- Ricky L. Bragunier, 1993
- Laurie Dobrosky Henry, 2000
- Jill D. Edwards, 2006
- Margaret R. Jaster, 1995
- Jane S. Kochanov, 1998
- Steven Michael Royer, 1988
- Greg Schiavoni, 1993
- Holly Angelique
- Dave Schwenk
- Premal Vora
- Staff Service Award: Sue Copella and Craig Merkey
- Faculty Service Award: John Haddad
- Excellence in Research and Scholarly Activity Award: Issam Abu-Mahfouz
- Excellence in Teaching Award: Maria Enriquez and Hannah Spector
- Thomas Eberlein Excellence in Teaching Award: Ola Rashwan
- Faculty Diversity Award: Ana Patricia Aguilera Hermida
Ricky L. Bragunier
Custodian, Physical Plant and Maintenance Operations
Rick Bragunier joined Penn State College of Medicine in March 1993 as a custodial worker. He transferred to the Harrisburg campus in May 1994. He worked in various areas during his 28 years of service, but much of his time at Harrisburg was spent caring for the 3rd floor of the Olmsted building.
Throughout the years, Rick has been a steady and dedicated member of the custodial team. His attention to detail ensured his area was always in tip top shape. There was never a worry over the quality of work and effort given on a day in and day out basis. Over the years, he developed positive relationships with those that worked in the areas that he cleaned as well as with his fellow co-workers. Whether it was office areas or classrooms, the recognition and thanks he received regularly from those who worked in the areas Rick covered is all you need to know about how much he is respected for what he has done over the years. He truly went above the call of duty on a regular basis and his contributions to Penn State Harrisburg are to be commended.
We thank Rick for his many years of service and dedication to Penn State Harrisburg and wish him all the best as goes into retirement.
Contributed by Clark Showalter
Laurie Dobrosky Henry
Associate Director for Alumni Relations
Laurie Dobrosky Henry, associate director for alumni relations, has served Penn State Harrisburg for more than 21 years and has been an integral part of the alumni program’s success through many periods of rapid growth and change.
Initially, she was responsible for both Harrisburg and Schuylkill’s alumni programs, including establishing Schuylkill’s Alumni Society Board. At Harrisburg, she has been responsible for initiating, organizing and developing many award-winning programs for the Alumni Society. Most of those programs centered on the society’s goals of connecting alumni to the college through reunion programs, networking opportunities, and other fellowship events.
She was instrumental in helping the Harrisburg Alumni Society Board create a professional development series for students and in planning and executing the college’s first “We Are Weekend” in 2016, in conjunction with the campus’ 50th anniversary celebration. She has developed programs that engage alumni, including the Capital Connections series, which connects alumni to interesting places in the Capital region, and a virtual version called Capital Connections at Home, which engages alumni across the country and world.
She has developed successful alumni awards and recognition programs and has nominated multiple winners for Penn State’s numerous individual alumni awards. In addition, the alumni relations program at Penn State Harrisburg has received seven awards for outstanding alumni programs from the Penn State Alumni Association.
Dobrosky Henry received the Penn State Harrisburg staff service award in 2017 in recognition of her contributions and dedication to the college and has been named “Adviser of the Year” three times for her service to the Lion Ambassadors and the Blue and White Society. Lion Ambassadors is a community service-based organization that plans and executes several events on campus including, student and community Egg Hunts, Campus Ghost Tours, and the Penn State All-Nighter (PAN) in support of THON. Lion Ambassadors also give tours to visiting families and alumni. Dobrosky Henry has been the head of this club for 21 years. In addition, she was partially responsible for several of our college traditions, including the new version of Bathtub Races, Bonfire in the ‘Burg and the famous Pickle Day celebration.
Dobrosky Henry was also recognized with the 2021 Karen and Lewis Gold Penn State Alumni Association Staff Recognition Award. Established in 2008, the award annually recognizes one University staff member whose actions demonstrate devotion to the mission and objectives of the Penn State Alumni Association; whose performance is marked by professionalism and responsiveness; and who exhibits initiative, leadership and organizational skills. The award acknowledges the essential role of staff in the success of alumni-oriented goals, activities and programs and in the enthusiasm, involvement and service of alumni and friends.
Contributed by Noah Roufos-Abbey
Jill D. Edwards
Research Technologist, Innovation Transfer Network
Bio not available
Margaret (Megg) Rose Jaster
Associate Professor of Humanities and English, School of Humanities
Dr. Jaster earned her Ph.D. in renaissance literature at the University of Maryland at College Park in 1994. She came to Penn State Harrisburg in 1995 as an assistant professor and immediately became known as the voice for Shakespeare at the college. She published seminal articles about clothing in Shakespeare’s theatre and English renaissance culture, participated in Shakespeare Folger Institute programs, and taught many graduate and undergraduate courses, almost always with some Shakespearean texts. She was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 2001, and completed a resident fellowship at the Folger Library in Washington, D.C. in 2002. Her research has appeared in Shakespeare Studies, Hibernia Review, Renaissance and Reformation, and Renaissance Quarterly.
In recent years, Jaster has been a faculty leader of promotion and tenure committees, search committees, and other college initiatives. She also has adapted to teaching new courses in English and the humanities, especially new integrative studies courses. Throughout her career, she has nurtured generations of students whom she has taught to love Shakespeare. These English students have been known affectionately as “Jasterites.” One recent student wrote the following about her: “I loved this class and especially loved Dr. Jaster. I have never had a class quite like this one, and I can honestly say that I woke up every morning looking forward to coming to class. It was fun, educational, and extremely comfortable. Dr. Jaster is the best.”
Contributed by Dr. Jeffrey Beck
Jane S. Kochanov
Assistant Teaching Professor of Information Systems, School of Business Administration
Jane Kochanov joined the faculty at Penn State Harrisburg in January 1998, as an instructor of information systems. In this role, she taught classes for the information systems program and the information sciences and technology program.
Kochanov received her B.S. in psychology from Wilson College in 1979. While there, she took a class in computer programming and found her career direction. She went on to earn an A.A. in data processing from Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) in 1984. She spent 12 years working in the information systems field at both HACC and the Capital Health System. During her time at the Capital Health System, Kochanov earned an M.B.A. from Penn State Harrisburg.
Kochanov’s contributions have included teaching, advising undergraduate students, and service. She has served on the Faculty Senate Student Affairs Committee, as a member of multiple search committees for both staff and faculty positions, as a member of several AD-14 committees, and as the faculty adviser of the student MIS Club. She has served as program coordinator for the computer information systems certificate program (CINSY), as program coordinator for the information sciences and technology program, and as director of undergraduate studies for the School of Business Administration (SBA). She serves as chair of the SBA academic affairs committee and coordinates the assurance of learning process for the school for accreditation from both AACSB International and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Kochanov has been recognized for her efforts by receiving several awards during her time at Penn State Harrisburg, including the Information Sciences and Technology Faculty Award; the Faculty Advising Award; and the Faculty Service Award. She was elected to the board of directors of the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania in 2019.
Contributed by Dr. Angappa Gunasekaran
Steven Michael Royer
Maintenance Operations, Physical Plant and Maintenance Operations
Steve Royer began his career at Penn State Harrisburg in May of 1988, starting out in janitorial services and then working on the grounds crew. He took care of the campus open space as part of the crew, which to this day, provides our campus with a beautiful environment to travel through. After a few years of working in all the elements of heat, cold, rain and snow, he was promoted to the position of painter/facilities maintenance worker. Steve would continue in this position until retirement. During the 23 years that he worked as a core member of the renovations team, Steve was instrumental in helping with many projects on campus. He participated in the renovations of the Susquehanna building two different times, the renovations of Church Hall for all three floors, the tear out and rebuild of the Swatara building, and numerous conversions of classroom and office spaces. As campus locksmith, he frequently would help open file cabinets, pull broken keys out of locks, and replace doors and door hardware throughout campus.
In his free time, Steve is an avid cruiser and if you are ever on a Royal Caribbean cruise, check out the dance floor as you may find Steve showing off some classy moves on the hardwood. I suspect that he will be spending a fair amount of time on the high seas now that his cruising will not be interrupted by the need to get back to work.
As a key member of the renovations team, Steve will be missed for his steady approach and calming demeanor. It was both a delight and pleasure to work with Steve over my time at Penn State and I personally hope to find Steve on a cruise someday in the future. Best wishes for a long, smooth, and healthy retirement. Fair winds and following seas, Steve.
Contributed by Chuck Garber
Housing, Foods and Ancillary Services Manager, Housing and Food Services
Greg Schiavoni began his career with Penn State in the housing and food services department at Penn State Berks in September 1992. Greg spent his first three years with the University at Penn State Berks before transferring to the Penn State Harrisburg campus. Greg returned to Penn State Berks for a year, from 2001 to 2002, to serve as acting director of housing and food services for the Penn State Berks and Penn State Schuylkill campuses and to assist with the leadership transition of the housing and food services department.
Greg then returned “home” to the Penn State Harrisburg campus in 2002, where he played an impactful role for the housing and food services department and campus for the next twenty years. During his time at Penn State Harrisburg, Greg played a crucial role in transitioning the food service operations from the old dining hall building to the Olmsted Building. This transition was originally to the Lion’s Den in the basement of Olmsted, and then eventually another transition to Stacks Market on the first floor of Olmsted.
He was instrumental in the design and equipment sourcing process during the creation of Stacks Market and Biscotti’s coffee shop. He researched and selected the gas fired stone pizza oven for Stacks Market, which at the time was a first - not only for Penn State, but also a first at any college campus in the nation.
Greg was a committed leader in the larger housing and food services organization in serving diverse menus with authentic international recipes, including vegan and vegetarian offerings. He was resolute in this commitment and was always tireless in keeping Harrisburg on the cutting edge with new menu items and new equipment. This was evident again as Harrisburg was the first Penn State campus to offer freshly made sushi and was one of the first Penn State food service locations to employ a rapid cook Turbo Chef oven and Combi oven.
Greg was always proud to mentor young managers and watch them as they grew. He took every opportunity to provide them with insightful and meaningful coaching and guidance to make them better managers, better leaders, better community members, and better people. In his much deserved retirement, Greg will now focus more on two of his great joys in life… playing more golf and traveling to food-centric destinations.
We are grateful for Greg’s many years of selfless service and countless contributions to the success of our department and wish him the best of luck in the next chapter of his life. Greg, you will be missed, but not forgotten.
Contributed by Craig Cook
25 Year Service
Professor of Community Psychology and Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs
Dr. Holly Angelique earned her Ph.D. in ecological-community psychology at Michigan State University in 1997. She joined Penn State Harrisburg in 1996, prior to the completion of her dissertation. She has taught courses in applied behavioral sciences, psychology, sociology, women’s studies, and in the M.A. program in community psychology and social change. She has chaired and served on over 100 master’s research projects, as well as doctoral committees in adult education, public administration, and American studies. In 2007, she received the Kathryn Towns’ Women’s History Month Award.
Her research focuses on two substantive areas of inquiry, community decision-making around environmental issues, and feminist psychology. Her environmental research has focused primarily on anti-nuclear grassroots organizing at Three Mile Island, the site of the worst commercial nuclear accident in the U.S. in 1979. She has published work on gendered experiences, community narratives, citizen participation, media framing of dissent, and historical memory at Three Mile Island. Her recent work focuses on social power dynamics regarding environmental regulations involving nuclear power. She has also analyzed children’s responses to environmental disasters, as well as barriers and catalysts to fostering pro-environmental behavior. She co-organized two important conferences at Penn State Harrisburg. First, she convinced both President Carter’s personal advisor, Harold Denton, and Governor Dick Thornburg to make their final public presentations at [email protected]. Five years later, TMI40: Honoring the Community and Legacy of the Accident at TMI attracted international scholars and media attention, including Japanese television. Her research has been published in such journals as American Journal of Community Psychology, Journal of Community Psychology, Community Mental Health Journal, Gender and Society and Humanity and Society. She gained a strong international reputation when she co-authored the only chapter on community psychology in the U.S. for the first textbook on international community psychology, and her work has been published in international journals, including the Australian Community Psychologist, Pratiques Psychologiques, Antropologi Indonesia and the International Journal of Lifelong Education.
In her discipline, Angelique has served and been elected to many professional roles in the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA, Division 27 of the American Psychological Association), including secretary of the executive council of SCRA, a founding member of the council of education programs in SCRA, and two three-year terms as chair of the Standing Committee on Women. She was also a founding member of the Environmental Issues Interest group. She has co-edited two special issues of Journal of Community Psychology, one focused on feminist community psychology and another on organizational studies in community psychology, and she co-edited the Women’s Column of The Community Psychologist for many years.
She has served the college in a number of roles, including as a faculty member, the coordinator of the M.A. program in community psychology and social change, chair of programs in social sciences and psychology, interim director of the School of Behavioral Sciences and Education, and now as the assistant dean for academic affairs. As assistant dean, she oversees areas including the Lambert Undergraduate Advising Center, the Russell E. Horn Sr. Learning Center, the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Registrar’s Office, Honors programs, some international programs, and activities related to World Campus. She also presents faculty promotion workshops, reviews multiple student petitions, and serves in a variety of other roles, including as the college designee for visiting scholars and as the point of contact for unmanned aircraft, where she has become affectionately known as “drone girl.”
When not serving the college, Angelique can be found painting with oils, where she was trained to create representational art, but likes to dabble in abstract work.
Contributed by Dr. Omid Ansary
IT Support Specialist, Information Technology Services
Dave joined the Penn State Harrisburg community in 1988 as a part time student in the electrical engineering technology program after transferring from Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) with an A.S. in electrical engineering technology. It was during this time that he became interested in working with computers and programming computers as a hobby. In 1994, Dave started working in the electrical engineering computer lab as an assistant, eventually working his way up to become a lab supervisor. He designed and built a more efficient automated way of rebuilding lab computers. After obtaining his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering technology from Penn State Harrisburg in 1996, Dave continued his Penn State journey by joining the Penn State Harrisburg ITS team as a full-time computer support assistant.
Dave’s responsibilities include desktop, printer, UPS, and wiring closet support. He has taken the lead on our wiring closet and server room UPS upgrade project. He is the team member we all call to get anything patched and connected to the network from the wiring closet. He sends any old technical equipment to the Lion salvage area at University Park. Dave also provides hands-on mechanical experience while finding ways to repair or upgrade our podiums, monitors, and desks within our classrooms. Dave is always committed to enhancing the classroom experience for our faculty and students.
Dave is also a former member of the U.S. Army Reserve, where he studied communications electronics. He graduated near the top of his class from U.S. Army Field Artillery School, Fort Sill Oklahoma in 1988. He served from from 1988 to 1993 as a radio mechanic while stationed at Fort Indiantown Gap.
At home, Dave enjoys playing guitar and worshipping at church with his family. He has been married over 20 years to his wife Margaret and is blessed with four wonderful children, David, Angelica, Jonathan, and Christopher. All four of his children enjoy music and play a variety of instruments from guitar to keyboard to various wind instruments.
Contributed by Dr. John Hoh
Premal P. Vora
Associate Professor of Business Administration, School of Business Administration
Dr. Vora holds a bachelor’s of commerce (B. Comm.) degree from Bombay University (1983), an M.B.A. degree from Virginia Tech (1986), and Ph.D. in business administration degree from Penn State (1991). He worked at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania as an assistant professor of finance from 1992-1996, at Penn State Great Valley in Malvern, Pa. as an assistant professor of finance from 1996-2000, and at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School in Philadelphia, Pa. from 2000-2001 as associate director of research. He joined Penn State Harrisburg in 2001 as an assistant professor of finance, and was tenured and promoted to associate professor of finance in 2004.
Vora has taught a variety of different courses in finance and economics at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and in different formats: daytime, evenings, weekends, online, and hybrid. He received the faculty excellence in teaching award at Penn State Great Valley in 1997–1998. He was also inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma in 2019. He is currently engaged in authoring an open-source book on finance, Compact Finance, that gathers and shares the most fundamental concepts in finance with an audience with no formal training in business or finance. Vora’s dissertation was in corporate leasing policy. He has published several papers on corporate finance, investments, and retirement finance. His paper, "The IRA With Partial Withdrawals: Analysis and Simulations," received the McGraw-Hill Best Paper at the Academy of Financial Services Annual Meeting (1994). His paper, "Does Financial Pressure Make a Firm More Efficient and Valuable?" received the Best Paper in Corporate Finance award at the Midwest Finance Association Annual Meeting (2000).
Vora's current research focuses on the effects of trading on a number of stock-market phenomena. Over the years, he has served on numerous school and college committees, as well as the Faculty Senate. He is most proud of his service on school and college promotion and tenure committees for tenure-track as well as non-tenure track faculty.
Contributed by Dr. Angappa Gunasekaran
Staff Service Award
To recognize staff for extraordinary service
Director, The Pennsylvania State Data Center
Sue Coppella has thirty-one years of loyal service, distinguished achievement, and unwavering commitment to Penn State Harrisburg. As the director of the Pennsylvania Data Center, she continually achieves her goals and goes above and beyond in her service to the University and community. Her ability to continually achieve 100% of cost recovery while adding new technology to the center exemplifies her hard work and dedication.
In addition to her role as director of the Pennsylvania Data Center, Sue has organized and overseen the Penn State Harrisburg 2020 census. Beyond our campus, she served on the Pennsylvania Governors complete count committee, and the steering committee for the Census Bureau’s state data center. Throughout her time here, she has participated on numerous search committees and was a member of the committee for emergency evacuation planning. Her enthusiasm for student achievement is evident through her years of active membership on the diversity and educational equity committee (DEEC). Her long-time service to both students and staff is something to be admired.
Outside of the University, Sue is a member of many national, state, and local organizations including the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) statewide leadership team, the Asian Pacific American task force for the Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, the interfaith shelter in Harrisburg, New Hope Ministries, and the Girl Scouts. She also chaired the Penn State Harrisburg United Way initiative for three years.
Sue’s consistency and leadership built an incredible foundation here at Penn State Harrisburg. We honor Sue now for her long-time commitment to the University and the positive and meaningful impact she implanted through her relationships with students and staff. The genesis of her long-standing impact through service roles is best stated by Sue herself “I volunteer and help others because I enjoy working with people, not to get an award”. Thank you, Sue, we appreciate all you have done for Penn State Harrisburg and our broader community!
Contributed by Dr. Holly Angelique and Dr. Todd Clark
Associate Director, Recreation and Aquatics
Intramural and Club Sports Coordinator, Recreation and Aquatics
Craig Merkey is an exemplary colleague who has performed above and beyond the traditional call of duty. His mission driven, positive impact on students is evident in his daily support to foster respectable citizens through positive leadership. As the associate director of recreation and aquatics, Craig has enhanced our operations at the Capitol Union Building with his limitless compassion and dedication to both students and fellow staff.
Throughout his time at Penn State Harrisburg, Craig has been a stand-out leader. Craig serves on the Behavioral Threat Management Team, events management planning committee, and regularly volunteers for commencement and convocation ceremonies. During the pandemic, he excelled by efficiently and effectively leading return to campus testing (over 2000 students tested). He also filled a major void by organizing the 2021 Engage Saturday and Welcome Weekend programs. When warned that he may be doing too much, Craig responded that “the students need Welcome Week activities; they haven’t had anything in over a year”. A nominator wrote “We simply would not have had a substantive welcome experience for our students without Craig Merkey.” Craig’s selfless focus on serving students was evident throughout these roles and his actions truly were above and beyond any expectation for his position.
In addition to his contributions to Penn State Harrisburg, he also is the treasurer of his Lions Club, advisor to the Ephrata Middle School Leo Club, assists with other various schools, is president-elect of the Association of Aquatic Professionals, and is on the planning committee for a national/international conference for the Association of Aquatic Professionals.
Craig has built his life and career around serving students and his community. His unwavering commitment to the ideals he lives by has earned him respect and admiration. Even through years of service, his attitude and energy brings joy to those who work with him. We recognize Craig for his impact, effectiveness, kindness, and positive leadership and care for the students, staff, and faculty at Penn State Harrisburg. Thank you, Craig!
Contributed by Dr. Holly Angelique and Dr. Todd Clark
Faculty Service Award
To recognize faculty for extraordinary service
John Rogers Haddad
Professor of American Studies, School of Humanities
Dr. John Rogers Haddad, professor of American studies, has demonstrated exemplary service to the School of Humanities, the college, the University, the profession, and the community during his nineteen years at Penn State Harrisburg. However, it is his outstanding leadership in service activities, specifically over the past three years, that are most notable and highlight why he is extremely deserving of this award.
Haddad has been the program chair and professor in charge of American studies programs, served as the leader of the School of Humanities strategic planning committee, chaired the Advancing the Arts and Humanities strategic planning subcommittee, and served on the college executive committee to prepare the final draft of the strategic plan. Haddad also served as the chair of the college promotion and tenure committee for two years and served on the committee for one year, he was the chair of several school and college search committees, served on a University-wide search committee, and headed the School of Humanities’ promotion and tenure guidelines committee. Since 2019, Haddad has been instrumental in his role as the ombudsperson for the College Faculty Senate.
In 2020, Haddad was selected by the Office of Educational Equity to serve as a mentor for the mid-career faculty advancement program for three years. He has also made significant contributions to the Martin Luther King Day play, Penn State Reads, the Eastern American Studies Association, and to the development of a Ph.D. program in engineering systems.
Contributed by the Faculty Service Award Committee
Excellence in Research and Scholarly Activity Award
To recognize and encourage excellence in academic research, creative activity, scholarship, and mastery of the subject by faculty
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, School of Science, Engineering, and Technology
Dr. Issam Abu-Mahfouz joined the faculty of the Penn State Harrisburg School of Science, Engineering, and Technology in 1999 and has served as an associate professor of mechanical engineering since 2005. Prior to joining Penn State Harrisburg, he worked as an industrial research engineer for six years, focusing on machine design and fabrication with attention to monitoring, control, and vibration analysis in metal cutting processes. Building on his industrial research background, he has taught courses in vibration analysis and synthesis, automatic control, design for manufacturability, kinematics and machine design, and noise control in machinery.
Abu-Mahfouz currently serves as chair of the mechanical engineering and mechanical engineering technology programs, and the TE Connectivity Partnership Advisory Committee. He has received numerous research awards from both government and industrial sponsors including TransAir Manufacturing, Hexcel Corporation, Klinge Corporation, the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and most recently, the Manufacturing Futures Initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. His current research interests include machinery noise and vibration isolation in metal cutting processes, finite element analysis, non-linear vibration analysis and control, chaotic dynamics, signal processing, condition-based maintenance, and real-time implementation of novel deep machine learning algorithms. He is also completing his first book, Instrumentation: Theory and Practice, to be published in 2023 by Springer Nature.
Contributed by Dr. Paul Hallacher
Excellence in Teaching Award
To recognize and encourage excellence in teaching
Assistant Teaching Professor of Theatre, School of Humanities
Dr. Maria Enriquez, assistant teaching professor of theatre, is passionate about educating others through performance art on such topics as mental health, women’s issues, marginalized communities, and more. Her commitment to student success and dedication to excellence is evident in several award-winning theatre productions, including seven national awards through the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for the production of Machinal – a student learning experience during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Enriquez focuses on inclusiveness, and students appreciate her sincerity, wisdom and professionalism, with more than one student describing their experiences with her as “life-changing”.
Notably, even though her M.F.A. is considered a terminal degree for teaching acting, Enriquez earned her Ph.D. in theatre arts/performance studies from the University of Pittsburgh in April 2019 to expand her instructional contribution to the School of Humanities. Her scholarship focuses on teaching and learning in theatre studies, and she serves on the editorial board for Etudes: An Online Theatre Journal for Emerging Scholars. She is active outside the classroom as well, contributing to multiple Penn State Harrisburg committees on diversity and inclusion, serving on the board of directors for the 717 Arts Organization in Harrisburg, and engaging in several capacities on theatre performances. Indeed, as her school director described, she has been the “sparkplug” igniting theatre at Penn State Harrisburg.
Contributed by the Excellence in Teaching Award Committee and Dr. Jeffrey P. Beck
Associate Professor of Education, School of Behavioral Sciences and Education
Dr. Hannah Spector has been leading future educators at Penn State Harrisburg since 2013. She is an engaging teacher, encouraging students to own the material in her class through active learning techniques and demonstrating its relevance for students’ own careers. A colleague observed of Spector that “she makes [the topic] absolutely come alive for her students”. As a scholar who holds a doctoral degree in curriculum studies and instructs courses on education, she clearly applies best teaching practices to her classroom.
Spector’s scholarship centers on the interplay between politics, ethics, and education. She is dedicated to making the world a better place and her commitment to diversity and ethical environmental improvement inspires and informs her students and her peers. A lifelong learner herself, Spector is an exemplary educator, academic citizen, and an outstanding professor.
Contributed by the Excellence in Teaching Award Committee and Dr. Jane M. Wilburne
Thomas Eberlein Excellence in Teaching Award
To recognize faculty and encourage excellence in teaching in the School of Science, Engineering, and Technology at Penn State Harrisburg
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, School of Science, Engineering, and Technology
Dr. Ola Rashwan joined Penn State Harrisburg as a full-time lecturer in 2015 and has since been promoted to assistant professor of mechanical engineering. She has offered eleven different courses in areas related to material science and mechanical engineering. This includes a special topics course in additive manufacturing which provides fourth-year students with a technical elective focusing on recent advancements in rapid prototyping. In addition to her excellent work in the classroom, she has served as a mentor for six honor’s theses and fifteen students participating in the Multi-Campus Research Experience for Undergraduates program. Rashwan also serves as an adviser to the Society of Women Engineers and has developed courses in additive manufacturing for several K-12 outreach programs.
The work that Rashwan has applied towards her teaching has not gone unnoticed. One peer reviewer stated: “As her colleague and also as the associate program chair, I have had the unique opportunity to observe Dr. Rashwan grow and make her mark as a teacher, researcher and peer, and become an indispensable part of the program.” Her second recommender noted: “She approaches her pedagogy with thought and reflection. She has terrific rapport with her students, and she has clearly put in significant effort to structuring and delivering to ensure the best pedagogical outcomes for her students.”
In her personal statement, Rashwan noted that: “I strive to create a psychologically safe active learning environment and frequently involve my students in the various stages of my research projects.” This is evidenced by the comments from students in her Student Rating of Teaching Effectiveness (SRTE). One student noted: “Dr. Rashwan strongly encourages student participation and challenges students to think about the 'why.' She is appropriately accommodating while maintaining academic fairness to other classmates.” This focus on the student was maintained through the adjustment to remote teaching during the COVID pandemic, with one student remarking: “Dr. Rashwan's push for students to participate and check in through Zoom chat during lectures shows how much she cares about everyone's learning experience.”
Rashwan has also served as a mentor to several undergraduate researchers, including honors theses and students participating in Penn State’s Multi-Campus Research Experience for Undergraduates. One of her honors thesis students noted: “Dr. Rashwan’s passion for engineering in combination with her work ethic was very motivating for me. Furthermore, her support and guidance were always very timely and effective while also allowing me to bring my very best effort to the table. Dr. Rashwan helped me to gain confidence, skills, and a better understanding of what I would like to do in my future. I could not ask for more out of this experience and this was largely due to having such an amazing thesis advisor in Dr. Rashwan.” She has also helped to start a local affiliate of the Society of Women Engineers at Penn State Harrisburg and is currently serving as a faculty adviser for the club. Rashwan also serves as a faculty mentor in the Penn State EnvironMentors program.
Contributed by Dr. Vahid Motevalli
Faculty Diversity Award
To recognize and reward a faculty member who has demonstrated a commitment to celebrating diversity by initiating steps to create a welcoming climate and/or eliminate discrimination through encouragement or understanding between persons of different races, sexes, age groups, ethnicities, religious heritages, disabilities, or sexual orientations
Ana Patricia Aguilera Hermida
Assistant Teaching Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, School of Behavioral Sciences and Education
Dr. Ana Patricia Aguilera Hermida has fostered a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) both inside and outside of the classroom at Penn State Harrisburg and beyond. She is an outstanding candidate for the Faculty Diversity Award.
Aguilera Hermina has implemented many successful DEI initiatives that improve the lives of historically marginalized communities. She led the creation of the Global Lion Mentor Program, which helps incoming international students adapt to life in the United States and also developed the program Intergenerational Connections: Fighting Agism and Loneliness, an agreement between Penn State and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging that connects seniors with students to prevent isolation and loneliness.
In addition to the two initiatives noted above, Aguilera Hermida has served as co-advisor for the campus’s Latino Club, an organizer for the BSED Diversity Series Committee, and an active member of the University-wide HDFS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
Please join us in congratulating Aguilera Hermida, on receiving this year’s Penn State Harrisburg Faculty Diversity Award.
Contributed by the Diversity Awards Committee