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Academic Affairs Honors Five at 2020 Awards

An Erwin Hall display honors Academic Affairs Award recipients (photo provided).

The Division of Academic Affairs recently recognized five employees with its Awards for Outstanding Commitment to Geneseo’s Values. Provost Stacey Robertson honored recipients with an award and certificate as well as a $1,000 internal grant to support ongoing work in their respective categories.

Following are excerpts from the award nominations:

The Award for Learning honors intellectual inquiry, scholarly achievement, and personal growth. Karleen West, associate professor of political science and international relations, has completed two major research projects and written two books during her six years at Geneseo. She has also authored numerous articles and been featured in a documentary. In addition to her regular teaching rotation, West has developed an honors course, developed and co-led a cross-disciplinary study-away program, and co-written two interdisciplinary teaching grants. West involves students in research and traveling with them to conferences, including an international conference in Cuba. She serves as Faculty Fellow for Internationalization, program coordinator for two interdisciplinary programs, and a member of the Geneseo Research Council.

The Award for Creativity celebrates a spirit of innovation that inspires intellectual curiosity and problem-solving. Travis Kershner, senior network analyst in Computing and Information Technology, has worked to improve the stability and capacity of the college’s wired and wireless networks. He designed affordable wireless solutions for athletic locations that exceeded performance requirements. He designed WiFi service in the College Union Ballroom projection booth. Additionally, Kershner creatively connected departments’ unusual devices to the network and designed a solution to proactively monitor the status of Geneseo battery backup systems.

The Award for Inclusivity recognizes accomplishments in promoting a diverse campus community marked by mutual respect for the unique talents and contributions of each individual. Maria del Rocio Vallejo-Alegre, former part-time lecturer in Languages and Literatures, has included lessons on diversity, global awareness, and community in her classes at Geneseo. She created a course for residents of the Global House Living Learning Community to learn about their impact on society. Vallejo-Alegre has worked on initiatives such as medical Spanish classes that allow students and faculty to assist with medical translations for the local health department and schools. Additionally, she has co-organized blanket and clothing drives for the Livingston County Migrant Center clientele and has voluntarily coordinated the Together program that provides students an opportunity to teach English to non-English speakers.

The Award for Civic Responsibility commends the promotion of ethical local and global citizenship. Assistant professor of anthropology Jennifer Guzman works to ensure her research directly benefits the marginalized communities with whom she works, such as a recent study of im/migrant Latinx farmworkers in Western and Central New York. She models civic responsibility volunteering as secretary for the im/migrant farmworker organization Alianza Agicola, driving farmworkers to meetings and events, accompanying farmworkers to Albany for legislative visits dedicated to the driver’s license campaign, interpreting for farmworkers and immigration attorneys at the immigration detention center in Batavia, and spearheading the creation of an English as a second language exchange program, where students gave English lessons to farmworkers in their homes.

The Award for Sustainability acknowledges advancement in just principles of ecological, social, and economic stewardship. Associate professor emerita of anthropology Barbara Welker served as co-chair of the President’s Commission on Sustainability from 2015 to 2017. During that time and since, she has been instrumental in implementing programs and procedures that improve the sustainability of the College as an institution and an integral part of the local community. As a biological anthropologist, she addresses sustainability through her teaching and research by examining and discussing not only primate diversity and behavior but also the environmental changes that endanger populations of primates around the world. She wrote an open-source textbook, The Evolution of Our Tribe: Hominini, and integrates sustainability studies into all of her courses, engaging students from a wide array of disciplines with multiple aspects of sustainability.


Robyn Rime
Senior Writer & Editor
(585) 245-5529