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Binghamton University Excellence Award Recipients

Nineteen people were honored Tuesday,
Oct. 21, during the University’s annual
Excellence Awards Dinner.


The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
recognizes superior teaching in full-time instructors at the
graduate, undergraduate or professional level.

Elisa Camiscioli is an associate professor in the History Department and the Women’s Studies Program. Her scholarship focuses on France and its empire, emphasizing how categories of race and gender have been constructed in Europe. Since she began her service to the University in 2001, she has expanded the History Department’s curriculum, with two of her three upper-division courses becoming permanent. Few have her reach in interdisciplinary and transnational terms: The four graduate and two undergraduate seminars she developed contribute to the University’s goals of diversity and international education and always include students from other departments. She has supervised 21 independent studies for both undergraduates and graduates, many in preparation for PhD comprehensive exams. Students appreciate the intellectually open space she creates, and no seminar concludes in which they have not spoken several times. Her topics draw on the latest developments, to which her cutting-edge research contributes. Two of her academic-journal articles have been reprinted; her book, Embodying the “French Race”: Immigration, Reproduction, and National Identity in the Early Twentieth Century, is forthcoming; and she has represented the University well at numerous conferences. Her substantial service to the University includes serving as director of undergraduate studies and on the Harpur College Council. She earned her PhD from the University of Chicago.

Joseph Church earned his PhD from the University of California-Irvine and is an associate professor in the English, General Literature and Rhetoric Department, where he has taught 20 different graduate and undergraduate courses. Since his service to Binghamton began in 1986, he has earned a reputation that is a testimony to his love of teaching. His use of examples from modern popular culture to more readily instill an understanding of the relevance of major philosophical concerns of early American literature to contemporary life belies the meticulous and strenuous preparation that is required. He encourages students to dialogue with each other: All completed assignments and his comments about them are posted on Blackboard, where students see the importance of learning from others, making for more fully informed and effective classroom discussions. Author of the book Transcendent Daughters in Jewett’s Country of the Pointed Firs, as well as two dozen articles in academic journals, he is always available to those he teaches, willing to work on independent studies and help advanced graduate students navigate through the field examination and dissertation process. His service to the University includes the Faculty Senate and faculty representative to the U.S. Department of Education’s “Preparing Future Professors” program. His department has benefited from his participation on the advisory and undergraduate committees, among many others. Of his classroom, it has been said, there is no right or wrong, only what you know and what you don’t know yet.

Anne Barrett Clark, associate professor in the Biological Sciences Department, earned her PhD from the University of Chicago and began her service to Binghamton in 1988. She is known as a demanding teacher, as well as one who is sought after by majors and non-majors alike. From introductory biology to numerous seminar courses for both advanced-undergraduate and graduate students, she seeks out new methods of teaching and new experiences to help students better explore animal behavior and holistically examine a wide range of topics. She sets a high bar for herself and her students; even at the freshman level, she does not hesitate to introduce original research to challenge students. Her own research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health for her contributions to West Nile Virus research; and several times by the National Science Foundation, most recently on the EthoSource program, developed with colleagues at other universities, which will result in a searchable online catalog of behaviors in a common language for a given species. Her commitment also extends beyond the classroom and includes supporting pre-veterinary students; serving as a faculty fellow in the Dickinson residential community; advising numerous master’s and four doctoral candidates; and mentoring students in the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program, which recruits underrepresented minority students from community colleges. Both her publications and her involvement in many professional organizations, conferences and academic committees demonstrate her compassion for and commitment to biology.

Michael L. Lewis, associate professor in the Computer Science Department, Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, earned his PhD from the University of Virginia and began his service to the University in 1999. He has initiated the research and advanced courses in grid computing, which has become one of the most important areas offered to the department’s graduate students. In a rapidly evolving field, he diligently updates his courses every semester to reflect new developments, while maintaining his own cutting-edge research. To ensure classroom learning, he varies his approach to students at every level, and is noted for being approachable, open to new ideas and able to convey the most complex ideas. Well published, he is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and serves as principal or sole investigator for grants from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, using his own research grant to sponsor a programming contest for students. Through a National Science Foundation Research for Undergraduates grant that he directs, 10 undergraduates from various universities come to Binghamton for summer research projects, increasing the visibility of the department and the University. An excellent mentor, he is adviser to two PhD candidates and has successfully supervised three PhD dissertations and 27 master’s theses.

Donald J. Loewen is an associate professor of Russian and chair of the German and Russian Studies Department. He earned his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and joined the University in 2001. Since then, he has refashioned and strengthened the Russian program. In what has been called a tour de force, he developed four Russian studies courses, each crafted with rigor, comprehensiveness and high standards. His cultural studies courses are cross-listed, and all meet at least one general education requirement. The creativity and energy he brings to teaching are founded on his belief that students will be active learners as long as they can see the relevance of their studies beyond the classroom. His encouragement and high scholarship often find him advising graduate students from other disciplines, and serving on dissertation and examination committees. The results of his re-conceptualization of how to better serve heritage and non-heritage students were published in a teaching journal and demonstrate his leadership on a national and international scale. His new book, The Most Dangerous Art: Poetry, Politics and Autobiography after the Russian Revolution, represents a paradigm change about poetry and politics in Russian studies that will add to the University’s reputation as a research institution.

Paul Alexander Loya earned his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and began his service to Binghamton in 2002. An associate professor in the Mathematical Sciences Department, he combines the rare talent for clarifying complex mathematical concepts with an exuberance for teaching, integrating his strong research into his undergraduate and most advanced graduate courses. By getting to know who his students are before stepping into class, he tailors his methods and course content in order to make the strongest connection possible to their varying backgrounds and learning styles. His passion for mathematics is infectious, as witnessed by his holding in-demand office hours in a classroom. His Student Opinion of Teaching (SOOT) scores are remarkable: Over the past three years and to the questions that focus on instructor quality, 100 percent responded they strongly agree or agree. His scholarship is equally impressive and includes nearly 30 articles in scholarly journals; he has co-organized two special sessions of the American Mathematical Society and has given professional presentations at close to 30 conferences.

Roy T.R. McGrann began his career at Binghamton in 1998 as a visiting professor. Today, he is an associate professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department in the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science and, from 2004 to the summer of 2008, its director of the Engineering Design Division. An experienced engineering designer from industry, he is a demanding but fair teacher whose guidance on how to make engineering judgments, deal with clients, stay on budget and on time, and his other industry skills are highly appreciated by students. He successfully integrates his National Science Foundation-funded research, which is focused on continuous improvements in engineering education, with practice. As division director, he revamped the freshman program, leading the effort to create an integrated first-year experience and teaching two of the eight required undergraduate engineering courses he developed. Students in nine undergraduate and eight graduate independent-study courses have benefited from his supervision. He has served on 31 thesis committees and sits on the school’s undergraduate studies committee, where he developed and championed an honors program. Extensively published in well-regarded journals, he has presented at dozens of conferences, including three peer-reviewed presentations and 20 conference papers on engineering education. He earned his PhD from the University of Tulsa.


The University Award for Excellence in International Education
was created to recognize Binghamton faculty and staff for outstanding efforts in support of the University’s longstanding commitment to internationalization.

Richard R. Eckert, associate professor in the Computer Science Department, Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, earned his PhD from the University of Kansas and came to Binghamton in 1983. His insight, influence and enthusiastic support have shaped the general direction of the University’s expansion of international education in a host of ways. He is a longtime member of the International Education Advisory Committee; as chair of the University Undergraduate Curriculum Committee for many years, he addressed and resolved issues impacting international education within the context of general education requirements. He has been a mainstay of the Turkish dual-diploma program in information systems both here and in the Republic of Turkey. As chair of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee during the program’s approval process, he took the unusual step of convening key meetings during the Senate’s summer recess to ensure the University could maintain the schedule at the State University of New York System Administration Office, with the Turkish Board of Higher Education and with our Turkish university partners. His leadership ensured the success of the program. He was intimately involved in planning its curriculum, developed a strong rapport among faculty at the partnering institutions and, fittingly, teaches the first course required of Turkish students in the program. That he gives freely of his time and energy to these and all his students is not surprising: he was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1999.


The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities recognizes faculty who consistently engage in and have established a solid record of scholarship and creative productivity in addition to their teaching responsibilities.

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is a professor in the English, General Literature and Rhetoric Department and director of its Creative Writing Program. She earned a master of arts degree from New York University. Since she joined the faculty in 2001, she has significantly heightened the University’s national visibility in the creative arts. She has, to date, distinguished herself by producing 12 books of acclaimed poetry. Her most recent, All That Lies Between Us, was chosen for the prestigious Sheila Motton Award in 2007 by the New England Poetry Club and nominated for the 2007 Los Angeles Times Book Award. Her poems have appeared in The New York Times and Christian Science Monitor and have been reprinted in hundreds of literature anthologies. Between December 2007 and January 2008, Garrison Keillor read her work three times on National Public Radio’s Writer’s Almanac. Her poems have been included on the New York State Regents examination, the standardized tests for North Carolina and Tennessee and the high school graduation tests for all of Italy. She is a featured reader at prominent international and national poetry festivals, including the Geraldine R. Dodge Festival, which is the most prestigious poetry festival in the country.

Weiyi Meng is a professor in the Computer Science Department, associate director of the Center for Computing Technologies and internationally known for his research in Web-based information and database systems. He is an acknowledged world leader in research on metasearch technology, which collects and filters the massive amounts of information on the Web to glean the most relevant and accurate results for users from different search engines. This pioneering work has received a steady stream of support, almost all from the National Science Foundation, which recognized his innovative efforts early on, bestowing on him its Research Initiation Award in 1993, a year after he began his service to the University. As a cofounder of Webscalers LLC, he is transferring some of the metasearch-engine technology into real products and has been instrumental in attracting funding for his company. A four-time National Science Foundation panelist, he has been a program committee member for 20 conferences, including program committee co-chair for the Ninth International Conference on Web Age Information Management; contributed to almost 70 refereed papers in highly prestigious journals; and served as keynote speaker at the Fourth International Conference on Advanced Data Mining and Applications. He earned his PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago.


The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service
recognizes individuals whose long history of service to the campus, State University, local community or professional societies/organizations sets them apart, as well as those who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership in local or system-wide faculty governance.

David L. Cingranelli is a professor in the Political Science Department whose record of service and range of accomplishments since he arrived at Binghamton in 1976 have been inspirational. He has served as the department’s chair, director of graduate studies and director of undergraduate studies, and as associate dean for administration of Harpur College of Arts and Sciences. His commitment to the University and abiding interest in others are elegantly defined by his efforts as project director of the Ronald P. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program since 1995. This U.S. Department of Education-funded program helps minority and low-income, first-generation undergraduate students enter graduate programs. His tireless work obtaining and continuing its grant funding has helped hundreds, given the University greater credibility in the competitive world of educational grants and increased its position as a leader in the State University of New York system. His international reputation was enhanced while he served as co-project director of the Cingranelli and Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Data Project, which contains information about the level of government respect for 15 human rights in 195 countries from 1982-2006. It has prompted a wave of human rights research worldwide, has influenced governments and is a resource for such organizations as the United Nations. Extremely well published and a participant in scores of conferences, he gives his time pro bono to the Governance Project of the World Bank on human rights measurement issues. A PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, he deftly manages to continue to teach an overload of courses.

James H. Constable
recently retired from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, but he has returned to the department this fall as a Bartle Professor. He has served three schools since his University career began in 1974: Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Education and Human Development and, since 1984, the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science. For the past 15 years, he was the department’s director of graduate studies, shepherding 42 new graduate courses through the approval process. Under his leadership, enrollment in its master’s and PhD programs grew significantly. He also took the lead on course scheduling, assigning teaching assistants and maintaining high admission standards, a time-consuming task given the great volume of applications. The applications he wrote for two combined BS/MS degree programs were among the first of four combined programs approved by the University. As liaison for a cooperative program with BAE Systems, he cultivated the largest single source of domestic students for the department’s graduate program. The Watson School and the University have benefited greatly from his counsel on countless committees, including the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee, Graduate School Budget Advisory Committee, University Faculty Senate, Faculty Senate Executive Committee, Professional Schools and All-University Personnel Committee. His leadership and expertise on the Engineering and Science Building Planning Committee will move the Watson School and the University to a new level. He holds a PhD from Ohio State University.


The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service was created to recognize those with extraordinary professional achievement who have repeatedly sought improvement of themselves, their campuses and ultimately, the State University of New York, and in doing so, have transcended the normal definitions of excellence.

Cheryl Brown
earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Binghamton University and joined the staff in 1980. She became the director of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions in 2000. Since then, Binghamton has seen record increases in enrollments and applications, a rise of 60 points in average SAT scores and 25,000 campus visitors — more than twice the number before her tenure. An untiring champion for change, she worked to implement an application predictive modeling system that enables the University to consistently bring in a freshman class that represents the best students in each year’s pool of now more than 30,000 applicants. She encourages and requires data measurement of all programs, activities and recruitment initiatives to efficiently manage and allocate funds to activities that are most successful. Against all advice from every other school in the SUNY system, her decision to eliminate paper applications resulted in significant savings and no negative effect on applications. Her introduction of innovative Web-based, electronic mail and instant messaging to blanket target audiences has increased Binghamton’s visibility. A two-time recipient of the Professional of the Year Award from SUNY College Admissions Professionals, she has chaired the SUNY Directors Committee for three years, is a member of the SUNY-wide Enrollment Management Advisory Committee and serves on panels throughout the state on admissions issues. A recipient of the Colleague of the Year Award from the Division of Student Affairs, she has also been tapped by a national consulting firm to teach other campuses best practices in college admissions.

Sylvia M. Hall
earned a master of education degree from the State University of New York College at Cortland. She came to the University in 1996 and recently retired as its assistant vice president for human resources, a position whose constituency is the entire Binghamton community. She continues to lend Binghamton her expertise, insight and guidance as co-leader of the University Center for Training and Development. In her role as human resources leader, she transformed the department’s culture by instilling a sense of high-quality customer service and a commitment to excellence and pride in work. Her life-cycle approach to its mission now supports employees from orientation into retirement through the Retiree Services Program she instituted to formally acknowledge their service and commitment. Two programs she spearheaded will continue her considerable legacy of service: The Binghamton Leadership Program will provide future University leaders with the skills necessary for success and her efforts to expand workforce education programs campus-wide has led to the recently established Center for Training and Development, which she is fully committed to developing. Sought by Binghamton and other campuses to train in conflict resolution and communications, she has been a wise voice for presidents and many members of the State University of New York (SUNY) System Administration. A past president of the SUNY Human Resources Directors Organization, she is one of four recipients of the Governor’s Work Place Champion Award and has worked with the governor’s office to create statewide training programs. Her contributions were recently recognized with the prestigious Ted Barber Distinguished Service Award given by SUNY.

Donald J. Paukett, assistant vice president for administrative affairs, began his service to Binghamton in 1986. A CPA who received his MBA from the University, his knowledge of its finances is exceptional. So are his desires to get things right, his leadership, his initiative in solving problems, his collaborative approach and his persistence in bringing about positive outcomes. These qualities have been proved many times over. While continuing other responsibilities, he took on the task of managing a complex budget for Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, including identifying how funds might be redirected to enhance effectiveness. He does the same for the University’s capital budget, ensuring that financial statistics reported to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System accurately reflect the University’s expenditures. He led a campus-wide group that recommended significant changes to procedures for financial reporting, again ensuring accuracy. On an ongoing basis, he coordinates the development and submission of the Administration Division’s budget and works with major departments to ensure their fiscal and budgetary soundness, often identifying savings and uncovering opportunities to maximize effectiveness. He serves as adviser to the Common Fund, and helped develop enhancements to the Higher Education Price Index to better capture costs across higher-education sectors. His achievements extend to the SUNY system, where he chairs and serves on system-wide committees and assisted in the development of SUNY policies on fees and student associations, presenting them to the SUNY Board of Trustees.


The University Award for Excellence in Classified Service was created to recognize superb performance in fulfilling the job description for the position held, supported by evidence of excellent work and high degrees of reliability, resourcefulness and initiative.

Alta L. Hooker retired from the University in May 2008. She began her career at Binghamton in 1972, serving the University Libraries, the Anderson Center for the Performing Arts and, since 1992, the Graduate School as secretary to the vice provost and dean. Her position required a great deal of multitasking and time-management skills in order to handle all calls and visitors to the dean’s office, schedule appointments, make travel arrangements and communicate with departments. In addition, she managed the online graduate course file and the spreadsheet of travel grant applications, coordinated the new faculty orientation and managed the arrangements for the academic program reviews of departments. She also served as secretary to the Graduate Council. When the unexpected arose, she invariably took the long view, exhibiting creativity and adaptability in her response to the situation. She was gifted at human interaction, listened carefully and was committed to customer service and problem solving. She always handled pressure with grace and aplomb. These remarkable attributes are why department chairs, graduate directors, Graduate Council members and other faculty and staff across campus depended on her to steer them to the person who could answer questions on the rare occasion when she could not. Not only did she perform her responsibilities extremely well, she also ensured that those with whom she interacted thought well of the Graduate School and the University.

Joseph Wlostowski
began his service to the University in 1992. He is the operations manager in Parking Services and also runs its sign shop. He ensures that all visitors to campus for high-profile events such as Commencement, new student incoming day, athletic events and concerts, and any other event for that matter, find their way seamlessly and effortlessly. Often working late into the night, on weekends and on short notice, he displays creativity in the traffic paths he develops to make the campus look even more welcoming and attractive. Many would not conduct an event-planning meeting without his cheerful, professional presence and infinite patience. In addition to his regular duties, he fixes just about every piece of equipment, from meters to radios, to enhance the efficient operation of his department. Seeing a major need, he created the first procedures manual for parking-enforcement personnel. He also shares his depth of knowledge as a member of the board of directors for the New York State Parking Association. His efforts to develop more cost-effective processes for the University and parking customers have also met with success. From guiding young athletes and their families to event venues during the Empire State Games, to making sure out-of-town physicians wasted no time getting to their posts when the University became one of the largest Red Cross shelters in the aftermath of the June 2006 flood, his work is indeed a beacon to all who come to campus.


The Binghamton University Council/Foundation Awards were
established to recognize extraordinary commitment to the campus community. Faculty/staff and student recipients are selected for their contributions to the strength and vitality of the University.

Christopher T. Lewis has provided his service to the University since 1987. A plumber/steamfitter in the Physical Facilities Office, he delivers the same level of professionalism, respect and courtesy whether he is working in a residential hall or the President’s Office. By paying attention to detail and always choosing to perform a task the correct way the first time, he has undoubtedly saved the University countless staff hours and expenses. He is usually among the first to respond to a situation, and leads the effort to do whatever is needed. He has offered his time and energy to the campus Emergency Response Team (ERT) since its inception, and serves as assistant team leader and training officer for these highly skilled, volunteer employees. His commitment and professionalism do not end when he leaves campus. A lieutenant of the Broome County Hazardous Materials (HazMat) team, he is one of four officers who lead a team of 25 volunteers. In response to the June 2006 flood, he put in long hours with the ERT at the Events Center, helping those displaced. Afterwards, he went door to door in the community to check damaged homes with the county’s HazMat team, always serving those in need with professionalism and compassion.

John E. Vestal arrived at the University in 1973, and is a professor in the Theatre Department, which he has chaired since 1992. In 2006, he accepted the additional role of chair of the Art Department, demonstrating his commitment and dedication to Binghamton, and, in so doing, the high esteem in which he is held. His leadership of two departments is unprecedented in Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, and he has done an outstanding, indefatigable job for both departments: He teaches and advises undergraduate and graduate students; serves on
17 committees, many outside theater and the arts; and is always available for consultations as an administrator, teacher and colleague. His involvement with light and design for many local performances has made a notable difference in our community. He has advanced the reputation of Binghamton, whether serving as artistic and technical adviser to more than 75 productions and scene designer for more than 90 productions, or creating lighting designs for more than 270 productions, from Tri-Cities Opera performances to the European tour of Teatro Lirico D’Europa. A consultant to the New York State Council on the Arts, he was honored with the American College Theatre Award for Merit in Lighting Design in 1999 and has been an invited guest artist in theaters from New York City to Vienna, Austria. He has been tireless in his recent efforts to obtain financial support for international exchange programs with Chile and China. He earned a master of arts degree in design and technical production from the University of Washington in Seattle.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08