Annual awards ceremony honors extraordinary contributions by Rider faculty and staff

Many recognized for excellence on Dec. 13
Rider faculty, administration and staff gathered in the Bart Luedeke Center's Cavalla Room on Dec. 13 for the University’s annual Faculty & Staff Awards Ceremony. The awards honored employees’ extraordinary contributions to the student body and the University at large. 

The Frank N. Elliott Award for Distinguished Service is named in honor of Rider University’s fourth president, Frank Elliott, and is presented each year to a staff member, faculty member and administrator who has demonstrated distinguished service to the University. 

Lindsey Christiansen, who passed away on March 1, 2017, was posthumously named the faculty recipient of the Frank N. Elliot Award for Distinguished Service. A professor of voice at Westminster Choir College since 1977, Christiansen served as chair of the piano and voice department for 18 years. Her colleagues and students noted her strength as a teacher and a musician, citing her as a model of integrity, intelligence and collegiality as well as a source of inspiration for many. 

This year’s staff recipient of the Frank N. Elliott Award for Distinguished Service was Maryfaith Chimera, an administrative specialist in the Biology, Behavioral Neuroscience and Health Sciences Department. Chimera has been a member of the Rider community for 20 years and is known as the go-to person in the office, with no task being too large or too complex for her. Her organizational and event planning skills were recognized by all of those who nominated her, but the attribute that was most admired was her positive attitude. 

The administrator recipient of the Frank N. Elliott Award was Associate Registrar Li Jin. Since Jin joined Rider in 2006, her engagement and dedication to the registrar’s administrative team has been unwavering. Her most notable contribution is her work with Banner and Degree Works, two programs that are fundamental to both students and professors. 

Every year solicitations are sent for the Michelle McCormack Award, looking for a student organization adviser who has served as an outstanding mentor to a student organization. Recipients are honored for impacting the growth and development of student leaders and members and supporting organization activities and accomplishments during the year. 

The Michelle McCormack Award honors a student organization adviser who has served as an outstanding mentor. Recipients are recognized for impacting the growth and development of students and supporting organization activities and accomplishments during the year. This year’s recipient, General Manager of 107.7 The Bronc, John Mozes, uses the University radio station to develop students’ leadership skills in a real-life radio station work environment. Under his guidance, the radio station has launched numerous events that have become campus-wide traditions. 

The Director of External Affairs for Westminster Choir College, Anne Sears, received the Nancy Gray Award. Named in honor of former Vice President of Development Nancy Gray, the award is bestowed upon a staff, faculty or administrator who exemplifies the ideas of institutional leadership, school pride and community service. Sears has served Rider and Westminster Choir College for many years. Her hard work behind the scenes and publicly as the face of Westminster at conferences, performances and concerts is what makes her a standout administrator. 

The Ziegler-Gee Award is given to a member of the University who demonstrates exemplary support for gender equality and focuses on ending gender-based discrimination. Dr. Megan Titus, an associate professor of English, received the award for her engagement with the Gender and Sexuality Studies program. Not only has Titus played a key role in the administrative side of the program, her ability to effectively capture the attention of her students and guide them to become thoughtful and engaged citizens in terms of gender equality has been praised by many who have taken her classes. 

The Iorio Award, named after Dean Emeritus Dominick A. Iorio, is presented annually to an outstanding researcher within the University. Recipients have been recognized by external authorities as providing meaningful contributions to their discipline through their published work. This year's honoree, Dr. Jonathan Mendilow, professor of political science, was praised for his international scholarly reputation. Having authored or edited more than 50 articles and book chapters, as well as papers that have been presented at conferences around the world, Mendilow is an expert in political theory, comparative politics and political corruption. 

Dr. Phillip Lowery, an associate professor of biology, received the Faculty Academic Advising Award for his outstanding advising qualities, which help students develop their educational and career goals. In a nomination letter from a former student, Lowery was praised for his open communication and dedication to ensuring students make the most out of their time at Rider. 

Each year, two faculty members are selected to receive the Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Sharon Morrow, recently retired assistant professor in the Department of Music Education, and Dr. Trevor Buser, associate professor in the Department of Graduate Education, Leadership and Counseling, were this year's awardees. Morrow was described as bringing an eclectic pedagogical approach to teaching as she emphasized active music making at all levels. One student nomination said Morrow was an inspiring mentor who made a lasting impact on all her students. Buser, who teaches in both the mental health counseling and school counseling tracks, was noted for the high standards of excellence he expects from his students. 

Dr. Todd Weber, the chairperson of the biology department, earned the Chairperson Leadership Award. The award highlights the many aspects that contribute to successful departmental leadership. Weber has established a student-first culture within the biology department by devoting numerous hours engaging with students one on one. His colleagues also praised Weber's professional management and attention to detail within the department, as well as his dedication to student intellectual engagement.

After a vote among the Rider Athletics coaches, the Coach of the Year Award was given to Lynn Milligan, head women's basketball coach. Under Milligan's leadership, the women's basketball team has had its most wins ever (24-9), its most conference wins ever (16-4) and reached the Metro Athletic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championship game, which was televised for the first time in Athletics's history. The program also received its first post-season bid to the Women's National Invitation Tournament. Mulligan was recognized as MAAC Coach of the Year and named the Maggie Dixon Division I Coach of the Year by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association.

The Mazzotti Awards in Women's Leadership were established by Joan Mazzotti '72, former chair of the Board of Trustees and her husband, Michael Kelly, to provide external leadership professional development opportunities for women faculty and staff. This year's recipients are Diane Campbell, associate professor-librarian in Moore Library; Kendall Friedman, director of the Academic Success Center; Catrinel Haught Tromp, associate professor of psychology; Amanda Quist, associate professor and chair of Conducting, Organ and Sacred Music; Kathryn Sampson, associate director of Alumni Relations; and Dr. Megan Titus, associate professor of English. 

The Outstanding Achievement Award was given to more than 30 administrative and support staff employees from all areas of the University. These employees made significant and unique contributions during the past year that have furthered the vision and mission of the University or provided exemplary service beyond the high standards already expected of Rider employees. More than 20 faculty members were also recognized for their recent promotions and tenure this year.