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Academic Affairs Honors Five with Annual Awards

L to R: Irene Belyakov-Goodman, Andrea Klein, and Melanie Medeiros, recipients of Academic Affairs awards. Not pictured: Edward Pogozelski, Lytton Smith. (SUNY Geneseo/Dominic Florio ‘21)

The Division of Academic Affairs honored five employees on October 21 with its Awards for Outstanding Commitment to Geneseo’s Values. Provost Stacey Robertson recognized recipients at the division’s annual Fall Festival where faculty and staff celebrated their colleagues’ accomplishments.

“Our talented faculty and staff in Academic Affairs perform outstanding work, and their contributions help make our division and college even stronger,” Robertson said. “Our recipients’ dedication and commitment to live our values have a lasting impact on our students’ lives.”

Honorees received an award and certificate as well as a $1,000 internal grant to support ongoing work in their respective award categories.

The Award for Learning honors intellectual inquiry, scholarly achievement, and personal growth. Associate professor of anthropology Melanie Medeiros, co-coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean studies program, designed two popular study abroad programs in Brazil and Cuba. She is now planning an alumni trip to Brazil with professor of English Maria Helena Lima. In addition, she imagined, designed, and proposed Geneseo's sociomedical sciences minor, now pending SUNY approval. Medeiros is the author of Marriage, Divorce, and Distress in Northeast Brazil (Rutgers University Press) as well as several research articles and has presented at more than a dozen national conferences. She also designed and collected data on a new research project concerning Latino immigrant farmworkers in western and central New York, engaging students in her work.

The Award for Creativity celebrates a spirit of innovation that inspires intellectual curiosity and problem-solving. Lytton Smith, director of the Center of Integrative Learning and associate professor of English and creative writing, demonstrates his lifelong passion to support young writers through a variety of ways on campus. He is known among students for his challenging projects, inclusive classroom environments, wildly creative ideas, and above all his unceasing encouragement of the next generation of artists. Smith has brought a variety of  well-known poets and writers to Geneseo to host readings and, in the words of his nominator, “singlehandedly has enhanced the liberal arts side of this university.” Described as “passionate, compassionate, and admirably creative in his practice and profession,” Smith has helped many students gain acceptance into prestigious M.F.A. programs.

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. For nearly 20 years, Irene Belyakov-Goodman, coordinator of ESOL and lecturer of English emerita, has worked diligently to make our international and English Language Learner population feel included and be successful at Geneseo. In addition to teaching all the English courses Geneseo offers to international students, Belyakov-Goodman developed Methods for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, which reached capacity every semester. In bridging her courses, she created a lasting legacy at Geneseo through the Speech Buddies Program, which pairs international students with students studying language teaching methods for friendly, long-term tutoring and collegial interaction. As one nominator wrote, “Speech Buddies has provided the means for hundreds of students to meet and befriend students with cultural and linguistic backgrounds that are vastly different from their own.” Belyakov-Goodman is also is an advocate for LGBTQ+ students through SafeZone and is always willing to help students from diverse cultures, countries, and languages.

The Award for Civic Responsibility commends the promotion of ethical local and global citizenship. Associate professor of physics Edward Pogozelski infuses history and current events into his courses to make learning interesting and relevant while underscoring the importance of ethical decision-making in the application and practice of physics. Throughout courses such as Applied Mechanics and LabVIEW (Instrumentation and Interfacing), Pogozelski makes a point of stopping his students to make sure they understand the broader view. Examples include analyzing the design processes used in failed bridges and delving into factors that led to the Hyatt Regency walkway collapse in Kansas City. Pogozelski leads the annual Geneseo bridge-building competition that tests students’ engineering design and construction acumen. Ultimately, he destroys their work with a device that allows him to control force over time. In the words of his nominator, he “drives home the analytical concepts of the course but also forces students to think about the bigger picture and ethical problems we will encounter throughout our careers. I think this is the epitome of a liberal arts education.”

The Award for Sustainability acknowledges advancement in just principles of ecological, social, and economic stewardship. Andrea Klein, director of Campus Events and Scheduling, is often behind the scenes busily working to ensure the campus community hosts memorable events for faculty, staff, students, alumni, visitors, and friends of the College. These include high-profile celebrations such as New Student Convocation, Commencement, and the President’s Gala. In addition, her initiative led to recent improvements in campus signage and the lobby transformation in Erwin Hall, both of which help create a welcoming environment. Klein also chairs the Buildings and Grounds Committee and has helped engage faculty, staff, and students with campus volunteerism projects to help beautify the campus.


Tony Hoppa