Faculty, Staff — Update, In Memoriam


Transformational Excellence Award recipients from the Metropolitan, Florham and Vancouver campuses were honored at campus events. The awards celebrate the efforts of those who exceed expectations in three particular areas: Student Success and Retention, Service and Engagement and Creating a Community of Belonging. This year’s awardees were Gudrun Dreher, director, Global Scholars Program (Van); Heidi Fichtenbaum, senior project manager facilities operations, buildings/grounds (Metro); Martha Papson Garcia, director of veterans services (Metro/Flor); Kathleen Haspel, communication (Flor); Saul Kleinman, associate vice president for management information systems (Metro/Flor); Alexandra Kostis, assistant to theater director, School of the Arts (Flor); Maria Leibfried, pharmacy practice (Flor); Emily Grant McDevitt, director of financial aid (Flor); Ivan Mendes, personal computer specialist, computing services (Metro); Anne Nicola, lead account clerk, enrollment services (Flor); Irene Oujo, executive director, Hispanic Center (Metro); Bruce Peabody, government/politics and director, Florham Institute for Lifelong Learning (Flor); the Regional Center for Learning Disabilities teams at both the Florham and Metropolitan campuses (see below for list of names); James Salierno, biology and deputy chair, biological sciences (Flor); Mary Sakin, executive director, placement/outreach/alumni relations, Silberman College (Flor); Susan Seed, director, student advisement/retention, computer sciences/engineering (Metro); Mary Templeton, laboratory specialist, nursing/allied health (Metro); Jennifer Wilson, administrative assistant, psychology/counseling (Flor); and K. Paul Yoon, retired operations management (Metro).

Also honored at with Transformational Excellence Awards were the Regional Center for Learning Disabilities teams at both the Florham and Metropolitan campuses. They include Jill Crawford, learning disabilities specialist (Metro); Sharon Brueno, office assistant (Flor); Joseph Cafaro, retention/recruitment specialist (Metro); Danielle Cotayo, learning disabilities specialist (Metro); Dawn Dennis, campus director (Metro); Mary Farrell, University director; Mary Hebert, campus director (Flor); Grace Hottinger, senior learning disabilities specialist (Metro); Michelle Kramisen, learning disabilities specialist (Metro); Amy Malone, administrative assistant (Metro); Zoe Petitt, learning disabilities specialist (Flor); Nicole Plevniak, academic counselor (Flor); Linda Snyder, learning disabilities specialist (Flor); Marjorie Solomon, learning disabilities specialist (Flor); Karen Stecher, learning disabilities specialist (Flor); and Jean Wilcox, learning disabilities specialist (Flor).

Interim President Michael Avaltroni was named to the ROI-NJ’s ROI Influencers: Higher Education 2023 Presidents list. In addition, he was a guest columnist for The Star-Ledger, where he wrote the op-ed “Magic happens when you give students the opportunity to succeed,” which was posted on April 9.

This Is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them and Us,” an anthology co-edited by Nicole Melleby, MFA’16 (Flor), creative writing (Flor), and Katherine Locke was one of the four books chosen for the Read Aloud Day on February 1 that focused on trans and nonbinary stories. The event was spearheaded by the Human Rights Campaign in the face of books bans and challenges spreading throughout the United States. The book is the first anthology for middle-graders featuring LGBTQA+ representation. Her latest book, Camp Quiltbag, cowritten with A.J. Sass, about the importance of and joy in finding a community, was published by Workman Publishing Company, N.Y.C., on March 21.

Anita Rivers, executive director of community relations, Petrocelli Center (Metro), was featured in the LinkedIn page of the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce in its Community Leader Highlight section for Black History Month. She is currently a board member with the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce, the Teaneck Chamber of Commerce and Bergen County Workforce Development.

Vancouver Campus faculty members Louai Rahal, administrative science, and Ajay Garg, administrative science and associate director, Master of Administrative Science program, cowrote a paper on “A Dialogical Lesson on the Role of Representations in Misguiding Our Empathy” for the 2023 American Political Science Association Teaching and Learning Conference. At the conference held in Baltimore, Md., in February, Rahal did a presentation based on their paper.

Florham Campus faculty and staff members who mentored honors program students during their senior thesis projects were Gloria Anderle, chemistry; Robin Barkley, animation and director, animation/video game animation; Abagail Belcastro, administrative assistant, social sciences/history, and teaching assistant, creative writing; Justin Bogart, inorganic chemistry; Matthieu Boyd, literature and chair, literature/languages/writing/humanities; Daniel Cassino, government/politics and executive director, FDU Poll; Deirdre Collier, accounting; Danielle DeNigris, psychology; Mohammed Elshaer, biochemistry and deputy chair, chemistry/biochemistry/physics; Madelyn Ferrans, law; Christine Foster, communication; Nandita Ghosh, English; David Grand, creative writing (Flor); Howard Libov, film; chair, School of the Arts; and director, MFA in film; Cynthia Thole Loewus, musical theater; John McDermott, Becton College; Elise Morton, biology; Edith Myers, biological/allied health sciences; Mitchell Novitskie, Silberman College; Harald Parzer, biology; April Patrick, literature and University director, honors programs; James Salierno, biology and deputy chair, biological sciences; Marnie Sperling, medical/surgical nursing; Michael Stutler, hotel/restaurant/tourism management (Flor); and Anthony Tasso, psychology and deputy director, psychology/counseling.

Kara Alaimo, communication (Metro), wrote the op-ed “Utah’s startling new rules for kids and social media,” which was posted on March 27 on cnn.com.

Michael Cotto, English (Flor), and Gloria Pastorino, Italian/French (Flor), moderated a conversation with Antonio Dikele DiStefano, screenplay writer/director and creator of Netflix series “Zero,” as part of the University’s Black History Month celebration.

Tiffany Walker, University director of student health services (Metro) and a licensed clinical social worker, was a featured speaker at the National Association of Social Workers New Jersey Chapter’s annual Legislative Education and Advocacy Day held on March 23 in Trenton, N.J. She also spoke about “Violence, Social Injustice and the Impact on BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and People of Color] Mental Health and Identity” at the Metropolitan Campus on February 27. In addition, her article “The ASWB Exam Data Must Serve as Our Call to Decolonize Social Work” was published in the March 2o23 issue of NJ Focus magazine.

Faculty advisers Wonjae Choi, mechanical engineering/mechanical engineering technology, and Christopher Stubbs, mechanical engineering/mechanical engineering technology (both Metro), announce that FDU’s mechanical engineering students made it to the Final Four of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) 2022–2023 Annual Student Chapter Competition. The finals were held in Phoenix, Ariz., in March. To read more go to “A trip to the final four for Metropolitan Campus engineering majors.”

As part of the United Nations/NGO Pathways Forum, Jason Scorza, philosophy/political science (Metro) and vice provost for international affairs, moderated a conversation with Amb. Fergal Mythen, permanent representative of Ireland to United Nations, about “Ireland After the United Nations Security Council,” on April 13 at the Metropolitan Campus.

Irene Oujo, executive director, Hispanic Center (Metro), participated in a webinar on “Cultivating What Works — A Conversation with Leaders Committed to Latino Student Success,” which was hosted by Excelencia in Education.

Faculty members at the Metropolitan Campus who mentored honors program students during their senior thesis projects include Jeannie Couper, nursing; Douglas Evans, criminal justice; Kyle Kattelman, political science; Mihaela Leonida, chemistry and preprofessional/graduate studies adviser; Marion McClary, biology and chair, biological sciences; Neena Philips, biological sciences; Chris Rasmussen, history and deputy chair, social sciences/history; Miriam Singer, education; deputy director, education; and director, MAT program; Gregory Tortoriello, psychology; and Kathleen Viezel, psychology

Maura Johnston, head field hockey coach, athletics (Flor), announced that the Devils field hockey team received the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s Team Academic Award. The award honors Division III programs that earned a team grade point ratio of 3.50 or higher during the fall semester. To read more go to “Field Hockey Receives NFHCA Team Academic Award.”

As part of Women’s History Month, “University Woman: Conversations About Life and Work” was held on Zoom in March. Among the discussants were Uchenna Baker, vice president for student affairs/dean of students; Siddhi Desai, education (Metro); Irene Oujo, executive director, Hispanic Center (Metro); and Lu Wang, finance/economics (Van). Nicole Potdevin, associate University librarian for user services, Monninger Center for Learning and Research (Flor), served as moderator. In addition, Baker moderated the FDU Black Women in Leadership: Our Stories, Our Voices event which featured FDU alumni.

The French paperback edition of Le français autour de nous, Langue française et culture francophone aux États-Unis, a book by Kathleen Stein-Smith, languages (Metro), was published by TBR Books, N.Y.C., on March 20. She did a variety of presentations from January through March: “Elevating the Lives of Our Students Through Language Learning and Advocacy” at the 2023 Southwest Conference on Language Teaching in Salt Lake City, Utah; “French Language Advocacy — Globally and Locally,” at the New Hampshire Association of World Language Teachers Conference in Concord, N.H.; “Table Ronde: French All Around Us,” at the Fédération des Alliances Françaises USA; “Francophone Culture in the US: Empathy, Empowerment and Advocacy,” at the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages/Ohio Foreign Language Association Conference in Columbus, Ohio; and “The Northern New Jersey (NNJ) Mensa French Conversation Group,” at the NNJ Mensa Regional Gathering. Stein-Smith also wrote the following articles for several publications: “Language Advocacy — Building Understanding, Connections and Community” (Pennsylvania Language Forum); “French Week — All Year Long” and “French Around the World and Right Here” (Language Magazine); “The Independent Self-Directed Language Learner and the Role of the Language Educator — Expanding Access and Opportunity” (Journal of Language Teaching and Research); “French as a US Heritage Language in a Multilingual World” (Theory and Practice in Language Studies); “Language Advocacy — Reconnecting with Goals and Partners to Recharge Our Advocacy” (The Cardinal [OFLA]); and “The U.S. Foreign Language Deficit” (IMprint).

During Commuter Appreciation Week (April 10–14) at the Florham Campus, S. Craig Mourton, assistant vice president for student affairs, discussed the challenges and struggles of commuter students and provided suggestions on how to overcome them. In addition, Capt. James Mattia, public safety (Flor), shared commuter safety tips.

Meghan Sacks, criminology and graduate program director, criminology/criminal justice, (Flor), is teaching a mini course on Women and Crime at the Madison (N.J.) Public Library for five consecutive Mondays starting on March 27. The course will review how women have been excluded historically from studies on crime; examine theoretical explanations of female offending and their crimes; and analyze the sociological, cultural and political forces that have shaped the construction of the female offender in society.

Self-mediated histaminase obtained by an environment-friendly mechanical procedure,” a paper by Mihaela Leonida, chemistry and preprofessional/graduate studies adviser, and Ish Kumar, pharmaceutical chemistry (both Metro), was published in Current Topics in Peptide & Protein Research. In addition, a paper by Leonida and Alice Benzecry, biological sciences (Metro), along with undergraduate students Bisera Lozanovska, Zaina Mahmoud and Ashley Reid, “Impact of tannic acid on nisin encapsulation in chitosan particles,” was published in the International Journal of Biological  Macromolecules.

On May 6, Mary Hebert, director, Regional Center for Learning Disabilities (Flor), will present on “College Ready: Tips for Transition and to Take the Ultimate College Selfies: Self-awareness, Self-advocacy, Self-management and More” at the Learning Disabilities Association of New Jersey 2023 Transitions and Beyond Annual Spring Conference at The College of New Jersey, Ewing, N.J. She also presented on “The Ultimate Selfies to Pack for College Transition” at the spring 2023 conference of the New Jersey Council for Exceptional Children on March 13 at Ramapo University, Mahwah, N.J.

Kirsty Bocado, undergraduate admissions counselor, undergraduate admissions; S. Craig Mourton, assistant vice president for student affairs; and Carrie Shanafelt, literature and faculty adviser, SPECTRUM (all Metro), were among the panelists at this year’s Second Annual Future Voices Panel held on April 18. The discussion was hosted by SPECTRUM, the LGBTQA+ student organization at the Metropolitan Campus.

The Professors, a musical group that includes Gary Radford, communication and chair, communication (Flor), on guitar and vocals, performed at the Florham Campus on April 6.

Thomas Swanzey, English (Metro), is part of the cast of The University Players’ spring production “4 t0 1: Four Stories, One Stage,” which features four separate 10-minute plays. Directed by junior Emory Osmani, it will run at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26; Friday, April 28; and Saturday, April 29; and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 30, at the Russell H. Ratsch Experimental Theatre, Lower Level, University Hall, at the Metropolitan Campus. Athos Vardouniotis, Petrocelli Center (Metro), is the student theater group’s faculty adviser.

Idra Novey, creative writing (Flor), has received rave reviews for her book Take What You Need. Sarah Moss of The New York Times said, “The novel’s cleverness — its commitment to ambivalence and complexity and discomfort — is haunting, and, for a divided nation, it’s a salutary tale.”

In the news …

Michael Avaltroni, interim president, was quoted in the following March articles: “FDU president says March Madness win is ‘an absolute game-changer’ for the college,” on northjersey.com; and “2 weeks later, impact of FDU’s stunning upset is still felt,” on roi-nj.com. Avaltroni and Jack Castleberry, head men’s basketball coach, athletics (Metro), were quoted in the March New12 New Jersey article “FDU celebrates men’s basketball team’s history-making March Madness performance.”

Daniel Cassino, government/politics and executive director, FDU Poll (Flor), was one of the guests in the April 2 episode of the My9 New Jersey Now public affairs show, which discussed the New Jersey Attorney General’s takeover of the Paterson (N.J.) Police Department, including an interview with Paterson Councilman Michael Jackson, and the Election Transparency Act.  He also was interviewed twice on the PIX11 Morning News: about the case against former President Donald Trump in March, and how Trump’s indictment can energize his presidential campaign in April. Cassino was quoted in the following March and April articles: “NJ state budget: This is why Democrats ‘do not want drama’,” on mycentraljersey.com; “Jersey City Major Steve Fulop announces run for governor in 2025” and “List grows of lawmakers retiring before next round of legislative elections: 17 Senate and Assembly members plan to retire from Legislature, with more expected,” on New Jersey Monitor; “The politics of ‘Manhood’: How Josh Hawley is capitalizing on a crisis among American men,” on thebrunswicknews.com and kansascity.com; and “Kelly’s Alleged Campaign Finance Violation in Newark Could Be Moot” (tapinto.net). In addition, he was quoted in the following articles about various FDU polls: “FDU Poll: Sexism holding back Democratic Women Candidates in NJ” (insidenj.com); “Could Tammy Murphy Be the Next Governor of New Jersey? Poll Says She Has Name Recognition” (shorenewsnetwork.com); and “More Liquor Licenses in NJ? Polls Suggests It Won’t Be An Easy Change” (nj1015.com).

William “Pat” Schuber, homeland security (Metro), was interviewed for the February northjersey.com article “Oradell historian provides one-of-a-kind show of presidential memorabilia.”

Patrick Cozza, wealth management and executive-in-residence, wealth management (Flor), was quoted in the April 7 WalletHub article “Best Credit Cards for Military Personnel.”

Scott Behson, management (Metro), was interviewed for the March article “Why ‘Work Life Balance’ Is Too Simplistic for Modern Dads,” posted on parent.com.

In Memoriam

Jacky Charpentier, instructional/technical support coordinator, Academic Technologies (Metro), died on February 20 at the age of 54. He joined FDU in 2013 as instructional/tech support within the educational technology department at the Florham Campus. For the last eight years, he supported faculty and staff members, was instrumental in setting up laptop refreshes, equipment training and Zoom rooms during the COVID pandemic. He also was the primary technician assisting during Board of Trustee meetings.

Judith Kaufman, emerita, psychology (Metro), died on February 24 at the age of 80. She joined FDU in 1988 as dean of students of the Rutherford Campus and became vice president of student affairs in 1989. She was named professor of psychology in 1993 and retired in 2018. During her time at FDU, she was key in developing the master of arts and the doctor of psychology programs, as well as the postbaccalaureate respecialization track in psychology and the MA in forensic psychology. In 2010 she received the Distinguished Faculty Award for Service. She helped coordinate the University Core and Freshman Seminar programs and edited a customized textbook, Steps to Success: The Fairleigh Dickinson Way. She is survived by her husband, Sheldon Kaufman; her brother, Richard Horowitz; and nieces and nephews. The School of Psychology and Counseling held a memorial event for her on March 8 at the Metropolitan Campus.

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