Hard Work by Faculty, Staff Recognized

More than 60 Virginia Peninsula Community College faculty and staff gathered on a Zoom call April 28 for the College’s annual awards ceremony to recognize their hard work and dedication.

President Dr. Towuanna Porter Brannon kicked things off by relaying an interaction she had with a student just the day before. When Brannon asked this student how classes were going, he made no mention of grades. Instead, he said how much his confidence and skills had improved because of one of his teachers.

“I am absolutely sure that every single faculty member has a story like that,” she said. “Everyone has a story of how they changed a student’s life.”

She also said that when she refers to the faculty and staff’s hard work and dedication, she doesn’t mean the teaching and tasks they do.

“I mean how you inspire and change lives. You are the backbone of our institution,” she said.

Dr. Kerry Ragno, the vice president for academic affairs, had some of the same sentiments in her closing remarks.

“Today’s honorees exemplify, to me, the holistic nature of maintaining and increasing academic excellence through (their) combined strengths and talents,” she said. “I’m so proud of the way you serve our students and the college. As we end this year, it’s a great time to reflect on our individual strengths and be inspired to continue serving with excellence.”

More than $6,500 was awarded to 23 winners, and more than 60 faculty members received a nomination from at least one student.

A new category this year was created for adjunct faculty. J.J. Bonavita, who is on the awards committee, said other categories had been added through the years to recognize administrative faculty and staff, so it was time to do the same for adjuncts.

“This year, our faculty senate wanted to recognize our outstanding adjunct faculty,” he said. “These adjunct faculty have gone above and beyond and display true dedication and commitment to their students, fellow faculty and the college community as a whole.”

The College’s Faculty Reward and Recognition Committee was led by Janelle Faison and Scott Reid (co-chairs). Other members were Ursula Bock, Bonavita, Angela Brightmon, Veronica Dempsey, Anthony Fotinos, Liz Kelso, Olufunke Olagunju, and Sirena Sears.

The winners

Vanguard award ($525 each): Recognizes a full-time teaching faculty member who demonstrates excellence in one or more areas of faculty endeavor: teaching (Lloyd Carter and Sergio Maria-Fagundez); scholarly and creative engagement (Jason Moulenbelt); institutional responsibility (Anthony Fotinos and Laura Rondeau); or service (Michelle Alexander, Sandra Calderon-Doherty and Michael Filsinger).

Character award ($525 each): Recognizes a full-time administrative or professional faculty member who demonstrates excellence in leadership effectiveness, strategic engagement or college and community service. Valerie Burge-Hall and Robert Harrison.

Faculty Focus award ($175 each): Recognizes a full-time teaching faculty member who demonstrates excellence in collegiality and teamwork (Hannah Powers); diversity awareness, inclusivity and multicultural enrichment (Adrianna Hardage); or leadership (Lynsey LeMay).

Gator-Aid award ($100 each): Recognizes staff that have made outstanding contributions to the college through their work and support of faculty and students. LaShawn Littles, Kris May, Will Moore, James Rudnicky, and Mitzi Williams.

Adjunct award ($80 each and a certificate): Recognizes adjunct faculty who have gone above and beyond and display true dedication and commitment to their students, fellow faculty members and the college community. Linda Dunn, Carolyn Hunter, LeRon Lewis, Jaime Mead and Andrew Sprague.

Learning Environment award (each one nominated receives a certificate): Recognizes faculty who demonstrate at least one of the following characteristics in their teaching: utilizing innovative techniques, creating a supportive culture, responding to learners’ needs, maintaining a safe and healthy environment, and/or cultivating student success. They are completely student nominated.

Fifty-one professors earned bronze recognition by receiving one or two nominations from students. Eleven were awarded silver (3-5 nominations) and two received gold (6-10 nominations). The two in the latter category were Ji (Nina) Mun and Tracy Richardson.