Every year, as Rider recognizes another class of graduates for their academic accomplishments at Commencement, the University is also sure to commend the teaching and scholarship of selected faculty members, as well. Through their commitment to learning, these professors advance learning on both Rider campuses and have left the Class of 2011 poised to achieve excellence.
Dr. Brooke Hunter, an associate professor of History, and Dr. Stefan Young, professor of Theory and Composition at Westminster Choir College, were the recipients of this year’s Distinguished Teaching Awards. Two faculty members are selected annually by the University Honors Council from nominations submitted by Rider students, faculty and academic administration for this honor. Hunter was fêted at the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on May 13 on the Lawrenceville campus, while Young was lauded the next day at Westminster’s 82nd Commencement, inside the Princeton University Chapel.
Hunter, a member of the Rider faculty since 2002, earned a Ph.D. in History from the University of Delaware. She teaches a wide range of classes within the Department of History, as well as courses in the Baccalaureate Honors Program, including the innovative Journeys in American Ecology and History, which explores how two seemingly disparate factors – history and the environment – reflect each other in the United States through questions and approaches from both historiography and science.
Among the nominations, one student wrote that, “Dr. Hunter’s enthusiasm for history is inspiring, and every class I have taken with her has been an enjoyable learning experience,” while Dr. Donald Steven, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, praised Hunter’s creation of a “congenial yet rigorous learning environment that students find engaging, challenging and exciting,” in his remarks at Commencement.
The year’s second Distinguished Teaching honoree, Young earned a Ph.D. in Composition from Rutgers University. In his role as a professor of Theory and Composition at Westminster Choir College, he has earned the well-deserved respect of his colleagues and students, who regard him as an exceptional teacher, passionate about his work and devoted to his students. As a pianist, Young’s performance of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy was listed among the best performances in New Jersey by The Star-Ledger, among his other honors and awards. He has composed for various media, including orchestra, band, choir, chamber ensembles, voice and piano, and a variety of solo instruments.
Young’s students cite him as inspiring, charismatic, and encouraging. “He is a joy in the classroom and knows how to make a student’s day better,” according to one student who nominated him to receive special recognition.
Rider has recognized its Distinguished Teachers with this award annually since 1961.
In addition to the Distinguished Teaching Awards, Commencement is also the time when the winner of the Dominick A. Iorio Award for faculty research is announced. Named in honor of the late Dr. Dominick A. Iorio, dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Rider, the award recognizes distinguished faculty scholarship and research. Nominations for the award come from the faculty and are reviewed for final selection by a faculty committee.
This year, the 15th Annual Iorio Award was presented to Dr. Stefan Dombrowski, professor and director of the School Psychology Program in the Department of Graduate Education, who was honored at Undergraduate Commencement. Dombrowski earned his Ph.D. in School Psychology from The University of Georgia and a post-doctoral fellowship in Clinical Child Psychology from the University of California – Davis Medical Center.
Dombrowski’s ongoing research is focused on the psychological, behavioral and academic/cognitive development of children, while his work in the areas of online predation and Internet safety for children has had a far-reaching and significant impact not only in his field of school psychology, but across the medical and educational fields, as well.
His scholarship has been judged as significant by major figures in his field, including the Surgeon General of the United States and two past presidents of the American Psychological Association.
“His work has been cited in many prestigious publications, bringing both national and international attention to Rider University,” said Steven during the award presentation.