MIDDLETOWN – SUNY Orange professors Heidi Weber and Edward Leonard have been named recipients of the 2017 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching while their colleague Michael Strmiska has been presented with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.
The Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence, the highest honors that can be bestowed upon community college employees by the SUNY system, are presented annually to faculty and staff in six categories: faculty service, librarianship, professional service, scholarship and creative activities, teaching, and classified service.
“The many faculty and staff honored with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence are the best of our best, having ensured student success as they educate and mentor students with innovative approaches to academic instruction, infuse curricula with applied learning opportunities, adapt best practices from throughout SUNY, and much more,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. “It is an honor to recognize the excellent work of Edward, Heidi and Michael at SUNY Orange, and that of their colleagues across SUNY. Congratulations to all of this year’s recipients.”
The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes consistently superior teaching at the graduate, undergraduate, or professional level in keeping with SUNY’s commitment to providing its students with instruction of the highest quality. The primary criterion is skill in teaching. Additionally, consideration is also given to sound scholarship (usually demonstrated through publications or artistic productions), outstanding service to students, as well as service to the State University and to the campus.
Weber, who will serve as the featured faculty speaker at Thursday’s Commencement ceremony, is concluding her 10th year on the Global Studies faculty at SUNY Orange. She teaches history and military history courses, is active in the College’s shared governance system and has been a driving force in the development of a Holocaust Remembrance center on the Middletown campus.
Weber earned her doctorate degree in American military history from Kent State University. Her specialty is the application of total warfare in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina in 1864-1865. She has previously been selected as a Fellow in the United States Military Academy Summer Seminar in Military History. She also gives lectures and presentations at history conferences and to local groups, and has been published in a variety of history journals and books.
Leonard first joined the SUNY Orange staff in 2002 as an adjunct instructor in the Massage Therapy Department. In August 2010, he became the academic coordinator of clinical education for the Physical Therapist Assistant Department. He teaches both general and advanced physical therapist assistant program courses, as well as Contemporary Practice for the PTA and Kinesiology. He is active in campus committees and serves as the advisor to the student wrestling club.
He earned both a bachelor’s degree and his transitional doctorate degree in physical therapy from SUNY Upstate Medical University. He also has a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from Cornell University, with a minor in exercise science from Ithaca College (both earned with honors). Leonard’s clinical experience has included direct patient care in acute care hospital settings, out-patient clinics, acute/sub-acute rehabilitation, assistive living/long term nursing facilities and home care. Administratively, he has served as a rehabilitation supervisor/director and center coordinator of clinical education in various facilities in Rockland and Orange counties. He maintains his clinical experience by providing services for neurological home-bound patients.
The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities recognizes consistently outstanding scholarly and creative productivity conducted in addition to teaching. Honorees must demonstrate a sustained record of having work published in research publications, along with a record of presenting at national and/or international conferences. Additionally, a record of excellence in creative activity appropriate for the specific field or discipline is required.
Since joining the Global Studies Department in 2008, Strmiska has taught the courses World History To 1500, World History Since 1500, Modern China and Japan, and Modern India and Southeast Asia. This past academic year, he chaired the College’s “Global Initiative: Islands” program, a yearlong interdisciplinary celebration and investigation of the culture, history, art, music and politics of various islands of the world.
During his career, Strmiska has presented academic papers at conferences in the United States, Canada, Britain, Belgium, Lithuania, Czech Republic, and Greece, and published scholarly articles in such journals as “Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions,” “The Journal of Religious History,” and “The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies.” Strmiska also serves on the editorial board of “The Pomegranate.” He has also written a book “Modern Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives” based in part upon research carried out in Iceland and Lithuania.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College, a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate degree in religious studies from Boston University. He has received a pair of Fulbright Scholarships, one to study Old Norse literature and mythology at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik and the second to teach history and humanities at Siauliai University in Lithuania.