St. Lawrence 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, which 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 Ed Harcourt, Charles A. Dana Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Engineering Combined program, and also awarded the J. Calvin Keene Award to Associate Professor of Government Ronnie Olesker.
St. Lawrence University President Kathryn A. Morris awarded the John P. “Jack” Taylor Distinguished Career Service Award to Assistant Director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program Erin Colvin M’11, and the Thomas F. Coakley Distinguished Career Service Award to University Advancement Administrative Secretary Laurie Olmstead.
Louis and Frances Maslow Award 2021 Recipient: Ed Harcourt
The Maslow Award, established in 1980, is awarded to the faculty member who has shown interest in, and understanding of, the education and welfare of the student body as a whole.
Schonberg shared, “[Harcourt] is an outstanding teacher, who students consistently name as someone who inspired them in class, set high expectations for their learning and supported them in meeting those aspirations, and became a long-term mentor and friend.”
A colleague wrote, “In addition to being a stellar teacher, he served a lengthy term as Chair of our department where he showed tremendous creativity in finding ways to make resources available to students and to increase opportunities for students to attend and present at conferences. He has also done tremendous work on campus on things that impact students both directly and indirectly.”
Schonberg also shared a few of the many ways Harcourt has gone beyond the classroom to contribute to the larger campus community. “He has been a participant in numerous ad hoc working groups and task forces that have grappled with some of the University’s most profound challenges,” he said. “In all of these settings, he has given freely of his time and most importantly his wise, creative thinking about problems and solutions, always bringing incisive analysis wedded with an abiding concern for the St. Lawrence community and our ideals of liberal education. Every year he offers his time for admissions events and has been responsible for instilling excitement about learning at St. Lawrence in countless prospective students. In addition to these roles, it is clear that his devotion to St. Lawrence informs all aspects of his life, and he can frequently be seen attending many events across campus including lectures, performances, and sporting events.”
Prior to working as a professor at St. Lawrence Harcourt spent several years as a software engineer at Cadence Design Systems in Chelmsford, Massachusetts working on hardware simulation technology for Electronic Design Automation. His current research is related to SystemC, a C++ library used for system simulation at higher levels of abstraction. Harcourt holds a master’s degree in computer engineering and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from North Carolina State University.
J. Calvin Keene Award 2021 Recipient: Ronnie Olesker
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.
“[Ronnie Olesker] is generous with her time in helping colleagues wrestle with research dilemmas, pedagogical questions, uses of technology, and many other concerns,” Schonberg shared. He also commended Olesker for her leadership while serving as Director of the London Program at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “She was a rock, and through her leadership made that incredibly difficult time far less stressful for her students and our colleagues in London. I know I speak for everyone in CIIS and all of those students and their families in saying we will never be able to thank her enough.”
Olesker’s colleagues enthusiastically supported her nomination for the award. They wrote, “She is the embodiment of the liberal arts college teacher who invests in her students.” One colleague wrote that her scholarship “is personal for her, in the best sense of that phrase. That is, she has an abiding interest in intellectual issues because she believes the stakes are high… The sheer quantity is impressive; she turns out multiple articles in some years. She always has things in the pipeline. She is a model for younger faculty, making a focused effort to work each potential article through the various stages of writing, editing, submission, revision, and publication.”
At St. Lawrence, Olesker regularly teaches Introduction to International Relations, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and Middle East Politics. She holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and is a former assistant prosecutor at the Central District Attorney’s office in Tel Aviv, Israel.
John P. “Jack” Taylor Distinguished Career Service Award 2021 Recipient: Erin Colvin M’11
The Taylor Award was established in 1995 and recognizes distinguished service to the University by an administrator who has worked at least 12 years at St. Lawrence University and who sustains the high standards of performance exemplified by Jack Taylor’s long and distinguished service as Director of Dining Services. While announcing Colvin as this year’s recipient, President Morris shared that Colvin is well known for her significant contributions to increasing diversity of the St. Lawrence student body and her unwavering support of student-athletes.
“This year’s winner has spent the past 14 years supporting and mentoring students,” President Morris said. “Some of her colleagues wrote in her nomination that ‘witnessing her dedication and commitment to students is inspiring.’”
During the pandemic, Colvin has also been a dedicated volunteer in the Leithead Field House testing and vaccine clinics for students and employees.
In addition to working in St. Lawrence’s Higher Education Opportunity program since 2007, Colvin has taught a course in the First-Year Program titled “Native Americans: Yes, They Still Exist!” She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from the State University of New York at Oswego and a master’s of education degree in educational leadership from St. Lawrence University.
Thomas F. Coakley Distinguished Career Service Award 2021 Recipient: Laurie Olmstead
The Thomas F. Coakley Distinguished Career Service Award, established in 2010, honors distinguished 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 offers high standards of performance and dedication to St. Lawrence as exemplified by Tom Coakley’s service as Vice President for Administrative Operations.
While announcing Olmstead as this year’s recipient, Morris shared that she is highly regarded by her supervisor who noted, “We simply would not have had the success we’ve had without her contributions.”
“Working tirelessly behind the scenes, she is driven by a commitment to excellence in her own work and on behalf of the University,” Morris said. “Perhaps not as well-known across campus, she is a rock star among colleagues in her division and those who have worked closely with her over the years. She is a master editor and a go-to person for complex reports that require great attention to detail and a comprehensive understanding of what is trying to be achieved and how to achieve it most efficiently and accurately. She is a walking encyclopedia of Laurentians around the world and her fingerprints are on every mailing and email that goes out to the wider Laurentian community.”
Olmstead’s career at St. Lawrence spans 40 years that has included roles in Computing Services as a keypunch operator and in Word Processing before moving to Advancement in 1996.
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 Sept. 1, 2021):
- Neil Forkey, Associate Professor of Canadian Studies
- Brook Henkel, Associate Professor of World Languages, Cultures, and Media
- Alvin Henry, Associate Professor of English
- Natasha Komarov, Associate Professor of Mathematics
- Sahar Milani, Associate Professor of Economics
- Michael O’Hara, Associate Professor of Economics
- Peter Pettengill, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies
- Samuel Tartakoff, Associate Professor of Chemistry
- Pigi (Penny) Vlagopoulos, Associate Professor of English
Faculty Promoted to Professor (effective Sept. 1, 2021):
- Martha Chew Sánchez, Professor of Caribbean, Latin American & Latino Studies
- William (Bill) DeCoteau, Professor of Psychology
- Grace Huang, Professor of Government
- Zhenjun Zhang, Professor of World Languages, Cultures, and Media