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Wilkes University Recognizes Faculty and Staff With 2021 President’s Awards for Excellence

by Gabrielle D'Amico

Wilkes University faculty and staff members were honored with the 2021 President’s Awards for Excellence. The awards, presented by Wilkes President Greg Cant on Aug. 25, recognize individuals who reflect excellence in their work based on the University’s core values. This is the sixth year for the awards program.

For the first time, the President’s Award for Excellence in Innovation was presented to the faculty and staff body of the University. This is in recognition for the ways Wilkes employees have problem-solved, thought creatively and allowed Wilkes to carry out its mission of educating students regardless of the circumstances. Wilkes employees were honored during a special event on Friday, Sept. 24 which ended with a lighted art installation outside of Weckesser Hall.

William Terzaghi, professor of biology, was the recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship for his efforts in advancing knowledge through discovery and research to better educate Wilkes constituents. Terzaghi was recognized for the scholarship he has provided to generations of students who are preparing for careers in medicine and scientific research. Terzaghi’s research emphasis is in plant genomics and bioinformatics.

Jeanne Rabel, advising coordinator in University College, was honored with the President’s Award for Excellence in Community for her efforts in collaborating with others on campus with mutual respect to foster a sense of belonging. As immediate past chair of the University Staff Advisory Council, Rabel served as a staff advocate throughout the pandemic, effectively and respectfully communicating University news and ensuring employees felt understood and valued.

Grace Surdovel, faculty of practice in the School of Education, was honored with the President’s Award for Excellence in Diversity for her efforts in embracing differences and uniqueness through sincerity, awareness, inclusion and sensitivity. Surdovel compiled and published 23 stories of lesbian and queer sisters of the Catholic church and their journey to self-acceptance and love in the anthology, “Love Tenderly.” Surdovel was recognized for embodying the very values of Wilkes University.

David Biever, assistant head football coach, received the President’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring for his efforts in nurturing individuals to understand and act on their abilities while challenging them to achieve great things. Biever was recognized for mentoring Wilkes student-athletes, creating an environment of inclusion and serving as the ultimate example of what it means to Be Colonel through encouragement and motivation.

University faculty or staff members can nominate anyone in the Wilkes community for the awards. The nominations are shared with senior administration for feedback, with the final recipients determined by the president.

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