Jun. 21, 2013

SUNY Chancellor Honors Excellence Among Geneseo Faculty and Staff


GENESEO, N.Y. – Five SUNY Geneseo faculty members, two from the college's professional staff and one from the classified services are among recipients of Chancellor's Awards for Excellence for the 2012-13 academic year. The awards are SUNY system-level honors to provide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and to encourage the ongoing pursuit of excellence. The chancellor presents the awards annually to faculty and staff in six categories: teaching; faculty service; scholarship and creative activities; professional service; librarianship; and classified service.

Receiving Chancellor's Awards for Excellence in Teaching were Justin Behrend, assistant professor of history; Charles G. Freeman, professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy; and Gillian Paku, assistant professor of English. Michael L. Oberg, professor of history, received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities and Emilye Crosby, professor of history, received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Faculty Service. Wendi R. Kinney, assistant dean of students for fraternal life and off-campus services, and Jeffrey Nordland, director of accounting services, both received a Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service. The Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Classified Service went to Donna Hanna, library clerk 3, in the college's Milne Library.

"SUNY employs an exemplary body of faculty and staff across the state and the annual presentation of these awards underscores our deep appreciation for those who serve SUNY campuses, students, and communities with the highest levels of distinction," said Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. "Congratulations to all of this year's honorees."

Individuals selected for this honor are role models within the SUNY community. In acknowledgment of their selection, recipients are recognized in the college catalogue by the addition of the phrase "State University Chancellor's Award for Excellence in [category]." A certificate and a Chancellor's Excellence Medallion are also bestowed upon each honoree to commemorate selection. Recipients are honored by their respective campuses during commencement exercises, at academic convocations, or other special events hosted in their honor.


Justin Behrend joined the Geneso faculty in 2007, where he primarily teaches African-American history in the Civil War Era. He has quickly earned the respect of his students and colleagues for creating dynamic lessons that truly foster active student learning. He addresses the fundamental questions of social inequality, racism and other forms of injustice and gives students the tools to express informed opinions about these issues even as they are challenged to question their own assumptions. He is an exemplary scholar-teacher, having published numerous papers and articles in his field.

Charles G. Freeman brings a high level of dynamism to the classroom, bringing in demonstrations of physical concepts, simulations, video games and other tools. He provides students direct, hands-on experiences with physics while guiding them in the relevant procedures and analyses. Among his scholarly activities, Freeman is involved with nuclear fusion research and frequently uses it to teach and mentor students. He is committed to bringing all of his students to his or her individual peak of learning.

Gillian Paku has been on the Geneseo faculty for almost five years and has come to epitomize the teacher-scholar model that is at the center of Geneseo's mission as a liberal arts college. She has excelled both inside and outside of the classroom, earning the praise and respect of fellow colleagues and students alike. She has provided leadership and guidance to the English Department during curriculum revision. Her teaching philosophy is apparent in her careful course designs, intellectually engaging yet accessible classroom interactions, creative group writing projects and individual meetings with students. She also has pursued an active research agenda, focusing on such topics as the dialogue surrounding pedagogy and technology.


Michael L. Oberg joined the Geneseo faculty in 1998 and focuses much of his work on Native American history. His dissertation became the basis for one of his six books on the topic with three additional books either under contract or in press. In addition, he has published a dozen scholarly articles and chapters as well as more than 20 book reviews. Oberg is a frequent speaker at academic history conferences and special forums. He is a highly regarded consultant and researcher for the Seneca Nation in Western New York and the Indian Resources section of the United States Department of Justice.


Emilye Crosby has been at Geneseo since 1995 and has become a model for faculty who complement their teaching and scholarship with service. She has contributed in extraordinary ways beyond her outstanding teaching and research (she won a Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002.) Her service includes curriculum development, interdisciplinary program administration, student mentoring, supplemental program faculty governance and service to the profession. She has complemented her scholarship with more than two dozen reviews of work by other historians in the field of Civil Rights. She brings her nationally acclaimed scholarly activity, as well as her personal connections with the "heroes" of the Civil Rights movement, back to her students and colleagues at Geneseo.


Wendi R. Kinney came to Geneseo in 2001 and has since introduced a number of substantive improvements in how Greek life functions at the college. She is recognized as a leading voice in her field of Greek life both in SUNY and beyond. Her colleagues see her as an outstanding professional who has had a significant positive impact on many aspects of student life at Geneseo. She also has built an impressive record of service to the college outside of her position, including serving as the executive director of the Northeast Greek Leadership Association.

Jeffrey Nordland's 25 years of service to SUNY Geneseo have been indispensable to the entire college. As both a budget analyst and director of accounting services, he has overseen expenditures and revenue, filed all appropriate banking and financial reports and handled all accounting responsibilities for the Geneseo Foundation. He is active in SUNY-wide services and on committees across the college. His colleagues praise his extraordinary reliability as an interpreter of financial regulations and his ability to think creatively and draw from his extensive SUNY and Geneseo experience to come up with desirable solutions.


Donna Hanna has been at Geneseo for 33 years and has played an essential role in the library, earning the respect, appreciation and admiration of everyone for her can-do attitude, high standards of excellence, strong service ethic, spirit of cooperation and positive attitude. Those nominating her for the honor noted that she approaches her work with enthusiasm and consistently carries out her many tasks in an outstanding and timely manner, performing well beyond the requirements of the job.

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