Three of Rider’s finest were recognized for their outstanding work at the University when they were presented the Frank N. Elliott Award for Distinguished Service on September 1.
Sean Ramsden

(left to right) Dr. Michele Kamens, Patricia Lutz and Dr. Barry Truchil

When Dr. Frank N. Elliott retired from Rider after 21 years as president, a decision was made by the University’s Board of Trustees that the best way to honor his legacy would be to recognize Rider employees who exemplify the same spirit of dedication embodied by Elliott from 1969 to 1990. Thus established, the Frank N. Elliott Award was first presented in 1991, and today is bestowed annually to a recipient from faculty, administrative staff and support staff in recognition of their extraordinary service to the University.

Patricia Lutz, executive assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost; Dr. Michele Kamens, professor and director of Special Education Programs; and Dr. Barry Truchil, chair of the Department of Sociology, were presented with the 2011 Frank N. Elliott Award for Distinguished Service during the Opening Fall Convocation on September 1 in the Yvonne Theater.

A committee of prior award recipients reviews the nominations submitted by the campus community and selects the honorees. Each recipient receives a framed certificate and an award of $500, and is recognized with a plaque displayed in the Bart Luedeke Center lobby.

An indispensable member of the Rider community for the past 21 years – the last 19 working in the Office of Academic Affairs – Patricia Lutz earned the Frank N. Elliott Award for support staff. In addition to providing administrative support to Dr. Donald Steven, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, Lutz oversees all aspects of recordkeeping for the promotion-and-tenure process, prepares citations for recipients of the Dominick Iorio Faculty Research Award and Distinguished Teaching Awards, and monitors the implementation of a number of academic policies under the purview of the Office of the Provost.

In his presentation, President Mordechai Rozanski quoted from a nomination penned by Steven, who wrote that Lutz “manages her day-to-day activities with accuracy, unfailing professionalism, diplomacy and confidentiality, and is widely admired throughout the academic community.”

Lutz was characteristically appreciative of the award, reflecting the honor back upon her coworkers.

 “Dr. Steven and my colleagues in the Office of Academic Affairs are not only true professionals, but are kind, supportive, upbeat, and have a sense of humor,” she said. “Rider is full of so many talented, dedicated individuals, and it truly a joy and privilege to be able to work with them. They are you – our faculty, administration, deans, staff and students. You are the best!”

Michele Kamens, who joined the Rider faculty in 1998 and achieved the rank of professor in 2006, was the faculty recipient of the award. Kamens received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary and special education from Rutgers University and her doctorate from Temple University. Her distinctive contributions to the Rider community have been in the field of special education, where she has created new academic programs and certificate offerings at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Kamens also designed the curriculum, hired faculty, recruited students, and continuously promoted the programs, and has worked closely with the New Jersey Department of Education to secure and maintain accreditation of the University’s programs.

Kamens’ service activities are equally impressive. She has served as chair of Rider’s Special Education Advisory Board since 2003 and has been an ongoing member of the Teaching/Learning Center Advisory Group. Kamens is also the former chair of the School of Education Academic Policy Committee and serves as coordinator of the Rider University/West Windsor-Plainsboro School District Transition Programs partnership.

“Service is teaching, and teaching is service – they go together,” said Kamens, who is also a founder of Rider’s student chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children and implemented the Saturday College program for young adults with developmental disabilities. “The greatest reward, to me, is seeing my students out there, helping other students with disabilities.”

Dr. Barry Truchil received the Frank N. Elliott Award for administration. After earning his bachelor’s degree at American University and his Ph.D. in Sociology from SUNY-Binghamton, Truchil joined the Rider faculty in 1981 and received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1996. For the last 15 years, Truchil has chaired the Department of Sociology, where he has developed a reputation as one of the most student-centered chairs at the University. He also served 12 years as assistant dean in the College of Liberal Arts, Education, and Sciences, including a year as acting dean in 2008-09.

Truchil has played an important leadership role on a number of influential campus committees, notably the Strategic Planning Committee, where he was a member of its coordinating committee, and as chair of the task force on academic distinction. He also served for two years as chair of the University Academic Standards Committee, helping to steer key decisions on curriculum and scheduling matters.

“Over the years, so many deserving people have been recognized with this award,” said Truchil, who added that his roles as a faculty member and as a dean have allowed him to experience a broad view of the University and a varied professional perspective. “I’ve always enjoyed coming to work here, and my students keep my supplied with energy, enthusiasm, and up to date on the latest musical groups.”