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22 May 2020

Naugatuck Valley Community College Faculty Honored by Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Board of Regents

Naugatuck Valley Community College Faculty Honored by Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Board of Regents

The Board of Regents for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) has announced their annual selection of faculty recognition for Excellence in Teaching and Research. The 2019–20 Board of Regents Faculty Awards recognize faculty for excellence in teaching or research. The awards are given to assistant and associate professors in tenure-track or tenured positions, and to adjunct faculty members who have distinguished themselves as outstanding teachers, promote instructional improvements for their departments, and are doing exceptional research, scholarly, and/or creative work.

Campus-based award categories include teaching, research, scholarly excellence and adjunct faculty teaching awards. Individual faculty in each campus-based award category may also be recognized with system-wide Awards in teaching, research and scholarly excellence.

Three faculty from Naugatuck Valley Community College were among the honorees. NVCC President Daisy Cocco De Filippis commented on the awards. “The success of our students at NVCC is tied to the quality of instruction, mentorship and guidance from our dedicated and talented faculty.  I celebrate each one of them and salute their strength and engagement in teaching and learning.  Good teaching and research are inseparable, and we are so fortunate to benefit from their contributions!  Congratulations to all!”

From NVCC, the Board of Regents Teaching Award (Campus-Based,) to faculty from Connecticut Community Colleges, was awarded to Dr. Gil Harel, Assistant Professor, Music.

Harel Commented. “Receiving an accolade of this magnitude, I think first and foremost of my students at NVCC. They consistently impress me with their motivation, passion, humility, and talent. In a nutshell: I'm blessed to work in an institution where inspiration is not hard to find. I see it every day, in my music history classes, in our performance ensembles, during rehearsals, in performances, everywhere. One of the best things about being a faculty member is that I get to teach and learn from students. This symbiotic relationship pushes me as a professional to never be complacent, and to constantly strive to improve. 

In addition to the students, I have to thank my colleagues among the faculty as well as in the administration. I believe the professors at NVCC are absolutely first-rate, and their knowledge and experience are a deep reservoir from which I have been able to benefit as a pedagogue. My colleagues are tremendously supportive; running the gamut from administrators who help finance and program events, to the many who attend our programs, some even participating in the performances!

Music is an unusual college discipline. It combines the study of history with music theory (often described as akin to math in some ways), as well as performance. Perhaps my forte as an educator is that I am drawn to these various, sometimes seemingly disparate aspects of my subject. Though my doctoral dissertation is on the vocal works of J.S. Bach, I have always appreciated and been attracted to other genre, including renaissance music, opera, musical theater, pop music, and more. I'm also enchanted by the study of language, as well as the history of religion, geography, poetry, literature. I am fortunate that my students at NVCC embrace my multi-disciplinary style of teaching, often becoming enthusiastic about things that undergraduate music students sometimes dread, for example "ear training", which has become a sensation in the department. As for me, I love plumbing the depths of music theory with them, as well as sharing the rich history of the music that moves us. And as a trained pianist and vocalist, I love working with them on our crafting and honing their manifold performances. 

In summary, NVCC, with its unique environment, its remarkable students and incredibly supportive administration, faculty and employees, has created a fertile place for me to be the best version of myself. And, if there's one thing this award means to me, it's that my conviction to strive for improvement has been fruitful. It's a strategy I plan to continue to implement.”

The annual selection by the Board of Regents Scholarly Excellence Awards also recognizes community college faculty who conduct work befitting the community college mission. One system-wide award is given to the individual who exemplifies high quality scholarly work or creative activity throughout the 12 community colleges. This year the honor goes to Mark A. Schnubel, Associate Professor, Automotive, Naugatuck Valley Community College.

Schnubel, commented on the award and his work at NVCC. “From a very early age, I have always enjoyed research and writing, which has continued throughout my life. When I first began teaching 23 years ago, I was surprised at the number of technical information errors in textbooks. As a result, I quickly became involved with technical editing. I reached out to a publisher, and I began working with Delmar Learning as a technical editor for over 20 years ago. After a short time working with Delmar Learning, I was offered the opportunity to publish my first textbook in 2002. Now 18 years later I am still writing for Delmar, which is now Cengage Learning. I have 3 automotive college level textbooks and lab manuals titles in print, and I am currently working on the 7th edition of my HVAC textbook.

Life has been a wonderful journey with many twists and turns. I am certain that my English teachers in middle school (I was a bit of a problem), as well as my history teacher, Mrs. Sullivan, in high school, who taught me the fundamentals of research, would have been pleasantly surprised at how the seeds they sewed in me grew. My students are the “hands on type” and sometimes wonder about the merits of some of the courses they must take that are part of a college degree. I frequently share my life experiences with my students and tell them that I have always loved the automotive profession. But that the non-automotive courses that I have had to take in the pursuit of degrees were just as important in forming my life. Like an engine your mind needs a “spark” to ignite the fuel to release the power inside.

It is an honor to be receiving the Scholarly Excellence Award. I enjoy teaching and all facets of my work and life and that has always been enough, I am humbled by this honor. The ‘spark’ of inquiry allowed me to cross this finish line.”

The System-Wide Adjunct Faculty Teaching Awards also recognize part-time faculty throughout the CSCU system who have distinguished themselves as outstanding teachers. This year the award goes to Douglas Goodrich, NVCC Adjunct Professor of History.

Goodrich enthusiastically commented. “Fifty years ago, I was fortunate to attend Mattatuck Community College, now known as Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC).  As a U.S. Navy veteran who had served our country in the Vietnam War and had been recently discharged, I was a reluctant scholar.   From the beginning, my professors’ expertise, integrity ability to bond with their students, especially with me were readily apparent. My reluctance steadily dissipated and I became immersed in this learning community and eventually became the lifelong learner that I am today.  This experience was transformative and left a lasting impression upon me, and to this day is at the heart of my pedagogy.  My teaching journey began in a learning community immersed in an atmosphere of trust. As a student I experienced the expertise, integrity and bonding behavior of my professors at Mattatuck Community College.  As an instructor, I am thriving in our learning community, which is led by competent administrators and colleagues who continue to share that same philosophy of trust so that students may thrive. Every day at NVCC I am inspired and amazed at the compassion, enthusiasm and expertise of my colleagues. As Isaac Newton once said regarding his achievements "I stood on the shoulders of giants" - I too get that privilege of standing on the shoulders of my colleagues – ‘giants all!’ “ 

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