College Celebrates Faculty and Staff Awards

College Celebrates Faculty and Staff Awards

Silvia Marsans-Sakly, PhD, and Patricia Behre, PhD, at the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty and Staff Awards Ceremony.

(l-r): Silvia Marsans-Sakly, PhD, and Patricia Behre, PhD, at the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty and Staff Awards Ceremony.

The College of Arts and Sciences honored five distinguished faculty and staff members on April 28.

The College of Arts and Sciences announced recipients of its 2023 Faculty and Staff Distinguished Awards at an annual event that recognizes the achievements of select faculty and staff for their exceptional work and dedication to the University. The ceremony is a celebration of the hard work and accomplishments of these individuals, and it serves as a reminder of the importance of their contributions to the College.

The ceremony typically takes place at the end of the academic year during a concluding faculty meeting and is attended by members of the College community. This year at an April 28 meeting, awards were presented to faculty and staff in a variety of categories, including distinguished teaching, student advising and mentoring, faculty mentoring, as well as staff service to the University. These awards recognize excellence in areas such as classroom instruction, research and scholarship, and service to the College and the wider community.

This year, the honorees were as follows:

Staff Distinguished Service Award in the College of Arts & Sciences, Julie Garbarino, CAS Institutes:

For her tremendous leadership in service and commendable impact across departments, interdisciplinary programs, and the College Institutes, we celebrate Julie Garbarino, senior coordinator for the College of Arts and Sciences' institutes, as a 2023 CAS Staff Distinguished Service Awardee. As testament to her invaluable work, 16 colleagues nominated her for this award. Her exemplary work and leadership touch all aspects of the College. She has supported and helped grow the Science Institute. One colleague wrote of Julie’s work with the Humanities Institute, that she, “is essential to our organization’s very existence.” She does necessary work, but also proactively foresees problems and proposes new ideas and improvements to functioning. Her work for the Fredrickson Family Innovation Lab, with departments, and work to help hire and train new staff is equally praised by colleagues. She is appreciated for her vast institutional knowledge, her willingness to be available and helpful to others, and her attention to detail. Her nominators find that she consistently goes above and beyond her official duties. As stated by a nominator, “Julie shines in her ability as a strong leader, a team player, and a colleague who cares about the work she does.”

Staff Distinguished Service Award in the College of Arts & Sciences, Melissa Roberto, Department of Visual & Performing Arts:

For her remarkable leadership in service and her extensive impact on supporting curricula, events and programming in the College, we celebrate Melissa Roberto, senior program coordinator for Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) and Classical Studies, as a 2023 CAS Staff Distinguished Service Awardee. VPA is a complex department, with six academic programs, 60 courses each semester, numerous specialized classrooms and studios, 40 full- and part-time faculty members, one theatre company, and three musical ensembles. Classical Studies offers numerous courses and has several budget lines. Melissa gracefully manages all of this with organization and initiative. VPA and Classical Studies contribute significantly to the cultural life of the University, and much of this is owed to Melissa’s efforts. She facilitates hiring dozens of visiting artists per year, as well as details for student film screenings, plays, art exhibits, concerts, and workshops. Almost every week each semester includes an event Melissa helped coordinate. Melissa is always cheerful, warm, and compassionate, as she manages the myriad aspects of her job. As her nominator writes, “Without Melissa’s help and efficiency, we would not be able to offer programming or run our classes as well as we do.” She is an indispensable colleague in Visual and Performing Arts and Classical Studies.

Award for Distinguished Teaching in the College of Arts & Sciences, Silvia Marsans-Sakly, PhD, Department of History:

For her outstanding and sustained dedication to students in the area of teaching, Dr. Silvia Marsans-Sakly of the Department of History, is awarded the 2023 College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award. The awards committee was impressed by Dr. Marsans-Sakly's innovative pedagogy and dedication to her classes. As her nominating letter states, Dr. Marsans-Sakly is constantly experimenting in her classes, using advice from the CAE on a consistent basis, and has participated in significant curricular development through new courses, instructional formats, and technologies. She has contributed at every level of her departmental offerings, from introductory to advanced classes. Especially notable is her work at the introductory level, to transform a course from a traditional European history class into a class with a global focus, and then refining it even further to concentrate on global trade. Dr. Marsans-Sakly is tireless in her work with students, and her entire department has been impressed by her care, sensitivity, and devotion to student learning, finding her almost without peer. She is not satisfied to let things be unless her students are achieving and understanding.

Award for Distinguished Student Advising and Mentoring in the College of Arts & Sciences, Brian Walker, PhD, Department of Biology:

For his exceptional advising and mentorship role in Biology, Environmental Studies, and Health Studies, Dr. Brian Walker, professor of biology, is awarded the 2023 College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Student Advising and Mentoring Award. The awards committee recognizes Dr. Walker’s dedication to students in the area of academic advising, research mentoring, and post- graduate career advising. Nominators acknowledge his work in building communication with students beyond his department and throughout the year to inform, educate and empower them to become owners of their work. One of his students wrote, “As a first-generation college student, Dr. Walker was especially helpful in helping me transition into Fairfield’s rigorous academic life. I attribute much of my success in the Fulbright process to Dr. Walker.” As director of the health studies minor, the program saw one of the largest increases in students ever. Dr. Walker’s incredible mentoring approach includes instilling confidence in his students as they become more independent, and he continues to serve as a support after graduation. As his nominators state, he never stops advocating to enrich the experiences of his students, helping countless students navigate their academic and career successes.

Award for Distinguished Faculty Mentoring in the College of Arts & Sciences, Betsy Bowen, PhD, Department of English:

In recognition of her decades of work supporting and encouraging faculty in the College and beyond, Dr. Betsy Bowen, professor of English, is awarded the College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Faculty Mentoring Award. Dr. Bowen’s nominators praise her extraordinary mentoring with respect to faculty governance, community-engaged learning, faculty advancement and cura personalis. Dr. Bowen expertly connects faculty governance and faculty mentoring, taking the time to speak to individuals and inspiring many to serve on significant committees. One nominator wrote that Dr. Bowen regularly encourages junior faculty to embrace leadership, try new things in courses, and pursue career advancement. In her work as faculty chair of Community-Engaged Learning, Dr. Bowen was attentive to diverse faculty needs and was instrumental in helping to support community-engaged faculty through the rank and tenure process. Dr. Bowen consistently uses her expertise to support faculty preparing dossiers for tenure and promotion across the university. One colleague wrote of Dr. Bowen, “not only has she always been a mentor to me, but also by example, she has modeled for me with class, grace and humility my own responsibilities as a mentor.” In the words of Dr. Bowen’s nominators she is “simply legendary at Fairfield University.”

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