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Faculty, Staff Recognized with Awards for Excellence

Posted: October 22, 2020

SUNY Distinguished Professor
Zhang Jie, PH.D.

Zhang Jie, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Sociology Department, has had a laudable career and is nationally and internationally known for his work. He elevates the status of Buffalo State College, his department, and the Center for China Studies, and students, faculty, and practitioners from the local, national, and global community benefit from his active research.

He has presented at prestigious international and national conferences for over three decades. His research has been published, cited, and referenced around the world. In the 1990s, he began to delve deep into the critical and seldom-reached topic of suicides in China. His foundation in this serious public health crisis was fortified when he became co-director of the Institute of Behavioral Medicine at Dalian Medical University in China. His research program has had a major impact on the field, including the development of a methodology to document post-suicide autopsy.

Zhang was already an established scholar when he arrived at Buffalo State, but he has continued to advance his work while on campus. He has expanded his expertise to include rural communities, gender differences, and mental health concerns in China. He is placed in the top 0.1 percent of scholars writing about suicide over the past 10 years, a level labeled as “world expert.” He has been recognized by the State University of New York with two SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence and has received national recognition from several sociological journals as well as international recognition with the Louis I. Dublin Award for Distinguished Contribution in the Area of Suicidology from the American Association of Suicidology and publication awards from significant journals within China.

He serves as a board member of the American Association of Suicidology and the International Association of Suicide Prevention. He also directs the Center for Suicide Prevention Research at Shandong University in China.

Nominator: Thomas S. Weinberg, Professor, Sociology

President’s Award for Excellence in Service to the College
Margaret T. Letzelter, M.S.

Margaret Letzelter, executive assistant to the dean of the Graduate School, is consistently outstanding in fulfilling her duties within the Graduate School and, most importantly, in serving graduate students. Her excellent work has a wide-reaching impact across campus to the benefit of the college, faculty, staff, and students.

Letzelter has earned numerous promotions due to her distinguished job performance and has accepted increasingly substantial and complex responsibilities. Her position requires a high degree of initiative, judgment, and discretion as she helps manage the overall office operations. She is adept with personnel management, communication, and organization. She assists in developing plans and strategies for effective office operations and reviews outcomes in order to make recommendations for improvements and policy revisions.

She organizes events, processes personnel paperwork, and maintains the Graduate School, Foundation, and Research Foundation budgets while serving as a liaison to the Graduate Advisory Council and the Commencement Committee. In addition, she manages fellowships and graduate assistantships, website updates, and other data analytics reporting within the office. She has been instrumental in the continuing development of the Graduate Student Association. She takes on this myriad of assignments with great enthusiasm and expertise.

Letzelter demonstrates flexibility and a willingness to adjust to the needs of the college and Graduate School. She is a key problem solver for graduate student issues. She contributes to a wide array of initiatives and activities across campus. In short, she is a model employee who continually improves her skills and provides exceptional service to the college on a daily basis.

Nominator: Kevin J. Miller, Dean, Graduate School

President’s Award for Excellence in Service to the College
Deborah A. Silverman, Ph.D.

Deborah Silverman, chair and associate professor of communication, has exhibited superb performance as chair of the one of the largest departments at the college, fulfilling multiple assigned duties while taking the initiative to spearhead several important new projects.

Silverman developed the college’s popular new master of science degree in public relations and its online form. This was a labor love as she shepherded the program from its proposal through various stages of approval, revising, and rewriting the curriculum along the way based on guidance from reviewers. She is also responsible for the creation of the Communication Department advisory board, mandatory student portfolios, and updates of the department strategic plan and diversity plan. In addition, she led the department through a recent national accreditation process.

She is the embodiment of flexibility and willingness to adjust to the institution’s needs as an enthusiastic volunteer on campuswide committees and major initiatives such as the merger of the School of Arts and Humanities and the School of Natural and Social Sciences. She seeks a variety of voices and opinions and makes decisions by consulting all those who are involved in the outcome. Her calm, professional demeanor and excellent human relations skills allow her gain consensus, even in highly opinionated arenas.

Silverman’s tireless efforts extend beyond the campus with her professional work in the public relations field and her volunteerism with the national Public Relations Society of America. She is a strong advocate for students and constantly seeks internship and job opportunities for them. She has been the principal adviser for more than 40 master’s theses in public relations, nearly 20 undergraduate independent study projects, and nearly 10 conference presentations. True to the mission of the college, she is committed to helping students succeed inside and outside the classroom.

Nominator: Annemarie Franczyk, Associate Professor, Communication

Photos by Bruce Fox, campus photographer.

Eighteen Buffalo State College faculty and staff members have been recognized with President’s and Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of Buffalo State College, the State University of New York, and the greater community. Individuals were acknowledged following President Katherine Conway-Turner's annual State of the College address, which was delivered virtually on Tuesday, October 20.

A digital program highlighting this year’s award winners, as well as all new faculty and staff members, is available online.

SUNY distinguished faculty ranks recognize consummate professionalism, groundbreaking scholarship, exceptional instruction, and the breadth and significance of service contributions. Appointments constitute a promotion to the State University’s highest academic rank and are conferred solely by the State University Board of Trustees.

SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor
Jill K. Singer, Ph.D.

Jill Singer, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Earth Sciences and Science Education Department, is a remarkable, nationally known teacher-scholar with a strong record of leadership on campus and at the national level. She is a committed educator focused on superb teaching, undergraduate research, and investigation in her field. She elevates the status of Buffalo State College with her teaching, scholarship, and service.

On the Buffalo State campus, Singer uses a variety of active pedagogies to engage her students, integrates real-world issues into her courses, and boosts environmental stewardship in her students. She is an outstanding teacher and mentor to students within and outside her disciplines.

She has served on the college’s STEM Undergraduate and Research Steering committee, as a Research Foundation presidential fellow, and for more than 20 years as director of the Undergraduate Research Office, which she established. In this capacity, she initiated the Student Research and Creativity Conference and the Summer Research Program and introduced a method for evaluating the impact of undergraduate research, EvaluateUR. With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), EvaluateUR has been scaled to the national level and is now being modified for use in course-based undergraduate research experiences. Her reach as a teacher and mentor transcends the Buffalo State campus.

Singer’s own research program in applied sedimentology, supported by the NSF and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, involves undergraduates conducting research. Her scholarship includes more than 100 published abstracts, 20 peer-reviewed papers, and several reports. At the national level, she has served as a program officer in the Division of Undergraduate Education at NSF and as president of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR). Her national leadership promoting undergraduate research was recognized by her selection as a CUR fellow and her election as a fellow of the Geological Society of America.

Nominator: Dan L. MacIsaac, Professor, Earth Sciences and Science Education


SUNY Chancellor's Awards for Excellence provide systemwide recognition of consistently superior professional achievement. These awards underscore SUNY’s commitment to sustaining intellectual vibrancy, advancing the boundaries of knowledge, providing the highest quality of instruction, and serving the public good.

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service
Brenda M. Peacock

Brenda Peacock, office assistant 2 in facilities, is a dedicated, caring, proactive, and productive employee. She supports the director of maintenance repair, the maintenance manager, seven trades shop supervisors, and all the subordinate staff within each of the trade shops. She also provides guidance and assistance to new staff within the division. She takes her job responsibilities seriously and is always willing to assist anyone and everyone she encounters. She is well respected for her dedication to Buffalo State.

Peacock has supported the maintenance trades operations throughout her tenure at the college. She has gained extensive knowledge of various facilities service needs, whom to contact when maintenance concerns arise, and which contractors can support Buffalo State when needed. She strives on a daily basis to make Buffalo State the best the college it can be.

When the Campus Services and Facilities Planning and Design offices underwent a merger in 2017, Peacock was invaluable in assisting with the day-to-day operating needs during the transition. She took it upon herself to initiate and develop a monthly calendar of activities necessary for the continued functioning of the maintenance operations. She was keenly aware of the various required annual testing and service inspections. She understood which trade shops performed preventive maintenance tasks during each month and the various contracts needed to schedule these critical services. Her efforts allowed the division to maintain the campus without any interruption or disruptions in service.

She has been instrumental in formally documenting facilities service improvements conducted on campus, updating and solidifying various bid specifications, and assisting with a myriad of facilities tasks. She tackles numerous requests without hesitation. Campus constituents often do not know the full magnitude of work that goes on behind the scenes in order to keep the campus operating, but Peacock plays a vital role in that behind-the-scenes effort.

Nominator: Kris A. Kaufman, Director, Maintenance/Repair and Residential Planning, Facilities Office

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service
Connie F. Cooke, M.S.

Connie Cooke, director of financial aid, has demonstrated a tireless commitment to service and advocacy for students. She has provided exemplary leadership to a financial aid team that is dedicated to fulfilling the mission of the institution.

Cooke originally joined Buffalo State in 1993 and then returned to the college in 2011 after a stint at the University at Buffalo. Since her return, she has been responsible for managing the annual disbursement of more than $100 million in financial aid to thousands of students. She is especially skilled at determining the most efficacious ways to distribute scholarship and financial aid money and maximize her office’s ability to package aid and support for students. She also implements safeguards to ensure that students avoid lapsing into aid ineligibility. She provides these vital services for both undergraduate and graduate students.

In 2019, she led the college’s first campuswide Federal Program Review with the Department of Education. This major undertaking involved coordinating the offices of Academic Affairs, Financial Aid, Instructional Design, Registrar, Student Accounts, and Fiscal Services, as well as the President’s Cabinet. Based on years of meticulous attention to detail and copious documentation and policy formulation, the college received a positive review. She also manages other regular financial aid reviews and audits, which have revealed full compliance with regulatory requirements and earned commendations for upholding a high standard of excellence.

Cooke has spent considerable time and effort on policy development, business process improvements, and open communication with the campus community. Her innovative thinking and customer-service-oriented approach have directly resulted in significant benefits for all stakeholders. She has also focused on identifying unrestricted funds to assist students with unmet financial needs. This often means the difference between a student dropping out of college or continuing on to graduation. The Financial Aid Office has, in turn, earned the admiration of students and a No. 1 ranking in the State University of New York’s Student Opinion Survey. Principled and pragmatic, Cooke represents the best of Buffalo State.

Nominator: Jacquelyn L. Malcolm, CIO and Vice President for Enrollment, Marketing, and Communications, Information Technology

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service
Tamara H. Horstman-Riphahn, M.Ed.

Tamara Horstman-Riphahn, executive assistant to the dean of the School of Education, has consistently provided value to Buffalo State far beyond the requirements of her job. She has transcended the normal definitions of excellence and serves as a role model of superior performance in service to the college.

Horstman-Riphahn organizes, manages, and ideates Buffalo State’s award-winning International Professional Development Schools Consortium (IPDS) in school sites across five continents. She serves as the program’s record-keeper, financial wizard, and communications officer. This program has contributed immeasurably to international renown for the college, teacher candidates, and faculty at Buffalo State and has established meaningful, ongoing connections with a network of educators around the world. Due in no small part to Horstman-Riphahn’s efforts, the program recently received the coveted Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for innovative international education programs.

In addition to her work with the IPDS, Horstman-Riphahn assists in the recruitment and retention of student-teacher candidates, serves as a technological resource for the School of Education, maintains the school’s website, and edits the school’s biannual newsletter for alumni and donors. She assists faculty members in achieving publication in peer-reviewed journals, organizes events, and works with community agencies on partnership programs. She adds more responsibilities each successive year, and her expertise on all matters related to the School of Education has made her an indispensable member of numerous college task forces, committees, and teams.

Horstman-Riphahn is a superior writer, an out-of-the-box thinker, a facilitator, and a team builder. Her modest attitude belies an indefatigable and seemingly boundless energy and intellect. She makes it her regular day’s work to translate the vague and insubstantial into the precise and real. She is an extraordinary member of the campus community.

Nominator: Wendy A. Paterson, Dean, School of Education

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service
Lisa H. Krieger, B.S.

Lisa Krieger, associate vice president for administrative services in Finance and Management, is an exceptional colleague. She is highly ethical, empathetic, generous, and patient. She has a delightful sense of humor that diffuses tensions, ensures a healthy sense of perspective, and makes the workday truly enjoyable. She displays grace, calmness, and composure under pressure.

Krieger is known on campus as a consummate professional. She is a highly effective supervisor, leading people with trust and mutual respect. She manages projects intelligently and on time, and with a cheerful ease that belies how hard she works and how much she accomplishes each day. She is the go-to person for solving complex problems and addressing wide-ranging business concerns.

During her 25 years at the college, she has held seven titles of increasing responsibility reflecting her diverse and expanding talents. In her current role, she is the point person for internal campus controls, audits, and compliance, and for the implementation and interpretation of campus contracts. She is also responsible for oversight and operation of enterprise risk management. She acts as the college’s primary liaison with the SUNY General Counsel’s Office. She expertly manages this extensive portfolio of important duties.

Krieger always does what is best for the college with positivity and an open mind. The success of Buffalo State, its mission, and its students is her first professional priority. She makes decisions of consequence on a regular basis and is a confident decision maker because of her thoroughness in research and assessment and her vast institutional knowledge. A lifelong learner, Krieger continually improves herself in order to better serve the college and community.

Nominator: Jill Powell, Senior Assistant to the Vice President, Finance and Management

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service
Catherine G. Ansuini, Ed.D.

Catherine Ansuini, professor of individualized studies, is a highly effective educator, an innovative leader, and a trailblazer within the community. During her career at Buffalo State College, she has been a consistently excellent colleague and contributor to campus life as well as to professional organizations and the larger community.

Students note that Ansuini is rigorous yet fair and is a master teacher who is both creative and informative. Her exceptional speaking style engages learners of all types. She is extremely attentive and caring and personally guides students with expert knowledge, enthusiasm, and understanding. She helps students be the best they can be by finding ways to engage creative learning and using positive reinforcement throughout her lessons.

Ansuini has always worked well beyond her professional obligation and always with students as her priority. She is an enthusiastic participant in summer trainings and workshops aimed at helping instructors deliver the goals of the first-year program. As the interim director of the rapidly growing individualized studies program, she has worked to improve the office’s effectiveness and efficiency. She has made the program’s experiential learning component more robust, expanded its international experience opportunities, and cheerfully assumed a larger advisement and mentorship load.

Ansuini has made a career of helping others identify and achieve their personal and professional goals, connecting education and corporate sector opportunities, networking on behalf of the college within the community, and representing Buffalo State with the utmost respect and professionalism. She is a much sought-after consultant, keynote speaker, conference presenter, and strategic partner. She demonstrates excellence in service in every aspect of her career.

Nominator: Amitra A. Wall, Associate Provost, Academic Affairs

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service
Shannon E. Budin, Ph.D.

Shannon Budin, professor of exceptional education, has amassed an impressive record of service to Buffalo State, and her work at all levels has been exemplary. She is extremely generous with her time and continuously represents the college and the State University of New York system well, especially in professional activities at state and national levels.

Budin is a noted expert on exceptional education who demonstrates a passion and commitment to sharing her knowledge. She works frequently with individual and groups of students to support their scholarship and continuing professional development. She has served as a faculty member for undergraduate research fellowships and supervised roughly 30 graduate students in their master’s projects or theses. She is held in high esteem by her colleagues, who note her willingness to contribute to committees and provide leadership at the department level.

Budin’s strong collegial reputation coupled with her deep knowledge base have made her a sought-after contributor on high-profile state and national projects. Budin also understands the importance of sharing her knowledge and scholarship with wider audiences and disseminating her work. She has presented or co-presented more than 60 times at local, state, and national or international conferences. In addition, she has authored or co-authored more than 23 scholarly works, including peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and reviews, and other scholarly publications.

In addition to serving on various local committees and boards, Budin regularly volunteers her time in community schools to help faculty and administrators meet student needs. She regularly provides council to districts who request assistance. She has provided more than 17 presentations, in-services, and workshops and has engaged in long-term projects that benefited community partners. She has, for example, authored studies and reports on topics in exceptional education for the Buffalo Public Schools and Maryvale School District.

Nominator: Lisa A. Rafferty, Professor, Exceptional Education

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities
Jason D. Rivera, Ph.D

Jason Rivera, associate professor of political science and public administration, has been a prolific contributor to the scholastic reputation of Buffalo State and his academic discipline. He has produced an impressive record of publications, scholarly activities, and professional presentations. The sheer volume of his research output is a powerful testimony to his drive and energy and his level of passion for his work inspires students and colleagues alike.

Rivera’s work covers a wide range of issues in disaster and emergency studies. He addresses questions concerning emergency services administration, the management of disaster recovery, the roles of nongovernmental organizations, public health, social and economic issues in disaster events, and disaster risk studies. His work represents the full spectrum of emergency response and disaster recovery research.

Over the course of his career, Rivera has published one coauthored book, four peer-reviewed edited volumes, 23 peer-reviewed journal articles, and 23 peer-reviewed book chapters. Between 2004 and 2019, he delivered 39 peer-reviewed papers to 17 national and international conferences. His extensive record of publications and presentations speaks to his professional peers’ regard for his work.

He has sustained this high level of activity while carrying a substantial load of master of public administration (M.P.A.) project students. Since 2016, he has been the primary adviser for 17 M.P.A. projects and a second reader for another 14 M.P.A. projects. He is noted for his ability to mentor students of all capabilities and guide them to success. In addition, Rivera has revised the M.P.A. program, added four new graduate courses to the curriculum, and led the addition of a distance-learning component. He also has developed the advanced graduate certificate in disaster and emergency management.

Nominator: Amitra A. Wall, Associate Provost, Academic Affairs

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching
Angela C. Thering, Ph.D.

Angela Thering, lecturer of computer information systems, embodies the theme of Buffalo State. Through her tireless efforts, she empowers students to believe they can succeed, she inspires a lifelong passion for learning, and through her teaching excellence, students achieve technology skills, self confidence, and professionalism.

She is an exceptional instructor and an invaluable member of her department. She focuses on serving students through executing a variety of teaching techniques. She is dedicated to serving as a professional role model to her students, and her high-quality instruction is worthy of emulation by her colleagues. Since 2015, she has been teaching a large course load, including freshman-only sections. She goes above and beyond the role of instructor to help new students acclimate to the college culture. She helps students develop time management skills and professional dispositions that serve as a strong foundation for their college years.

With a background as a social studies and special education teacher, Thering successfully adapts her lessons to the needs, interests, and unique challenges that face Buffalo State students. She fosters intellectual growth through techniques that turn students into problem solvers. She helps students gain confidence with computer skills that allows them to take on more advanced computer applications, and she differentiates instruction so that students with a wide variety of skills can move beyond their comfort zone and master course content.

Thering has also been active in supporting the department’s teaching assistant program. Each semester, she identifies, nominates, and supervises promising undergraduate students in this leadership role. In addition, she has actively contributed to student retention efforts on campus as a research team member for the Faculty Intervention to Increase Student Retention project. Always prepared and always encouraging to her students, Thering represents the best in adjunct teaching.

Nominator: Ramona R. Santa Maria, Associate Professor, Computer Information Systems


Buffalo State President’s Awards recognize excellence among faculty and staff members who distinguished themselves in work performed on behalf of the college.

President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Advisement
Lisa Berglund, Ph.D.

Lisa Berglund, chair and professor of English, is a caring teacher who is tireless and unrelenting in her role as academic adviser. She is a rare college mentor who builds strong relationships with her advisees and becomes a friend and mentor for life. She has helped improve academic advising collegewide with policy and process changes that have positively influenced every student at Buffalo State College.

Berglund is on campus 40 hours a week and is constantly available to students. For this reason, she has become the go-to person for troubleshooting within her department and has assumed leadership over transfer advisement. Advisees note that she does not consider advisement a once- or twice-a-semester event but a continuous and ongoing process.

She assists students with immediate concerns, planning for on-time graduation, and preparing to achieve personal, academic, and professional goals. Students describe her as a change agent, and colleagues state that she performs her academic advisement role at the highest level of excellence.

In addition, Berglund not only has mastered institutional and departmental regulations, policies, and procedures but also has contributed to writing many of them and influencing their improvement. She has worked diligently to develop robust advising programs for her department. She served the college during the 2014–2017 years by assisting a Standards for Students subcommittee in conducting a self-study on campus advisement and then authoring a detailed recommendation report and implementation plan to improve advisement on campus. Her keen analytical mind and skill with language have been enormous assets in this initiative.

Nominator: Anthony J. W. Chase, Assistant Dean, School of Arts and Humanities

President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Advisement
Bruce G. Bryski, Ph.D.

Bruce Bryski, associate professor of communication, has carried a large advisee load since he started at the college nearly 40 years ago. He accepted a new and even more demanding advising role in 2016 when he began working with the department’s probationary students—those who are not meeting the 2.6 minimum grade point average in the major.

Bryski stands out among faculty advisers with his caring commitment to students, the many hours he devotes to advisement sessions, and the continuous training he enrolls in to become a better adviser. He contributes to the college’s student retention efforts one student at a time. Bryski views advisement as a necessary and holistic ingredient in a student’s success at Buffalo State and in later life.

His empathetic approach eases potentially tense situations with students who are resentful about being placed on probation. He sees potential in every student and provides strategies to help them succeed. He sees it as a calling to help struggling students achieve a personal or family dream of a college degree, even in the face of external financial, emotional, or societal roadblocks.

In addition, Bryski is a valuable resource for his colleagues. Colleagues often refer to him with questions about departmental regulations, policies, and procedures. He regularly informs the department of his progress and works with the department chair and other advisers as necessary to help students succeed. He uses online tools like Starfish and the Bengal Success Portal to help monitor student progress and keep them on track for graduation.

Nominator: Joseph J. Marren Jr., Professor, Communication

President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Advisement
Susan E. Maguire, Ph.D.

Susan Maguire, associate professor of anthropology, engages in a wide range of formal academic advising on campus. She has served as an academic adviser to anthropology majors since 2009. Since 2010, she has been the faculty adviser to the Anthropology Society, a USG-recognized student club on campus that is academically based. She has been the departmental internship coordinator and liaison to the Career Development Center since 2018. And since 2019, she has served as a faculty representative to the Title III Task Force at Buffalo State and been a faculty adviser to the Buffalo State Rowing Club.

In her role as academic adviser, Maguire meets with her advisees every semester during the registration period in order to address any difficulties they are experiencing, advise them on the classes they need to achieve a timely graduation, and discuss their post-graduation plans. She is a strong advocate of internships and is dedicated to ensuring that students are prepared to be successful in their experiences.

Maguire also excels in mentoring students outside scheduled appointments and office hours—outside the formal structure of academic advising. She excels in the day-to-day interactions with students. In these daily interactions, she demonstrates a caring attitude and builds strong relationships with advisees. She also draws on alumni from the college to come back to campus and talk to students in an informal setting. Their stories provide inspiration to current students and expose them to career paths they may not have otherwise considered.

Maguire is a shining example of the holistic advisement approach, helping students feels supported and cared for throughout their college careers so that they are able to make decisions that positively influence their personal and professional goals.

Nominator: Julie A. Wieczkowski, Associate Professor, Anthropology

President’s Award for Excellence as a Graduate Research Mentor
Kimberly A. Kline, Ph.D.

Kimberly Kline, professor of higher education administration, possesses a passion, motivation, and determination to support graduate students’ interest and success in research. The quality of her mentoring results in a lifelong appreciation for inquiry and knowledge creation. Former students often note the continued impact that their research experience at Buffalo State has had on their professional life.

The higher education and student affairs administration master’s program offers several opportunities for students to engage in research, including independent study and the formal master’s research project. Since Kline arrived at Buffalo State in 2006, she has mentored more than 50 graduate students through a research experience, resulting in student publications, presentations, and the pursuit of continued education and terminal degrees.

Many students attest to the transformative nature of their research and mentoring experience with Kline, noting her accessibility, individual level of attention, and enduring support that allowed them to build confidence in their skills. With Kline, students feel comfortable expressing the challenges they face in their research, which leads to a greater focus on the problem-solving process and, ultimately, a better final project. Kline encourages students to share their research with others, through presentations within the department and at the college’s Graduate Research Fair or through presentations or publications to broader communities.

Kline demonstrates a compassion, patience, and belief in each of her students, which fuels their motivation during tough times and helps push them to the finish line at graduation. She believes in their abilities and potential until they believe in themselves.

Nominator: Amy B. Wilson, Chair and Associate Professor, Higher Education Administration

President’s Award for Excellence in Service to the College
Maria I. Garrett, B.A.

Maria Garrett, foreign language assistant of modern and classical languages, has amassed an incredible and praiseworthy record of service during her 25 years at Buffalo State. She is a highly skilled professional with a genuine concern for making her department a welcoming place for colleagues and students alike.

She has taken a leading role in the integration of technology within the department. She was one of the first to integrate Blackboard into language coursework and to align teaching materials with ADA accessibility standards. She constantly challenges herself to further her training in educational technologies and online instructional platforms, attending various workshops and conferences, then sharing her knowledge with colleagues. She served as the department’s representative on the School of Arts and Humanities’ Teaching and Learning Technology Roundtable, making sure that student needs were adequately addressed.

As the director of the Language Learning Center, she adhered to the highest standards of professionalism in developing all aspects of the facility and its services to students. And in managing the department’s relationship with textbook publishers, Garrett has overcome formidable hurdles to negotiate and secure the best prices for students whenever the department adopts new textbooks. In many instances, she has contacted book representatives directly to look for ways to reduce the overall cost to students and advocate for the occasional complimentary text package for students in need.

Always calm, courteous, and respectful, she is skilled at providing support to adjunct instructors in resolving conflicts arising from student class behavior and poor performance. She goes the extra mile by applying her insights and problem-solving skills to improving student access to quality, innovative education in a world language.

Nominator: Mark K. Warford, Chair and Associate Professor, Modern and Classical Languages

President’s Award for Excellence in Service to the College
Bernadette K. Gilliam, M.S.

Bernadette Gilliam, assistant director of events management, is the consummate professional. She consistently goes above and beyond her duties to ensure that events on campus are well planned and well executed and exceed the expectations of both event hosts and participants.

Her role requires a tremendous amount of knowledge, decorum, and resilience in managing interactions with students, faculty, staff, and external clients. She demonstrates these traits on a daily basis. She is collegial and supportive, sharing ideas and participating in problem solving and strategic planning.

A key component of her success is her ability to remain flexible and open to thinking creatively to help clients achieve their meeting and event goals. Every event has a hundred variables, and she seamlessly navigates through constraints on space, resources, and procedures to serve the clients’ and the college’s interests.

As the climate of higher education continues to change, Gilliam is open to new ideas and methodologies, taking a proactive approach to finding the best ways to stage events with style and efficiency. When issues arise, she remains calm and flexible in times of potential chaos. The ease with which Gilliam navigates highly complex events makes it clear that she dedicates an immense amount of attention and energy to ensuring that events on campus run even better than planned. Gilliam is steadfast and committed to superb performance in her job and in fulfilling the mission and vision of our institution.

Nominator: James E. Cercone, Associate Professor and English Education Coordinator, English

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Modern and Classical Languages

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