Faculty and Staff Honored with Lehigh University Awards

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Friday, June 1, 2018


The 2018 Lehigh University Awards were presented at the annual Faculty and Staff Appreciation Dinner on May 8. The awards are the highest honors bestowed on Lehigh faculty and staff. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff are all involved in various aspects of the nomination process.  Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees.

Henry Odi
Paul J. Franz ’44 Award
The Paul J. Franz ‘44 Award recognizes a member of the administration who has combined excellence of performance with a service of dedication and devotion to Lehigh University. Henry was a mentee of Paul Franz and attributes his knowledge and success in development and fundraising to that experience. The award was presented by Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations Jennifer Cunningham who shared the following thoughts.


During his nearly 30 years at Lehigh, Henry has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion across the spectrum and all across campus. The umbrella of people that have benefitted from Henry’s heart and dedication to fostering a sense of belonging goes all the way from applicants to Lehigh, to students, to their parents, to alumni, to the spouses of alumni, to faculty, to staff, to Board of Trustee members, to partners in the community - and everyone in between. One very tangible legacy of Henry’s was his role in developing Lehigh’s Principles of Our Equitable Community.  Henry spearheaded the effort to create BALANCE – the Black and Latino Alumni Network for Community and Equity years ago and continues to shepherd and grow that group. Henry has done so much to further inclusivity and diversity on campus, as a teacher, mentor, advocate, and trainer. And he’s made a lasting impact on generations of Lehigh alumni.


Kashi Johnson
Deming Lewis Award and 
Christian & Mary Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching


Professor Johnson earned two awards this year. The Deming Lewis Award is given by the 10-year reunion class (the Class of 2008 this year). It  is presented to the professor they feel has most significantly influenced their educational experience. The award was presented by Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations Jennifer Cunningham who shared the following thoughts.


This is a unique award, because it shows the power of a truly great faculty member: it’s sometimes hard to get students to see the value of the class when they’re in it. But when they look back a full decade later, and they say that this professor helped me find my voice, helped me think about the world differently, helped me in transformational ways -- that’s powerful.


A Lehigh alumna herself, Kashi is an actress and director, and a professor of theatre. She teaches courses in acting, African American drama, Hip Hop theater, and spoken word performance. She also directs and writes plays, often collaborating with students. This year Lehigh celebrated the 10th anniversary of her show, Act Like You Know.


Kashi’s Deming Lewis Award nominators said the following:

“Professor Johnson’s story was – and still is - an inspiration to me, as I know it was for many other students,”

“Kashi made sure students succeeded and I admire her for her continuous dedication.”

“She did – and continues to – support students by going the extra mile to ensure they have someone who supports them through success and struggle.”


The Lindback Award recognizes a member of the teaching staff for distinguished teaching performed during the academic year.  Professor Johnson has transformed the lives of countless students  through her culturally relevant and responsive courses.  Her well-known course, “Act Like You Know” is among the first courses at Lehigh to utilize a culturally relevant pedagogy that invites students to consider, reflect on, think through, engage, empower, and find their voice through the embodied act of performance. Her students affectionately call her “Queen Kash.”



David Bender
John W. and Barbara R. Woltjen Award

This award is provided through the generosity of John and Barbara Woltje. It is presented annually to a member of the nonexempt staff 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 goes to David Bender, Mechanic Assistant in Transportation Services.


Dave is an outstanding, dedicated and committed employee who brings 100 percent every day. Dave’s responsibilities include maintaining the rental vehicles to ensure that they are clean and fueled. He also maintains the buses and vans to also ensure that they are clean, fueled and ready for service. Dave’s nominator said, “When Dave first arrived Transportation Services was not well received by the University community and not seen as very customer service oriented. With Dave’s values and persistence, we began to overcome this negative perception. Dave worked daily with our customers and community to meet their needs in a positive and productive way. ‘No’ was not an option in Dave’s daily vocabulary and he worked hard to create change resulting in a positive customer experience.”


Seth Richards-Shubik
Carl & Ingeborg Beidleman Research Award in Business & Economics

This award recognizes quality research and refereed scholarship in business and applied economic disciplines at Lehigh.  Professor Richards-Shubik’s  scholarly record is especially compelling.  Among his thirteen published and forthcoming articles, Seth has published in two of the world’s top five economics journals.  His publishing success has greatly enhanced the intellectual footprint of the Economics Department, college, and university.  Seth has achieved an impressive research record with high impact in his academic discipline.


Keith A. Botner
Lehigh Early Career Award for Distinguished Teaching Award

This award is given to a member of the teaching staff for distinguished teaching performed during the academic year. Professor Botner’s teaching philosophy focuses on building student knowledge through relevant real-world learning experiences, creating a class environment of open communication and collaboration, and preparing students for what awaits them in their careers. In spring 2017, he volunteered to supervise a six week externship project focused on identifying key target audience(s) for the Moravian bookstore, crafting an integrated brand promotion strategy, and researching key areas for marketing expansion. His approach is very much in line with Lehigh University’s teaching mission, and his students greatly appreciate his efforts. 


Gayle L. Nemeth
Louis and Helen Zirkel Library Staff Award

This award recognizes outstanding performance and service by a member of the exempt or nonexempt staff of the University Libraries. Special Collections received a donation of over 1,000 volumes of Victorian Literature from alumnus Alfred Barcan. This collection was kept in a room with optimal temperature conditions. Gayle often volunteered to work in this cold setting and completed work on 83 percent of the 1,014 volumes. When a new project arises, she jumps in to help, learning complex library tools, such as MarcEdit, to make her an even more valuable contributor to the libraries.


Nicole Lynn Johnson
Perry A. Zirkel Award for Distinguished Teaching in Education

Professor Johnson has a national reputation as a respected scholar across her extensive publication record. She is respected by students and colleagues for rigor in teaching. Her course evaluations frequently mention her posing challenges to her students as she has a thoughtful, critically-informed approach to her instruction. She has also been an incredible partner to the Pride Center during her short time at Lehigh. Professor Johnson is conducting pioneering research on the experiences of LGBTQ + people with sexual assault and harassment. She specifically has worked with the Pride Center to partner on a research project relevant to the experiences of Lehigh LGBTQ+ students and gender violence.  She is the first faculty member to build such a partnership.


Debra Hamann
Perry and Carol Zirkel Nonexempt Staff Award

The winner of this award is recognized for outstanding performance and contributions by a member of the nonexempt staff. Debra demonstrates commitment to her department, the University, and the promotion of the University's core values through her own personal initiatives and work ethic. She is a true team player, always stepping up to the plate to assist others even if the work is outside of her accountabilities. Her longstanding track record of excellence in service shows she is dedicated to her career and relationships with others. Letters from her peers showed that she has a lasting impact and influence on all who have had the pleasure to work alongside of her. Debra embodies the university's values and translates those into everyday tasks and interactions, always taking pride in the work that she and her department contribute.



Mary Frances Schurtz-Leon
Lehigh University Award for Distinguished Service

This award is given annually to a member of the exempt staff who has contributed in significant ways to the Lehigh community over a number of years. Mary Frances has been with the Iacocca Institute for 20 years and during that time, she has been a source of innovation, limitless energy and positivity.  She is an inspiration to her colleagues and to every Global Villager and high school student who has come through the Iacocca Institute programs. She has conducted seminars and workshops, across the nation and internationally, in conflict management and negotiation; assertiveness training; legal counseling techniques; and citizenship preparation. Mary Frances's career has spanned a wide variety of positions and places, but the common thread has always been a focus on the value of connecting with people. Mary Frances was unable to attend the Appreciation Dinner.










Jonas Baltrusaitis
Libsch Early Career Research Award

Professor Baltrusaitis has an extensive number of publications and patents. In addition, his publications have been cited 2758 times. He administers the Forums grant for undergraduate seed grants and has created new campus-wide projects for sustainable and efficient energy in collaboration with Lehigh’s sustainability program. Further, several of his students have received prestigious awards. Jonas’s accomplishments also include extensive service to his field with leadership roles in organizations in his area of research and editorial activities. Professor Baltrusaitis was unable to attend the event.











Stephanie Powell Watts
Eleanor and Joseph F. Libsch Research Award

Professor Watts has published short fiction, essays, and poems in prestigious journals and outlets. She has received numerous awards for these short works. Her 2009 collection of short fiction, We Are Taking Only What We Need, was highly praised, including accolades from Pulitzer-prize winning authors. In 2017, she published her debut novel, No One Is Coming To Save Us. This book was a remarkable achievement, receiving glowing reviews and national recognition, and resulting in several prestigious awards, including designation as one of the “Best Books by Woman Writers of 2017” from Elle and MSN.com and the “Most Anticipated Book of 2017” from the Kansas City Star. The book was selected as a Good Morning America Book Club and was featured in People magazine. Professor Watts also won an NAACP Image Award for Debut Fiction.


Chao Zhou
Alfred Noble Robinson Faculty Award

This award recognizes faculty who have shown extraordinary enthusiasm for Lehigh’s goals and priorities, often working beyond their direct area and unit on university-wide projects or committees.  Professor Zhou worked in several time-demanding and important committees for Lehigh across the university and departments. He supports the interdisciplinary mission in terms of service. He also contributed to the preparation and administration of a Department of Education GAANN fellowship grant awarded to the ECE department at Lehigh to enhance the PhD program, which is strongly aligned with the goals of Lehigh.


Chelsea Gilbert
Alfred Noble Robinson Staff Award

This award is given to a staff member who has shown extraordinary enthusiasm for Lehigh’s goals and priorities, often working beyond their direct area/unit on university-wide projects or committees.  Chelsea facilitated several community engagement activities with the Bradbury- Sullivan LGBT community Center in Allentown, the LVAIC LGBT leadership conference, the Transgender Health Panel, and multiple ally groups on campus including Greek and Athlete allies.  She is re-structuring ally training opportunities for university community members, creating space for queer and transgender people of color, and creating the Pride Faculty Council. She has also begun a structured mentorship program called Inspiring Relationships that Ignite Social Change (IRIS).  


Seth Moglen
Stabler Award for Excellence in Teaching

This award recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates an exceptional talent for encouraging students to want to understand alternatives for extracting from students the full measure of their potential to learn. One student nominator wrote, “I am so excited to go to class, because I know when I walk out I will feel refreshed and inspired.  The first week we spoke about taking risks, the importance of inspiration, and writing about what you love.” Professor Moglen uses humor and lively presentations to make grammar fun for his students.


Margie Barry
Hillman Nonexempt Staff Award

This award recognizes a member of the nonexempt staff for excellence in performance and for advancing the interests of the university; sustained excellence in performance that has a major impact on advancing the department/university goals; and exemplary initiative and service.  Margie learned an entirely new position and new duties and pushed the department forward to become more efficient by looking at its needs from a holistic perspective. Her prior service with ERAC and current service with SOAR are a great example of her dedication to build upon Lehigh's core values and mission.


Deborah Sacarakis
The Hillman Exempt Staff Award

This award recognizes exempt staff for advancing the interests of the university; sustained excellence in performance that has major impact on advancing the department/university goals; and exemplary initiative and service. Deborah is a model of collaboration and partnership both on and off campus through her engagement between Lehigh and various institutions and schools in the area. She is highly regarded and respected by her colleagues and peers through the Lehigh Valley, and is a representative of Lehigh’s commitment to the community. Last year, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts recognized her for her creativity and for her model of collaboration, as one of the top 20 programs in the state from over 600 other arts organization.



Richard Matthews
Hillman Excellence Award for Undergraduate Advising

This award recognizes exemplary work in guiding students through their exploration and pursuit of an academic course of study and development of research related to their degree program.  The award winner is selected from among nominations by undergraduate students. Professor Matthews has shown that he has succeeded as both an advisor and a professor by allowing the lines between the two to be somewhat blurred. He has a deep care for his student's success, and can balance strictness with kindness. He has also demonstrated himself to be an incredible resource to first-year students during the often-tough transitional period. Professor Matthews was unable to attend the dinner.










Dr. Anne Meltzer
Dr. Steven McIntosh
Hillman Excellence Award for Graduate Advising

This award recognizes exemplary guidance of students through their exploration and pursuit of an academic course of study and development and/or completion of research related to their degree program. The award winners were selected from nominations by graduate students.


Students expressed their appreciation for the attentive way Professor Meltzer mentors them thoroughly and differently, depending on their own level of expertise. They spoke not only about her help in developing their research projects, but also about her mentoring in their development as teachers and in their career preparation. What particularly stood out for the committee was the comment that she creates a culture of mutual mentorship. There is an expectation that students and faculty help and guide each other in their work. Some of her students are from backgrounds not traditionally represented in this field and they feel welcomed, included, and respected. Professor Meltzer was unable to attend the event.


Professor McIntosh wants his students to take risks without fear of mistakes. The students expressed that he sees these risks as opportunities for the students to learn things about themselves, where their strengths and weaknesses are, and then to use that knowledge to become better researchers and teachers. He expands their understanding of the research process, which has helped them to develop robust projects.  He encourages his students to participate in activities outside the lab, whether in developing the Chemical Engineering Graduate Research Symposium, judging a middle school science fair, or presenting their work to alumni. He sees the importance of sharing their work, and their excitement about it, to the non-expert.


Gordon Moskowitz
Nadine Sine
Hillman Faculty Award

This award recognizes a faculty member who has distinguished himself or herself through long-term excellence or service to the institution.


Professor Moskowitz is an internationally recognized scholar who does research on the topics of implicit bias, stereotyping, prejudice, and how individuals can control these social ills. His 1999 paper on stereotype control is among the most widely cited papers of the last 20 years in the field of social psychology. He has been a leader in campus diversity and inclusion issues and has been fighting to change the climate at Lehigh, using his research to inform institutional change. Currently, he serves as the department chair of the Department of Psychology.


Professor Sine has many well-documented accomplishments over her thirty-eight-year career at Lehigh.  She has chaired the Music Department for twenty-four years, served on countless major university and College of Arts and Sciences committees, and helped restructure the advising undergraduate advising program. She has also been an effective steward of major donors during a period of unprecedented growth in the arts.  Professor Sine is a beloved and inspiring classroom teacher. Her devotion to students has manifested in her role as an advisor.

Judith Lasker
Norrin Ripsman
Robert C. and Virginia L. Williamson Award for Social Research

The Williamson Award 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 annually between books and articles. This year the prize is for books, and was shared by Norrin Ripsman and Judith Lasker. Professor Dominic Packer, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs, presented the awards.


Judy Lasker is the NEH Distinguished Professor of Sociology. Her book, Hoping to Help: The Promises and Pitfalls of Global Health Volunteering aims to measure the effectiveness of the efforts of people who travel to impoverished countries in huge numbers to volunteer their time and energy to short-term health oriented programs. Sometimes disparaged as “voluntourism,” too little has been known about how effective these programs – delivering education, medicine, helping with diagnosis or with treatment – are or how to make them better. As one reviewer wrote: “This book should be required reading for anyone interested in volunteering abroad in any capacity, health service or otherwise.”


Norrin Ripsman is the Monroe J. Rathbone Distinguished Professor in International Relations. In his book, Peacemaking from Above, Peace from Below: Ending Conflict Between Regional Rivals, Professor Ripsman analyzes every rivalry between nations that ended with a peace treaty in the 20th century. Norrin observed that peace is created and maintained in two phases.  First, nation states themselves drive the process, even if their populations oppose peace.  Then, for peace to last, the societies themselves have to buy in; the people have to come to desire peace.  Highly topical for our troubled times, Norrin’s book will, as one reviewer wrote “set the standard and the agenda for research on making and sustaining peace for many years to come.”