Faculty and Staff Honored, Awarded Promotions at Annual Convocation Ceremony
To mark the beginning of a new academic year and celebrate the contributions of all members of the St. Lawrence community, the University honored several employees with awards for their outstanding service and recognized a number of faculty who earned tenure and promotions during their annual Convocation event. The ceremony was held outside in the Herring-Cole Grove on Wednesday, August 25.
Vice President of the University and Dean of Academic Affairs Karl Schonberg awarded the Louis and Frances Maslow Award to Associate Professor of Performance and Communication Arts Jennifer Thomas, and awarded the J. Calvin Keene Award to Professor of History Liz Regosin.
Louis and Frances Maslow Award 2022 Recipient: Jennifer Thomas
Established in 1980, the Maslow Award honors a faculty member who has shown interest in and understanding of the education and welfare of the entire student body.
In his remarks, Schonberg shared, “In her classes, [Thomas] is deeply committed to recognizing the whole student, understanding the complexity of individual identity and experience, using emotion as a resource and source of knowledge, rather than an impediment to be overcome, and consciously using strategies for priming students for intentional and reflexive engagement with difference.”
One student who nominated Thomas for this award wrote, “As a professor, she has always pushed me to succeed, sometimes even beyond what I thought I was capable of, but she is so much more than just an excellent educator. She is always available and ready to listen and support me if I have a problem, and I know that she is there for all of her other students in the same way.”
Schonberg also detailed the critical roles Thomas has played beyond the classroom in order to empower members of the greater St. Lawrence community. “She has served the University in many indispensable and often transformative roles,” he said. In addition to chairing her department, she has volunteered for many ad hoc committees and working groups, led the Academic Standing and Petitions Committees, and played a vital role in the President’s Task Forces on the Causes and Prevention of Sexual Misconduct, to name just a few. “In every one of these roles, it is apparent to all who serve with her that she takes on the work because she cares deeply about students, sees the ways in which the University can better support them, and will spare no effort to enact that change, "added Schonberg. “This is certainly true as well in her most recent roles of service to St. Lawrence, as co-Chair of Faculty Council last year and now our new Associate Dean of the First Year.”
Prior to joining the faculty at St. Lawrence, Thomas worked in marketing and publications at the Seattle Repertory Theatre in Seattle, Washington, the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, and in audience services at the Village Theatre in Issaquah, Washington. Throughout her career, she’s directed multiple theatrical productions. Her research interests focus on the intersections of theory and practice, and she is the co-author of Inclusive Script Analysis: Putting Theory into Practice for the 21st Century Theatre Classroom, published in 2020.
Thomas has a master’s and Ph.D. in theatre arts from the University of Oregon, a grad certificate in women's and gender studies from the University of Oregon, and a bachelor’s in theatre and English literature from Concordia College
The J. Calvin Keene Award is given annually to a faculty member in recognition of the high standards of personal scholarship, effective teaching, and moral concern by which Dr. Keene conducted his career.
Of Regosin’s approach to pedagogy, Schonberg said, “Her students report that their awareness of the complexity of the subject matter in her classes grows exponentially, and the topics about which she teaches are not simple but are often misunderstood to be, and students’ starting assumptions are often freighted with entrenched social understandings that may stand between them and the truth. She asks students to face this challenge head-on, to see the full intricacy of the past and the present, to recognize light even in darkness along with the darkness within light, and to look squarely at their own relationship to academic topics they are discussing in ways they have not done before.”
One of the students who nominated Regosin for this award wrote, “I have taken two courses with her in my four years here and have left both of them feeling like every student needs to take a course with her. When I graduated high school, I had a very narrow view of the subject and didn’t think I liked it. That all changed when I found myself in her courses. She cares deeply about each student, wanting us to succeed in our academic and professional goals and wanting us to feel like we are learning accurately about the world.”
Schonberg also noted Regosin’s achievements as a nationally-recognized scholar of the legacy of slavery in the United States, and detailed the central role she has played in bringing liberal education to incarcerated citizens in our community.
“She has made St. Lawrence University a better place in too many ways to count, notably as Associate Dean for Faculty and last year as co-Chair of Faculty Council in one of the most difficult periods in our recent history. She is an esteemed and cherished mentor, friend, and leader of our community,” he said, referencing her peer support and leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regosin has been teaching in St. Lawrence’s history department since 1997 and was selected by students as the 2022 Owen D. Young Outstanding Faculty Award recipient. She regularly teaches courses in American history, African American history, and American women's history, and has also been an instructor in the First-Year Program. The emphasis of her research in African American history has been on African Americans' transition from slavery to freedom. She’s published two books on this subject—Freedom's Promise: Ex-Slave Families and Citizenship in the Age of Emancipation; and Voices of Emancipation: Understanding Slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction through the U.S. Pension Bureau Files (with Donald R. Shaffer.)
A product of the University of California, Regosin earned her bachelor’s in history from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s and Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Irvine.
John P. “Jack” Taylor Distinguished Career Service Award 2022 Recipient: Stacie Olney LaPierre
The John P. “Jack” Taylor Distinguished Career Service Award was established in 1995 and recognizes distinguished service to the University by an administrator who has worked at St. Lawrence for a minimum of 12 years and who sustains the high standards of performance exemplified by Jack Taylor’s long and distinguished service as Director of Dining Services. In her remarks about LaPierre, President Morris noted her empathy, resilience, and dedication to students during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how she often went above and beyond to ensure students had a safe and rewarding experience on campus despite unprecedented circumstances.
“Serving many roles in Residence Life, she is known by students as the face of housing operations,” said President Morris, “Her work on the intricate parts of the housing process and experience are often done without fanfare or public acknowledgment: helping students find new rooms when roommate conflicts and differences arise, providing students with new room codes when necessary, and arranging special-needs housing for those who require a private space to feel safe on campus. She is dedicated to making the student residential experience the best it can be.”
President Morris emphasized the fact that though LaPierre maintains many roles, she gives herself fully to each, handling pressure and stress with levelheaded ease. This was particularly true of her time as interim director of Residence Life from November 2021 until April 2022.
LaPierre arrived at St. Lawrence in 2007, having previously worked in residence life at the University of Rochester. She holds a bachelor's in history from Grove City College and a master’s in American history from the University of Rochester.
Thomas F. Coakley Distinguished Career Service Award 2022 Recipient: Karen Butler
The Thomas F. Coakley Distinguished Career Service Award, established in 2010, honors meaningful service to the University by an active, permanent, hourly employee who has worked at St. Lawrence for a minimum of 10 years. The award recognizes an employee who demonstrates high standards of performance and dedication to St. Lawrence as exemplified by Tom Coakley’s service as Vice President for Administrative Operations.
While announcing Butler as this year’s recipient, President Morris noted the critical role that she plays in all new faculty search and recruitment efforts, emphasizing that she is the point person during these processes and detailing the high regard she has earned from colleagues across campus over the years.
“During her tenure in HR, her attention to detail, welcoming demeanor, lovely sense of humor, and excellent job performance helped her rise to the highest job level among the Confidential staff,” said President Morris. “She repeatedly demonstrates her desire to get things done correctly—while keeping colleagues informed and included along the way.”
Butler has been with St. Lawrence University for more than 16 years. She holds an associate’s of applied science in office technology from Tompkins-Cortland Community College
In addition to the faculty and staff awards, faculty members receiving tenure and promotions were also announced and celebrated.
Faculty Receiving Tenure and Promoted to Associate Professor (effective September 1, 2022):
Cristian Armendariz-Picon, Associate Professor of Physics
Damon Berry, Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Mert Kartal, Associate Professor of Government
Sarah Knobel, Associate Professor of Art and Art History
Jessica Sierk, Associate Professor of Education
Elyssa Twedt, Associate Professor of Psychology
Faculty Promoted to Professor (effective September 1, 2022):
Donnah Alvah, Professor of History
Ronnie Olesker, Professor of Government