Jul. 10, 2014

SUNY Chancellor Honors Excellence Among Geneseo Faculty and Staff


GENESEO, N.Y. – Six 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 2013-14 academic year. The awards are SUNY system-level honors to provide system-wide 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 Eric Helms, assistant professor of chemistry; Jordan Kleiman, associate professor of history; and Douglas MacKenzie, associate professor in the School of Education. Benjamin Laabs, associate professor and chair of the Department of Geological Sciences, received a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities. Office of International Programs lecturer Wes Kennison and mathematics lecturer Aimee Rose both received a Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching. Enrico Coloccia, Jr., network manager in the Department of Computing and Information Technology, and Mary Hope, director of the Office of International Student and Scholar Services, both received a Chancellor’s Award for Professional Service. The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service went to Deborah Lowery, Secretary I in the Department of Communication.

“Faculty and staff who received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence have served their students, fellow faculty and staff, campuses and communities with the utmost distinction, and it is a great honor to be able to recognize them with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Congratulations to all of this year’s recipients.”

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. Geneseo recipients also will be honored at the college’s opening convocation in August.


Eric Helms inspires and engages students of all backgrounds in the difficult fields of organic chemistry and biochemistry and carries one of the heaviest teaching loads in his department. He receives consistently high student feedback scores, particularly for his success in enabling students to understand difficult concepts in chemistry. He consciously works on methods for students to use outside of class to be successful in mastering the coursework. In addition, he collaborates inter-departmentally on campus and with colleagues at other colleges to develop projects that benefit his students.

Jordan Kleiman has developed a broad range of courses on the theme of environmental and technological history in the United States since he joined the faculty in 2001. His courses are a unique blend of experiences and learning opportunities that vigorously engage students. In addition to insightful lectures, he incorporates an array of visual aids, film, musical references, hands-on experiences, field trips and guest speakers to convey ideas, themes and paradigms. His scholarship is closely aligned with his teaching, having published ten articles, chapters and book reviews/essays in the areas of environment, technology and culture.

Douglas MacKenzie teaches an unusually wide range of courses but in all cases, uses very effective array of teaching tools to engage students, enhance their understanding of both abstract concepts and necessary details, and prepare them for graduate school or professional work. He served as director of his department’s master’s degree program for six years and advised more than 40 graduate students each semester, as well as all undergraduates interested in the field of audiology.  During his tenure as graduate director, the number of students pursuing doctoral degrees in audiology quadrupled, many of whom were admitted to the most prestigious programs in the country. MacKenzie has an impressive research portfolio and is published in highly respected journals and textbooks.


Benjamin Laabs’ research efforts and scholarly output would be impressive for a professor at a top-tier research university, yet he practices a deep and sustained commitment to teaching solely undergraduates, both in the classroom and the field. He has 20 peer-reviewed publications in journals of the highest quality and is a leader in the growing field of glacial geology using cosmogenic dating to pin down the dating of past glacial fluctuations. Laabs has received $590,000 in external funding, including two major grants from the National Science Foundation. He has used much of his funding for setting up labs conducive to undergraduate research. His lab is one of two in the nation where undergraduates analyze samples for surface-exposure dating.


Wes Kennison teaches a variety of courses at Geneseo including Humanities I and II for the General Education Program as well as Latin at all levels for the Department of Languages and Literatures. He has sustained and augmented both the scope and quality of his teaching, reaching hundreds of students in transforming ways. His Humanities courses are not only taught on campus but in other parts of the world, such as Nicaragua and Italy, delivering two different experiences, requiring different text selections and very different living strategies. His teaching and concern for both incoming and current students is readily visible and his instructional policies readily address student needs, interests and problems.

Aimee Rose is a relatively recent graduate of Geneseo, who has become a mainstay for teaching section of pre-calculus. The courses is notoriously difficult to teach yet she teaches the material thoroughly, preparing her students to enter the calculus sequence. Observers from her department note how effectively she structures her classes, how well organizaed she is, how she communicates her expectations to her students and then helps them achieve those expectations. Even though her enrollments are among the highest in the mathematics department, she find time to support the intellectual growth of individual students. Her master's degree in education is an added credential that has helped her hone teaching techniques to benefit her students.


Enrico Coloccia set the standard for providing a secure, functional and effective data and voice infrastructure at the college, staying ahead of the curve in technical expertise to give Geneseo a fast and reliable high performance network. He is very collegial and willingly shares his expertise. Among his many accomplishments, Coloccia developed a copyright detection system, as well as an in-house registration system, for student residents. He’s been a member of the College Senate for ten years with frequent service to the undergraduate curriculum committee. He is not only committed to life-long learning but he applies his work ethic to be a good community member, especially in education and areas that benefit young people.

Mary Hope is almost single-handedly responsible for Geneseo’s highly successful international student program, which has grown steadily over the past 14 years in keeping with the college’s strategic enrollment goals. She has the exceptional ability to lead a growing program yet stay focused on the individual needs of the students in her program. Through the long and often complex course of recruitment, application review and enrollment, she takes a personal interest in every student. More than two-thirds of the college’s international students maintain a G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher.


Deborah Lowery, secretary 1 in the Department of Communication, was with Geneseo for more than 30 years before her recent retirement. Her work ethic and pleasant personality helped build high levels of trust and respect with department faculty. She had an astute awareness of faculty tasks and anticipated their needs, often demonstrating flexibility in her schedule to assist without getting flustered. She was always ready to help students accomplish their goals and also built a tremendous rapport with department alumni.

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