Honoring Distinguished Service

Three of Rider’s finest employees were honored with the Frank N. Elliott Award for Distinguished Service on August 30.
Colleen Martin, Dr. Arlene Wilner and Mike Reca were presented the with awards for service to Rider at Fall Convocation.

Colleen Martin, Dr. Arlene Wilner and Mike Reca were presented the with awards for service to Rider at Fall Convocation.

The new 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.

Colleen Martin, administrative associate in the Department of Graduate Education; Dr. Arlene Wilner, professor of English; and Mike Reca, associate vice president for Facilities and Auxiliary Services, were each presented with the 2012 Frank N. Elliott Award for Distinguished Service during the Opening Fall Convocation on August 30 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.

An invaluable member of the Department of Graduate Education staff for the past 17 years, Colleen Martin earned the Frank N. Elliott Award for support staff. In his presentation, President Mordechai Rozanski noted that Martin takes the time to learn the unique concerns of the many full- and part-time faculty, as well as students, involved with her department.


“She learns names, and understands their complex workloads, schedules, internships, and professional relationships,” he said. “She helps solve a myriad of problems, day in and day out. And she accomplishes all this with a consistent and genuine cheerfulness.”

“You don’t win this by yourself; you have to have help from everyone in this room” Martin told the gathered audience, composed of Rider administrators, faculty and staff, after being recognized. “I really have to thank every one of you.”

A member of the Department of English since 1985, Dr. Arlene Wilner was the faculty recipient of the Elliott Award for Distinguished Service. Wilner, who earned a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University, is twice the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Regarded for her pedagogical research on writing, assignment design, and assessment, Wilner has contributed to books such as Identity, Learning and the Liberal Arts, and to English studies publications including The Journal of Narrative Technique, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, Eighteenth-Century Fiction and Children’s Literature.                                                                                                        

In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Wilner has also served as the director of the Baccalaureate Honors Program for the past six years, bringing both creative thinking and tireless devotion to that role.

In her nomination of Wilner, Dr. Anne Salvatore, professor of English, noted that under Wilner’s direction, the BHP has increased the number and variety of courses offered; revised and streamlined its policies and requirements; pursued greater coordination with honors programs in the College of Business and Westminster; and significantly improved its retention to graduation.

“It is a great honor to have one’s work recognized by one’s colleagues,” said Wilner, who is also a recipient of the prestigious Carnegie Fellowship for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. “May our fellowship elevate us to higher levels of scholarship and community.”

Mike Reca received the Frank N. Elliott Award for administration. A 22-year Rider employee, Reca began his career in Lawrenceville as the manager of Residence Halls Operation and subsequently became Rider’s director of Facilities Management before being named associate vice president for Facilities and Auxiliary Services.

“Over the years, Mike has overseen dramatic facilities expansion and transformation on both of Rider’s campuses – developing and managing multimillion dollar projects that have not only expanded Rider’s physical footprint, but also significantly improved the living and learning environment for students, faculty, and staff and added immeasurably to the University’s ability to attract students,” Rozanski said.

He pointed to Reca’s skilled planning of campus improvements, including the environmentally responsible, LEED-certified West Village Residence Halls and North Hall. Most recently, Reca supervised the renovation of Cranberry’s and the dining halls on both campuses, and has also served the University by building new revenue-generating activities through his management of Auxiliary Services. 

Reca praised his Auxiliary Services staff, saying that ventures such as the summer international Study Tours program, would not happen without their work. He also expressed his pride at the recognition several of Rider’s capital projects have earned from the U.S. Green Building Council, which issues LEED certification.