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Faculty Awards 2018

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This annual event recognizes faculty members for excellence.

Bay Path University honors and recognizes faculty excellence in teaching and scholarship annually with an awards ceremony. These awards commend the efforts of individual faculty members to help build and sustain a community where the teacher-student academic experience is valued and prized.

The Estelle Leavitt Award for Teaching Excellence

The Estelle Leavitt Award for Teaching Excellence was established in honor of emerita faculty member Estelle Leavitt who served on our faculty for 20 years, including as chair of the education department for 12 of those years. Estelle was known for her deep commitment to students and her passion for preparing educators who bring both skill and soul to their classrooms. 

2018 Recipient: 

Dr. Ellen Rustico, chair of education programs and director of licensure programs for teacher education

Excerpts from award remarks:
“Dr. Ellen Rustico received her bachelor’s degree from Saint Joseph University in West Hartford, CT, a master’s degree from Westfield State University, and, in 2015, her doctorate from American International College. She has been at Bay Path since 2004, and was hired by Estelle Leavitt. Ellen has enjoyed many roles at the University, and today she is the chair of one of the largest departments at Bay Path.

The criteria for this award includes excellence in three areas: student engagement, community presence, and teaching effectiveness and passion. As many of you know, Ellen easily fills at least a page with accomplishments for each of these three categories. She attends all the undergraduate admissions events as a solo department member, serves as the BPU Education Club Advisor, conducts numerous national workshops, and recently presented a workshop for parents at Longmeadow’s Storrs Library on Early Literacy and Technology. Ellen was instrumental in securing the 2017 National Teacher of the Year award winner, Sydney Chaffee, and arranging for her to come to campus and speak to all our education students. And she has woven her love of art and music into the many education methods courses she teaches at BPU.

All you need to do is read Ellen’s course evaluations to understand that her students love her as a professor. The passion she has for the field of education is reflected in her teaching.

I could go on and on…but more importantly she has been consistently described by her colleagues as a person who is creative, smart, a multi-tasker, able to think outside of the box and come up with fresh new ideas, and is a true leader…”



The Thumbprint Award

The Thumbprint Award recognizes a faculty member who has shown innovative or creative thinking in applying the Bay Path University Thumbprint in his or her course(s). The Thumbprint is the signature, defining element of the Bay Path University student experience.

2018 Recipient:

Janine Fondon, assistant professor, chair of communications, undergraduate

Excerpts from award remarks:

“For Janine, the classroom is but one setting where students learn. She readily puts students to work connecting their academic learning with industry experience. For example, she created the Bay Path Newsroom where student journalists cover Bay Path events and publish their work on the University website. Janine often connects students to communications professionals through campus visits, local events, and trips to New York City. And, as part of one of her courses, students plan, market, and host an awards ceremony – complete with red carpet and miniature trophies.

A club advisor for the CommClub and Motherland, she is often invited to speak or lead at numerous events at organizations with which she has an affiliation. Without hesitation, she takes a Bay Path student or two with her on these outside engagements so that they might have the opportunity to network, connect, and learn.

Perhaps Janine’s most creative contribution to Bay Path is her vision for the “On the Move” event. In year one, “On the Move” was an historical re-enactment held on campus that commemorated the first National Women’s Conference held in 1977. Janine brought students and women from throughout the community to Bay Path to discuss and then document compelling issues that continue to impact women around the globe. This year, “On the Move” drew a bigger and wider collaboration, and was held at CityStage in downtown Springfield (MA). Supported by a grant that Janine helped secure, “On the Move” connected historical women’s accomplishments with issues that women face today. It was educational, celebratory, creative, and reflective not only of Janine’s unique vision, but also of Bay Path’s mission.

It is entirely possible that even in the four minutes that Janine has been standing here, she has accomplished about 12 things. Our recipient is a faculty member whose work embodies the Thumbprint aspirations and whose heart is in everything she does.” 



The Faculty Outstanding Research, Scholarly Activity, and Creative Works Prize

The Richard J. Briotta Outstanding Faculty Research, Scholarly Activity and Creative Works Prize is given to a faculty member in recognition of their extraordinary research and publication activity, as well as their contributions in fostering serious academic research within the Bay Path community.

2018 Recipient:

Dr. Kristina Hallett, associate professor and coordinator of clinical training

Excerpts from award remarks:

“The word to describe Dr. Kristina Hallett is ‘capacity.’ I don’t know how she does what she does. Kristina is a board certified clinical psychologist, as well as a shaman. She has made too many presentations to count; she is a site visitor for the American Psychological Association; and she has a private practice for individual and family treatment for adolescents and adults. Her specialty areas include psychotherapy for medical and mental health professionals. Kristina is also a Reiki practitioner—focusing on spirit, mind and body—whole wellness. Finally, she is a graduate of a women’s college.

Kristina is the author of two books. The first is Own Best Friend: Eight Steps to a Life of Purpose, Passion, and Ease. If you would like a life that is less stressful and more enjoyable, please read this book. And her second book, just published, is Be Awesome! Bannish Burnout Create Motivation from Inside Out. Both books are based on sound psychological research.

Kristina has only been here since 2015, but she has deeply influenced our community. We have not only been impressed with her depth of her academic work, but with her wide-ranging impact with the broader community.”



Vana Nespor Award for Teaching Innovation at The American Women’s College

This award is intended to recognize an academic director at The American Women’s College who is dedicated to the promotion of student success for adult women through curricular advancement with the integration or development of digitally enhanced, data-driven, innovative, or cost effective learning experiences in our accelerated undergraduate model.

2018 Recipient:

Dr. Sara Milillo, director of sciences and mathematics

Excerpts from award remarks:

“Dr. Sara Milillo joined The American Women’s College (TAWC) in December of 2015. Dr. Vana Nespor had heard about a very talented woman at Penn State who could help us create our Food Science & Safety Certificate that had been requested by the USDA. Dr. Milillo received her doctoral degree from Cornell University in food science, and she was teaching and running a food safety program at Penn State, while serving as a USDA postdoctoral fellow. She sounded perfect!

Although Sara may have been reluctant at first, Dr. Nespor’s persistence helped convince her to do some work for us to help develop our new program.

We quickly realized that Dr. Milillo was not just amazing on paper, but was even more impressive in person. Her passion for educating women from various backgrounds into STEM fields was immediately evident. Her commitment to student learning and quality instruction resonates in everything that she does.

Now, as the director overseeing science and math for The American Women’s College, Sara has helped us to take our curriculum to an entirely new level. Under her leadership, she has launched our first lab simulations with international partner Labster, grown our Food Science program, revamped our math sequence, developed our adjunct instructors, and is bringing up a series of online science courses, while applying for a number of grant opportunities for the University. Most recently, Sara created a food industry management track in our business degree. Ever the scientist, Sara assesses student learning data thoroughly—drawing conclusions to make changes to her curriculum when she has sufficient evidence.

Sara has been absolutely integral to the development of the KnowledgePath courses through TAWC’s SOUL model – and has been a significant contributor to our enhanced processes for adaptive course development, as well. Her desire to think creatively and tackle the curriculum with an adaptive approach will significantly impact the opportunity for our adult students, who have no other option than to enter/re-enter the higher ed environment through an online model.

In addition to Sara’s commitment to digitally enhancing her courses to increase engagement, decrease the cost of these effective learning experiences by implementing open educational resources, and investing the time in creating new science and math options, Sara is also an incredible educator.”



Other Faculty Were Recognized for Their Contribution With the Following Teacher Awards:

Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award Online
Mary Lou DiGiacomo

Distinguished Teaching Award at The American Women’s College
Paula Killough

Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award / Central Mass Campus
Terrence Lynn

Distinguished Teaching Award / School of Education, Human and Health Sciences
Cynthia Milkiewicz

Distinguished Teaching Award / School of Science and Management
Steven Mundahl

Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award / Longmeadow Campus
Andrea St. Louis

Distinguished Teaching Award / Division of Student Engagement and Liberal Studies
Kathleen Ann Whouley