Five Brookdale professors accepted one of the college’s most coveted honors on Sept. 1, after being selected by their fellow faculty members for the 2016 Outstanding Colleague Award.
Assistant library professor Amy Clark, associate library professor Sarah Leahy, former associate history professor Laura Neitzel, engineering and technology professor Mohammad Shanehsaz and associate culinary arts professor Michelle Zuppe were announced as winners during the first college-wide faculty meeting of the 2016-17 school year, following the college’s fall convocation on the Lincroft campus.
The awards, presented this year by Brookdale’s vice president for learning Dr. Matthew Reed, history professor Jess LeVine and fitness professor Michael Toomey, are presented annually to up to five faculty members who exhibit excellence in teaching and outstanding service to the college community.
First established in 1987, the awards give faculty members a chance to recognize their colleagues for going above and beyond the call of duty.
Clark was recognized for her contributions to Brookdale’s acclaimed nursing department, where she routinely worked with students and instructors and made “crucial contributions in technology and information literacy,” LeVine said.
“Surveys show that nursing students found her invaluable, available and comforting,” said LeVine, adding that Clark was a valuable member of Brookdale Governance. “The nursing department is in excellent health due to this outstanding colleague.”
Leahy was recognized for a wide range of contributions to the college community, including teaching honors courses, tutoring students, serving as department chair and Canvas liaison, participating in the Middle States reaccredidation process and volunteering her time to support Brookdale’s Global Citizenship Project and the International Education Center.
“Her nominators said that she has strong interpersonal, organizational and time management skills, is adept at juggling multiple priorities, troubleshooting, adapting to changing circumstances and is a true team player,” LeVine said. “Obviously, based on her resume, her nominators are correct.”
Neitzel was recognized for her “Herculean efforts” as co-coordinator of the Brookdale Honors Program, which has reached new heights in student engagement, faculty collaboration and enrollment since she spearheaded a redesign of the program six years ago.
She was also honored for her service to Brookdale governance, her involvement in college study-abroad programs and her long-standing advocacy for equality of education.
Sadly, Neitzel was unable to accept the award in person, as she was preparing to begin her new role teaching at Columbia University this fall.
“This is pretty bittersweet for me,” said LeVine, explaining that Neitzel officially resigned from Brookdale at the end of August. “But she has earned this award, and we’ll make sure she gets it.
Shanehsaz was recognized as the “go-to person” in his field of study, offering valuable guidance and advice to students and colleagues alike. After years of success in and out of the classroom, it’s no surprise that students line up to take his courses each semester, LeVine said.
“This outstanding colleague is way ahead of the technology curve,” LeVine said. “He is one of the most dependable faculty members who strives to help students and faculty alike, and teaches way beyond the average number of courses. While technology is ever-changing, let’s hope he never does.”
Zuppe was honored for her seemingly endless contributions to the Brookdale Culinary Arts program, which has received a national accreditation and grown by leaps and bounds under her guidance. Despite teaching in a highly competitive industry, Zuppe has helped expand the program’s curriculum, cultivated new opportunities for student externships, hosted job fairs, supported student clubs and grown the college’s pastry arts program exponentially, LeVine said.
“She has created a program that is a virtual menu of opportunity,” he said. “Brookdale and the culinary arts program have been fortunate to have such a rich diet of our outstanding colleague, Michelle Zuppe.”
Each of the 2016 Outstanding Colleagues received an official plaque, a gift and a standing ovation from their colleagues in attendance.
View more photos of the award ceremony here.