2015 Lehigh University Awards

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Friday, May 1, 2015


The Lehigh Appreciation Dinner is an opportunity to celebrate the entire staff/faculty community at the university. We also honor extraordinary achievement through the presentation of the Lehigh University Awards.


The ERAC Distinguished Service Award recognizes outstanding service of an exempt and nonexempt Lehigh employee. This year’s award recipients are Jeanne Monnot and Julie Scheller. You can read more about Jeanne and Julie in this month’s News From ERAC column. Bob Bruneio, President elect of ERAC, presented the award.

The Paul J. Franz Award recognizes a professional staff administrator who combines excellence of performance with a service of dedication and devotion to Lehigh University. 

This year’s winner is Mary Jo McNulty. Mary Jo’s career at Lehigh began between her junior and senior year in high school. She took a summer job in the Admissions office where she spent 9 years after high school as a full time employee. In 1990 she moved into what was then the Personnel Office which became Human Resources. Mary Jo held several positions within HR but considers her current role working with the university wellness, recognition and reward programs to be the best job on campus. Her nominator stated, “Not surprisingly Mary Jo’s talents have been sought and recognized outside of the HR department. She is a past recipient of the John and Barbara Woltjen Award and the ERAC Distinguished Service Award.” In 2007, Mary Jo was selected as the speaker to represent the university staff at the inauguration of Lehigh's 13th president, Dr. Alice P. Gast, which she considers her greatest honor.


The Deming Lewis Award is presented by the 10-year reunion class to the professor who has most significantly influenced their members’ educational experience. The Class of 2005 named Dr. Keith Schray as its Deming Lewis Award winner. Keith is a Professor of Chemistry who has been at Lehigh since 1972. He currently serves as the Associate Chairman of the Chemistry Department in the College of Arts and Sciences. He has received many honors at Lehigh including the Alfred N Robinson Award, James F Briody Award, College of Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award, Stabler Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Panhellenic Society. 

The John W. and Barbara R. Woljten Award is given to a nonexempt staff member in the Finance and Administration area who showed commitment and dedication to Lehigh and demonstrated exceptional service to the campus community. This year’s award went to Elizabeth Miller Coleman, coordinator in the University Police Department. Liz is always willing to assist anyone in the department. She deals extensively with external agencies on a daily basis in a very professional manner.
Liz supervises the Communications Center and works with the dispatchers to ensure quality performance. She has taken it upon herself to standardize policies in the department. Liz can always be found volunteering for activities such as our annual Shop with a Cop Program and other university-wide activities.
Her nominator states, “You will not find an employee more dedicated to the well-being of all who come through our door – both good and bad. She is the glue of our office.”  

Pat Johnson, Vice President of Finance and Administration, presented the award.

The Carl R. and Ingeborg Beidleman Research Award in Business and Economics highlights quality research and refereed scholarship in business and applied economic disciplines. This year’s winners are Chad Meyerhoefer and Oliver Yao

Chad Meyerhoefer, associate professor in Economics, is recognized as one of the most productive scholars in the College of Business and Economics in the health economics field. Chad consistently publishes papers in the top journals in agricultural economics and health economics. His “medical costs of obesity” paper has 375 Google Scholar citations. 

Oliver Yao, associate professor in the Department of Management, has published 21 academic articles. Several of his publications have appeared in the premier journals and he has multiple papers in the advanced review process at premier journals. He is lead author on a number of these publications. He has demonstrated an ability to conduct original, innovative, and impactful research. His research has gained traction within the field, having over 750 citations. 


The Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award is given to a faculty member for distinguished teaching performed during the academic year. This year we honor Vassie Ware, professor in Biological Sciences.

Vassie has had a profound effect on this university’s curriculum and instructional mission, specifically in the life sciences and related STEM fields. Her accomplishments include three grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, as well as another award from HHMI that brought the SEA-Phages course to Lehigh. They have been central to building an interdisciplinary culture bridging life science and related STEM fields; expanding course-based and team-based research experiences for our undergraduates through curricular transformation; and enhancing diversity in these fields—all of which are widely recognized as critical national needs.

The Lehigh University Early Career Award for Distinguished Teaching is presented to a junior member of the faculty for distinguished teaching performed during the academic year. This year’s recipient is Jesus Salas, assistant professor in Finance and Law. His fellow faculty members called Jesus “a triple-threat: a solid teacher, a promising researcher, and a good colleague willing to do his share of service to the department and the profession.”

The Louis and Helen Zirkel Library Staff Award was established to recognize outstanding performance and service by a member of the University Libraries. This year’s award goes to Christopher Creswell and Michelle Suranofsky.  

Lehigh Libraries implemented an innovative next generation library management system called Kuali OLE (Open Library Environment). Michelle did all the technical work to connect the ASA catalog to the new OLE system. Michelle and Chris were responsible for all the system configurations in both the hardware and software. The go-live date of August 4 was very successful and the first week of implementation went smoothly; any issues that surfaced were addressed immediately by Michelle and Chris.

The hard work of Michelle and Chris, along with their great technical skills and attention to detail, were critical to the success of the implementation.

The Perry A. Zirkel Award recognizes a faculty member in the College of Education with a national or international reputation as a respected scholar. The first winner of this newly established award is Iveta Silova McGurty, associate professor in Education and Human Services.

Iveta is a distinguished scholar recognized both nationally and internationally. She was recognized with the highest honor by the Comparative and International Education Society for the best article published in the journal, Comparative Education Review. She is also a recipient of more than ten awards, including the United Nations Best Practices Award for inspiring students to act on issues of global concern. 

Many of her publications have become required readings for educational courses. As a teacher, she inspires students to think, research, and act on pressing issues in the field of education. 

The Perry and Carol Zirkel Nonexempt Staff Award recognizes outstanding performance and contributions by a member or members of the nonexempt staff. This year the award goes to Jeanne Monnot in Finance and Law.  

Jeanne is being recognized for her outstanding contributions to the success of the Wall Street Council Fall Financial Services Forum, which was held at Lehigh. Jennifer Miller ’82, executive committee member of the Wall Street Council, said, “Jeanne has been integral to the success of these events with her hard work, dedication, and organizational skills. These events would not have been as seamless without her.” 

The Lehigh University Award for Distinguished Service is given annually to a member or members of the exempt staff who have contributed in significant ways to the Lehigh community over a number of years. This year the award goes to Allison Ragon and Tyrone Russell. 

Through collaborations with the colleges and various offices on campus, Allison has built a solid bridge to help first-year students transition gracefully into life at Lehigh. Moreover, she has been involved in projects and efforts that impact the larger campus as a whole, including the development of highly effective student and professional staff leaders. 

Tyrone Russell is director of Multicultural Affairs. He has worked tirelessly alongside students, staff, and faculty to create safe spaces in our community. There is not a day that goes by that Tyrone isn’t looking for innovative ways to connect and intentionally work toward creating an inclusive campus climate. His “student first” philosophy provides fertile ground for students to become each other’s family. The work that Tyrone has done during the past four years has had a transformative impact across the institution. 

The Eleanor and Joseph F. Libsch Early Career Research Award is named in honor of Lehigh’s first vice president for research and his wife. It honors a faculty member who is early in their research career and who has demonstrated the potential for high-quality research and scholarship. This year we honor two recipients, Shamim Pakzad and Nicholas Sawicki.

Shamim has published 23 journal articles in the fields of structural engineering and structural health monitoring, as well as two papers in the proceedings of very selective conferences in wireless networks. He received the NSF CAREER Award for his pioneering work in mobile sensing. Shamim has designed and built two wireless sensor network hardware nodes and implemented them on major structures including the Golden Gate Bridge.

As a scholar of early 20th century European art, Nicholas’ research examines the intersections of modernism, national identity, and cultural politics in central and eastern Europe, with a particular focus on Czech and Czechoslovak art. He recently published his first book with Charles University in Prague, in a Czech-language edition: On a Path to Modernity: The Eight and Its Circle in the Years 1900-1910. The book has garnered very positive reviews, and he is currently preparing an enlarged English edition of the text for publication. Nicholas is an active and engaged scholar of growing international reputation 

The Eleanor and Joseph F. Libsch Research Award rewards those conducting distinguished research. This year we honor Manoj Chaudhury

Manoj has an international reputation for exceptional ingenuity in the areas of adhesion, wetting, soft matter physics, and contact mechanics. His numerous discoveries in the areas of silicone elastomers have been the starting points for a range of products such as adhesives, sealants, insulators, and packaging materials. Manoj has pioneered conceptual innovations that led to new areas of research. Many discoveries made by he and his group have resulted in impacts on industrial practice and new products. As of February 20, 2015, his publications have been cited nearly 12,000 times, according to Google Scholar. 

The Alfred Nobel Robinson Faculty Award is given to a faculty member or members for achieving excellence in teaching or research, or for advancing the interests of the university. This year’s recipients are Monica Miller and Michael Spear

In her two years at Lehigh, Monica has added exciting new courses that cross disciplinary boundaries including Religion Studies, Africana Studies, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her students find her knowledgeable and engaging in the classroom as well as a supportive mentor. Monica arrived at Lehigh at a time of significant upheaval for the Lehigh community and as a new interdisciplinary hire between Religion and Africana Studies, she immediately became immersed in the very difficult campus conversations around race and campus climate. She spent considerable time involved in campus discussions and working with students and faculty around campus climate issues. Michael Raposa accepted the award on Monica’s behalf as she was unable to attend the dinner.

Michael Spear is an engaging classroom instructor, as corroborated by his students’ evaluations. In his short time on South Mountain, Mike has already become a champion for mentoring interdisciplinary research. He teamed with Professor Marilyn Jones of the Art, Architecture and Design Department to direct undergraduate student projects that combine computer science and engineering with design in a way that will prepare them for careers in the evolving digital media marketplace. Their collaborative mentoring work also resulted in the highly successful “The Rivalry 150 Game Locker Challenge” web app for mobile devices. 


The Alfred Nobel Robinson Staff Award recognizes a staff member’s outstanding performance in service to the university and unusual promise of professional achievement. This year, the award goes to Julie Sterrett Ammary of Student Life in the Dean of Students Office. Julie creates a positive, supportive, and inclusive place for employees and students to work and learn as she conducts team-specific working sessions focused on team building, motivation, and personal development for all of Lehigh’s athletics teams. Julie invests so much in mentoring to positively influence others and build consensus around organizational values and objectives through her work as the advisor of the Student Athlete Mentor program. She trains and mentors upperclass student athletes to be mentors for the first-year student-athletes, helping them feel comfortable with beginning their own personal development journeys. 

The  B. and Dorothy L. Stabler Award for Excellence in Teaching goes to a member of the faculty who has demonstrated not only mastery of their field and superior ability in communicating it to others, but also an exceptional talent for encouraging students. This year’s recipient, nominated by students, is Heather Johnson

One of Heather’s nominators states, “Professor Johnson’s goal is not for us to all become experts in the field of sociology, get PhDs, and then write award-winning books (although I know she would not be upset if that were to happen). Her goal is to have her students thinking about life in terms of sociology. In all my years sitting in a classroom, I have never had an instructor as passionate as Professor Johnson.”

The Hillman Nonexempt Staff Award is given annually to a member or members of the nonexempt staff for excellence in performance or for advancing the interests of the university. This year’s award goes to Brenda Bachman and JoAnn Casciano.  

Brenda has been deeply committed to advancing new programs introduced to the Lehigh community to create efficiencies within the workplace. Brenda has always exhibited professional and courteous behavior. She responds to queries and problems with a sense of urgency and a sense of humor. She has been on the ERAC Executive Committee for an extended period of time, serving beyond her current term. She has also lent herself to ERAC subcommittees such as Membership to recruit new members and Campus Climate to ensure that all members of the community are represented, thus contributing even more of her personal time for the betterment of the Lehigh community. 

JoAnn truly fosters the kind of work environment that both faculty and students find highly enjoyable, invigorating, and productive. She has greatly impacted the graduate program by simplifying the application (from a prospective student point of view) and admission (from a faculty point of view) process, which transitioned from paper-based to electronic-based under her leadership. One of her nominators put it simply, “JoAnn is like the Mother Teresa of the department. And she does it without complaining and need for recognition.” 

The Hillman Exempt Staff Award is given annually to a member or members of the exempt staff for excellence in administrative, teaching, or research work or for advancing the interests of the university. The award this year goes to Cheryl Ashcroft and Heather Hosfeld

Cheryl has been Lehigh’s point person in providing support for students with disabilities for over two decades. From the beginning she forged an exemplary relationship with the faculty to ensure that students with disabilities receive necessary accommodations. There are scores of Lehigh alums most grateful to Cheryl for her dedication—not only for helping them to attain a Lehigh degree but just as importantly for preparing them for success after graduation. This award comes at a perfect time, given this is the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Heather’s dedication to supporting the mission of the university is extraordinary. Heather demonstrates exceptional leadership, dedication, and service that go unnoticed to many because of the sensitive and confidential nature of the issues she deals with. She never hesitates to take on additional work and she goes beyond all expectations to help others. When unforeseen regulatory inquiries, litigation, or operational emergencies arise, Heather can be counted on to provide solid counsel and legal advice to decision makers at all levels. In the past year, Heather has been a significant contributor and committed advocate for equal opportunity and for improving our campus climate. She currently serves on the Council for Equity and Community, chairs the Harassment Policy Review Committee, and serves on the Gender Violence Reporting Group and the University Disability Advisory Committee.


The Hillman Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Student Advising was awarded to Steven Savino of the Marketing Department. Steve’s nominator writes, “Professor Savino is committed to the Business School, the Marketing Department, and the Marketing Club in every sense of the word. Throughout the past four years I have studied at Lehigh, Professor Savino has always made the extra effort to engage students in his classes by involving them in passionate discussions and activities with practical learning outcomes. He consistently reinforces the marketing curriculum and works to advance students’ education in and out of the classroom through experiences that take their education to an entirely new level.”

The Hillman Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Advising went to Monica Najar of the History Department. Here are some comments from one of her advisees:

 “Dr. Najar sets aside time in each of her graduate seminars to address a variety of topics, from attending your first conference to preparing for comprehensive exams. In doing so, she unmasks the mystery of graduate school, which helps students not only feel at ease within the program but more so with her. You do not have to be considered her student to reach out to Dr. Najar. She is willing to help any graduate student who may be struggling or unsure of what graduate school is all about. Dr. Najar has the astute ability to prioritize the changes that would help to make our work better and stronger. Moreover, her advice is given in a dialogue, which allows students to defend their viewpoints and arguments, arriving at their conclusions themselves rather than by her dictates. Her persistence and dedication compels us to be better graduate students and scholars.” 

The R.R. and E.C. Hillman Faculty Award is given to a faculty member or members for achieving excellence in teaching or research, or for advancing the interests of the university. This year’s recipients are Himanshu Jain and Richard Sause

Himanshu Jain is the director of the NSF-funded International Materials Institute for New Functionalities in Glass. This institute has significantly enhanced the international visibility of Lehigh. It was of great service to the science community as it brought together and established lasting ties between researchers in academy, national labs, and industry. Through Himanshu’s leadership, a true worldwide network has been put in place that will continue even after the NSF funding runs out. 

Himanshu is currently leading an effort to introduce a new paradigm for graduate education in which curiosity-driven research is merged with outcome driven research. 

Richard has provided leadership as director (or co-director) of the ATLSS Engineering Research Center for 15 years. As director, he leads a staff of 20 support personnel and research scientists, 8 faculty colleagues, and more than 30 graduate students and visiting researchers. During his 25 years at Lehigh, Richard has taught 15 different courses. He has been an excellent mentor for graduate students, and has supervised or co-supervised the Ph.D. research of 26 completed Ph.D. students. 

The Robert C. and Virginia L. Williamson Award for Social Research was established to recognize the highest quality, most innovative, and substantial work of scholarship by a social science faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences. The prize alternates between books one year and articles the next. David Casagrande, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Gordon Moskowitz, Professor in the Department of Psychology share the 2015 prize. 

Both have written papers that are the culmination of significant bodies of work. Each paper represents a synthesis of methodology and theory, further defining newly established fields and pointing out directions for future work.  Professor Casagrande's paper, `Ecomyopia meets the longue durée: An information ecology of the increasingly arid Southwestern United States',  coauthored with Charles Peters addresses the question of understanding why societies fail to respond to information crucial to their survival.

Professor Moskowitz's paper `The Implicit Volition Model: The Unconscious Nature of Goal Pursuit' illustrates the implicit nature of stereotyping, its impact on behavior and examines strategies for change in this bias.

Both Williamson winners are leading authorities in the topic of their paper, Professor Casagrande in information ecology, and Professor Moskowitz in implicit volition. Each has written a paper that provides a foundational model for approaching an important societal question.