Awards ceremony celebrates achievements of campus staff and faculty

First slide of employee recognition ceremony welcoming attendees to the virtual event

Continuing a time-honored tradition, Penn State Scranton held a virtual version of its annual Faculty and Staff Recognition Awards on Monday, Nov. 23.

Credit: Penn State

DUNMORE, Pa. – Continuing a time-honored tradition, Penn State Scranton held a virtual version of its annual Faculty and Staff Recognition Awards on Monday, Nov. 23.

At the ceremony, the campus community paid homage to several recent retirees, recognized employees for longtime service, and awarded faculty and staff excellence.

Despite the Zoom setting, the event retained its fun, festive feel with a polished slide show, a few musical flourishes and even a pop culture-themed trivia contest.

“This is one of the events that I really look forward to being a part of,” said Chancellor Marwan Wafa in his opening remarks.

Four retiring campus community members were honored at the ceremony – Lynne Fazio, Sue Fitch-Proctor, David McDowell and Diane Slater.

As an administrative support assistant in the campus’ word processing office, Fazio served faculty, staff and campus departments with their myriad printing, copying and event-planning needs for 30 years.

“Anyone familiar with the word processing department on the first floor of Dawson knew that if they heard music coming from her office, Lynne was at work that day,” said Assistant Director of Student Services and Engagement Matt Nied, the event’s master of ceremonies. “Now, as she enters this new chapter in her life, we are sure she will still be jammin’ and bringing her special brand of fun to everything she will be doing.”

Fitch-Proctor joined the campus’ Center for Business Development and Community Outreach (CBDCO) as area representative for the then-Continuing Education department in 2005. Throughout her 15-year career, she organized and marketed the center’s professional offerings to numerous companies throughout northeast Pennsylvania. She was also integral to the success of the campus’ popular children’s summer camps.

“Sue was a consummate professional and an excellent team member,” CBDCO Director John Drake said. “She had Penn State’s success in mind at all times. We wish her the greatest success in retirement.”

McDowell was hired as a lecturer in physics in 2008. According to his former colleague, Associate Professor of Physics Agnes Kim, McDowell brought a passionate, hands-on approach to his astronomy courses, even bringing telescopes to class for his students.

“A few years ago, when Northeast Pennsylvania experienced a solar eclipse, Dave worked with Dr. Kim to set up a special viewing area, setting up telescopes and then standing in the midday sun for hours so the students, staff and faculty could view the eclipse up close,” Nied said.

Though technically an employee of Barnes & Noble, Slater was very much an essential member of campus community from the time she became bookstore manager in 1993. She expertly handled the often-thankless tasks of managing textbook orders for faculty and ensuring sufficient inventory for students. She employed countless campus students, took great pride in giving out the Barnes & Noble scholarship each year, and enjoyed hosting the bookstore’s annual Halloween party.

“With the advent of digital textbooks and cost-saving rental options, Diane made sure the campus bookstore was able to adapt, and put into place the proper protocols and practices to make sure it was a smooth transition and that students’ needs were met in a timely and efficient manner,” Nied said. “Her quiet, professional demeanor always provided a calming presence during hectic rush hours and busy times in the bookstore.”

Wafa thanked the retirees for their many years of loyal service, and encouraged them to make it a point to come back and visit the campus.

“This is your campus, and you are always welcome to return here,” he said.

Another event highlight was when Assistant Teaching Professor of English and English and Letters, Arts and Sciences Programs Coordinator Paul Perrone was honored for his unprecedented 50 years of service to the campus. In a nod to Perrone’s well-known love for the works of William Shakespeare, the slide show included a graphic depicting Perrone in Elizabethan-era garb.

Director of Academic Affairs H. Durell Johnson noted that when he first arrived at the campus in 1999, people out in the community would routinely ask him, “Do you know Mr. Perrone?”

“If there ever was a fixture on this campus, it is you,” Johnson said to Perrone.

“What can I say about you, Paul? You have had such a wonderful and positive effect on so many people. Thank you for your service,” Wafa added.

In addition, Director of Information Technology Marilee Mulvey was honored for 30 years of dedicated campus service. During those three decades, she has shepherded the campus through countless technological innovations, among them the recent transition to remote delivery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wafa noted.

“Marilee is forward thinking, and I commend her for that. The IT department is the backbone for everything we are doing now,” he said.

Meanwhile, Associate Professor of Mathematics Bagisa Mukherjee, Nursing program Administrative Staff Assistant Mary Runco, and Development office Stewardship Officer Angela Schuback were singled out for their 25 years of service. All three were praised for their indispensability to the campus, and in acknowledgement of their milestone anniversary were gifted with the customary Penn State rocking chair.

Also honored for their years of service were:

Twenty years: Associate Professor of Biology Renee Bishop-Pierce, Director of Finance Kim Bogdan, Undergraduate Students Adviser Gary Edstrom, Assistant Teaching Professor of Kinesiology Gina Gray, Teaching Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Janet Melnick, Associate Professor of Information Sciences and Technology Debra Smarkusky,and Music Director and Associate Teaching Professor of Music Sharon Ann Toman.

Fifteen years: Business Services Administrative Support Assistant Mari Donnelly, Director of Enrollment Management Sandra Feather, Maintenance Worker Thomas Powell, and Associate Professor of English Eva Tettenborn.

Ten years: Coordinator of Student Activities Julie Gilpatrick and Associate Professor of Physics Asif ud-Doula.

Five years: Enrollment Specialist Julie Bialkowski, Groundsman Wayne Frutchey, Associate Professor of Chemistry Jiyoung Jung, Head Librarian Jennie Knies, Enrollment Specialist Stacy Shattuck, Maintenance Worker Karla Smith, Administrative Support Assistant Sarah Tichenor, and Chancellor Marwan Wafa.

Of course, the event also included its usual awards component. The awards and recipients were:

Advisory Board Award for Teaching: Assistant Teaching Professor of English Kara Stone

Excellence in Teaching and Service Award for Part-Time Faculty: Adjunct Lecturer in Sociology Maripat O’Donnell.

Excellence in Academic Advising Award: Assistant Teaching Professor of Business and Business and Project and Supply Chain Management Programs Coordinator James Wilkerson

Gertrude Hawk Chocolates Service Award: Associate Professor of HDFS Raymond Petren

David and Joyce Mack Tressler Fund for Professional Development recipient: Coordinator of Athletic Programs Sara Rinkunas, who through the funding will be able to participate in the Leadership Lackawanna Core Program.

Excellence in Administrative Services Award: Instructional Designer Griff Lewis.

Excellence in Support Services Award: Administrative Support Assistant to the Advising and Learning Centers Sarah Tichenor.

K. Bruce Sherbine Penn State Proud Award: Registrar Allison Burns.

Dr. Richard J. & Sally Matthews Award for Scholarly Activity: Assistant Professor of Corporate Communication Xialing Lin.

In addition, the campus honored its Employees of the Month for the period of July 2019 to June 2020: Lynne Fazio (July), System Administrator Rob Notari (August), Sarah Tichenor (September), Mari Donnelly (October), Web Designer Shannon Williams (November), Campus Counselor Kathy Stefanelli, (December), Police Officer Stephen Demko (January), Maintenance Worker Ellen O’Connell (February), Coordinator of Co-Curricular Programs Henry Matute Coello (March), Griff Lewis (April), Matt Nied (May), and Financial Assistant Emily Glodzik (June).

“For our Employee of the Month Award, we select people who go above and beyond the call of duty,” Wafa said. “Keep up the good work. You are the ones making the campus known throughout our region.”