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SUNY Plattsburgh Faculty, Staff Recognized for Excellence with Chancellor’s Awards

Six SUNY Plattsburgh faculty and staff members have been honored with the 2022-2023 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence:

  • Laura Cronk: Professional service
  • Mustafa Demir: Scholarship and creative activities
  • Alyssa Gleichsner: Teaching
  • Shannon Nephew: Professional service
  • Kenneth Podolak: Faculty service
  • Nithya Shankar: Teaching

Laura Cronk

Laura CronkLaura Cronk serves the university as its extended time testing coordinator in the Accessibility Resources Office. She joined the campus community in 2015 as an instructional support assistant. The ARO works with all students on campus who identify as having a disability, providing equal access for students to have equitable opportunities during their time at college. Cronk makes sure students who need additional services receive them, which gives students the opportunities to succeed in academics, career, and their personal life in and beyond college.

“I was truly honored to be nominated,” Cronk said. At the time of her nomination, she had been at the college for seven years, “and I can say I truly love what I do. It was an amazing feeling to know that others recognized what I was doing for the students.”

Dr. Mustafa Demir

Mustafa DemirDr. Mustafa Demir joined the faculty as an assistant professor of criminal justice in 2016 and was promoted to associate professor in 2021. He brought to the university prior teaching experience at Rutgers University and about 20 years of policing experience as an administrator and with international organizations, including the United Nations.

Much of Demir's research focuses on high-attention areas such as body-worn cameras and police legitimacy. A regular presenter at national academic conferences, Demir's work has also appeared in premier journals in his field and has reviewed manuscripts for 17 journals.

He earned his doctorate and a master's degree at Rutgers University and a master’s degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“It was great to be considered for the nomination,” Demir said. “When President Enyedi called me to congratulate me, I was so happy; it was one of the best (pieces of) news I have received in my life. I’m proud of being an employee at SUNY Plattsburgh.”

Dr. Alyssa Gleichsner

Alyssa GleichsnerDr. Alyssa Gleichsner joined the faculty of biological science as an assistant professor in 2017. She has a deep breadth of teaching since, teaching nine different courses in the past five years as well as creating a new forensic minor program.

Gleichsner’s teaching evaluations from students have indicated one measure of her success in advancing critical thinking learning activities, engaging lectures, and authentic experiential learning activities. She is most credited with designing classroom instruction to support students in their learning as well as reducing students’ anxiety, a focus of particular importance now and moving forward.

She holds a doctorate in biological sciences from Purdue University and a B.S. in ecology and evolution from Pennsylvania State University. She has demonstrated scholarly and professional development during her time at the university, with six peer-reviewed publications, one under review and two under preparation since starting here. Her university-wide service includes chairing the curriculum committee for biological sciences and serving as an advisory board member for SUNY Plattsburgh’s Center for Teaching Excellence.

Shannon Nephew

Shannon NephewShannon Nephew joined the campus community and served as an adjunct faculty member in chemistry from 2002 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2015. Since 2015, she has served in science programs and facilities support and as the university's chemical hygiene officer.

In this role, she has demonstrated initiative and creativity, developing online training and chemical inventory systems. She engages with students to strengthen knowledge of chemical hygiene training through “monthly safety challenges.”

She is also a strong contributor to student recruitment and campus excellence, assisting with STEM programming and in coordinating an after-school career exploration program with Peru Central School District through Cornell University Cooperative Extension. She is active online in assisting with recruitment efforts and coordinating tours of facilities. She has published on her training methods and contributed to articles on safety and related matters.

Nephew provides service and leadership to campus as well, maintaining several certifications and trainings, and providing training and education herself across the campus. She participates in numerous campus committees and as a building liaison to faculty, staff and students. She regularly volunteers to work at campus functions, including open houses and summer orientation. She also participated in a successful chemical hygiene audit conducted by the Office of the State Comptroller.

“Being nominated for the Chancellor's Award is a tremendous honor because I love what I do every day,” Nephew said. “To have our science faculty show their appreciation and support for my work in such a way was incredibly special. That was an award in itself. (I’m) honored to join the ranks of my amazing peers who have received this honor.”

Dr. Kenneth Podolak

Kenneth PodolakDr. Kenneth Podolok has taught on campus for more than 15 years, joining the faculty in the physics department as an assistant professor in 2008. Promoted to associate professor in 2014, his efforts in the classroom are significant and distinguished. He provides deep experience to the physics department, the School of Arts and Sciences and the university itself. He leads many research opportunities for college students, high school students, high school teachers, the physics profession and the community at large. He is deeply invested in recruiting, volunteering at open houses and at local high schools.

Podolok has founded clubs for students and is an adviser to physics clubs and Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honor society. He has long service with the Faculty Senate, as a member of committees and leading them. He has served on strategic planning-oriented committees, leaning in throughout his entire time on campus.

He received both his doctorate and master’s degrees in physics from Pennsylvania State University, and a B.S. in physics from Rochester Institute of Technology. He has more than a dozen peer-reviewed publications and numerous accomplishments and awards and has chaired, co-chaired and led numerous campus committees and panels.

“I have a passion to support the student experience on campus and make an impact in my discipline as well as the community,” Podolok said. “Putting together this (nomination) file was a wonderful experience to recall all the service I have done and think about what is to come.

“I was surprised and very appreciative when I heard I received this award. SUNY Plattsburgh is a special place to work, and I am enthusiastic to continue to serve,” he said.

Dr. Nithya Shankar

Nithya ShankarDr. Nithya Shankar began work at SUNY Plattsburgh as an assistant professor of marketing and entrepreneurship in 2016. With nine courses in the past six years, Shankar demonstrates a breadth of teaching, including developing a new cutting-edge course — marketing analytics.

At the university level, Shankar is the department representative on the Faculty Senate and a member of the university-wide curriculum committee. She has earned seven certificates in marketing during the past year to bring new ideas to the classroom.

Shankar earned her doctorate and master’s degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and her bachelor’s degree from Anna University in India.

Shankar said she was shocked to receive the news about her award but then when it sunk in said, “I felt delighted and honored to get this nomination and that my teaching efforts were finally being given some recognition.”

The Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence recognize SUNY faculty and staff who have gone above and beyond in service to students, campuses and communities. Individuals selected for this honor are considered role models within the SUNY community.

A certificate and a Chancellor’s Excellence Medallion are bestowed upon each honoree to commemorate selection. The SUNY Plattsburgh recipients will be honored in the fall during the President’s Welcome prior to the start of the semester.

— Photos, Story by Associate Director of Communications Gerianne Downs

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