semester. She has also been an adviser to the Psychology Club and the college’s chapter of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology.

Passionate, innovative, and motivated, Schuetze-Pizarro is an outstanding educator. She is dedicated to all students and wants to make sure they have a transformative educational experience. Buffalo State College is a better institution because of her teaching expertise.

Nominator: Dwight A. Hennessy, Ph.D., Chair and Professor, Psychology

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Ron Stewart, Ph.D.

Ron Stewart, department chair and professor of sociology, has demonstrated excellence in all aspects of his career and has been a champion for social and racial justice on campus and in the Buffalo community since joining the Buffalo State College faculty in 1990.

Stewart teaches a variety of courses at every level, from undergraduate to graduate. These courses reflect many years of development and feedback. His student-focused teaching style, techniques, and formats have inspired legions of students who have proceeded to excellent graduate and doctoral programs. In the classroom, Stewart links theory to practice and provides relevant real-world experience to his students, including his well-known and well-dressed “intellectual jamborees.” Not only does he connect with students on a deeper level; Stewart takes pride in creating a safe, non-threatening space for learning, free from judgment. Students praise his mentorship and are lifelong supporters of his work.

Stewart is a noteworthy scholar and has a combined total of 60 publications, including a book, supplement, papers, book chapters, peer review presentations, book reviews, and invitational presentations. His scholarship activities are tied to his teaching and service activities. He has received many awards, including the Humanitarian Award presented by the campus’s NAACP chapter and the Faculty Appreciation Award. Stewart has contributed significantly to Buffalo State, the Sociology Department, and his students through his service on various committees, boards, support groups, and student organizations. He is a conduit of knowledge for students to develop, grow, and reach their full academic and professional potential.

Stewart’s continued dedication to ensuring the success of women and racial and ethnic minorities has been recognized for promoting respect for diversity and individual differences. He teaches in programs that uplift underrepresented and first-generation students, such as Upward Bound and Student Support Services, and is an adviser for AAMEN (African American Men Empowerment Network). He is an outstanding educator and a builder of scholars. Buffalo State benefits from his teaching expertise, mentorship, contributions to the Sociology Department, college, discipline, and community.

Nominator: Amitra A. Wall, Ph.D., Associate Provost, Academic Affairs


Buffalo State College President’s Awards recognize excellence among faculty and staff members who distinguished themselves in work performed on behalf of the college.

President’s Award for Excellence in Career Achievement for Faculty
Karen O’Quin, Ph.D.

Karen O’Quin, professor of psychology, has excelled in each area of a faculty member’s responsibility throughout her 39 years at Buffalo State: she has been an inspirational teacher and a productive scholar, and she has made extraordinary contributions in service. Through it all, she has maintained a focus on the growth and well-being of Buffalo State students in her scholarship and service.

O’Quin served as a valued faculty member of the Psychology Department before being appointed associate dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences (SNSS) in 2001, after serving almost two years in the position as interim. After 17 years of remarkable service to SNSS and the college, she returned to the faculty of the Psychology Department, where she continues to teach and nurture students. From her first day as a faculty member, she has put a priority on meeting students’ needs. This was evident from her openness to teaching a wide variety of courses, from introductory courses to senior seminars. In each of her courses, she brings the latest material, encouragement, and enthusiasm.

A productive scholar throughout her career, O’Quin lists 36 publications (16 as first author); 58 papers and posters presented at regional, national, or international conferences; 10 technical reports; and 18 local paper presentations and publications on her vita. The impact has been significant, as is clear from the over 160 citations her work receives each year. Much of her work deals with creativity—an area in which she specializes—and a substantial amount focuses on assessing and improving student learning.

Her record of service is exceptional. She has been a college senator and served on a long list of department, school, and college committees. Her knowledge of college policies has been invaluable, and her devotion to responding to student needs is legendary. On each committee, she becomes an indispensable, go-to person for department chairs and faculty members. She is recognized as an excellent adviser, has seamlessly shifted to online instruction, and has published and given presentations with students.

Nominator: Howard M. Reid, Ph.D., Professor, Psychology

President’s Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Equity and Campus Diversity
Amy M. McMillan. Ph.D.

Amy McMillan, director of the Muriel A. Howard Honors Program, is committed to creating a nurturing environment for a diverse community. A strong advocate for all students, she promotes equity and diversity in programs and initiatives across campus. Students and colleagues alike appreciate her unique combination of leadership and compassion.

Since becoming honors program director, McMillan has played an instrumental role in increasing the diversity of the program by establishing the Dean’s Honors Program, which opened honors opportunities to non-scholarship students, and by incorporating the Ross B. Kenzie Family Presidential Scholarship program into the honors track. She has also recruited a diverse faculty and staff within the program and on the Honors Advisory Board. She has set the tone for the honors program as a community that celebrates diversity and encourages members to lift each other up.

McMillan has also revised the honors curriculum to focus on diversity. The HON 303 Diversity Seminar, also designated as Intellectual Foundations (IF) 2014 Diversity, explores issues of diversity, and students respond critically to the topics covered in class. In addition, she has made social awareness and justice an integral part of students’ introduction to the honors program through focused first-year themes such as “Crossing Borders” and “Belonging and Exclusion,” as well as an outgoing theme in the HON 444 Honors Senior Seminar.

An effective communicator, McMillan sends fliers and invitations through the honors Blackboard page and email, ensuring that all students know about opportunities to participate in discussions about diversity and heritage, including the honors trips to the Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel author series.

Nominator: Celestine A. Simmons, Administrative Assistant 1, Muriel A. Howard Honors Program

President’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creativity
Saquib M. Ahmed, Ph.D.

Saquib Ahmed, assistant professor of engineering technology, is a prolific scholar who impresses not only with his intellectual rigor but also with his ability to foster research partnerships and involvement of students in his scholarly endeavors. Ahmed joined Buffalo State in 2018 after an illustrious career at Intel Corporation and has excelled in all areas of academia in a short time.

He has established partnerships with the University at Buffalo, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne to pursue funding opportunities in his disciplinary domain. His notable synergistic activities include promotion of STEM activities with local school districts. He also has spearheaded efforts to submit several proposals to the National Science Foundation in the STEM areas with a focus on underrepresented students and improving recruitment and retention efforts.

He has published 12 papers in refereed journals and 18 conference proceedings and presentations during the past two years. He brings his scholarship to the classroom, as evidenced by the development of new courses covering the latest advances in his field. Moreover, he has formed close collaborations with faculty members from other departments in launching interdisciplinary research. He receives consistent positive feedback from students about his teaching style and the amount of help he provides to the students in his courses. He is noted by students for being articulate, passionate, and knowledgeable.

Ahmed’s research has reflected a spirit of collaboration and collegiality. For example, he was recently invited by the University at Buffalo’s Office of Research Advancement to participate in a $25 million NSF Quantum Leap Initiative, which has placed Buffalo State on the map as an institution invested in the advancement of critical quantum information technology. He fully understands how the synergy between two or more researchers results in the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. He is very active in the Buffalo State community and his profession, and he is a valuable member of the Engineering Technology Department.

Nominator: Mohan S. Devgun, Ph.D., Chair and Professor, Engineering Technology

President’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creativity
Guanqiu Qi, Ph.D.

Guanqiu Qi, assistant professor of computer information systems, has a great passion for research, especially in the cutting-edge areas of computer science such as deep learning, artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud computing. His prolific research and scholarship are truly broad and exceptional.

Since joining Buffalo State in 2019, Qi has published 15 journal articles and three conference papers and submitted six grant proposals. During his career, he has published more than 35 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has presented his scholarly work at several prestigious international and national conferences, which has been published in more than 24 conference proceedings. He has published in the most prestigious refereed journals in his field, including IEEE journals (Transactions on Information Forensics and Security, Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, and Sensors), the Journal of Imaging, Infrared Physics & Technology, and the International Journal of Simulation and Process Modelling. His book Combinatorial Testing in Cloud Computing was published by Springer. These attest not only to the strength and magnitude of his contributions but also to the quality of his publications.

His varied and strong research agenda includes publication in a variety of areas of computer science, such as deep learning-based person re-identification and face recognition, image fusion, image dehazing, power system and control system, analysis of near-infrared spectroscopy, and blockchain.

His major area of interest is the use of novel neural network algorithms applied to a variety of practical fields. The applications include image processing and sharpening, person identification, chemical composition analysis, and power structure optimization. The research has both improved cutting-edge neural network algorithms and demonstrated their efficacy in improving real-world applications.

Nominator: Sarbani Banerjee, Ph.D., Professor, Computer Information Systems

President’s Award for Excellence in Service to the College
Todd R. Benzin, B.A.

Todd Benzin, educational technology specialist in Instructional Design and Distance Learning, is efficient in his work, values the people he works with, and wants the best for the Buffalo State community.

During the past year, as faculty and staff members were learning new technologies and expanding their boundaries on how to best support students during the pandemic, Benzin was the reassuring voice on the end of the line. His “You can do it!” attitude inspired people who were unsure if they could meet the challenge. His encouragement and support went beyond what was expected of him, and his resilience and acceptance of change assured faculty and staff members that their work would be successful.

Benzin is careful in considering all aspects of how the college uses technology. With an increased usage of video for instruction and engagement through Ensemble, the campus-supported video platform, he initiated many projects to ensure that technology met campus needs while also being fiscally responsible. Benzin collaborated with Information Technology for a captioning contract to meet ADA requirements that would provide a quick turnaround of captions at a sustainable price point. He also continuously communicated with Ensemble Anthem users to understand usage, and he made sure that if a license was no longer in use, it could be transferred to another faculty or staff member rather than purchasing additional licenses.

Benzin brings a smile, professionalism, and good humor to every conversation. He is effective because he listens to what people need and he works through challenges until a solution is found. He believes that people can learn new technologies, even when they don’t believe it themselves. He stays with people until they find the confidence to proceed on their own. He is extraordinary in his ability to listen, meet people where they are, and find a way to move forward so that they can provide innovative instruction to students.

Nominator: John D. Draeger, Ph.D., Professor, Philosophy; Director, Teaching and Learning Center

President’s Award for Excellence in Service to the College
James E. Cercone, Ph.D.

James Cercone, associate professor of English and English education coordinator, has increased the size of his department’s graduate programs, built a community of students and alumni, developed deep and valuable ties to educators throughout Western New York, and brought distinguished scholars to campus to speak to audiences of students, faculty, alumni, and community partners.

Cercone began his duties as coordinator of the English education program in 2013, a time of declining enrollment in education programs. Since then, he has established strategies to recruit new students to the bachelor of science major, such as the College Readiness Program, which brings students from local middle and high schools to visit Buffalo State. He also has worked purposefully to encourage graduating seniors to continue their master’s degree study at the college. These efforts have been successful. Undergraduate enrollments have held steady since 2013, while master of science program enrollments nearly tripled, and the size of the postbaccalaureate program increased five-fold. When these programs are combined with the master of arts program, English now boasts the largest graduate enrollment in the School of Arts and Sciences.

This changed culture is due in large part to the growth of the English Education Student Association (EESA), a key community of practice launched by Cercone. A student-governed organization, EESA sponsors a speaker series called the Brown Bag Lecture Series that involves Buffalo State faculty and nationally renowned scholars exploring points of interest to future and in-service teachers. Cercone’s service in this area directly enhances his teaching and scholarship and his students’ scholarship.

Another significant aspect of Cercone’s service is his continuing work as the founder and director of the Western New York Network of English Teachers (WNYNET). WNYNET, which has more than 500 members, creates a community of practice in the Buffalo-Niagara area and promotes meaningful pedagogies for local teachers and schools while supporting the English education program at Buffalo State. In addition, in keeping with Buffalo State’s commitment to being an urban-engaged campus, Cercone created the Digital Writing Workshop for Buffalo schoolchildren who are often marginalized in reading, writing, and multimodal composing. At all these levels, and in his wide array of committee and organizational work across campus and in the region, he has developed networks of individuals interested in mutually supportive, meaningful partnerships.

Nominator: Lisa Berglund, Ph.D., Chair and Professor, English

President’s Award for Excellence in Service to the College
Carol A. DeNysschen, Ph.D.

Carol DeNysschen, chair and professor of health, nutrition, and dietetics, is an asset to the college in many ways: She chairs her department, teaches nutrition, serves on numerous committees, and participates in the College Senate as chair of the Academic Plan Committee. During the pandemic, she displayed extraordinary efforts that went well beyond these assigned responsibilities. Her actions have helped save lives.

In March 2020, DeNysschen asked how she could be of assistance to the Weigel Wellness Center in efforts dealing with COVID-19. As chair of the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC), she knew that COVID-19 was going to be a major challenge for Weigel and Student Affairs. With experience in the public health arena and expertise in dealing with infectious diseases, she wanted to help, not out of obligation but out of selflessness and ethical duty to the college community at large. She immediately started to explore the ways she could help with testing, student isolation issues, and the physical and mental health of students and staff.

DeNysschen initiated the call for faculty to assist and volunteer with COVID-19 testing. Her leadership and campaigning encouraged hundreds of faculty members to volunteer. She has also been involved in developing programs that provide wellness activities for the volunteers during testing. She believes that fostering an environment that is focused on wellness will promote volunteer compliance and increase the number of volunteers. In addition, as a member of the Student Continuity Relations Team (SCRT), she helped address new and emerging issues that face students during the pandemic. She used her creativity, initiative, and problem-solving skills to start a new program, “Support a Student,” which works to connect students in isolation and quarantine with faculty members from their major through personalized gift bags.

In addition to her on-campus work, DeNysschen represents Buffalo State in the community through various outreach and service activities. She is member of the board of directors and vice chair of programs and services at FeedMore WNY; a member of the board of directors and development chair for Haiti Outreach Pwoje Espwa (H.O.P.E.); and president of the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Nominator: Rock D. Doyle, Ed.D., Assistant Vice President for Health and Wellness, Weigel Wellness Center

President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
KeunYoung Oh, Ph.D.

KeunYoung Oh, chair and associate professor of fashion and textile technology, skillfully meshes the rigors of intellectual pursuit with her constant and natural focus on care. A true teacher, Oh listens to her students, understands their learning needs, and provides a variety of learning paths. This approach requires an exhaustive attention to each student’s needs, a willingness to adapt course materials, and a commitment to working beyond typical teaching hours.

Oh’s scholarship and professional contributions are extensive and impressive. Her professional affiliations include membership in the fashion and marketing industry’s most prestigious organizations, where she has garnered an international reputation as a respected industry leader. She has served as an editor (Journal of Global Fashion Marketing, Journal of Fashion Business), a journal and abstract reviewer (Fashion and Textiles, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services), a textbook reviewer (Marketing Fashion, Sustainability), and an active working member of important industry-to-academic organizations (Textile and Apparel Programs Accreditation Commission, KEI Steering Committee for Fashion Design and Merchandising).

With a tireless commitment to bringing her expertise and international experiences to the heart of her teaching and learning with students, Oh has averaged over 50 undergraduate advisees each semester for the past three years. There is no greater affirmation for a teacher than the success of their students. Oh’s impact on her students’ futures can best be communicated through her former students themselves. This continued communication with her former students was made possible by a platform she created called the FFT Alumni Network on Linkedln, a program that provides a structure and mechanism for her graduates to share their insights, experiences, and career opportunities as they move through their professional lives.

In addition, Oh’s commitment to social justice through fashion is a clear and consistent thread through her career at Buffalo State. She continues to work extensively through the Equity and Campus Diversity Office, the Civic and Community Engagement Office, the Anne Frank Project, and her own department as she leads, coordinates, and produces the extremely popular annual Runway show each year. While Runway is an excellent opportunity to feature fashion students’ design work, it is also a powerful platform for community engagement and social justice.

Nominator: Drew J. Kahn, M.F.A., SUNY Distinguished Service Professor, Theater; Director, Anne Frank Project

Photos by Bruce Fox, campus photographer.


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Center for Applied Imagination

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