Three Brookdale employees received one of the college’s highest honors on May 6 at the 31st annual Barringer Awards Ceremony, held at the Riverside Pavillion in Belmar.
English Professor Roseanne Alvarez, associate speech Professor Howard Miller and Business and Social Science Institute administrator Joan Rudinski joined a pantheon of outstanding Brookdalians in receiving the prestigious Barringer Award, presented annually by the Brookdale Alumni Association in recognition of exceptional service and selfless dedication to the college community.
On an evening named in honor of Dr. Bob Barringer, Brookdale’s third president and a long-time champion of academic success and student achievement, Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy said each of the honorees had truly earned their night in the spotlight.
“I can’t think of three better or more deserving people to receive this award,” she said. “On behalf of the board of trustees, the administration, faculty and staff of Brookdale Community College, I would like to thank you all.”
Following an introduction by Alumni Association president Lauren Watson, each honoree was introduced by one of the many Brookdale colleagues who had nominated them for the award.
Alvarez was recognized by associate English Professor Christine Vasquez, who remarked on her colleague’s long history of campus activism and selfless dedication to her students and their passions.
From Alvarez’s early work on college-wide “greening” initiatives and her coordination of Brookdale’s Women’s and Gender Studies Option to her founding of the Women in Learning and Leadership student organization and her recent efforts on behalf of the Undocu-ALLY committee, Vasquez said there was no stronger champion of the Brookdale spirit that Alvarez.
“When she sees an opportunity for positive growth, or a need that has not been met, she will get behind the cause,” Vasquez said. “And if no cause has been established, she will spearhead the cause.”
Alvarez, who served with Vasquez as a faculty advisor at Brookdale’s annual Honors Symposium only hours before the ceremony, expressed both gratitude and disbelief as she accepted the Barringer Award. Holding back tears, she also thanked all of the colleagues and students who had helped shape her 14-year Brookdale career.
“You really are the reason that I am here,” she said. “That feeling I got at the Honors Symposium today, that’s what I live for. And the beauty of this is that I know all of you live for that same thing. I am incredibly lucky and honored to have the opportunity – and to continue to have the opportunity – to work with you. Thank you so much.”
Miller was introduced by fellow speech professor, long-time office-mate and text book coauthor Daniel Leyes, who remarked on his colleague’s “awe-inspiring productivity,” dedication to big ideals and his sincere passion for his students and coworkers alike. From his work with the college’s Global Citizenship Project and the International Education Center to his years of service on Brookdale Governance, Leyes said Miller has never stopped working for the betterment of the college.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, to learn more, do more and become more, then you are a leader. And that’s Howard Miller,” Leyes said. “He gets other people to be better than they thought they could be.”
Despite a ten-year career as a Brookdale speech instructor, Miller said the honor of becoming a Barringer Award winner – along with the nominations submitted by his friends and colleagues – had rendered him speechless.
“I always know what to say next. It’s my thing. And I don’t know exactly what to say today, except to say thank you,” said Miller. “I am so humbled to be counted alongside the others who have won this, and to be here tonight with Joan and Roseanne.”
Fittingly, Miller concluded his acceptance speech by encouraging his colleagues to consider implementing new “learning communities” in the classroom and working together to improve the educational experience for students.
“Our students have so much power to make us feel good about what we do. And if we can do the right things for them, we can achieve a lot,” he said.
Rudinski was introduced by former colleague and current Academic and Career Transitions Dean Franklyn Rother, who read excerpts from some of the many nomination forms submitted on her behalf for the award.
Throughout her nearly 30-year career as a Brookdale student development specialist, admissions recruiter, records and registration official, institute administrator and student advisor, Rother said Rudinski has been an invaluable and beloved member of multiple teams, and a vital thread in the very fabric of the college.
“She works on every committee, she trains all the administrators – whenever we want to test something in our system, we always have Joan in the room,” said Rother, remarking on Rudinski’s dedication, breadth of knowledge and her enduring sense of caring and positivity. “She is both a high-level administrator and a part-time student counselor. Her biography doesn’t do her justice.”
While describing her position as “creating order out of chaos,” Rudinski said she felt lucky to be able to support Brookdale faculty in their mission to educate and inspire students in and out of the classroom. She also thanked those current and former colleagues from the college who had nominated her for the award, and who continue to work alongside her today.
“When I opened the email that informed me of the Barringer Award, I thought it was asking people for nominations,” Rudinski said. “Then I read it and I was absolutely shocked, stunned, amazed, gratified, thankful – all of those things. I labor in obscurity most of the time, so it was very, very kind of everyone to write those things for me, especially at this hectic time of year. I want you to know I am privileged to work with all of you.”
Full bios of the honorees are available here.
Check out more photos of the 2016 Barringer Awards dinner here.
Learn more about the Brookdale Alumni Association – and the unique benefits available to members – by visiting their website.