Faculty

Celebration of Excellence: Board of Regents Adjunct Teaching Award

2019 Recipient: Patricia Mottola, Adjunct Faculty, Creative Writing

About the award

The Board of Regents Adjunct Faculty Teaching Awards are given to recognize part-time faculty who have distinguished themselves as outstanding teachers with a track record of increasing student learning and promoting instructional improvements for their programs or departments.

About the recipient

Patricia Mottola was hired to teach Introduction to Creative Writing immediately after receiving her MFA in Creative Writing from Southern because, as one colleague noted, “She was an exceptional student in our department’s MFA program,” and she has been an extraordinary instructor ever since. Professor Mottola’s advisor and now colleague Vivian Shipley awarded Distinction to Professor Mottola’s MFA thesis, “If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit: Poems About Relationships,” something rarely done, and Dr. Shipley remarked that since 1969, she has “never had a better student or known a more dedicated and inspiring teacher.”

Professor Mottola has the words “respect,” “personal responsibility,” and “attention to detail” written on her classroom board. It is her goal to turn these values into lifelong habits and to help students thrive long after they graduate. Her instruction is one of collaboration, both inside and outside of the classroom. Students are encouraged to participate, discover, and share. Her fellow adjuncts refer new adjuncts to Professor Mottola for advice, and she is a mentor to full-time faculty as well, offering her colleagues advice on textbooks, syllabi, and assignment sheets.

Professor Mottola is a gifted instructor and an involved citizen, and her impact has a broad and significant reach. She is co-president of the Connecticut Poetry Society; works online with Afghan women and girls through the Afghan Voices project, encouraging them to write poetry in order to empower themselves; and she works with senior citizens, encouraging them to have a rebirth at a time when they are nearing the end of life.

Professor Mottola earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Southern in 2011; an MS in Art Education from Southern in 1990; study in the Art Psychotherapy Institute, SCSU Department of School Psychology, in 1988; and a BS in Art Education from Southern in 1987.

Celebration of Excellence: Board of Regents Research Award

2019 Recipient: Dr. Darcy Kern, Assistant Professor of Medieval Mediterranean History

About the award

The Board of Regents Research Awards are given to recognize faculty from the four state universities who are doing exceptional research/creative work.

About the recipient

Darcy Kern is an accomplished and prolific scholar whose work impacts a variety of fields in late medieval and early modern history.

The main argument of Dr. Kern’s research, which spans continents and timelines, is that language shapes culture. She specifically focuses on translated texts that move between cultures; in her own words, her research “adheres to the humanist tradition, emphasizing language as a key component of understanding history, culture, and power.”

Students have sought out study with Dr. Kern, understanding that her specialties are important frameworks through which we can trace chronology and methodological trends. As one colleague noted, “Dr. Kern’s work in translation studies is playing an important role in redefining how scholars understand the transmission of knowledge and the application of power in the late medieval and early modem world.”

Dr. Kern’s work has appeared in a number of highly selective publications, specifically “The Journal of Medieval History,” “English,” and “Philological Quarterly.” Her article “Platonic Words: Paolo Sarpi and Roberto Bellarmino as Translators in the Venetian Interdict Crisis” was so significant that she was invited to Cambridge University to present follow-up research on the topic. She is currently at work on a manuscript, “Texts, Translation, and Political Thought in Late Medieval Spain.”

Dr. Kern earned a Ph.D. and an M.A. in History from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in History and Spanish from Kansas State University. Since arriving at Southern in 2015, she has participated in several programs to enhance her scholarship, most recently at the Beinecke Center for Preservation and Conservation.

Celebration of Excellence: Senior-Level Faculty Research Fellowship

2019 Recipient: Kalu Ogbaa, Professor of English

About the award

In recognition of the increased responsibilities placed on senior-level faculty members, the Senior-Level Faculty Research Fellowship supports and encourages research, creative activity, and scholarship among senior faculty members. Awardees receive a significant amount of reassigned time for these purposes.

About the recipient

In 2013, Chinua Achebe, founder of the Modern African Novel and author of the acclaimed novel Things Fall Apart, requested that Dr. Kalu Ogbaa, professor of English, write his biography. Dr. Ogbaa had met Professor Achebe while enrolled in a Master’s program at The Ohio State University and subsequently wrote a dissertation on Achebe’s fiction. Dr. Ogbaa went on to publish two books, some book chapters, and solicited interviews on Achebe’s works. He teaches Achebe’s novels at Southern at the graduate and undergraduate levels and has established himself as an authority on Achebe studies, nationally and internationally.

Dr. Ogbaa began work on the biography in 2015; a fellowship enables him to complete it. According to Dr. Ogbaa’s notes, the biography — entitled The Life and Times of Chinua Achebe – “will weave together the stories of [Achebe’s] upbringing, Christian and Western education, the lgbo storytelling techniques he learned from his sister, and the creative writing skills he learned from his British college professors, the combination of which made him the master storyteller who influenced other writers to make African literature a viable corpus in World Literature today.”

Dr. Ogbaa has completed two of the four stages of his work plan. The fellowship will allow him to complete stages three and four: to review and analyze collected data, and write research findings chapter by chapter; and to complete the final crafting, collating, and coediting of all segments of the book manuscript for publication.

Dr. Ogbaa received a Ph.D. in English from The University of Texas;
an M.A. in Black Studies from The Ohio State University; and a B.A. in English from The University of Nigeria.

Celebration of Excellence: Outstanding Faculty Advising Award

2019 Recipient: Dr. Gayle Bogel, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the School Library Media Program

About the award

The Outstanding Faculty Academic Advising Award recognizes the integral links between excellent academic advising and student retention and success, and rewards faculty who provide exceptional academic advising and mentoring to undergraduate or graduate students.

About the recipient

For the last three years, the advising load of Dr. Gayle Bogel has averaged 50-plus students each semester, yet the recommendations of her students are unanimous: Dr. Bogel made each one feel that their time and circumstance were of the utmost importance. One student noted, “Outside of my family, she has had the most influence over my successful completion of this program.”

“A true mentor,” “outstanding,” “compassionate,” and “exceptional” are just a few of the descriptors used to convey Dr. Bogel’s professional and personal ethics. According to a colleague, The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has embedded dispositions in all of their new national Standards, and Dr. Bogel models the following: “she works successfully with others, she promotes collaborative planning with others, and she models and shares ethical and legal principles of education and librarianship.”

Former students speak highly of Dr. Bogel as an educator and adviser, some noting that her mentorship continued even after they graduate and that “Dr. Bogel was the mentor I needed in my most difficult times in the program… she was always willing to talk, and she had both the knowledge and the compassion to help me solve my problems and soothe my anxieties.”

In addition to her teaching and advising, Dr. Bogel has written numerous academic articles, presented at national and international conferences, and received several honors and awards, including the John and Hilda Jay Award for Significant Contribution to the Library Media Field.

Dr. Bogel received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Information Science from the University of North Texas; an M.L.S. from Southern; and an M.A. in Education from Sacred Heart University.

Celebration of Excellence: Board of Regents Teaching Award

2019 Recipient: Dr. Charles Baraw, Associate Professor of English

About the award

The Board of Regents Teaching Award is given to recognize faculty who have distinguished themselves as outstanding teachers for at least five years and have a minimum of two years’ track record of promoting instructional improvements for their programs/departments.

About the recipient

Professor Charles Baraw has taught in the English Department at Southern for nine years; during that time, his instructional practices — which have been called “brilliant,” “engaged” and “transformational” — have garnered accolades university-wide.

Just last spring Dr. Baraw was awarded the J. Philip Smith Outstanding Teaching Award. According to colleagues, his teaching “has made a dramatic and positive difference for our English majors and for students across the university,” and “one of his strengths is his willingness to guide students on their academic and personal paths in and out of the classroom.”

Dr. Baraw has given his inspired teaching method a light-hearted appellation: the “jazz method,” meaning that lessons are pre-planned loosely, with room to adapt and improvise according to in-class assessment of student engagement and skill. He also relies upon a core principle in his teaching: the mutual imperative to trust, wonder, and reflect. To learn of how his teaching has enhanced and guided the instruction and development of each student is to appreciate how effective and outstanding his influence truly is. He has mentored numerous student research and teaching assistants and pushed them to develop independent research projects. As a result, this past summer five English majors won prestigious research fellowships.

It has been noted that when Dr. Baraw is on campus, he is rarely alone and that “one or two students are speaking with him in his office, and one or two more are in the hallway waiting.” This desire to engage, and to cultivate, illustrates succinctly what yet another colleague noted of Dr. Baraw: that he creates a culture of English that invites students into the joys of the field through multiple doors — his office door being one of them.

Dr. Baraw holds a Ph.D. in English from Yale University; an MA in English from Middlebury College, Bread Loaf School of English; and a B.A. in English Literature and American History from the University of Vermont.

Celebration of Excellence: Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowship

2019 Recipient: Dr. Victoria Zigmont, Assistant Professor of Public Health

About the award

SCSU recognizes the importance of faculty scholarship and creative activity in furthering its mission. The Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowships aim to support this goal by providing recipients with a significant amount of reassigned time at an early stage in their careers at Southern.

About the recipient

Dr. Victoria Zigmont, assistant professor of Public Health, has amassed significant data on college student food insecurity, which is defined as “the uncertainty of being able to acquire enough food, or enough nutritious food, needed to maintain a healthy diet.” Her research on solutions to student food insecurity seeks to expand upon her previous research, analyzing data about risk factors and food insecurity status and identifying solutions to the problem.

According to Dr. Zigmont’s notes, although college students experience food insecurity at higher rates than the national average, they are often deemed ineligible to receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. A 2016 Southern-wide study conducted by Dr. Zigmont revealed that 30 percent of undergraduate students reported some degree of food insecurity; furthermore, that that insecurity leads to lower average grade point averages, increased anxiety or depression, and poor nutrition.

In addition to further measuring the effect of food insecurity on academic performance and identifying variables in existing data associated with food insecurity, Dr. Zigmont’s project will culminate in two manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals and a conceptualized grant for external funding to expand this work.

According to Dr. Zigmont, “This project has implications to benefit students across the country… [It] will share new knowledge with educators, public health providers and the general academic community to show what the disparities in academic outcomes are for students who are food insecure.”

Dr. Zigmont received a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health from The Ohio State University; a Master of Public Health in Health Promotion from Southern; and a B.S. in Chemistry and Physiology & Neurobiology from the University of Connecticut.

Celebration of Excellence: Mid-Level Faculty Research Fellowship

2019 Recipient: Md Shafaeat Hossain, Associate Professor of Computer Science

About the award

SCSU recognizes the importance of faculty scholarship and creative activity in furthering its mission. The Mid-Level Faculty Research Fellowship aims to support this goal by providing mid-level faculty members with a significant amount of reassigned time at this crucial stage in their careers at Southern.

About the recipient

Dr. Hossain is researching multi-biometric systems (both parallel fusion-based and serial fusion-based) in hopes of developing a new serial fusion-based verification scheme. Its application is significant, as the core of all information security — computer security, cyber security, and network security — is the concept of user authentication, which ensures that only legitimate users can access the resources they need and that unauthorized users are blocked.

Dr. Hossain’s development of a new serial fusion-based biometric verification scheme, he wrote, “would provide a scheme that performs better than or at least as good as a parallel fusion based-scheme, and at the same time, provide a significant amount of convenience to the genuine users.”

Professor Hossain’s Ph.D. work is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and has been published in “Applied Intelligence” as well as in prestigious peer-reviewed IEEE conference proceedings. His multi-faceted research plan entails literature review; verification scheme development; data collection; data cleansing and processing; coding and experiments; analysis; and finally, publication and reporting and the possible procurement of additional research funds from DARPA.

Professor Hossain received a Ph.D. in Computational Analysis and Modeling, an MS in Computer Science, and an MS in Mathematics from Louisiana Tech University. He also received an MS in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Dhaka.

Celebration of Excellence: Million Dollar Club

2019 Recipient: Alycia Santilli, Director of CARE

About the award

The Million Dollar Club is calculated to include all grants and awards brought into Southern by faculty over the years. This club originated in SPAR in 2004 as a means of publicly recognizing faculty who have consistently pursued grants throughout the years as well as those who secured a single or multi-year large award.

About the recipient

As Director of the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) at Southern, Alycia Santilli transforms her everyday ethos — directly involving people most impacted by health disparities in the development of solutions to create health equity — into tangible successes.

Ms. Santilli began her relationship with CARE, which works collaboratively with community organizations and neighborhood groups across New Haven to improve the health of the city’s residents, in 2007 after its inception at Yale. With years of experience as a community organizer and as a coordinator of research projects at the Yale School of Public Health, she was instrumental in providing administrative oversight and strategic direction.

She quickly rose to a leadership position, becoming Director in 2016. She brought to the role all the ingredients for success: more than a decade of experience in community engagement; deep ties to the New Haven community; expertise in community-based intervention development; and a strong educational background in social work.

Under her directorial leadership, Ms. Santilli and the CARE team began implementing a renewed path offered through this unique university partnership. Recently, CARE secured several grants and contracts of varying sizes, including two major sources of funding.

Ms. Santilli also serves as the Principal Investigator for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and as the Principal Investigator of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health. This award has the potential to bring more than $3.6 million to New Haven. In its first year, CARE is proud to distribute 38 percent of this funding directly into the community.

As someone who received all of her education at public schools and state universities in Connecticut, and as a dedicated resident of New Haven, Ms. Santilli ’s experience — both hands-on and career-based — have helped her improve the health of the city, and beyond.

Celebration of Excellence: Faculty Scholar Award 

2019 Recipient: Dr. C. Michele Thompson, Professor of History 

About the award

Conferred jointly by the Faculty Scholar Award Committee and the University President, the Faculty Scholar Award recognizes scholarly and creative work of exceptional merit by a full-time SCSU faculty member.

The BOR-approved SCSU campus winner for this award is Dr. Michele Thompson, Professor of History.

About the recipient

Dr. C. Michele Thompson has been a member of Southern’s faculty since 1998. Alongside her distinguished academic career, her book, Vietnamese Traditional Medicine: a Social History, is the distillation of more than 20 years of research in Vietnam, Taiwan, The Peoples’ Republic of China, France, and Portugal.

Vietnamese Traditional Medicine is the first book-length publication on the history of Vietnamese traditional medicine in any Western language. According to Dr. Thompson’s notes, her book is “an examination of the relationship between China and Vietnam, a key issue in Vietnamese studies, through a medical lens.” Using as a case study the story of the first introduction, from Macau, of vaccination for smallpox to the royal court of the Nguyễn dynasty, she examines Vietnamese attitudes towards foreign medical theories and techniques.

Since its publication in 2015, the book has been reviewed in nine peer-reviewed international journals, and Dr. Thompson has been sought out as a source in numerous publications, including Scientific American. This interdisciplinary interest, from anthropology to medical history to the general field of Southeast Asian Studies, speaks to its broad importance. Even more, her research has overarching implications: it is pertinent to current environmental issues in Mainland Southeast Asia, where a false understanding of Chinese and Vietnamese medicine is driving a devastating trade in wild animals.

For her research, Dr. Thompson referenced documents in modern Mandarin; Classical Chinese; modern Vietnamese; archaic Vietnamese written in Norn, French, Portuguese; and Spanish. She also conducted oral interviews in Mandarin and Vietnamese, noting that “perhaps the most innovative aspect of my book is the cross-disciplinary nature of my sources and my methodology.”

Dr. Thompson received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington; her Master of Arts in History from the University of Alabama; and her Bachelor of Arts in History and Anthropology from the University of Alabama.

Professor Kevin

✉️ Deliver to:

Dr. Kevin Buterbaugh
Professor and Department Chair
Department of Political Science


Dear Professor,

You see the best in students and invest in them accordingly. You constantly introduce students to scholarships, internships, and extracurricular opportunities that you think they should strive for. Even when a student feels they are not equipped for it, you encourage (and convince!) students to try anyway. You address your advisees as your equals; never once have I seen you talk down to a student or make them feel as if their questions or concerns are not worth your time.

Thank you,
Tea Carter, ’20 🦉


About Dr. Buterbaugh

Favorite Teaching Moments:

I have many favorite teaching memories. I have two in regards to Tea Carter who nominated me.

Tea in my Contemporary World Politics class asked me a question on civil war resolution. I gave a rather cursory answer to Tea. Once class was over I realized that my answer was insufficient. I went home and reviewed the material we read for class and reviewed material I had collected on civil wars and their resolution. I began my next class by answering properly Tea’s question. Why is this a favorite memory? This is why I teach – to be challenged by students – and to interact. I learn as students learn. And, it is often through the most challenging questions that I learn the most. Or even learn that I do not have an answer.

Two weeks ago I read the first draft of Tea’s thesis proposal. I was amazed by its quality and the growth that it showed. Tea came in as a very strong student, but her thesis proposal shows she has reached a new level. Watching her grow through 3 years at Southern has been a wonderful experience. I am proud of the small part I may have played in her growth. And, I feel honored to be her thesis advisor.

Teaching Philosophy:

My primary philosophy is that students write to learn – and learn to write.

Thus, my classes have many small writing assignments connected to course readings. These assignments help students to engage with the course material. In engaging, they learn to write.  Through their writing, they learn the course material – but more importantly – how to interpret, critique, and discuss course material. The assignments are low pressure – none will be decisive in the grade – this allows students to work without fearing failure. The assignments are significant in total but each on its own is not.

I also work to encourage students – especially – through advisement. I often send students emails encouraging them to participate in an activity, to compete in a contest or to apply for an internship. I hope by encouraging students that they will expand their world and become more active in their educations. Students often do not know how good they can be. Part of my role is to prod them into activities where I believe they can thrive, even when they may not believe it themselves.

Favorite Course to Teach:

This is a difficult one. I guess “PSC 230: War” is my favorite course. It is a Tier 2 LEP course that is not tied at all to the major. So, I get a wide variety of students that take it.

The course covers a broad range of content – theories of war, ethics in war, and the experience of war (soldiers and civilians). The diversity of the classroom leads to some very interesting discussions. This is especially the case when we get to the experience of war, as students engage with first-person narratives.

I created this course in 2012 when the new LEP came online. I teach it every semester. I have tweaked the course occasionally – but in general – the course has been so rewarding that I have kept the general framework of the course the same. This is rare for me. Most of my courses change fundamentally every 3 or 4 years.

Recent Courses Taught:

Fall 2018:

  • PSC 230: War
  • PSC 398: Terrorism – Extreme Politics