By Morgan Petronelli
Youngstown State University faculty members are no stranger to academic achievement.
From authoring books, leading research projects, winning Fulbright awards to supporting and encouraging students to excel academically at the university — these are just a few of the things in a long list of reasons why the YSU faculty stand out.
YSU honored those distinguished faculty members on Wednesday in the Chestnut Room in Kilcawley Center.
The annual Faculty Recognition Awards Dinner honored nearly 40 faculty members. Awards will be given out to celebrate multiple years of service, scholarship excellence, department chairperson excellence, teaching excellence and excellence in service.
Out of all the awards given, the most notable went to Daniel O’Neill, professor of communication, who received the Faculty Service Award marking 50 years working at YSU.
“The other faculty are a bunch of quitters,” O’Neill joked. “I accept this recognition in memory of the key people who helped me along the path of life. They are the ones I would like to honor for this gift of 50 years of service to YSU.”
Other award winners spoke of their appreciation for their recognition and why they continue to work at the university.
Albert Sumell, professor of economics and faculty union president, was awarded the Distinguished Professorship Award for Excellence in Service.
“What drives me to continue teaching at YSU is the fact that this is a student-centered institution and is a vehicle of social mobility,” Sumnell said. “It’s gratifying to be a part of an institution that offers students an opportunity to learn about, succeed and engage in the world, many of whom would not have had that opportunity elsewhere.”
Katherine Durrell, professor of physics & astronomy and kinesiology & sport science, received the Part-Time Faculty Teaching Excellence Award.
“It is a great honor to be selected for the Part-Time Faculty Teaching Excellence Award from among the many dedicated and talented part-time faculty we have here at YSU. I really enjoy teaching and helping my students learn new skills,” Durrell said.
Another recipient of the Part-Time Faculty Teaching Excellence Award was Teresa Leone, professor of English.
“I am pleased that an award has been developed to recognize part-time faculty for their hard work and dedication to this university … I have been teaching at YSU for over 20 years, and I thoroughly enjoy working with students and helping them through their educational experience,” Leone said.
Pamela Schuster, professor of nursing, along with Hojjat Mehri, professor of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering, were also recognized during the awards dinner for their 35 years of service at YSU.
“Looking back 35 years, I have had a great career in academia and nursing education,” Schuster said. “I have enjoyed relationships with co-workers and students and participating in the growth of the university. Although there have been many challenges, no challenge has been insurmountable because of collaborative relationships with administration, faculty and staff.”
Michael Jerryson, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies, was the recipient of the Distinguished Professorship Award for Excellence in Scholarship.
“It’s wonderful [that he was recognized]. I think there is very few chances at YSU in which you can feel appreciated for your scholarship and I think this is one of the few times that you can receive it and feel that way,” Jerryson said.
He mentioned that he used to work at a liberal arts college where students paid over $38,000 a year to receive an education, but said he was proud to now be working at an affordable university that allows for lower-income students to receive an education.
Cryshanna Jackson Leftwich, professor of politics and international relations, was awarded the Distinguished Professorship Award for Excellence in Teaching. She said her main driving force to continue teaching is the students, but it is exciting to be recognized for her work in the classroom.
“Teaching can be a thankless profession, but you don’t do it for the thrill, you just do it because you love it, so to get recognized for something that is important to me is exciting,” Jackson Leftwich said.
A full list of the award recipients can be found at http://ysu.edu/news/distinguished-faculty-recognized-april-11-campus.