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 Wednesday, April 18.  Internship Coordinator Tanya Baird was recognized as the 2012 Outstanding Professional Employee, while Records Department Transcripts Clerk Cindy Sufian was named the Outstanding Classified Employee. Dr. John O’Connor, assistant professor of philosophy, earned the top faculty honor for Excellence in Teaching. The graduate faculty in the Nursing Department earned the Outstanding Team Award.

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. A moment of silence also was observed for six staff members who died within the last academic year. Dr. Luis Valerio was honored by the University Retirees Association of Pueblo for his work on the renovation of the Southeast Asia Memorial and his commitment to the University.

Outstanding Professional Staff
Three finalists for the 2012 Outstanding Professional Staff Award were selected from 10 nominees by a campus-wide committee appointed by the President, Provost, Vice President for Finance and Administration and the Dean of Student Affairs. The 2012 Outstanding Professional Staff Award was presented to a self-proclaimed workaholic, Internship Coordinator Tanya Baird, who has brought a true internship process to the University, informing the faculty of the importance of stating learning outcomes, evaluating the work sites, and making sure every student understands their rights and responsibilities before they take on a position. She has done significant research on the personal and professional effects of social networking, which she presents to classrooms across campus, but presented to a national audience at the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities National Conference last year. She also shares her expertise by teaching a couple on-line business classes for Continuing Education. 

Other finalists for the Professional Employee Award were Adam Pocius, coordinator of the Instructional Technology Center, and Frank Milavec, student technology support specialist in Information Technology Services.

Outstanding Classified Staff
The Outstanding Classified Employees were selected from among 13 nominees by a panel of community leaders, Dave Feamster, Little Caesar’s Pizza; Karen Vunovich, Beck Dental Care,
Arlene Apodaca from Dept of Social Services, Child Support Division.
The Outstanding Classified Employee for 2012 is Cindy Sufian, transcripts clerk in the Records Department, who was described as a “dependable, accurate, driven, and absolutely pleasant,” employee. Nominator Katie Velarde notes that Sufian is respected and admired by her peers for keeping customer service at the forefront always with a smile on her face. Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management Joe Marshall is impressed with her dedication and high levels of customer satisfaction. She has increased the office’s efficiency by modifying the transcript process which now handles 12,000 transcript requests annually.  Colleague Liz Duran calls Cindy as a “total team player,” who has taken it upon herself to learn other duties in the office and to become familiar with many other areas on campus so as to provide the best service to the students rather than having them run all over campus for an answer. 

The first and second runner-up for the Outstanding Classified Employee Award were Gena Alfonso, Program Assistant I, Student Affairs, and Liam Harty, Acquisitions Tech II, Library Services.
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. Student Affairs Dean Zav Dadabhoy earned the top staff honors, while Alegria Ribadeneira, assistant professor of English and Foreign Languages was the students’ choice as the top faculty member.

Faculty Awards
Nominators of Dr. John O’Connor, assistant professor philosophy, for the Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching, say his experiments with new teaching methodologies in his classes, his life-long learning, and his student-centered focus are clearly making a difference. Because of O’Connor’s innovation and indefatigable efforts, the number of philosophy majors has quadrupled since his arrival. There is perhaps No higher compliment than when a student keeps taking courses from an instructor, even when they don’t get the grade they want or think they deserve. O’Connor believes philosophy helps students get more from their other courses and more from life.. One student commended his creativity as a professor, his ability to adapt to student needs, as well as his capacity to innovate and connect with students in diverse classroom environments. “He is more than just a philosophy professor; he has been a mentor and a valuable asset to my intellectual growth.”

The 2010 Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activity was presented to Dr. Brian Vanden Heuvel, associate professor of biology, who over the last three years has written two primary research articles, one book chapter, and five chapters in the Jepson Floral Project. His research interests are as diverse as nitrogen-fixing bacteria such as Frankia and the herbaceous plants they support such as Dryas, as well as the aquatic  Zebra mussels, and plant uptake of pharmaceuticals, has He has been active in writing grant proposals and implementing funded grants as well as an invited grant review for the National Science Foundation. Interim Dean David Lempuhl calls Vanden Heuvel the “poster-child for the Teacher-Scholar model of a faculty member,” due to his enthusiasm for including student involvement in research. 

The 2012 award for Faculty Excellence in Service was presented to Michael Mincic, associate professor of civil engineering technology and program coordinator of construction management for his extensive, exceptional service and leadership to the department, CSU-Pueblo, his profession as an engineering technology educator, and the land surveying professional community. At state level, Mike serves as chair of the Colorado Faculty Advisory Council and as the state wide faculty representative to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. He has become well known as an educator in Colorado, a respected professional in the land surveyor community of southern Colorado, and a trusted mentor to his students.  Mincic is a two-term senator on the CSU-Pueblo Faculty Senate, and academic advisor to the Associated General Contractors student club, academic advisor to as many as 40 students annually in the Civil Engineering Technology program,  as well as the primary academic advisor to the construction management students. He is one of lead instructors for the Summer Transportation Institute program for secondary school students and is the CSU-Pueblo representative to the Pueblo Area Contractors Association. He also has served on the Board of Directors for the Southern Chapter of the Professional Land Surveyors of Colorado.

The award for Faculty Excellence in Advising/Mentoring was presented to Dr. Carol Foust, department chair and professor of exercise science, health promotion, and recreation, who serves as the primary advisor for more than 70 exercise science students. She has extensive contact with students and assists them with internships, graduate schools, as well as professional positions. Students trust her wholeheartedly with their academic needs and they recognize “she teaches life altering techniques for change which we can utilize for ourselves as well as in our future careers in health and wellness. She lives a life I want to model, not only in her professional ventures, but in her personal life.” Students say she is quick to encourage and guide, as well as to amend any wrong she may make along the way. Another student noted that “she has emulated what a health educator is, and the type of health educator I strive to be. She helped me develop my skills and knowledge base and introduced me to numerous people in the community that helped build my networking base. She not only teaches and advises these positive aspects of life but she also lives them. She has been an inspiration not only to my future in my education but also in my life.”

The following faculty members were honored as the top faculty member(s) in their respective colleges for the 2011-12 academic year:

•    Christine Rochester, associate professor,  Exercise Science, Health Promotion, and Recreation, College of Engineering, Education, and   Professional Studies

•    Carol Langer, associate professor and chair of Social Work, College of Humanities and Social     Sciences

•    Karen Fowler, professor of business, and Seong-Jong Joo, associate professor of business, Hasan School of Business

•    Igor Melnykov, associate professor of mathematics, College of Science and Mathematics

•    Shahrzad Khosrowpour, instructor,  Library Services
Outstanding Team Award
The Outstanding Team Award was presented to the Department of Nursing Graduate Program Faculty who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to create the first doctoral program at CSU-Pueblo. With the assistance of Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, Interim President Julio Leon, Senator Angela Giron, and Representative Keith Swerdferger, SB 205 was signed in June 2010, changing the mission of the university and paving the way for degree approvals by the Cap Board, Board of Governors, and Colorado Department of Higher Education. The timeline was tight, but the graduate faculty contributed their unique expertise and exception experience to produce quality proposals and curriculum necessary to make the Doctor of Nurse Practice a reality. Throughout the incredible journey, the faculty demonstrated cooperation, collaboration, and open communication along the way.  They spent last summer creating a rigorous curriculum based on national competencies and will spend this summer further exploring best practices and lessons learned to prepare for national accreditation visits.  Due to their efforts, the first cohort of 30 doctoral students will begin their degree programs in the fall. The graduate nursing faculty has paved the way for other doctoral programs to be offered by the University. Nominated team members included Joe Franta, Susan Williams, Dorothy DeNiro, Peg Rooney, Ann Galloway, Nancy Whetzel, Libby Samaras, and Donna Wofford

Five  individuals received special notice for the longevity of their service to the University:  Martin Atteberry and Nancy Whatley, 25 years; Anthony Bonfiglio, Sandra Lundahl, and
Barb Ramirez, 30 years.

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.