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New Mexico State University's College of Arts and Sciences celebrates faculty, staff

More than 200 people gathered at New Mexico State University's Center for the Arts as Maestro Lonnie Klein of the Las Cruces Symphony emceed a gala awards ceremony and reception to celebrate the accomplishments of faculty and staff in the College of Arts and Sciences on Thursday, April 26.


Woman standing at a podium
Shirley Eck (left), administrative assistant to Dean Christa Slaton, expresses her gratitude to the College of Arts and Sciences after receiving a Staff Award for Excellence at the recent awards ceremony at the NMSU Center for the Arts. (photo by Mike Jones)
Man and woman looking down at a plaque
Joe Lakey (left), mathematics department head, accepts the Outstanding Department Head award from Christa Slaton, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, at the recent awards ceremony. (photo by Mike Jones)
Woman standing at podium
Regents Professor Elba Serrano talks about her research after receiving the $10,000 S.P. Manasse and Margaret Manasse Endowed Fund Scholar award at the College of Arts and Sciences award ceremony. (photo by Mike Jones)

A total of 30 awards were presented and top winners were profiled in videos produced by NMSU's Creative Media Institute. The third annual event marked the first time awards were presented in the Mark and Stephanie Medoff Theatre.

"Recognizing and providing awards for our faculty and staff is a key priority of this college," said Christa Slaton, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "It is through these dedicated, caring individuals and their commitment to the learning process that we are able to motivate and contribute to the overall development and academic success of our students. We want to make sure they know that we appreciate all they do."

Regents Professor Elba Serrano received the highest honor of the night as the recipient of the S.P. Manasse and Margaret Manasse Endowed Fund Scholar award. The $10,000 Manasse award is presented to faculty members to support a special project in research, teaching or service. Slaton, along with Enrico Pontelli, computer science department head and last year's recipient, presented Serrano with the award.

"I am honored to be the selected as a Manasse Scholar, especially because this recognition is conferred by faculty peers for scholarly efforts and teaching contributions as a member of the College of Arts and Sciences." Serrano said. "I am grateful to the Manasse family for their endowment of the fund because the award will allow my laboratory to embark on a new line of research in neural tissue engineering."

Six Outstanding Faculty Achievement Awards also were presented, recognizing demonstrated excellence in scholarship and research, teaching and outreach. Each recipient received $1,000 and an engraved plaque.

The Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship and Research awards went to Jeff Arterburn, associate department head in chemistry and biochemistry, and Stephen Pate, professor of physics.

The Outstanding Achievement in Teaching award was presented to Nathan Brooks, associate professor of history, and Jeanne Flora, associate professor of communication studies.

Greg Armfield, assistant professor of communication studies, and Chris Burnham, professor of English, received Outstanding Achievement in Service/Outreach awards.

This year's Departmental Student Advising and Retention Award went to communication studies. Department head Ann Hubbell accepted the award, which recognizes departments that make advising and student success a priority and comes with $4,000 in discretionary funds for departmental use.

The English department received the Diversity Award. English department head Monica Torres accepted the honor and the $4,000 award on behalf of her department.

Joseph Lakey, mathematics department head, received the Outstanding Department Head award. Lakey received a $1,000 prize, plus an additional $4,000 to be used for the benefit of faculty, staff and students in his department.

"There are a lot of outstanding department heads in the College of Arts and Sciences who work tirelessly to create opportunities for their faculty and students, while understanding that the heads and directors of other department and programs share the same challenges that they do," Lakey said. "Just to be considered among this group is an honor, and to be nominated by my colleagues in the department means a lot to me."

The Staff Award for Excellence is based on employees' sustained commitment to excellence, collegiality, civility and their work to promote diversity within the College of Arts and Sciences and support of the core values of the college. For their service, recipients received a $500 cash award.

Recipients were Shirley Eck, administrative assistant in the Dean's Office, Lee Hubbard, administrative assistant in the geology department, and Jay Benegas, administrative assistant in the languages and linguistics department.

A newly created professional development staff award recognizes the outstanding contributions and achievements of exempt staff members. Recipients received $1,000 in department funds to be used for professional development or to purchase work-related equipment or materials that enhance productivity and efficiency.

Adam Labe, safety technician in the art department, Lorena Sanchez, associate accountant in the astronomy department, and Cathy Thomas, executive assistant to the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, received these awards.

Ten $1,000 grants were awarded to help facilitate travel for faculty development and recognition at conferences or conventions. The awards may also be used in travel related to research, teaching or outreach.

Brenda Benefit, professor of anthropology, Bruce Berman, assistant professor or journalism and mass communications, Mitch Fowler, college assistant professor at the Creative Media Institute, Dulcinea Lara, assistant professor or criminal justice, Margaret Malamud, professor of history, Satyajayant Misra, assistant professor of computer science, Michele Nishiguchi, professor of biology, James Rice, associate professor of sociology, Mary Alice Scott, associate professor of sociology, and Laura Anh Williams, assistant professor of women's studies, received these awards.

Course Release Awards are presented to faculty members who will benefit from a reduction in teaching load for the advancement of their scholarly endeavors. Michaela Buenemann, assistant professor of geography, Sandra Deshors, assistant professor of languages and linguistics, Elizabeth Horodowich, professor of history, and Tran Cao Son, professor or computer science.

Additional awards were presented to departments who collected the most food donations for Casa de Peregrinos, a Las Cruces food bank. The DRIVE HOPE campaign, spearheaded by health communication students, collected a total of 2,169 pounds of food for the bank, with 1,562 pounds raised by the college. The winning departments each received $100 for their support. Hubbell presented checks to the chemistry department, who collected 504 pounds of food donations, and the music department for their contribution of 177 pounds.