The 2013-14 academic year opened with a warm tribute to three members of the Rider community, honoring their dedication and commitment to the University over the course of their careers on campus.
Michell Waslenko, administrative associate in the Department of Foreign Languages; Karen Crowell, assistant dean of the College of Continuing Studies; and Dr. Don Ambrose, professor of Graduate Education, were each presented with the 2013 Frank N. Elliott Award for Distinguished Service during the Opening Fall Convocation on August 29 in the Yvonne Theater.
Established in 1991, the awards recognize Rider employees who exemplify the same spirit of dedication as Elliott, who served as president of the institution from 1969 to 1990. A committee of prior award recipients reviews the nominations submitted by the campus community and selects the honorees.
A loyal member of the Rider family for 15 years, Michell Waslenko earned the Frank N. Elliott Award for support staff. In his presentation, President Mordechai Rozanski noted that Waslenko’s support of full- and part-time faculty, as well as of students involved with her department, has always been exemplary.
“Through her efforts coordinating department colloquia, guest speakers, the Language Fair and Film Festival, the online placement exam and reporting system, as well as the Central Penn-Jersey Foreign Language Alliance, Michell has shown not only the ability, but the consistent willingness to go above and beyond in serving her department and the University,” Rozanski said.
Waslenko was characteristically gracious in accepting her award.
“When I started 15 years ago in the Philosophy department, I remember many people telling me that once I got settled, I would feel a very strong sense of community,” she said. “After being there a short time, I realized that not only was I part of the Rider community, but I was surrounded by a second family. The people here have Rider in their hearts.”
Karen Crowell, the administration recipient of the Frank N. Elliott Award for Distinguished Service, joined Rider in 1981, and has since served the University tirelessly, and with distinction.
Rozanski cited Crowell for her leadership and service as an adviser for nontraditional learners, adding that she has also served as an advisor to RAP students, a Freshman Seminar leader, and as a member of several committees including Judicial Hearing, Judicial Appeal, Undergraduate Student Research Award (URSA), and University Wellness.
Her efforts have earned Crowell the respect and admiration of her peers and colleagues, who have chosen her as the recipient of the Sadie Ziegler-Bernice Gee Woman of the Year award in 1993, and the Enrollment Management Recognition Award in 2005.
“But perhaps her greatest reward is the admiration and gratitude of the many CCS students she has advised over the years,” Rozanski said. “Karen’s profound care for and guidance of her advisees, men and women of all backgrounds, has resulted in life-changing experiences for our many adult learners.”
In acknowledging this, Crowell conceded that her deepest sense of professional fulfillment is derived from championing her students.
“For more than 20 years, students have been sharing their woes and joys. I’ve heard their stories and helped facilitate their academic goals,” she said.” Just a word of encouragement can make an enormous difference in the life of a student “I’ve seen the confidence they can develop after attaining a goal that may have seemed out of reach.”
Dr. Don Ambrose received the Frank N. Elliott Award for faculty. Since joining the Rider faculty in 1993 with a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Oregon, he has become a greatly valued member of the School of Education faculty.
Considered by his peers to be a highly accomplished and versatile educator and scholar, Ambrose’s expertise in leadership, pedagogy, interdisciplinary work, creativity and giftedness has made him an internationally recognized thought leader.
In recognizing Ambrose’s notable work in directing Rider’s Graduate Level Teacher Preparation program, Rozanski said his students have been the biggest beneficiaries of Ambrose’s scholarship.
“Not surprisingly, his students have appreciated the challenges he has put before them. He has made them better students, and ultimately – better teachers,” Rozanski said of Ambrose, who recently accepted the International Center for Innovation in Education Award for Creative Scholarship in Istanbul. “In the words of his nominator, ‘it is difficult to find a more gifted and talented researcher, teacher and all-around wonderful human being.’ ”
In expressing his gratitude, Ambrose applied an observation from his own field of study.
“Experts in high-ability fields say that high achievement involves altruism and ethics. If so, we have a lot of high-end achievers on this campus,” he said. “This is an institution that enjoys a rare productive collaboration between administration and faculty, so I give a big ‘thank you’ to the best university I can imagine working at.”