Academic excellence and service to the community - Jesuit Honor Society recognizes outstanding Fairfield University students and faculty

Image: J MiecznikowskiIn an event rich in Jesuit tradition, faculty, staff, and students came together during a reception at Fairfield's Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Center to recognize 32 undergraduate students who were welcomed into Alpha Sigma Nu (ASN), the honor society for Jesuit universities.

The selection committee also presented John Miecznikowski, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry and Wendy Kohli, Ph.D., professor of curriculum and instruction with Fairfield University's Teacher of the Year Award.

Miecznikowski, who lives in Bridgeport, was nominated by the Fairfield student body and selected from a list of 75 undergraduate professors. He received the Alpha Sigma Nu Undergraduate Teacher of the Year award. "I know that I join some good company with some of the past recipients, who are highly regarded on campus for their teaching, advising, mentoring, and their involvement in student groups," he said.

Megan Kimmins, who headed-up the selection committee, said Miecznikowski takes a hard subject like chemistry, and makes it exciting and fun. The senior from Staten Island, NY described Miecznikowski as approachable and humble. "Students know he is always willing to lend a helping hand on a difficult subject like chemistry," said Kimmins.

Image: Wendy KohliA Hamden resident, Kohli was chosen from a pool of 23 graduate teachers. A proclaimed social justice and educational activist, Kohli was honored as the Graduate Teacher of the Year. Both professors and students will receive membership in the society during a formal induction ceremony in October.

Rev. Charles Allen, S.J., executive assistant to the president said the teachers were selected because of their outstanding academic achievements, concern for their students and loyalty to the Jesuit ideals of education. Allen, who also advises the Fairfield chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu explained that in order to be inducted into the society, students must rank in the top 15 percent of their classes, must have demonstrated a proven concern for others through involvement in extracurricular activities and service to the university, and must have manifested a true concern and commitment to the values and goals of the society.

Miecznikowski, who started teaching at Fairfield in 2007, quickly earned a reputation of being a popular professor on campus. In one of his classes, students have the chance to mimic the TV show CSI and use scientific methods to solve a mock crime. "Forensic science is fun and appealing. It allows students to gain the skill sets needed to think and reason like a scientist," he said.

A former high school valedictorian, Miecznikowski went on to earn his doctorate degree from Yale University. After receiving his Ph.D., Miecznikowski began his teaching career as a Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow at Boston University. "I am honored to be named the undergraduate teacher of the year by the students at Fairfield University," he said.

For Kohli, who came to Fairfield University because of its Jesuit commitment to teaching and service said, "I knew this was the right place for me to land for my career." Now in her ninth year, Kohli has not been disappointed. "I have had the privilege of engaging with a range of graduate students across several disciplines, who are committed to becoming scholar-practitioners and transformational leaders in their schools and communities," she said.

Kohli, who earned a Ph.D. from Syracuse University, said she feels honored to be selected as the inaugural graduate teacher of the year - especially since the award is student-nominated. Kohli went on to say she accepts the award on behalf of her colleagues who teach at the graduate level at Fairfield. "I accept this award for all of us as the university continues to enlarge and embody its strategic commitment to graduate education."

Alpha Sigma Nu was founded in 1915 at Marquette University, and the purpose of the society is to reward and encourage scholarship, loyalty, and service to the ideals of Jesuit higher education. "Alpha Sigma Nu chapters are active at all 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S., at our American Jesuit seminaries and at Sogang University in Seoul, Korea. In joining ASN, a student becomes a member of a very active, service oriented, organization with a variety of activities and regional clubs across the U.S.," said Allen.

List of student inductees (PDF)

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Media Contact: Mark Gregorio, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647,

Posted on March 31, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 261

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