Seven adjunct faculty members representing all four of Brookdale’s Academic Institutes were recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty last year during the 2016 Adjunct Faculty Reception, held Sept. 6 in the Student Life Center.
John Balme (piano and creative process), Shernaz Bamji (geography), Lisa Halpern (painting), Sarbmeet Kanwal (physics), Robert O’Connor (marketing), Samidheni Raghunadan (mathematics) and Anne Venezia (nursing) were each presented with an engraved plaque and recognized by their respective deans for their outstanding service to Brookdale students and the college community.
The instructors, selected by their peers and supervisors to receive the honor, accepted their awards in front a crowd of friends, family and Brookdale colleagues.
Balme, an alumnus of Oxford University and the Royal College of Music, has served as general director of the Boston Lyric Opera and music director of the Liederkranz Foundation of the City of New York.
As a pianist he has accompanied a wide range of acclaimed singers, including Carlo Bergonzi, Nicholai Gedda and Deborah Voigt. He extensive performance history includes works by Mozart, Wagner, Strauss, Puccini and Verdi, as well as operas such as “Dialogues of the Carmelites,” “Der Zigeunerbaron” and “The Rake’s Progress.”
Bamji was recognized for her contributions to Brookdale’s geography program, particularly her help in revising the college’s human geography curriculum and contributing to the establishment of a new Introduction to Physical Geography course, which will be offered for the first time this spring. She was also honored for her passion and dedication, both in and out of the classroom.
“She is not only kind and thoughtful, but she excels in her classroom instruction,” said professor Barbara Jones, who nominated Bamji for the award. “We are extremely fortunate to have her and I hope, with the new course, we can keep her at Brookdale for many years to come.”
Halpern, a graduate of Parsons School of Design and New Jersey City University, is an accomplished artist who has been featured in numerous exhibitions and juried shows across the region. She has received numerous awards throughout her career, including a 2016 Eileen S. Kaminsky Fellowship and a 2006 Geraldine Dodge Fellowship.
Her work has also been featured in industry magazines such as FreshPaint and Studio Visit. She has taught Painting 1 and Painting 2 at Brookdale since 2010. She was recognized by Brookdale Humanities Institute Dean Carl Calendar.
Kanwal retired from a long and successful career with Bell Labs and began teaching physics and astronomy at Brookdale in 2012. He has also taught in Brookdale’s Lifelong Learning division, delivering a series of lectures last spring titled “Probing the Deepest Mysteries of the Universe.” He will teach a course titled “The Search for Extraterrestrial Life in the Universe” this fall.
He is also an ardent community advocate, promoting STEM education and serving as a mentor to local students while cofounding the Garden State MOSAIC organization, which teaches students leadership and cross-cultural communication skills through a series of community service projects.
“Sarbmeet was recently presented with the Earl Thomas Teasley Humanitarian Award by the Monmouth County Human Relations Commission for the ongoing positive impact that MOSAIC is having on our community,” said Brookdale STEM Institute Dean Anoop Ahluwalia, who presented Kanwal’s award.
O’Conner has taught marketing, advertising and salesmanship at Brookdale since 1989. Over the last 27 years, he has established a reputation as a subject-matter expert who provides real-world skills and practical knowledge to aspiring young marketing professionals, according to business management professor Barbara Ann Boyington.
“Robert’s engaging style creates an atmosphere in which every student appears to be attentive throughout his classes,” said Boyington, who nominated him for the award. “He believes that being available to students outside of class is an important aspect of his role as a faculty member, and is always willing to take time to assist them in their pursuit of learning.”
Raghunadan, a professional architect, was also recognized for her dedication to student learning, including her efforts to create a learning environment that is welcoming and accommodating for all students who walk through her door.
She spends extra time outside of class working with students with learning disabilities and physical disabilities, and has created dedicated course materials to serve visually impaired students studying at Brookdale. She has also served as a scribe and reader for visually impaired students throughout her department, whether they are enrolled in her class or not.
“The results of her labor will stay and benefit the department and will allow us to provide a better service to future students,” said mathematics professor Brian McKeon, who nominated Raghunadan for the award. “Shammi has gone above and beyond her responsibilities as an adjunct. She is caring, selfless and student-centered, and the mathematics department is proud to count her as part of our faculty.”
Venezia, a long-time adjunct instructor in the Brookdale nursing program, also works full-time as a nurse practitioner at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. She is also a fan-favorite among Brookdale nursing students and faculty alike, said Health Sciences Institute Dean Jayne Edman.
“The full-time faculty in the course she teaches describe her as truly an expert-level nurse and appreciate the efforts she puts into helping them assure that student clinical experiences reflect the depth and breadth of expectations for RNs practicing in today’s health care environment,” said Edman, who presented the award to Venezia. “And she consistently receives only the most positive of student comments.”
The 2016 Outstanding Adjunct Faculty awards were presented by STEM Institute Dean Anoop Ahluwalia, Humanities Institute Dean Carl Calendar, Health Sciences Institute Dean Jayne Edman, and Business and Social Sciences Institute Dean Patricia Gallo.
PHOTO CAPTION (l-r): Patricia Gallo, Shernaz Bamji, Robert O’Connor, Samidheni Raghunadan, John Balme, Carl Calendar, Lisa Halpern, Sarbmeet Kanwal, Anoop Ahluwalia, Anne Venezia, and Jayne Edman stand together at the 2016 Adjunct Faculty Reception. Photo by Dinneen Jackson.