Center for Staff and Faculty Excellence Awards ceremony celebrates six exceptional honorees

The 21st annual Center for Staff and Faculty Excellence Awards ceremony honored six exceptional members of the Quinnipiac family on October 24.

The festive evening in the University Club at the M&T Bank Arena on Quinnipiac’s York Hill Campus celebrated the honorees for their innovation and commitment to students and colleagues and for their critical role in advancing Quinnipiac in becoming the University of the Future.

The recognition is Quinnipiac's most prestigious award for excellence in teaching and student service. This year's recipients were selected from an impressive group of nearly 150 nominations. Each nomination was reviewed by the rotating board of directors for the Center for Staff and Faculty Excellence, said Elicia Spearman, general counsel and vice president for human resources.

Provost Debra Liebowitz added that it was humbling to read the nominations.

“The breadth, depth, commitment and passion that each person took to write those nominations spoke wonders about what each of the people who have won tonight bring to our community,” said Liebowitz. “It’s humbling to be in a community of people who care in this way, and who dedicate themselves to making a difference.”

Staff Excellence Award recipients are Jamie DeLoma, director of live channels, Eric Grgurich, executive director of the M&T Bank Arena, and Kristina Lynch, director of CARE.

Faculty Excellence Award recipients are Julia Giblin, professor of anthropology, Amber Kelly, associate professor of social work, and Theresa Luersen, senior instructor of chemistry and physical sciences.

President Judy Olian said each recipient represents "…the best of the best in our family."

"Each of our very special honorees has contributed to our university in ways that go well beyond the expected and have an impact well beyond our three campuses," said Olian. "They're innovative, driven and dedicated. They don't just serve our students. They develop interdisciplinary opportunities. They encourage our students to dream big. They encourage us to dream big, solve problems and turn the ordinary on its head. And they lift the community around them."

Each of the honorees expressed profound gratitude for those who have supported them in contributing to the success of the Quinnipiac family.

DeLoma said it's his honor to work with dedicated colleagues and incredibly talented students, and a privilege to have had great teachers throughout his lifetime, from his late great aunt, Betty, and grandmother, Jane, who raised him to those in his Quinnipiac family, including many at the ceremony.

"They embody what great educators look like: selfless individuals who impart part of their souls to those around them in the form of wisdom and empathy,” said DeLoma. “And I am forever grateful to each of you for that. We truly work in an incredible place – a special place – because of each and every person in this room."

Grgurich said Quinnipiac is a place where strangers become teammates, teammates become friends and friends become family, including many dear friends who were in the room.

“The relationships I’ve built here at Quinnipiac I hold close to my heart and will last a lifetime,” said Grgurich. “Quinnipiac is where I met my wife and started my family. Quinnipiac is family to me. And if I have helped grow this family in any way, then it makes me proud to receive this award.”

Lynch said it's her privilege to guide CARE's team of professionals in providing holistic and intentional support to Quinnipiac students.

"This community is one that truly cares about lifting each other up, and I feel fortunate to work here and serve in this role," said Lynch. "Our university mission statement emphasizes the values of kindness and generosity of spirit. I'm honored to work with colleagues to promote these values at Quinnipiac through this work."

Giblin drew from the traditional ecological knowledge systems of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, including the Quinnipiac people, to describe her "academic garden" sown at the university.

Growing up among the "three sisters of crops" with her anthropology colleagues, Giblin likened her place to the "… squash in this relationship: I spread my broad leaves like a blanket protecting my other sisters while producing food, shade and micro habits for my colleagues and my students."

Students are the seeds for the metaphor, said Giblin.

"Every semester, a unique collection of seeds emerges ready to start a garden of their own," said Giblin. "It's such an honor, and I'm so grateful. I look forward to growing many more gardens for many more years."

Luersen thanked all those in her life who brought her to teach at Quinnipiac, where she is surrounded by peers who encourage and inspire her and share a commitment to students and success.

"I am absolutely honored to teach such bright students here at Quinnipiac," said Luerson. "You have inspired me to be the best version of myself. I congratulate all my colleagues for their awards, and I'm honored to be among them."

Kelly expressed her profound respect and appreciation for the leadership and support of her colleagues, the administration and many collaborative community leaders contributing to the growth of Quinnipiac students and the future of social work.

“I’m really looking forward to ways that we can continue that work; that we can continue to grow and make sustainable institutions that leverage university resources and community expertise for the best learning of our students,” said Kelly.

Olian said each of the honorees upholds a common theme of going above and beyond, inspiring both colleagues and students at Quinnipiac.

"We are the special family we are because of you, and how each of you live the Quinnipiac values," said Olian.

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