On Wednesday, November 28, the University celebrated the contributions of part-time faculty in a reception and awards ceremony at the 1877 Club. President Gregory Woodward and Provost Fred Sweitzer spoke about the essential roles of part-time faculty as teachers, mentors, lab supervisors and participants in the work and life of departments and colleges throughout the institution. Award-winning contributions were recognized, and attendees enjoyed an evening of good food, drink and conversation.
Two faculty, Christopher Cerasoli and Lynn Mennillo, were recognized as winners of the Awards for Sustained Excellence in Part-Time Teaching, which recognizes the teachers among the part-time faculty who have made outstanding and continued contributions in the classroom. To be considered for the award, part-time faculty must submit their teaching philosophy, evidence of teaching effectiveness, and a letter from their department chair. In addition to the recognition, award winners receive a $500 honorarium. A committee comprised of two former awardees—Michelle M. Fiertek (Vocal Studies Division, The Hartt School) and Jacqueline Welsh (Department of English and Academic Strategies, Hillyer College)—with Dr. Erin Striff (Department of English and Modern Languages, College of Arts & Sciences), who is the Harry Jack Grey N.E.H. Distinguished Teaching Humanist, and Michael Wininger, Associate Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions (Faculty Senate representative), selected Cerasoli and Mennillo from a field of excellent applications submitted by department chairs across the University.
Christopher Cerasoli has been teaching at the University of Hartford since 2011, and he has been an integral partner and part-time faculty member for the online Masters in Organizational Psychology (MSOP) program in the College of Arts & Sciences since its inception in 2015. Dr. Cerasoli has played a key role in both course development and teaching, leading 18 course sections to date, which is more than any other part-time or even full-time faculty member! Of the courses that he teaches in the program, he also designed and developed three of them. His classes provide students with critical knowledge for being successful in the field, blending theoretical considerations with applied realities. His teaching is not only creative and rigorous, it is also well-received by his students, which include working professionals, many of whom hold manager, director, and even VP level positions in leading FORTUNE500 organizations. One student commented, “This was easily one of the most thoughtfully crafted and enjoyable classes I’ve taken at the University.” In addition to course development and teaching, Dr. Cerasoli has also voluntarily made himself available to students for individualized career counseling and advice as well as serving in the capacity of Reader/Reviewer for a number of Masters’ Capstone Projects. Dr. Cerasoli’s commitment to excellence in teaching is especially remarkable considering he maintains a successful and well-respected full-time career as a Senior Consultant at UnitedHealth Group, providing analytics and consulting services to a global organization of over 280,000 employees.
Lynn Mennillo has been a part-time faculty member in the First- and Second-year Writing Program, Department of English and Modern Languages, College of Arts and Sciences, since January 2008, regularly teaching Academic Writing I, Academic Writing II, and Foundations of Argument. Professor Mennillo is known for her rigor and enthusiasm, and her clear directions, humor, and interesting topics engage even the most reluctant writer in the course content. Her philosophy of teaching includes an understanding of the need to fire up student curiosity and inspire a willingness to think outside the “right answer to the test” box. Taking intellectual risks is key to her methodology. Student evaluations of Lynn’s teaching are consistently high; student comments repeat, again and again, that the class and the teacher have made them a “better writer.” Professor Mennillo works tirelessly to revise her syllabi and materials every semester, keeping her classes fresh and engaging with excerpts ranging from Mad Men and Hamilton to a biography of Elon Musk. In addition to teaching writing, Professor Mennillo assists in curriculum review and revision for the program, assists the Honors Program director, and develops critical thinking materials for instructors and students in the writing program.
In addition to the Awards for Sustained Excellence in Part-time Teaching, three other part-time faculty were recognized as winners of the Gordon Clark Ramsey Award: Hudson Birden (College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, and University Interdisciplinary Studies); Annmarie Davis (Theater Department, The Hartt School); and Jacqueline Smith (Department of Music Education, The Hartt School). This award is named for the late Gordon Clark Ramsey, who served the University for more than 20 years as an adjunct faculty member and secretary to the Faculty Senate. Gordon was a strong advocate of efforts to enhance the status of, and provide opportunities for, adjunct faculty.
Hudson Birden (College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, and University Interdisciplinary Studies) has been teaching at the University of Hartford for thirty years and was instrumental in the development of the course in University Interdisciplinary Studies known as Epidemics and AIDs (AUC/UIST 140). As part of his work in creating that class, along with his employment as the Director of Health for the towns of Avon and New Britain, Professor Birden, with others, published a textbook for the course (also titled Epidemics and AIDs) and journal articles. With Dr. Ralph Aliosi, Professor Birden studied the Australian model for public policy and the treatment of AIDs and were successful in bringing a Fulbright scholar to the University of Hartford be part of the teaching team for AUCT 140. Professor Birden also taught Public Health Administration for the Barney School of Business, Public Health Law and Ethics for the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, History of Health and Disease for the History Department in the College of Arts & Sciences, and The Caribbean Mosaic in the University Interdisciplinary Studies program. Though he now lives in Australia and teaches at the University of Sydney, Professor Hudson continues to teach for the University of Hartford in our online programs.
Annmarie Davis (Theater Department – The Hartt School) began teaching Theatre Movement for Actor Training in The Hartt School in 2001, developing an introductory curriculum which includes an introduction to body awareness, basic ballet, character mask, animal studies, period styles, deportment and dance, to name a few. She brings in Master Teachers to instruct students in Armed and Unarmed Combat (for the stage) and created a new course for Music Theater students. Professor Davis has also served as advisor and mentor to hundreds of students in her seventeen years at the University of Hartford, and has directed, choreographed and coached more than fifty productions at the Hartt School. Students and alumni report that the “thinking outside the box” and realizations about the expressiveness of their bodies gained in her classes has been both liberating and life-changing.
Jacqueline Smith (Department of Music Education, The Hartt School) taught several integral courses in the Music Education program of The Hartt School, including both the Foundations of Music Education course in the first year and the Student Teaching Seminar for seniors. Jackie is a recent Ph.D. graduate of The Hartt School in music education, which provided her with both applicable skills and a deep understanding of the department and our students. In her classrooms, she creates a space where students are both engaged and learning meaningful content and applicable skills. Jackie’s continuing curiosity and academic acumen—resulting in multiple acceptances of her research for publication and presentation—also serve as an important model of scholarship for our students. She will be presenting at both the National Association for Music Education research conference and the Suzuki Association of the Americas conference this year.