Colorado State University - Pueblo honors outstanding faculty and staff at luncheon

Colorado State University - Pueblo honors outstanding faculty and staff at luncheon

PUEBLO – Outstanding faculty and staff leaders at Colorado State University – Pueblo were honored at a recognition luncheon held on Tuesday, April 13. Human Resources Associate Susan Benesch was recognized as the 2010 Outstanding Professional Employee, while Psychology Building Custodian Sandra Cordova was named the Outstanding Classified Employee. Dr. Richard Farrer, assistant professor of chemistry, earned the top faculty honor for Excellence in Teaching.

Also honored at the luncheon were recent retirees of the University and individuals who achieved a service milestone for employment during the past academic year from five to 30 years. Chief Information Officer David Niccoli was honored for his three decades of service to the University. A moment of silence also was observed for two staff members who died within the last academic year.

Outstanding Professional Staff
Three finalists for the 2010 Outstanding Professional Staff Award were selected from nine nominees by a campus-wide committee appointed by the President, Provost, Vice President for Finance and Administration and the Dean of Student Life. The 2010 Outstanding Professional Staff Award was presented to a woman who has been a consistent advocate for employees and retirees in her role as human resources professional. In the last year alone, Susan Benesch has spent significant time with a retiree battling Social Security benefits, with the family of a deceased employee to ensure all of their rights and benefits were properly received, as well as an employee who was experiencing significant medical issues. Susan went above and beyond the call of duty to advocate for these individuals, many of whom had benefits that originally were denied. She questioned insurance rules and limitations and argued with providers so that the patients and family could focus on recovery rather than paperwork.

Other finalists for the Professional Employee Award were Scott Robertshaw, assistant director of student recreation, and Louis Minatta, graduation evaluator in the Office of Admissions and Records.

The Outstanding Classified Employees were selected from among seven nominees by a panel of community leaders, Migrant Specialist Ulfredo Martinez; City Clerk Gina Dutcher, and Phyllis Samora, vice president of membership for the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce.

Outstanding Classified Staff
The Outstanding Classified Employee for 2010 is Sandra Cordova, Custodian II in the Psychology Building. Since transferring to the Psychology building in Fall of 2009, Cordova  has made a significant impact on the cleanliness and safety of the building as well as the work environment of students, faculty, and staff. When she finally caught the unwanted rodent who had nested in the couch of the student lounge, Sandra went to work insuring the conditions would prevent a future appearance. She frequently conducts special cleanings to welcome the arrival of two new professors and for the return of another professor who had been away on medical leave. She makes extra efforts to clean desks and even pictures of the sand and dirt that comes through vents from the Library remodel all in an effort to make the staff feel special.  The first and second runner-up for the Outstanding Classified Employee Award were Telephone Operator Lyn Brown and Carmela Bueno, admissions applications processor in the Admissions Office.

Students’ Choice Awards
Representatives from Associated Students’ Government, announced the recipients of the Students’ Choice Awards. ASG accepted nominations by students for a faculty and staff member they felt contributed the most to their experiences at CSU-Pueblo. Stig Jantz, academic advisor in the Hasan School of Business, and David Dillon, assistant professor of chemistry, earned Students’ Choice Awards.

Faculty Awards

Nominators of Dr. Richard Farrer, assistant professor of Chemistry, for the Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching, say he has the ability to make a difficult subject understandable. One chemistry major said Farrer provides numerous sources of information to enable a student to absorb and understand everything from quantum dynamics to thermodynamics and a testing style that enables greater learning of the subject.  For the advanced students he incorporates his research and his expertise in nanotechnology and lasers to engage these learners, while he uses an amazing enthusiasm and easy laugh to put intimidated beginner students at ease and help them overcome their anxiety of the subject.

The 2010 Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activity was presented to Dr. Matt Harris, associate professor of history, who in the last year alone has completed one book under contract, finished editing another, and began research on a new contracted book. He completed a new teaching American history grant, published a book review, published an article, presented three papers at conferences, chaired a panel, and signed a new contract for a book chapter. He also reviewed a history textbook for Pearson Prentice Hall publishing.

The 2010 award for Faculty Excellence in Service was presented to Alegria Ribandeneira, assistant professor of foreign languages, who has proven to be an effective leader for everyone around her, providing the inspiration and enthusiasm for excellence in service to students and the community alike. Even more than serving on committees like English Graduate Studies, Hispanic Heritage Month Planning, Ethnic and Gender Studies, teacher Education Board is the fact that she consistently attends and contributes significantly to each group.  She conceived of a new Language Center and helped raised funds to transform this old space into a major attraction for students.

The recipient of the award for Faculty Excellence Award in Advising has demonstrated that the needs of the students are his top priority. Dr. David Lehmpuhl, assistant professor of chemistry, was honored for being one of two advisors in the chemistry department, who informally mentors students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Students value how he treats them with respect and empowers them to work through problems on their own, all the while guiding them in the right direction.

The following faculty members were honored as the top faculty member in their respective colleges for the 2009-10 academic year:

Jeff Piquette, associate professor, Teacher Education,
College of Education, Engineering and Professional Studies

Sam Ebersole, professor, Mass Communications and Center for New Media,
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Steve Norman, associate professor of management, Hasan School of Business

Janet Barnett, assistant professor of mathematics, College of Science and Mathematics

Dan Sullivan, associate professor, Library Services


Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.