Awards for Academic Excellence

Award Recipients

BSU Faculty/Librarian Lifetime Achievement Award
This annual award is intended to honor distinction in the full range of faculty and librarian professional roles achieved
over the span of an individual’s career at Bridgewater State University.

2018 Recipient
Dr. Thomas Kling
Department of Physics

Dr. Thomas Kling is a model educator and scholar who has intertwined these passions to place student success at the center of his work. His classroom accomplishments are exceptional; he won the Presidential Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2007, the Outstanding Honors Program Professor Award in 2015, and has mentored more than 20 funded undergraduate research projects. His general relatively research, focused on gravitational lensing, is published in more than 15 papers in peer-reviewed journals, with six BSU students serving as co-authors. At the core of Dr. Kling’s work is his deep commitment to student success, evidenced by approximately $2.4 million in grants from the National Science Foundation and the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. As principal investigator on these grants, Dr. Kling has discovered and implemented best practices in student retention and student success, focused on underrepresented students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). His efforts have led to BSU’s STEM residential learning community, Peer-Assisted Learners (PALS), now scaled up beyond STEM courses, and his own research in the student success arena. Dr. Kling has co-authored three peer reviewed publications in journals such as Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning and delivered more than 20 student success and diversity presentations at regional and national meetings. Finally, Dr. Kling has dedicated hours of service to his professional physics community and to Bridgewater State through varied leadership roles in faculty development. Dr. Kling, a scholar of both theoretical physics and student success, is most deserving of this BSU Faculty/Librarian Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Class of 1950 Distinguished Faculty Research Award
The Class of 1950 Distinguished Faculty Research Award was created through an endowment established by the class on the occasion of its 50th reunion. This award is presented annually to a full-time faculty member or librarian and recognizes a single work of scholarship or creative activity published or presented during the previous year.

2018 Recipient
Dr. Paul Rubinson
Department of History

Dr. Paul Rubinson was nominated for his book Redefining Science: Scientists, the National Security State, and Nuclear Weapons in Cold War America (University of Massachusetts Press, 2016). Not only is the book meticulously researched and highly readable, it has achieved national recognition. Peter Kuznick, professor of history and director of the Nuclear Studies Institute, describes Dr. Rubinson’s book as “a very important work on scientists and politics” that “offers an illuminating depiction of the efforts of scientists to influence the potentially existential debates surrounding the development and use of nuclear weapons.” Kuznick indicates that “the book will make an extremely valuable contribution to the history of science and to the history of the Cold War” and it “has the potential to be widely adopted for classroom use in courses related to science and politics, science and society, or nuclear history.” Choice reviewers state that “This thought-provoking, compelling book delivers an important reexamination of U.S. Cold War nuclear strategy and science policy,” and Jill Lepore, a Harvard historian, discussed Dr. Rubinson’s book in a January 2017 New Yorker article, “The Atomic Origins of Climate Science.” Colleagues of Dr. Rubinson state that “it is motivating and inspiring to see [his] work make an impact,” but the book does more than that, it “places the politicization of scientific discourse into historical context” and seeks to “engage the wider public to reveal how lessons from history might inform our way forward.” Dr. Rubinson’s book is most deserving of the Class of 1950 Distinguished Faculty Research Award.

Dr. V. James DiNardo Award for Excellence in Teaching
The Bridgewater Alumni Association established this award in 1984 in honor of Dr. V. James DiNardo, executive vice president and professor emeritus. The award is presented to a full-time faculty member whose contributions include mastery of subject matter, enthusiastic teaching style and personal attention to students.

2018 Recipient
Dr. Jeffrey Nicholas
Department of Psychology

Dr. Jeffrey Nicholas joined the Department of Psychology in 1998 and has demonstrated that he is an effective and thoughtful teacher who cares deeply about his students. His teaching philosophy indicates that he would like to see his students “enriched by their education in such a way that they are empowered to live fulfilling and socially useful lives” in a world “that is full of choices.” He strives to encourage students to become independent, responsible, and reflective critical thinkers, both in the classroom and beyond into the real world. His courses include active learning, varied modes of assessment and creative assignments. His class assignments promote critical thinking and his in-class examples encourage students to apply these skills in varied situations. Dr. Nicholas creates a comfortable environment, knows students by name, easily breaks difficult concepts down into small manageable pieces, and relates scientific concepts to real-world scenarios. He empowers students by holding them responsible for improving, setting up goals so that they may succeed in small steps, and having them work together so that they may discover “that they are not alone when they don’t understand something and they can achieve success by putting their heads together to figure something out.” Dr. Nicholas’ sense of humor puts students at ease, encouraging them to actively participate in class. One of the reasons he is so influential and so sought-after by students is that they feel good about themselves in his classroom, not just because they feel accepted, but because they feel challenged.


Blackboard Innovation Award
This award focuses specifically on faculty use of Blackboard in their courses. The Blackboard Exemplary Course Program rubric was used to evaluate the entries for this award. The rubric defines key characteristics of high-quality courses within the framework of course design, interaction and collaboration, assessment, and learner support.

2018 Recipient
Dr. William Devlin
Department of Philosophy

Dr. William Devlin’s innovative use of Blackboard includes the migration of two of his traditional face-to-face philosophy courses into an online environment in which the elements of his face-to-face teaching were not lost. His online course adopted theories of andragogy, constructivism, engagement and transformative learning. To facilitate these practices within his Blackboard course site, he incorporated digital readings and videos, self-narrated slideshows, discussion forums, and exams. To protect the integrity of his online exams, Dr. Devlin utilized what he calls the “Google distractor” method. With this innovative method, multiple choice questions could include an incorrect option that one would find when “googling” the related exam question. Dr. Devlin’s efforts at expanding upon the typical uses of online teaching tools within philosophy are an inspiration for his colleagues, who now want to adopt his online teaching methods within their own courses.


Innovative Teaching with Technology Award
The range of acceptable entries for this award is broad and includes the incorporation of a new technology, or the use of an existing technology or teaching methodology in a unique way in a face-to-face, hybrid online, or fully online course. Nominations for this award were evaluated against the Teaching and Technology Center’s rubric of innovative teaching with technology.

2018 Recipient
Dr. Lisa Litterio
Department of English

For her ENGL 201 Technical Writing course, Dr. Lisa Litterio collaborated with BSU Librarians on a pilot project using Omeka, an “open-source web publishing platform for creating media-rich online exhibits and sharing digital collections.” Dr. Litterio’s innovation was designed to engage students in new ways of collaborating, problem-solving, and using critical thinking to hone their digital writing and visual design skills as they developed their public-facing digital exhibitions on the Omeka platform. Her primary achievement was student development of digital exhibits in Omeka that focused on “recording, cataloging, and capturing professional and technical communications in Southeastern Massachusetts.” Dr. Litterios’s work demonstrates the “interconnectedness between students’ lives and the field of technical communication.”


Dr. Robert A. Daniel Award for Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice:
Supporting the Success of BSU's Students

Efforts that facilitate academic access, excellence and success for students from a broad range of diverse identities are an essential form of diversity, inclusion and social justice work. This award recognizes the efforts and achievements of full-time faculty members and librarians whose teaching, research, creative work, librarianship, advising and other activities support the success of BSU students. At the request of President Frederick W. Clark Jr., this award (formerly the President’s Award for Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice), was renamed to the Dr. Robert A. Daniel Award for Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice. The late Dr. Daniel, an artist and pioneering educator, was the first full-time African-American professor hired at Bridgewater State University. He helped launch the university’s scholarship for African-American students, which was renamed in his honor when he retired after 30 years at the institution.

2018 Recipient
Dr. Colby King
Department of Sociology

Dr. Colby King’s teaching, scholarship, service, and campus leadership all emphasize his passion, supporting students from a range of diverse backgrounds, especially those first in their family to attend college and/or from a working class background. Recognizing that many of the BSU faculty and staff also come from first generation and working-class (FGWC) backgrounds, Dr. King organized Class Beyond the Classroom (CBtC) to leverage story sharing and other outreach efforts in support of students with FGWC backgrounds. More than 50 faculty and staff have supported his efforts and more than 200 students have participated. CBtC builds community and solidarity among FGWC students and provides an opportunity for them to feel valued by the campus community. Dr. King also participates as a mentor in the “Dream it. Plan it. Achieve it.” male student success dinners and completed and shared research from the BSU’s Commuter Student Task Force. His most recent work is as a co-principle investigator for a million dollar National Science Foundation grant which funds scholarships and academic supports for academically talented, low-income students. The grant also involves students in interdisciplinary undergraduate research, service learning, mentoring, and cohort activities designed to improve their social, psychological, and cultural capital. As a first generation student himself, Dr. King promotes diversity, in all aspects of his faculty life. He understands how it strengthens our campus, and he acts on BSU’s commitment to social justice that necessitates equitable outcomes for all students regardless of their background.

Presidential Award for Distinguished Part-Time Teaching
This award recognizes the outstanding performance and/or innovation in teaching at either the undergraduate or graduate level. It is presented annually to no more than two Bridgewater State University faculty members who have taught as part-time faculty at the university for at least three of the last six semesters. 

2018 Recipient
Dr. Madhavi Venkatesan
Department of Economics

Dr. Madhavi Venkatesan’s teaching materials indicate that she strives to establish an interdisciplinary approach to evaluate issues and incorporates subject matter experts as guest speakers. Her students act as collaborators within the classroom; she respects their opinions, encourages their engagement, and promotes their mastery of the subject. Dr. Venkatesan’s syllabi are thorough with a variety of assignments. She recently motivated students to work with community members to implement a plastic bag ban in Bridgewater. Her student evaluations show high ratings in reference to similar courses. Outside the formal classroom, Dr. Venkatesan has created internships, participated in BSU TEDx, and worked to advance the knowledge of global economics among Brockton High School students. She has written three economics courses and published two textbooks, book chapters, and journal articles.  

2018 Recipient
Professor Joseph Weeks
Department of Psychology

Professor Joseph Weeks’ teaching philosophy indicates that he tries to make information relevant, relatable, and memorable to allow students to do their best work. He teaches courses at the 100, 200 and 300 levels using well-developed syllabi with a variety of detailed assignments and assessments. Observations of his teaching indicate that he uses lectures, simulations, technology, group projects, and discussion to provide a dynamic and interactive classroom. As a mental health program director, Professor Weeks brings relevant intriguing clinical experiences into his classroom so that students can problem solve in a real-world context. Student evaluations consistently rate his course higher than similar courses. Professor Weeks’ department chair indicates that he is an inspiration to his students, having acquired both his BS and MS degrees from BSU.

Presidential Award for Distinguished Teaching
This award recognizes outstanding performance and/or innovation in teaching at either the undergraduate or graduate level. It is presented annually to no more than two Bridgewater State University faculty members who have taught as full-time faculty at the university for at least two years. 

2018 Recipient
Dr. Donna Dragon
Department of Dance

In Dr. Donna Dragon’s classroom her philosophy of teaching comes to life. She implements methods with content that engages students with their physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual existences in relationship to themselves, others, and the world. Fantastic active learning progressions were observed as Dr. Dragon differentiated the instruction to meet the emotional and physical needs of each student. Her materials included well-designed syllabi with self-discovery investigations, and multiple modes of assessment. She creatively embeds student research projects into her courses, resulting in national-level presentations and attention for the Department of Dance. Among publications and presentations her recent scholarship includes an invitation to publish a textbook on somatic education for dance in higher education. Her “extraordinary influence has shifted the culture for BSU dance students toward leadership in dance education and innovation.” 
2018 Recipient
Dr. Melinda Tarsi
Department of Political Science

Dr. Melinda Tarsi’s teaching philosophy encourages students to become independent, open-minded, and stakeholders in a dynamic process, not targets of politics or policy. She meets students at their level of understanding and provides them with authentic examples to communicate complex academic concepts. In highly charged classroom debates, she is the calm constructive voice. Dr. Tarsi links undergraduate and graduate student classes to work on real-world social welfare politics projects and has mentored honors theses and undergraduate research. One of her student mentees won a 2017 Fulbright scholarship to attend the University of Manchester, UK. Dr. Tarsi is “a consummate professional who is willing to diligently contribute her time and energy to any task that needs to be done; she is the go-to professor, unanimously beloved by our students.” 

Presidential Award for Excellence
in Collaboration to Improve Teaching
This award recognizes innovation in the development of teaching programs at either the undergraduate or graduate levels with well-documented need and/or impact. Examples include, but are not limited to, collaborative teaching, faculty/librarian collaboration, program-specific faculty development, curriculum development or revision improvement in the quality of teaching through assessment or other means and new-program initiatives.

2018 Recipients
Dr. Curtis Hoffman, Department of Anthropology
Dr. Margaret Lowe, Department of History
Dr. Madhavi Venkatesan, Department of Economics

The collaborative efforts of Drs. Hoffman, Lowe and Venkatesan sought to respond to what BSU faculty characterized as an unmet need. Given global, national and regional events, faculty asserted that an understanding of the connections among historical events, religion and spiritual expression, cultural practices and other frameworks that guide human experience is essential to global citizenship. To address this need these faculty created and delivered the course Approaches to Global Religious Studies within the Global Religious Studies Minor that they also created and shepherded through the governance process. The Approaches course, team taught from three distinct disciplinary perspectives, incorporated assessment directly tied to student learning outcomes (SLOs). The creation of a cohesive student experience was impressive from the thorough syllabi, to the assignments created in consultation with the Office of Assessment and the use of Qualtrics to assess achievement of SLOs. Results of the assessment indicated that the majority of students displayed satisfactory or higher mastery of SLOs and two students indicated an interest in declaring a minor in Global Religious Studies. Offering the Global Religious Studies Minor and the Approaches course in our curricula should provide more opportunities for students to develop as global citizens. Since our country is becoming more diverse by the day and opportunities for worldwide interactions are more commonplace than extraordinary, it is vital that our students understand the intersections of historical, religious or spiritual, and cultural practices with humanity.

Presidential Fellowship Award
This highly competitive annual award affords a faculty member the opportunity to focus exclusively on research for an entire academic year. In addition to two semesters of course release time, recipients are granted a budget of up to $10,000 to pay for travel expenses, equipment, books or other related materials. Preference is given to faculty members who have an original proposal for research or creative activity, whose scholarly work is poised for significant growth and who have a carefully designed plan for the use of their release time. Upon completion of the fellowship year, the awardee is expected to present a public lecture or presentation to the campus community.

2018 Recipient
Dr. Gregory Chaplin
Department of English

Dr. Gregory Chaplin’s project outlines his commitment to complete a book manuscript entitled “Milton and the End of Renaissance Friendship” to be submitted to Cornell University Press. For his entire career, Dr. Chaplin has been teaching, researching and writing about Milton. He has published a series of influential essays, such as “The Circling Hours: Revolution in Paradise Regained” in Milton in the Long Restoration (Oxford University Press, 2016, 265-83) and “Milton Against Servitude: Classical Friendship, Tyranny, and Natural Law” in Discourses and Representations of Friendship in Early Modern Europe (Ashgate, 2011, 209-23). Dr. Chaplin’s 2012 essay “Beyond Sacrifice: Milton and the Atonement” in the Publication of the Modern Language Association earned the James Holly Hanaford Award for Distinguished Article in Milton Studies by the Milton Society of America. As stated by Professor of English, John Rumrich from the University of Texas at Austin, “Now is precisely the moment in his career when it is crucial for him [Dr. Chaplin] to capitalize on the renewed professional momentum he has built up this decade.” Dr. Chaplin’s scholarship is clearly poised for significant growth. Over the course of the Presidential Fellowship he will immerse himself in substantive research, considering a variety of resources and contexts to develop new insights on Milton’s Divorce Tracts, comparative arguments for the “fundamental rights of individuals,” and Milton’s embrace of the “governmental theory of atonement” in Paradise Lost. Upon its completion, sharing of Dr. Chaplin’s manuscript will provide the BSU community an opportunity to explore the role of the humanities in shaping social justice issues. 

2017 Presidential Fellow Research Update

Dr. Martin Grossman
Department of Management

As the 2017 recipient of the Presidential Fellowship, Dr. Martin Grossman has worked to expand the Louis M. Ricciardi College of Business’ global reach and its capacity to prepare students for new jobs brought on by digital transformation (e.g., Industry 4.0). A major component of his efforts has been strengthening the college’s relationship with Reutlingen University, a leading applied business and technology university in Germany with advanced programs in Logistics and business engineering. Reutlingen University recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with BSU, formalizing its commitment to establishing exchanges and dual degree programs. Dr. Grossman has dedicated much of this past year to expanding the relationship with Reutlingen University through student exchange (i.e., leading a study tour to Reutlingen), faculty exchange (i.e., teaching a course in innovation management in Reutlingen’s MBA program), and curriculum mapping. In addition, Dr. Grossman represented BSU in a new global professional organization sponsored by Reutlingen University in conjunction with the German government to promote the discipline of business engineering. He has worked closely with partner institutions in Europe and Southeast Asia to help plan and launch the International Association of Business Engineering Professionals (IABEP), a consortium of academic, industry and government professionals with goals of improving knowledge exchange, networking, and recruiting. Dr. Grossman visited IABEP member sites in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Ireland and has played a key role in planning the second International Business Engineering Conference, to be held in Bali, Indonesia in August, 2018. Overlapping with his Presidential Fellowship goals, was the development of a BSU Makerspace. Thus, Dr. Grossman contributed to the BSU Innovation Grant that proposed the makerspace concept, with a goal of promoting the idea in the College of Business and using the space to integrate more hands-on projects (e.g., using microcontrollers to demonstrate the Internet of Things concepts) in his classes.