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Six Honored with SUNY Chancellor’s Awards

Six Honored with SUNY Chancellor’s Awards


Six SUNY Cortland faculty and staff members will receive the prestigious State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence during the 2017 Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies.

The honorees are:

  • Theresa M. Curtis, associate professor of biological sciences — Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
  • Sherry Ellis, library clerk 3 in The Help Center, Memorial Library — Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service.
  • Caroline K. Kaltefleiter, professor of communication studies — Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
  • Lisi Krall, professor of economics — Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.
  • Lynn Couturier MacDonald, professor and chair of physical education — Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service.
  • Carol A. Van Der Karr, associate provost, academic affairs — Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service.

The Chancellor’s Awards provide system-wide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and encourage the pursuit of excellence at all 64 SUNY campuses. Each campus president submits nominations, which are reviewed by the SUNY Committee on Awards.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said it was an honor to recognize with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence the work of the SUNY Cortland faculty and staff and that of their colleagues across SUNY.

“They are the best of our best, having ensured student success as they educate and mentor students with innovative approaches to academic instruction, infuse curricula with applied learning opportunities, adapt best practices from throughout SUNY, and much more,” Zimpher said. 

This year’s award winners are profiled below:

Theresa Curtis

Not content with having established a strong reputation as a respected scholar in her field, Curtis, the 51st SUNY Cortland faculty member to be honored by SUNY for teaching excellence, generously invites students to share in her laboratory adventures of the mind.

Theresa Curtis
Theresa M. Curtis

“I’m able to meet all of my teaching goals because I’m an active scholar in my field,” said Curtis, who earned her Ph.D. in physiology and cell biology from Albany Medical College.

Prior to joining the College in 2007, Curtis was a senior scientist for Agave BioSystems, where she conducted research on the development of a chemical and biological toxicant sensor using mammalian cells. She was the principal investigator for grants that brought in more than $500,000 in commercial funding.

Curtis has maintained a very active research program, publishing numerous peer-reviewed articles and securing more than $400,000 in external research funding. These awards are primarily supported by the U.S. Army Center for Environmental Health Research, Small Business Innovation Research, and SUNY Health Now Grant.

“As an active researcher, I have been able to support numerous students in my lab every year that have attended national meetings, published papers and even followed me to Cornell University to do research during my sabbatical,” Curtis said.

Nominators observed that Curtis brings into the classroom a superior level of organization, adherence to high academic standards, clarity of presentation of material, student engagement and faculty mentoring in undergraduate research opportunities.

“Students were particularly attentive when she utilized some of her personal experiences to give greater reality to her objective points,” noted Phil Buckenmeyer, chair of the College’s Kinesiology Department. “Theresa’s wealth of experiences was clearly a selling point to her presentation.”

When teaching a variety of undergraduate and graduate level courses, Curtis combines lectures with interactive higher order critical thinking questions to elicit student responses.

“Her questions were ‘tiered,’ i.e., sequenced, affording students the opportunity to build gradually on their comprehension of the material presented,” Buckenmeyer said.

High expectations, combined with challenging, rigorous and continuous feedback characterize her grading policy. Students have responded by giving her especially high points in their course-teacher evaluations (CTE) of her performance. “Love the presentation, energy and charisma,” one student noted in a CTE.

Curtis chairs the Pre-Medical Advisory Committee. She advises the College’s Pre-Medical Club and pre-medical and pre-dental students. She addresses curricular issues on behalf of graduate students.

“I find no greater joy than transforming an undergraduate student into a confident young scientist,” Curtis said.

Sherry Ellis

Ellis’ rapport with students, faculty and staff and her problem-solving skills have made her an invaluable part of Memorial Library.

Sherry Ellis
Sherry Ellis

Ellis trains and mentors 25 to 30 student workers in Memorial Library each semester. Her influence lasts with those students long after their time working in the library.

“Sherry taught me that you always should make time for others, give great customer service, and create a good workplace environment,” said a student. 

Ellis is genuinely committed to the SUNY Cortland community and strives to do her best for the students, faculty and staff who request her assistance. Her knowledge of library policy and procedure make her a go-to resource for those seeking her insight and professional opinion.

A campus leader in technology issues, Ellis has assisted with rollouts of new technologies on campus, including recent wireless network security upgrades. Ellis is also leaned on for her knowledge of electronic equipment available for loan, often giving quick tutorials for those checking out these items. Once, she volunteered to help carry laptops and projectors to a customer’s car despite having a broken foot at the time.

When SUNY Cortland’s Tech Help Center merged with the circulation desk to form the Help Center, Ellis used her leadership and communication skills to weather a chaotic period.

“Sherry handled this transition with patience and professionalism that is a hallmark of her work here at SUNY Cortland Memorial Library,” said Jim FitzGerald, coordinator of circulation help at Memorial Library.

Ellis is constantly brainstorming new ideas, including a combined social and study area in the Bookmark Café, extending library hours during finals week and adapting to new software. She also works tenaciously to track the owners of valuables misplaced in the library, much to the relief of students.

“Sherry’s demeanor is always friendly, approachable and helpful,” said president Erik Bitterbaum. “She is a consummate professional and a role model for the campus.”

With 17 years of total service at SUNY Cortland, Ellis is the College’s ninth recipient of the award for excellence in classified service.

Caroline Kaltefleiter

An international expert on the “Riot Grrrl” underground feminist movement of the early 1990s, Kaltefleiter skillfully uses her scholarly activities and professional experiences to inform her courses and vice versa.

Caroline Kaltefleiter
Caroline Kaltefleiter

SUNY Cortland students and faculty alike have deep respect for the sometimes-unusual teaching methods of Kaltefleiter, known to her students as “Dr. K.” Her excellence in teaching is reflected in students’ written comments and ratings from CTEs, as well as letters from former students, and statements by colleagues and by committee members following class visitations.

Kaltefleiter regards herself as a media scholar and broadcast journalist with “a dialogic relationship between students and teacher.” Her “liberatory classroom” learning environment is student-centered, interactive, innovative and open to a host of student perspectives.

“Students are asked to present arguments regarding various questions and to present position statements through media analyses, creative projects, participatory media programs, social media design as well as community engagement events and project management,” Kaltefleiter wrote.

She expects excellence and professionalism from her students, models it in her classroom every day and works tirelessly with her students to achieve it. Student work is evaluated on the structure and sophistication of their arguments through the use of textual evidence, rhetorical skills, in-class discussion, media design and project presentation.

Kaltefleiter’s students and graduates repeatedly note her passion for teaching, her strong commitment to student learning, and her constant charge to her students to listen respectfully to the differing perspectives of their peers and to think critically.

“Dr. K. has broken down divides and taught young adults not only how to perceive the real world but how to understand and change it,” wrote another former student.

Faculty colleagues noted Kaltefleiter’s dedication, expectations of excellence, integrity, professionalism and teaching talent.

She is a frequent speaker at regional, national and international conferences and encourages her students to present their research findings.

A series editor for the Transformative Justice Book Series and a manuscript reviewer for Oxford University Press, Kaltefleiter serves on seven other editorial boards. Her book, Reimagining Girlhood: Communities, Identities, Self-Portrayals, is in press. She serves as executive director of NPR’s “The Digital Divide,” and as news anchor for local segments of “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”

Kaltefleiter, who joined the SUNY Cortland faculty in 2001, is the 52nd SUNY Cortland faculty member honored by SUNY for teaching excellence.

Lisi Krall

Krall ’s innovative and interdisciplinary research has made a significant impact on her specialty, which includes the capital theory of salary and wage bias, the economics of agriculture and land use policy in the American West and ultrasociality, the study of agriculture, sustainability and the division of labor of social animals.

Lisi Krall
Lisi Krall

A SUNY Cortland faculty member since 1990, her scholarly output includes more than 35 articles and essays and a book. Nineteen of Krall’s articles have appeared in high-impact peer-reviewed journals including Cambridge Journal of Economics, Conservation Biology and Environmental Ethics.

Most recently, Krall’s work on the evolution of ultrasociability and the economics of agriculture and sustainability in social animals has drawn praise from her peers.

Her “insights into the impact of agriculture on economic organization help explains humanity’s current crises of ecological degradation and growing inequality,” said Joshua Farley, a professor of community development and applied economics at the University of Vermont.

Krall has contributed more than 10 peer-reviewed papers and also published book reviews and research reports that have opened new areas of research in the field.

Proving Up: Domesticating Land in U.S. History, Krall’s 2010 book on the agrarian economics of the western United States, was well-received within her discipline.

“Krall’s book is an exceptional contribution to the economic history for the American West,” said Richard Edwards, a professor of economics and the director of the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska.

Her publications have amassed more than 200 citations in top peer-reviewed journals and her letter to Science magazine on “Establishing Indicators for Biodiversity” has been cited in more than 30 peer-reviewed publications.

Krall has presented research at multiple high-profile international venues as well as local and regional conferences.

In 2004, Krall was awarded a Fulbright Specialist Grant in Economics at Omsk State Pedagogical University in Russia. She has been appointed or elected to the governing boards of professional organizations including the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy, the Agrarian Trust, the Center for Great Plains Studies and the Science Advisory Board for the Evolution Institute.

In 2014, she was awarded the prestigious SUNY Cortland Outstanding Achievement in Research Award.

Krall is SUNY Cortland’s 14th recipient of the system-wide award honoring scholarship and creative activities.

Lynn Couturier MacDonald

Since she arrived as chair of the Physical Education Department in 2008, MacDonald, the 14th SUNY Cortland recipient to earn the system-wide faculty service honor, has ably served her large and influential department while advancing the field nationally.

Lynn Couturier MacDonald
Lynn Couturier MacDonald

“Lynn has excelled at her service because she works hard and utilizes her talent for making decisions that will best meet the needs of her students, faculty and colleagues across the state and nation,” said K. Michael Kniffin, associate professor emeritus of physical education and director emeritus of the Faculty Development Center at SUNY Cortland. “She is a masterful leader who establishes trust with her students and colleagues.”

On campus, she has served on the Academic Affairs Committee, the Institutional Planning and Assessment Committee and as graduate coordinator for the Physical Education Department.

At the national level, MacDonald is a member of the Teacher Education Council and Intercollegiate Athletic Board and has served as lead writer to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and SPA accreditation reports.

Since 1993, she has held positions including chair for constitution, bylaws and operating code in the Eastern District Association of American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD). MacDonald has served as president of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE). She has been an active member of NASPE’s National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, serving as chair of the TPAC Review Committee. MacDonald has helped develop high standards in the field as chair of the Task Force for Guideline Revisions for the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education.

In 2016, MacDonald was inducted as a Fellow into the North American Society of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance.

A prolific researcher in the field, MacDonald is the author of more than 70 published book chapters, articles, proceedings and presentations on national standards, accreditation coaching, physical education, gender equality, curriculum and teaching.

“Through her scholarship, Dr. MacDonald has moved the field to a more research-driven discipline,” said Stevie Chepko, senior vice president for accreditation for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. “Her contributions to the scholarly literature have been extensive and significant.”

Carol A. Van Der Karr
Carol A. Van Der Karr

Carol A. Van Der Karr

In 17 years of service at SUNY Cortland, Van Der Karr has made an innovative and positive impact on numerous academic areas. She has worked tirelessly to improve and enhance assessment, advisement, enrollment management, student retention, faculty development and international programs.

Van Der Karr joined SUNY Cortland in 2000 as the director of the Advisement and Transition office. She was then promoted to interim assistant provost for enrollment management and in 2010 was named associate provost for academic affairs. Van Der Karr currently supervises Institutional Research and Analysis, Advisement and Transition, International Programs, Registrar’s Office and Extended Learning Office.

Van Der Karr initiated and co-facilitated a conference to identify retention strategies, resulting in the creation of Promoting Academic Student Success (PASS), an early alert and intervention system for students who are struggling academically. She also developed a comprehensive plan to enhance faculty advisement.

“Carol helped faculty to improve their level of academic advising and reinforced its role as a key to student success,” said Kathleen Burke, professor and chair of the Economics Department.

Van Der Karr redesigned SUNY Cortland’s introductory course for first-year students, COR 101, resulting in a substantial increase in student satisfaction.

By spearheading the use of the #reddragonstrong hashtag on social media, Van Der Karr enhanced engagement and generated campus pride between students, faculty, staff and alumni.

“One of Dr. Van Der Karr’s strengths is that she understands the sense of community and shared values around overall student experiences,” said Michael Braun, president of the Student Government Association.

As the College’s liaison with SUNY System Administration and the New York State Education Department, Van Der Karr has provided leadership to curricular initiatives. She has streamlined the campus curricular review process and brought it online.

She also developed the Advisement and Transition Office, which supports nontraditional students, graduate services, transfer credit evaluation and orientation.

Provost Mark Prus and Deans John Cottone, School of Professional Studies; Andrea Lachance, School of Education; and R. Bruce Mattingly, School of Arts and Sciences, issued the following joint statement about Van Der Karr’s contributions to SUNY Cortland.

“On campus and beyond, Dr. Van Der Karr is a sought-after presenter and trainer for staff retreats and training due to her broad and deep knowledge and engaging presentation style that embodies insight, creativity, good humor and humility. Dr. Van Der Karr cares deeply about the life of the institution, continually striving for improvement. She is an accomplished and inspiring professional whom colleagues appreciate not only for her collaborative approach, sound problem-solving and decision-making, but also because of the care and compassion she imbues in her work.”

Van Der Karr frequently presents at regional, statewide and national conferences, including the Middle States Commission on Higher Education Annual Conference, the National Academic Advising Annual Conference and the National First-Year Experience Annual Conference.

Van Der Karr earned a Doctorate of Philosophy in Higher Education from Syracuse University. Her dissertation, “Becoming a Cooperative Learner: Experiences at a Community College,” received the Syracuse University Doctoral Prize for Excellence in Research.

In 2016, Van Der Karr was honored with the SUNY Cortland Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Outreach Award. She was presented with the Clark Center Internationalization Award in 2011 and the SUNY Cortland Excellence in Professional Service Institutional Service Award in 2006. Van Der Karr has twice received the SUNY Cortland Women of Color Recognition Award.

Van Der Karr is the 30th employee honored for excellence in professional service by SUNY.