HomeAchievementsTwo Faculty Receive Board of Regents Awards for Teaching and Research

Two Faculty Receive Board of Regents Awards for Teaching and Research

Southern Connecticut State University proudly announces that two of its faculty members have been honored with the prestigious 2023–2024 Board of Regents Faculty Awards. These awards, presented by the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR), recognize exceptional contributions in teaching, research, and scholarly work within the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system.

Dr. Zara Waldman DeLuca, assistant professor of communication disorders, has been recognized with the System-wide Board of Regents Teaching Award for Connecticut State Universities. This accolade highlights DeLuca’s outstanding dedication to teaching and her impactful contributions to the academic success of her students.

Joining DeLuca in this year’s honors is Dr. Anuli Njoku, associate professor of public health. Njoku has been awarded the Campus-based Board of Regents Research Award for her remarkable contributions to public health research. Her work not only advances the field of public health but also brings critical insights and improvements to community health initiatives.

Dr. Zara Waldman DeLuca, assistant professor of communication disorders, received both System-wide and Campus-based Board of Regents Teaching Awards for Connecticut State Universities.

DeLuca’s commitment to excellence in education extends beyond the classroom. Her innovative teaching methods and dedication to student engagement have set a high standard for instructional quality at Southern. DeLuca also received the Campus-based Board of Regents Teaching Award, further emphasizing her role as a leading educator within the CSCU system.

“I am incredibly grateful for the recognition of my teaching that comes with this award, and thankful to my nominators and supporters,” DeLuca said. “As a professor and speech-language therapist, I try to create inclusive spaces that value mental health, authentic presence, and curiosity. My clinical work and research with preschoolers and school-aged children have shown me the importance of play to learning.” She added, “Building classrooms, clinical spaces, and committees that feel like a community where everyone is valued and we can have fun together, that’s where we are able to be vulnerable and try something new. And trying something new is the start of learning!”

Dr. Njoku remarked that “it feels fulfilling to be recognized for conducting the health equity research that I am so passionate about.” She added, “It feels great to be recognized for conducting meaningful research with various collaborators, including students, department and university colleagues, academic and community partners, and national and international colleagues.”

Dr. Anuli Njoku, associate professor of public health, honored with the Campus-based Board of Regents Research Award for her impactful contributions to public health research

Regent Ira Bloom, chair of the BOR’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee, said: “Each of these faculty members works tirelessly to bring out the best in their students and they continue to raise the bar in their respective disciplines. Our institutions continue to offer an affordable, high-quality education because of the outstanding work our faculty members are doing at both the campus and system level. Because of their work and dedication, our colleges and universities continue to reach new heights and milestones.”

Reflecting on her experiences, DeLuca said, “Our students here at Southern are genuine and tenacious. I have expanded my teaching styles based on the things they have taught me, and this award is as much a reflection of their growth as it is mine. My students show me new ways to think and deeper ways to care. I am honored to have their trust…they’re who I want to be when I grow up!”

DeLuca also emphasized the transformative power of public higher education: “I am the third generation in my family to graduate from CUNY (the City University of New York). Public higher education changes lives. It changed mine. I appreciate being able to give that gift back to Southern students every day.”

Njoku echoed the sentiment of collaboration and mentorship in her research. “Much of my research has been co-authored with students,” she said. “Some of my most gratifying collaborations have been with students who are often publishing research for the first time. It is affirming to be rewarded for conducting timely, pertinent research on health disparities related to issues such as COVID-19, Black maternal mortality, BIPOC women navigating academia, and environmental injustice.”

CSCU Chancellor Terrence Cheng praised the dedication of faculty members like DeLuca and Njoku, stating, “CSCU faculty’s dedication and commitment to the success and betterment of our students is unmatched. This year’s award recipients have made incredible contributions to our institutions and academic disciplines and have made a lasting impact on our students’ lives. I congratulate each of the recipients on this well-deserved recognition and wish them continued success as they serve as leaders in and out of the classroom.”


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