Quinnipiac honors excellence in teaching and service

By Andrea McCaffrey February 27, 2023

Quinnipiac Center for Excellence honorees pose with their awards

For their exceptional contributions to the Quinnipiac community, six faculty and staff members were honored during the 20th annual Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students awards ceremony last semester.

The awards reflect the highest professional standards at QU. Honorees are nominated annually by students, alumni and colleagues within the university community.

“Our award recipients have contributed to our university community in ways that go well beyond the expected,” said President Judy Olian in her opening remarks. “While these six faculty and staff have risen to the top, let this not take away from my admiration for, and gratitude to, each of our employees. Every day you make a difference. You ARE the soul of Quinnipiac. You ARE the reason that Quinnipiac is a caring family.”

The 2022 honorees for the Excellence in Service to Students awards are:

As assistant director for student accounts, Bashta works directly with students on some of their most critical issues, including undergraduate student accounts, billing, posting of funds and issuing student refunds. After nearly 30 years at Quinnipiac, she has built a reputation of putting students first and contributing to a culture where everyone is treated with respect.

“I am truly humbled. I’ve always said I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. But if I’m being honest, I found my place here at Quinnipiac a long time ago,” said Bashta. “I love the hustle and bustle of the campus, the beauty of it, the community feeling and mostly the interaction with students and their parents.”

As director of donor relations and fund management, Stegmaier says one of her greatest joys is making a Quinnipiac education accessible to students through a comprehensive donor relations program. But it was her work outside the scope of her daily responsibilities that led to this year’s nomination. Stegmaier co-led the on-campus COVID testing team and helped to build a cohesive plan from the ground up to efficiently and safely administer COVID tests. The team’s efforts ensured the safety of the community as students returned to campus for the Fall 2020 semester and throughout the entire year.

“The pandemic brought the helpers out of the woodwork. And this small but mighty population of QU faculty and staff accomplished a tremendous amount for the greater good of the Bobcat family,” said Stegmaier. “It was truly a special event to witness and be a part of and everyone deserves to be recognized.”

Surato started at Quinnipiac as a benefits specialist in August 2015 before assuming her current role in January 2018. In her nomination, Surato was recognized for gracefully navigating a particularly challenging year for the department in 2021. Working alongside hiring managers, she was instrumental in creating, editing and sourcing over 150 job postings ahead of the fall 2021 semester. With her help, the student employment office hired and onboarded more than 600 students in eight weeks.

“Never underestimate the power of your interactions with student employees. They can be life-changing,” said Surato. “In the end, your interactions will have helped prepare our graduates for 21st-century careers and citizenship.”

This year’s recipients of the Excellence in Teaching awards are:

For nearly a decade, ElKharboutly has served the School of Computing and Engineering as a thoughtful, dedicated professor of software engineering. Student nominators praised her for giving freely of her time to teach and mentor outside of the classroom while applying innovative teaching techniques on course concepts and the broader, non-technical aspects of computer science and software engineering. 

“I’m really truly grateful for this award and also for being recognized with my fellow colleagues who I have long respected,” said ElKharboutly. “I am grateful for not only this award but for the Quinnipiac community and for everyone who gave me hugs and cheers and who recognized me on campus. It meant the world to me.”

Since 2016, Engle has served as chair of the international business department in the School of Business at his alma mater. He began his tenure as a professor of international business in 2009, the latest chapter in a long and distinguished career that began in 1990. He has published over 100 articles on international entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, and cultural and emotional intelligence. Following his career spanning 20 years of teaching and service to Quinnipiac, Engle is looking forward to his retirement in December 2022.

“I’ve had a long road here. But I’ve had a lot of help along the way. I have to thank all the faculty who have helped me over the years. Success in teaching is not us as teachers. We can’t be successful teachers without successful students. It just doesn’t work,” said Engle. “So, it’s the drive, the initiative, the hard work that our students put in that we really need to thank. We have great students here.”

Takizawa has served the College of Arts and Sciences for more than a decade as an associate teaching professor of biology. In addition to her commitment to the classroom, she advises 15 students and serves as coordinator for the undergraduate portion of the 3+1 BS in Biology/MS in Molecular and Cell Biology. In their nominations, her students and colleagues noted her ability to develop courses and teaching strategies that spark thinking, promote engagement and encourage discovery.

“I put my heart and soul into my job and to have that recognized is amazing. I have many colleagues who are just as deserving of this award. I see their efforts, the way they work tirelessly for our students,” said Takizawa. “I share this recognition with everyone who dedicates their lives to allowing our students to shine.”


In January, Quinnipiac expanded the awards criteria to formally acknowledge the contributions of staff members and updated the program title to the Center for Staff and Faculty Excellence. The nomination process will now also recognize the contributions of staff members for their service to students, the institution and their professional expertise. Honors will be bestowed in the categories of Faculty Excellence and Staff Excellence.

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