University celebrates teaching, service to students

October 19, 2021

Award recipients smile as a group during the ceremony reception

The Quinnipiac community came together on Monday night to celebrate the extraordinary efforts, innovation and exemplary efforts of our faculty and staff at the 19th annual Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students Awards.

“Every employee at Quinnipiac serves a critical function that enriches the development of our students because of the ways you challenge them intellectually, the advanced knowledge and applications you bring into the learning experience, the opportunities you make available to our students to do research alongside you, to stretch their thinking and ambitions,” said President Judy Olian.

“At Quinnipiac, we have nearly 1,200 full-time faculty and staff and about 700 additional part-time employees. Among these, we are honoring six this evening who have been especially noteworthy,” she added.

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

Army joined the College of Arts and Sciences in 2017. He is noted for his willingness to talk about all aspects of our country’s history, even the “difficult” parts.

“I encourage my students to move out of their comfort zones and stretch their ideas and imaginations,” said Army. “I always hope to help my students harness the confidence, courage and determination necessary to work as adults for a more equitable, compassionate, safe and peaceful world."

Proulx-Sepelak has been affiliated with Quinnipiac for the last 30 years, including as an undergraduate and graduate student, part-time instructor, clinical coordinator, full-time faculty and assistant dean for the School of Health Sciences.

“Of all the years I’ve been at Quinnipiac, COVID presented the biggest challenge yet,” Proulx-Sepelak said. “The second I was told we needed to go entirely online, I started stuffing my car with as many models as I possibly could, I even brought my skeleton model with me. It was wheeled out to my car in a wheelchair, placed in the front seat, buckled up and driven home. My dining room was turned into a classroom. My family knew what hours I had to teach and made sure to keep quiet during those hours.”

Riofrio, an assistant teaching professor of mechanical engineering, joined the university in 2015. He provides a challenging, yet exciting, positive and resourceful learning experience for students. Students praise Riofrio for always being willing to help them any time during the day and never failing to respond to emails, calls or text messages.

“I think students respond much more positively if they feel positive about something,” Riofrio said. “I feel like when there’s energy, I think they can feed off of that energy and put it to good use. Enthusiasm by itself is not necessarily going to produce good results, but it helps if they can feed off that and get inspired to try harder.”

This year’s honorees for the Excellence in Service to Students awards are:

Martin started her career at Quinnipiac in 1985. That year, she established the university’s annual holiday dinner, a tradition where faculty, staff and administrators serve undergraduates a holiday dinner. Martin has also been recognized for her work as chair of legal studies for 34 years and as a long-time faculty adviser for several women’s sports teams, including ice hockey and softball. She earned the James Marshall Award for Outstanding Service to the Quinnipiac community from the Faculty Senate in 2003.

“It’s all about community,” Martin said. “It’s the one event that brings together all members of our community. Faculty, staff and administration look forward to serving our students and giving them a good send-off before exams and the holidays. Everyone is so enthusiastic!”

Medina began his career at Quinnipiac in July 2004 as an assistant director for intramurals. Mike Medina worked diligently for nearly a decade to lay the groundwork for what has proven to be a successful club sports program at Quinnipiac – to the cheers of countless students.

“It’s really been a culmination of so much hard work — not only by me — but really by students throughout the university. One of the best things we’ve seen is that the student interest continues to grow, we already have 400 students who are interested in trying out to be part of a club team and we expect that number to increase probably by at least another 200 in the next couple weeks,” he said. “I look forward to a new era of Quinnipiac Recreation with the opening of the Recreation & Wellness Center in Fall 2022.”

Mutrie, founded the Master of Social Work program and has done everything she could to help students succeed since arriving at Quinnipiac in February 2013.

“I dug deep into my 20 years of history in the field and asked any colleagues of mine, ‘Is there any chance you can take a student? I’m trying to be as creative and flexible as possible while still meeting the standard,’” Mutrie said. “It was a constant balancing act. I’m lucky enough to somehow have a team of people around me and everybody else in this whole faculty and everyone who works with me and the field coordinator who all dug deep.”

Recognizing its 19th year of honorees, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students bestows the highest level of employee recognition to members of the Quinnipiac community who provide extraordinary service to students.

Honorees were nominated by students, alumni and colleagues within the university community. This year, more than 100 faculty and staff were considered for these awards.

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