Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Here is more detailed information on this year's faculty/adminstrator awards. Again, Congratulations!

The James Knust Award for Excellence in Administration is awarded each year by the Council of Administrators to recognize one individual who has consistently demonstrated a particularly high level of dedication and accomplishment in his or her position at the college. Nominations may be submitted by any administrator, and the award decision is made by the Executive Committee of the Council.

This year the Executive Committee has chosen to present the award to two individuals.

The first of the two awards is to Jeanne Martin Obermayer.

For the past 25 year Jeanne Obermayer has been a constant at Siena College. Even though her official title has changed a number of times, her consistent performance as a professional in Student Affairs has never wavered. In a position that very often deals with stressful, serious, and/or legal situations, often at odd hours, Jeanne’s ability and experience allow her to make difficult decisions according to college policy and within state and federal guidelines. She is known to be thorough and fair when faced with difficult student situations.

A colleague says, “Jeanne has always been aware of the bigger picture involved in the decision making process and acted as a very practical voice of reason, especially when dealing with anticipated student reactions to potential procedure or policy changes. Jeanne is one of those people who never desires the spotlight but is an absolutely critical cog in the success of the Student Affairs administrative team. She is no-nonsense when she needs to be and exceptionally caring when appropriate.

This colleague continues, “I had the pleasure of knowing Jim Knust and I believe that there are a select few individuals who are ‘Siena people’ in Jim’s mold – none, however, more so than Jeanne Obermayer. She embodies what all of us should strive for as professional members of this institution – the personal motivation to see that a job gets done right and on time, the integrity to handle confidential information and an individual’s emotional state with the proper respect, the courage and discipline to do what is right by the student and the institution; and the ability to do all of this with a caring, cooperative and professional manner.

The second Jim Knust award is presented to Mary “M J” Strunk.

M J Strunk has been an administrator at Siena College for 25 years. Currently, she is Asst. Vice President/Comptroller and under her leadership we have seen improvements in purchasing, accounting, auditing, and numerous other “behind the scenes” activities to improve the fiscal health of the College. M J works well beyond the Monday-Friday 8:30 to 4:30 schedule, committing evenings and weekends to her obligations.

Many people don’t know the extent she and her team go through to make the audit process as smooth as possible. They give up their weekends in June and early July to see the audit process complete, working late nights and counting every dollar.

Working outside the department, MJ and a group of her colleagues help the College’s Relay for Life chapter by arranging a fund raising benefit. As a result of their efforts, the event has drawn over 125 attendees and raised nearly $8,000 for the American Cancer Society. This year, the event will help support cancer research on campus.

A mentor for younger staff on campus, M J is always approachable. She gives advice based on her own experience and never declines to help. Her advice has yet to lead a younger staff member down the wrong path.

For her dedication and leadership, we are pleased to award the Jim Knust Award for Excellence in Administration also to M J Strunk.

Raymond Kennedy Award for Excellence in Scholarship

In recognition of the contribution that scholarly activities provide toward the attainment of academic excellence, each year one member of the faculty is acknowledged for having made a significant contribution to his or her discipline with the presentation of the Raymond Kennedy Excellence in Scholarship Award. This year the Raymond Kennedy Award is presented to our distinguished colleague, Professor of Philosophy Ray Boisvert.

I quote from the letter, from a colleague outside the philosophy department, nominating Dr. Boisvert for this award:

“Over the years I have read a fair amount of scholarly work on major philosophers and – frankly – most of it I have found to be opaque, daunting, and very slow reading. So it was truly a pleasure to come upon Ray Boisvert’s terrific introduction to John Dewey, John Dewey: Rethinking Our Time (SUNY, 1998).This book is insightful, lucid, and even lively. It places Dewey clearly within the “great western tradition” of philosophy, with particular attention to ways in which Dewey responds to Platonism (as translated by Plotinus), Renaissance ideals of seeking absolute certainty (as seen in Galileo), and various manifestations of mind-body dualisms. The book also situates Dewey within our American context … and brings in the story of Dewey’s long and eventful life to illustrate ways in which the philosophy emerged from lived experience… Dr. Boisvert’s study is also highly interdisciplinary…Within the first few chapters, he manages to bring in Poe, Proust, Umberto Eco, John Winthrop and others – all in ways which truly “open up” Dewey’s thinking. The clear, concise, and extremely readable chapters on education, democracy, art and religion all contribute to a sound understanding of, and appreciation for, Dewey’s philosophical achievement.

“A glance at Dr. Boisvert’s long CV reveals that this book is just the “tip of the iceberg.” Rethinking Our Time was preceded by an earlier book on Dewey, Dewey’s Metaphysics (Fordham, 1988) … (which) contains an extremely interesting section on the influence of Darwin on Dewey. And Dr. Boisvert’s many other papers and articles on Dewey amount to a major scholarly achievement.”

In this letter, Ray’s colleague goes on to talk about Ray’s well known interests in cuisine, fine wine, and the ethos of hospitality…(which led him) to run a yearly wine-tasting party that benefits impoverished children in rural Haiti. “This integration -- of scholarship and teaching, hospitality and generosity, concern for the poor and recognition of the moral imperative to help those less fortunate than we – is characteristic of Ray’s career and Ray’s life: a man of integrity as well as a fine teacher and renowned scholar.”

Jerome Walton Award for Excellence in Teaching

In recognition of teaching excellence, Siena College created this award in honor of Professor Jerome Walton, one of the College's first lay faculty, who served Siena for 21 years as a Professor of Commerce, Economics, Statistics, and Business Mathematics. The award is given annually to the faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching. This year the award is made to Dr. Timoth Lederman, Professor of Computer Science.

Dr. Timoth Lederman became head of the computer science department in his second year at Siena, four years before he earned tenure. He was the first director of academic computing and is the only person at the college to have served as Chair of the Faculty and as Vice President for Academic Affairs. In addition, Tim has chaired the Campus Technology Committee for 12 years, has served on other numerous committees, worked on special projects, and volunteered at countless events. But we honor Tim Lederman tonight not as an administrator but as a teacher, focusing tonight on the sequence of courses that is identified with Tim, the Software Engineering sequence.

Not only do the department’s faculty members know how important Tim’s Software Engineering sequence is to CS majors, but so also do the students who completed it. Alumni voted these courses as the “most useful” courses taken at Siena. Scott Vandenberg attributes this mainly to the creative and passionate way that Tim manages the courses.

Tim designed these courses in a unique way that allows students to experience many challenges of professional work, by working in teams for a client that has a real problem requiring a software solution. The teams operate as small companies, each developing their own website, preparing extensive technical documents, administering their own computers, interacting with their clients, and delivering a final product. For example, a few years ago his Software Engineering students developed sophisticated software to make revisions to the college catalog electronically, incorporating several layers of permissions and maintaining a record of every change. You may have seen these programs and others in operation at the Academic Celebration.

Tim frequently arranges for Siena CS alumni to speak to his classes. Normally these speakers are local, but Tim also put together and experimented with a computer conferencing system that he has now used so that an alumnus working in Hawaii could speak to the class. This is typical of the effort Tim puts into his courses.

Tim came to Siena from a very rewarding research position at the New York State Health Department. He came because he wanted to teach. Tim does an outstanding job in the classroom where he teaches students about technical areas of computing, but he also has that special ability to transcend basic pedagogy and get his students to develop into life long learners. Former student Jayme Gresen wrote, “…even after graduating two years ago, I feel just as close to (Dr. Lederman) as when I was sitting in front of him in Roger Bacon. He is one of the greatest teachers I have ever come in contact with, and I feel incredibly honored to have been taught by him.”

His long time colleague at Siena, Jim Matthews, says that all of us who have worked with Tim during his 27 years at the college have benefited tremendously from his teaching excellence, his outstanding service, his leadership and his care and concern for all members of the Siena community.


Anonymous said...

A couple comments. First off, congratulations on the new blog. It is nice and snazzy and really informative. Only thing is that the bar on top of webpage links to other blogs through the system (some of which are a little inappropriate and you might not want associated with the College) I know it had nothing to do with the college, but you might consider removing the bar at the top of the blog (if you can). spelt "Congratulations" wrong in the upcoming events list for this year's Commencement ceremony on the Siena webpage. You might want to fix this asap.
Overall, good work.

Siena Communications said...

Thanks for the heads up with the congratulations! We put it into the calendar back at the start of the school year and had not realized it had appeared on the homepage, yet...let alone with a spelling error! We are fixing it immediately.

As for the webpage links, we will look into that today. We are hoping to put the blog onto our own web server and that would solve the problem right there.

Thanks for being the first to post!

Anonymous said...

I am Dr. Timoth Craig Lederman's appreciative (but somewhat computer-challenged) mom, who was delighted to receive a print-out of your Wednesday, May 7, 2008, "Jerome Walton Award For Excellency in Teaching" blog, which Tim's "nerd" dad located on your Siena College Blog site! When I phoned the news desk at our local Daily Progress paper, asking if I could submit it as information about Tim's recent Siena College award, they said that it would have to come directly from Siena College itself.
(In 1988. their very popular feature stories writer, David Maurer, profiled the 20th Class Reunion of Tim's Class of '68 —interviewing them about the Vietnam War, etc., (followed up in later weeks by another interview with Tim— expanding on his references to "Crusiin' the Biff" à la "Happy Days"—at the Biffburger, their favorite local hamburger joint. I became David Maurer's friend at that time, not only because my son Tim was Class President, but because I was also Tim's (and several of his classmates') French/Spanish teacher. However, I didn't want to use this earlier acquaintanceship to ask David's help now in getting Tim's Siena award mentioned in the academic section of the Daily Progress.
So, now I sincerely thank your Siena College Blog crew for telling my brother, Jerry Antil, who wrote you earlier, that you will send your informative blog to the Daily Progress, Charlottsville, VA
¡Muchas gracias! Merci beaucoup! Danka! Gracie!
Tim'a proud, and very grateful Mom,
Mary Antil Lederman

Siena Communications said...

We sent information to the Daily Progress yesterday. Thank you for commenting and sharing with us!