At an all-campus faculty and staff WebEx meeting, President Katherine Bergeron and Dean of the Faculty Jeffrey Cole announced the winners of the annual Faculty Awards and the seventh annual Presidential Staff Awards.
Cole presented awards to four professors, representing the highest form of peer recognition offered by faculty at Connecticut College, while Bergeron honored five staff members and one team.
The faculty award winners are as follows:
Nancy Batson Nisbet Rash Faculty Award for Excellence in Research: Michelle Dunlap, Professor of Human Development
Michelle Dunlap, a professor at the College since 1994, won the 2020 Nancy Batson Nisbet Rash Faculty Research Award, presented annually to a faculty member selected on the basis of outstanding scholarly or artistic accomplishments. The award was established in 1995 in memory of Nancy Rash, the Lucy C. McDannel ’22 Professor of Art History at Connecticut College from 1972 to 1995.
Dunlap has more than 40 publications, having written books, journal articles, chapters, and essays about her research and experiences involving college students working in community service-learning settings; intergroup relations; and perceptions and misperceptions of African American child rearing; and most recently, Black and minority bodies shopping and other consumer marketplace experiences.
She has served in many board and other leadership positions over the years, such as with the New England Psychological Association (NEPA), the national Association for Women in Psychology (AWP), the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE), Campus Compact, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) and United Community Family Services (UCFS). Most recently she serves on Brown University’s College & University Engagement Initiative’s (CUEI) Lynton Award National Advisory Committee.
She has won local, state and national awards for her community-engaged work, such as the State of Connecticut African American Affairs Commission (AAAC) 2005 Woman of the Year, the 2008 New England Resource Center for Higher Education's Ernest J. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement, and the 2018 National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) Eunice McLean Waller Award for Outstanding Work in Education and Community. She has been called on to consult for universities, schools, social service and community agencies, and businesses.
John S. King Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching: Sabrina Notarfrancisco, Associate Professor of Theater
Sabrina Notarfrancisco won the 2020 John S. King Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award was established to recognize teacher-scholars with high standards of teaching excellence and concern for students. It is named for the beloved professor of German whose warmth and humanity touched all who knew him.
Notarfrancisco, a professor at the College since 2004, is a costume designer for live performance and film. In addition to teaching courses in costume history and costume design and construction, she works closely with students in the costume studio, a hands-on environment where theory and practice seamlessly intersect.
She has presented her designs at numerous international symposia and has exhibited work in the Perspectives of Spectacle exhibit at the Wimbledon College of Art and in the Costume at the Turn of the Century 1990-2015 exhibit at the A.A. Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum in Moscow.
Recent publications include “Collision of Art and Life,” an article chronicling the experimental costumed Tribes exhibit at the 2015 Prague Quadrennial, and “Mounting an Exhibit of Historical Costume,” which documents the garment selection, conservation and mounting process undertaken to create the Women of New England: Dress from the Industrial Age, 1850-1900 exhibit at the William Benton Museum of Art, for which she also served as a conservator. Both pieces were published in the TD&T (Theater Design & Technology) journal.
Helen Brooks Regan Faculty Award for Excellence in Leadership: Margaret Thomas, the Sylvia Marx Professor of Music
Margaret (Midge) Thomas won the 2020 Helen Brooks Regan Faculty Leadership Award, presented annually to a tenured faculty member whose outstanding service in a leadership role exemplifies the College’s commitment to shared governance, democratic process and campus community development.
Thomas joined the College in 1999. Devoted to teaching, she strives to share with her students the power of music theory, aural skills, and the analysis to be able to open new paths for understanding and performing music.
She has presented her research at annual meetings of the Society for Music Theory, Rocky Mountain Society for Music Theory, Music Theory Midwest, and Music Theory Southeast. She has articles and reviews published or forthcoming in Journal of Music Theory, Perspectives of New Music, Intégral, Ex tempore, American Music Review, Music Theory Online, and the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. In 2011, Thomas co-authored a book chapter with Director of Arts Programming Robert Richter on team teaching.
Thomas served in 2011 on the College's Centennial committee as a judge in the search for a new Centennial song.
Helen Mulvey Faculty Award for Fostering Student Achievement: Judelysse Gomez, the William Meredith Assistant Professor of Psychology
Judelysse Gomez, a professor at the College since 2016, is the 2020 winner of the Helen Mulvey Faculty Award, presented to an assistant professor who regularly offers classes that challenge students to work harder than they thought they could and to reach unanticipated levels of academic achievement.
Gomez’s work thus far has focused on examining how variables related to the socio-cultural context (e.g., acculturation, acculturative stress, discrimination, etc.) impact the mental/behavioral health and treatment outcomes of individuals of color. She has worked in collaboration with mentors and colleagues delivering culturally-competent cognitive behavioral treatment to Latin@ adults with post-traumatic stress and somatization disorders, and Latin@ adolescents and their families to reduce adolescent suicidality. She has also worked with detained unaccompanied undocumented immigrant youth from a positive youth development perspective.
Currently, she is focused on developing sustainable community partnerships with the end goal of collecting qualitative and quantitative data among New London Latin@ community members to understand the socio-cultural variables that drive mental health disparities and inform treatment development.
Traditionally, staff award winners are surprised in their offices or in meetings by Bergeron, and a photographer captures their reactions. This year, in keeping with the tradition, Bergeron surprised staff award winners in WebEx meetings to deliver the news. Their reactions were captured in screen grabs.
The staff award winners are as follows:
The Service Excellence Award: Greg Surman
Greg Surman won the 2020 Service Excellence Award, which honors an individual who demonstrates distinction in the conduct of his or her responsibilities at the College. Surman is the film studies technician in the Department of Film Studies and has been at the College for 12 years.
Surman’s deep knowledge of film studies, technology, production and editing has made him an invaluable resource to the Conn community. He mentors students, always bringing out their very best, and collaborates regularly with faculty and staff across campus. He embodies the spirit of inclusivity and full participation that Conn prizes.
The Citizenship Award: Bonnie Wells
Secretary of the College Bonnie Wells won the 2020 Citizenship Award, which honors an individual who has enhanced the quality of life and made a substantial difference for the College community. Wells has had a distinguished career over the last 25 years, and has been the embodiment of citizenship, with her service under five presidents and as many board chairs, and her capable work with countless trustees.
Wells handles complex tasks with grace and style, and her event planning skills are second to none. She represents the true values that lie at the heart of the Connecticut College community.
The Inspiration Award: Christopher Rust
Christopher Rust won the 2020 Inspiration Award, presented to an individual who excels at building relationships and motivating others to higher levels of performance. As director of purchasing in Accounting (Office of the Controller), Rust, who has been at the College for three years, took the initiative to create CTW OneSource, a new digital procurement platform benefiting not just one but three campuses, saving valuable time and resources.
Rust found grants to help plan the project, garnered inter-institutional support (no small feat!), and then saw the project through from start to finish. Through it all, what shone through was his characteristic good humor, his creative problem-solving and his commitment.
The Rising Star Award: Pamela Wrinn
Pamela Wrinn won the 2020 Rising Star Award, which recognizes an individual who has worked at the College for less than three years and has made a recognizable impact. Wrinn is the senior assistant to the Office of the Dean of the College.
Wrinn won for her outstanding commitment to students, to building community, and to fostering an environment of care and professionalism. In addition to planning and executing high-profile events with great skill, Wrinn took initiative to improve staff support across the College by bringing senior administrative assistants together to share best practices.
The Student Support Award: Truth Hunter
Truth Hunter, who has been at the College since 2017, won the 2020 Student Support Award, which honors a staff member who has bolstered student success and facilitated a positive student experience. Hunter is the director of race and ethnicity programs in the Division of Institutional Equity and Inclusion.
Hunter has played so many roles so gracefully—as a mentor, as a director, as a supervisor, as an artist, as a teacher, as a leader and as a program builder. She has been a revelation and an inspiration to Conn’s students. Supervising the Unity Ambassador Teams, she empowers students to develop their capacity for leadership and to grow professionally, academically and spiritually. Through Conn’s new Genesis class on “How College Works,” she strengthens the bonds among Conn’s first-year students of color and first-generation students. Her passion for equity and inclusion is felt all over campus.
The Team Service Excellence Award: Instructional Technology Team
The Instructional Technology Team won the 2020 Team Service Excellence Award, presented to the staff team that demonstrates distinction in the conduct of their responsibilities at the College. The Instructional Technology team was chosen because of its unparalleled commitment to excellence.
In March, when the College transitioned to remote instruction in the midst of a global pandemic, the team leapt to the challenge. For most faculty, remote teaching was completely unfamiliar territory, and the team was there to help. With just days to prepare, the team devised a comprehensive plan to train faculty in the latest digital technologies so they could move their teaching online. It was a herculean effort, and it made all the difference for Conn’s students.
The Instructional Technology Team includes Kate Bengtson, instructional technology specialist; Lyndsay Bratton, assistant director for digital scholarship; Diane Creede, assistant director for instructional technology; Mike Dreimiller, digital media specialist; Ashley Hanson, research and instruction librarian; Lori Looney, technical services and e-resources specialist; Andrew Lopez, research and instruction librarian; Ariela McCaffrey, director of research support, instruction and outreach; and Jessica McCullough, director for research support and curricular technology.