Caldwell, N.J., May 8, 2020 – Student and employee excellence at Caldwell University was celebrated at a virtual honors convocation ceremony on Thursday, May 7.
Members of the Caldwell community and their families joined via their devices to cheer on graduating seniors, other students, and faculty and staff members who have displayed extraordinary accomplishments.
The celebration opened with a “virtual flyover” video spanning the university’s campus accompanied by music from the Caldwell Jazz Band under the direction of Music Department faculty member Rob Middleton.
Vice President of Academic Affairs, Barbara Chesler, Ph.D. kicked off the ceremony reading from “Dreams” by Langston Hughes and encouraged the students to hold fast to their dreams. “Hold fast to what you want your life to be. You will make it through this and emerge smarter and wiser,” she said.
The celebration was of special significance, said President Nancy Blattner, Ph.D. since everyone was “sheltering in place” due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. She asked those attending to join her in a moment of silence in praying for those who have passed and the members of the university community and their family members “who are ill, are frontline workers or who are stressed by the change in our living situations.”
Dr. Blattner said she hoped the accolades awarded would only be the beginning of many more accomplishments in the students’ lives. “It is my hope that you will leave Caldwell University inspired to use your education to make a difference in your community and in our world.”
The prestigious Board of Trustee Recognition award was presented to Pedro Liriano who received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education in December. Laurita Warner, chair of the Caldwell University Board of Trustees, said the award is given to a member of the senior class who has developed his or her giftedness in a singular way, who has shared those gifts generously on behalf of others and who gives evidence of the potential to communicate Caldwell’s mission and core values to others as the future unfolds. Liriano was caught off guard while watching the convocation with his mother. “My eyes widened and I looked around confused for a second and then cheered for myself and so did my mother.” He was happy to know that family members in Virginia were watching and that they also heard the good news.
Departmental honors and other awards were read by Communication and Media Studies Professor Bob Mann. Director of Campus Ministry, Colleen O’Brien read the opening prayer.
Other student awards included:
Brooke McPherson’20 was selected for the Excellence in Leadership, Leadership in Ministry, and Faith Does Justice Awards. She is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems and Marketing and a minor in Communication and Media Studies; she was awarded departmental honors in marketing. Watching the ceremony with her parents was a thrill and she was grateful to the university for putting the ceremony together. “My dad said it was like watching our own personal Superbowl!”
Jill Salerno ‘20 also received the Faith Does Justice Award. She is receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
The Golden Eagle Award – Vanessa Mantione
Nature Pavilion awards – Maria Lesniewski and Yaman Thapa
The Barbara Zimko Liedl ‘73 Chemistry award – Maria Lesniewski
Frederick W. Neumann II Awards – Keith Kyewalabye and Marina Schlaepfer
The Joseph A. Brady Award – Molly Heller
C-Pin Awards – The C- Pin is awarded to the individual in each class who displays the qualities of an exemplary Caldwell University student. This student is nominated by his or her peers.
Freshman – Reeya Callychurn
Sophomore – Carolynn Hidalgo
Junior – Madison Perry
Senior – Christopher Lepore’20. Lepore is receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies with minors in Philosophy and Business Administration.
The Kappa Gamma Pi, St. Catherine of Alexandria Medal – Jasmine Bejar
Kappa Delta Epsilon – Lauren Fecher
Faculty and staff awards and recognitions
Excellence in Teaching – Anne Marie Callahan, Professor of Accounting and Coordinator of Graduate Business Programs
The Graduate Faculty Mentorship Award was presented to Meghan Deshais, Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Behavior Analysis, Clinical Supervisor, Center for Autism and ABA.
The Mission in Action award was presented to Tom Duggan, director of dining services for Gourmet Dining, who has been providing meals to the students who are still living on campus and off campus students facing food insecurity. Duggan has been coordinating the distribution of food donations from the campus community’s food drive.
Nursing faculty member Kathleen Boreale was recognized for earning her Ph.D. in nursing from Rutgers University.
Susan Hayes, director of institutional research and assessment, was recognized for earning a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Educational Leadership from Caldwell.
Megan Matesic, research analyst, in the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, was recognized for achieving a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Higher Education Leadership, Management and Policy from Seton Hall University.
Nursing faculty member Phygenia Nimoh, Ph.D. was recognized for earning her doctorate in nursing from the University of Phoenix.
Dr. Chesler made the announcement of the university surprising President Blattner with the Caldwell Cup, which is awarded to an employee who has made a unique contribution to the campus. The criteria also includes selecting someone who has exhibited a superior professional approach which goes beyond mere job description and which uniquely benefits Caldwell University, and whose positive personal influence demonstrably affects the university community. Dr. Blattner said the honor is something she will never forget. She has led Caldwell for the last 11 years and will be leaving the university at the end of the academic year to assume the presidency at Fontbonne University in Missouri.