The USF Sarasota-Manatee campus' 2020 Faculty and Staff awards were held online this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Campus Insider: USF Sarasota-Manatee campus faculty, staff recognized for outstanding work on and off campus

By Rich Shopes

Friday, April 17, 2020


The University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus proudly acknowledges ongoing faculty and staff contributions even as employees self-isolate amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. 

Winners of the annual Faculty and Staff Awards were announced at a recent virtual town hall meeting of campus employees led by USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook, PhD.

Faculty winners included:

  • Excellence in Research (Untenured): Michelle Arnold, PhD, College of Science & Mathematics
  • Excellence in Research (Tenured): Lisa Penney, PhD, College of Business
  • Excellence in Teaching: Jay Michaels, PhD, College of Science & Mathematics
  • Excellence in Service: Sandra Stone, PhD, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
  • Excellence in Community Engagement: Donna Polelle, PhD, College of Science & Mathematics

The Excellence in Research Awards recognizes faculty for research during the past three years. Accomplishments include published articles, book chapters and technical reports, as well as the impact of those published items, including the number of citations. The awards also recognize internal and external grants submitted and received and accolades associated with research activities. 

Arnold, an assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders, won in the Excellence in Research Untenured Faculty category, honored for her work examining hearing aid use among older adults from vulnerable populations, the language accessibility of health-education materials and best-practices hearing intervention as a possible factor to mediate the trajectory of dementia.

Penney, who won in the tenured faculty category, is a professor of management. Her research focuses on the causes and consequences of job stress. Recently, she has worked to bridge the research on neuroscience, decision-making and stress to develop practical strategies to help individuals improve their critical thinking, decision-making and creativity under stressful conditions.

“One of the main reasons I came to the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus is that our campus community has been able to do what few universities have done, and that is to value and support a healthy balance among teaching excellence, service to the campus and community, and impactful research,” Penney said. “I’m truly humbled and honored to be recognized by my colleagues with this award. The people really do make the place, and I’m grateful to work with some of the finest people I’ve met.”

Polelle’s Excellence in Community Engagement Award stems largely from her ongoing efforts off campus to support individuals coping with aphasia, an adult communication disorder.

“This award is a tribute to everyone in our local aphasia community and recognition of our new organization, the Aphasia Community Center, that we created together,” Polelle, an instructor in communications and sciences disorders, said. “We all strive to meet the needs of those impacted by aphasia. It is an honor to be part of this wonderful group of persons with aphasia, co-survivors, speech-language pathologists, USF Sarasota-Manatee campus student interns and community professionals. Together, we help those with aphasia reach new heights in communication and live successfully with aphasia.”

Another winner, Michaels, said he was honored to be selected for the Excellence in Teaching Award, which recognizes notable accomplishments of the past year. Last fall, Michaels was named Outstanding Professor by the campus’ student body.

“Knowing that there were so many nominees and recognizing how all of my colleagues here are masterful and dedicated educators heightens my appreciation for this award,” he said. “I am thankful to be a part of an institution that so values teaching.”

Stone, chair of the Department of Social Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, won the Excellence in Service Award, acknowledging her service during the past year to the campus, college, department and her discipline, as well as to the community. Stone is a sociologist with a concentration in social psychology and family violence.

The Faculty Senate and the Staff Advisory Council present the awards annually near the end of the spring semester. Winners receive plaques, monetary gifts and other items in a ceremony that usually occurs in the campus’ Selby Auditorium. Because of concerns over COVID-19, this year’s ceremony was held online with staff and faculty attending through videoconferencing as presenters announced the winners.

Staff winners included:

  • Distinguished Staff: Victoria Ramirez, College of Science & Mathematics
  • Spirit of the USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus: Bart Stucker, Office of Student Engagement
  • Inclusion Excellence: Gabrielle Jarmoszko, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
  • Emerging Staff: Mary Lehmann, Office of Academic and Student Affairs
  • Trail Blazers: Allison Dinsmore and Carlos Moreira, Office of Academic and Student Affairs, Office of Veteran Success, respectively

“I am honored to receive the Spirit of the USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus Award as it reflects my work to help build up our campus,” Stucker, coordinator of orientation and recreation and wellness programs, said. “I believe that providing an energetic and positive work environment benefits our entire USF Sarasota-Manatee campus community.”

The Spirit of the USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus Award recognizes the staff member who demonstrates genuine concern for others, advances a welcoming and supportive work environment and enthusiastically promotes campus pride.

The Inclusion Excellence Award, which was presented to Jarmoszko, acknowledges the employee who embodies the Staff Advisory Council’s core value of inclusiveness by promoting and fostering an environment where students, faculty and staff, along with other members of the campus community, feel respected by and connected to one another.

“I am both honored and flattered to receive the Inclusion Excellence award,” said the USF Sarasota-ManateeClass of ’18 alum and staff assistant in the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences. “The mere fact that our campus recognizes each other for achievements such as this shows how kind and thoughtful my colleagues are here at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.”

Also honored were Ramirez, a lab specialist at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus’ teaching labs at the Mote Marine Museum, and Lehmann, an administrative specialist and certified research administrator in the Office of Academic and Student Affairs.

Ramirez was honored with a Distinguished Staff Award, which recognizes the employee who consistently goes above and beyond for the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus by providing ongoing, outstanding service to the campus and/or the greater community. This individual can be counted on to foster a positive community culture at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus by promoting collaboration, unity and innovation and has demonstrated both initiative and the ability to follow through.

Lehmann was honored with the Emerging Staff Award, presented to the new or up-and-coming employee who demonstrates high-quality service, a strong work ethic and has made a meaningful impact on the campus in a short period of time.

Rounding out the awards’ ceremony was the Trail Blazers Award, presented to Moreira, veteran services administrator in the Office of Veteran Success, and Dinsmore, assistant director of student success in the Office of Academic and Student Affairs. The two received the award for their efforts coordinating and overseeing programs for the campus’ student-veteran population.

A team recognition, the Trail Blazers Award honors employees who have taken an innovative and collaborative approach to create and/or enhance best practices that has positively impacted the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus and/or the greater community and allowed others to make meaningful gains.

USF Sarasota-Manatee campus faculty offer advice during pandemic

USF Sarasota-Manatee campus faculty members Kathy Black, PhD, and Zacharias Pieri, PhD, have recently offered their knowledge and advice to the public conversation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

They were among several faculty and staff members who recently were featured in media segments, including faculty members Faizan Ali, PhD; Cihan Cobanoglu, PhD; Coordinator of Career Services Toni Ripo and Associate Director of Admissions Brandon Avery.

Appearing from her home via Skype, Black was recently invited to join ABC-7’s "Suncoast View" program to discuss social isolation and how the pandemic is shining a spotlight on the issue.

“Social isolation and related feelings of loneliness affect everybody,” Black, a professor of aging studies and social work, told interviewers during the eight-minute segment. “It is more common with advanced age, but it affects every age.”

Even frequent social media users report feelings of loneliness because their online connections lack the depth and quality of in-person interactions, she explained.

“Our well-being is mental, physical and social, and some of the mental consequences of social isolation include things like depression and cognitive decline,” she said. “When we’re with people, we're communicating and sharing.”

She also referenced physical detriments, including sedentary behavior, linked to social isolation.

To view the segment, visit https://www.mysuncoast.com/video/2020/04/09/concerns-social-isolation-suncoast-view/.

Pieri, an assistant professor of international relations and security studies, recently collaborated with sociologist David Jacobson, of the USF Tampa campus, on an article for The Conversation, a network of not-for-profit media outlets that publish news stories written by academics and researchers. The publication’s global audience reaches more than 10 million people monthly.

Their article, “Coronavirus will test US’s civic health too,” explores how American civic institutions – governments, schools boards, volunteer organizations and others – are already straining under increased political polarization, among other issues, and will experience even more stress as the economy reopens and society struggles to return to normal.

“Large-scale unemployment in the U.S., along with any associated rise in poverty and decline in average household income, increases the risk of civic fragility,” the authors wrote. “This could be heightened by any discontent over the way in which all levels of government has responded to the outbreak.”

The article explores four key factors of civic fragility:

  • Fractionalization: The degree to which polarization exists in a country, whether political, ethnic or religious.

  • Gender inequalities: The disparity in status between men and women, as measured through education and workforce participation.

  • Corruption: The role that dishonest and corrupt practices have in government, business and administrative institutions.

  • Grievances: Real or imagined cause for protest or sense of injustice.

To read more, visit https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-will-test-uss-civic-health-too-127179.

Other media appearances:

  • Ali and Cobanoglu recently saw their research into the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on global tourism revenues featured in The Conversation. The researchers projected that tourism revenues worldwide could drop by more than 50 percent in 2020.

  • Avery was part of an ABC-7 segment about how college and university admissions teams are responding to challenges created by the pandemic.

  • Ripo appeared on ABC-7 to share tips for students seeking their first jobs amid in an employment market shaken by the effects of the coronavirus.

USF Sarasota-Manatee campus urges support of food pantry, Giving Campaign to aid students

The USF Sarasota-Manatee campus urges faculty and staff to continue their support of the “Support-A-Bull Pantry” food program and the Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign, which offers several fund options to help students.

To contribute to the Faculty and Staff Campaign, which runs to July, visit https://usffdn.usf.edu/FS_CMPGN/CCUP_details.aspx?area_code=SARFSCC&area_text=USF%20Sarasota-Manatee.

Among the options at the site is the Support-A-Bull Pantry, which opened March 30 to address food insecurity among students. The pantry is supported by campus donations and Sarasota-based All Faiths Food Bank.

“This is a time when many people are losing their jobs, or at risk of losing their jobs, and they may need extra support to get them through this difficult time,” said Jenni Menon Mariano, PhD, of the School of Education. “It is so critical to support the food pantry and other funds that help our students.”

To make a donation to the pantry or to request items, visit /campus-life/support-a-bull-food-pantry.aspx.

For more about the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, visit http://www.usfsm.edu.


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