Group of faculty clap at convocation

Penn State Lehigh Valley faculty applauded during fall Convocation held Aug. 17 at the Lehigh Valley campus. The event officially kicked off the new academic year.

Image: Nouran El-Ashry

Academic Convocation officially kicks off new academic year

Faculty and staff awards presented as part of ceremony

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — The new academic year officially began and outstanding faculty and staff were recognized for their achievements on Wednesday, Aug. 17, at Penn State Lehigh Valley’s fall convocation.

Speakers included Tina Q. Richardson, chancellor of Penn State Lehigh Valley; Kenneth Thigpen, director of academic affairs; Roger Egolf, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Penn State Lehigh Valley Faculty Senate; and Allison Poczak, president of the student government association. Incoming first-year students and new transfer students were in attendance along with faculty and staff of the Lehigh Valley campus.

Faculty honored for academic excellence, notable service, innovative teaching and exceptional research included:

Karen Kackley-Dutt, who received the 2016 Teaching Excellence Award for full-time faculty. Kackley-Dutt, instructor in biology, was honored for her enthusiasm for her subjects and as one of her nominators wrote, “for being a phenomenal professor who works her hardest to be sure every individual gets the full experience of the course she is teaching.”

Katina Bozikis, who received the 2016 Teaching Excellence Award for part-time faculty. Bozikis, instructor in film, was honored for challenging her students, nurturing their creativity and for providing a hands on approach in her classes.

Alison Bonner, who received the 2016 Outstanding Innovation in Teaching and Engagement Faculty Award. Bonner, instructor in mathematics and chemistry, was honored for her work to enhance college teaching and for adding peer-teaching and collaborative-quizzing in her classes.

Mark Gruskin, who received the 2016 Outstanding Faculty Award in Research (junior faculty). Gruskin, assistant professor of business and finance, was honored for being published in many journals and also for helping several Smeal Schreyer Scholars with their Honors Theses.

Barbara Cantalupo, who received the 2016 Outstanding Faculty Award in Research (senior faculty). Cantalupo, professor of English, was honored for being an internationally recognized scholar on Edgar Allan Poe and for her recent book “Edgar Allan Poe and the Visual Arts,” which has received national awards.

Roger Egolf, who received the 2016 Outstanding Faculty Award in Service. Egolf, associate professor of chemistry, was honored for his role as chairperson of the Lehigh Valley campus Faculty Senate and for his role serving the entire university as a member of the University Faculty Senate since 2001. Most recently, Egolf chaired the university planning committee.

Michael Krajsa, who received the Academic Affairs Director’s Award for outstanding accomplishment in innovation and applied learning. Krajsa, instructor in business, was honored for enhancing experiences for students through exceptional implementation of innovation leading to applied learning. Krajsa is faculty liaison to Lehigh Valley LaunchBox and was key to getting the project started.

Staff honored for inspired and dedicated work ethic included:

Debbie Zuech-Smyrl, who received the For the Glory award, which is given to a staff member who demonstrates dedication to the university and a spirit of positivity, energy, enthusiasm, cooperation and willingness to go above and beyond. Zuech-Smyrl, executive assistant to the chancellor, was honored for her high level of professionalism and positivity, for being a servant leader and for being the heart of the campus.

Tammy Yocum-Cwienkala, who received the 2016 Outstanding Staff Award for extraordinary service. Yocum-Cwienkala, campus counselor, was honored for being an unsung hero whose work, due to confidentiality, is not typically perceptible by the overall campus. She works with a large number of students to support their mental health needs and is a shining example of professionalism and human kindness.

Ann Lalik, gallery director and arts coordinator, was also recognized for her 2016 Staff Recognition Award from the Penn State University Staff Advisory Council.

Academic Convocation officially started the new school year at Penn State Lehigh Valley.

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