Wilkes University Faculty and Staff Recognized with President’s Awards for Excellence

by Web Services
President Greg Cant with the recipients of the 2022 President's Awards for Excellence

President Greg Cant honored six members of the Wilkes University faculty and staff with the President’s Awards for Excellence during the opening of school Convocation ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2022. The awards represent the University’s five core values: innovation, scholarship, diversity, mentorship and community.

The President’s Award for Excellence in Innovation was presented to Donald Mencer, professor of chemistry, and Marie Roke-Thomas, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, who, together, made possible new academic offerings in cannabis studies. The pair secured $350,000 in state funding to purchase state-of-the-art equipment and to provide critical services for the broader community.

The President’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship was presented to Matthew Finkenbinder, associate professor of biology, for furthering the University’s mission, vision and goals. Finkenbinder has publicly promoted the University and associated programs, and contributes greatly to the professional success of students with his projects and research, regardless of their life paths.

The President’s Award for Excellence in Diversity was presented to Kimberly Niezgoda, director of the English Language Center and coordinator of the teaching English as a second language program, who, for the past 16 years, has embraced individual differences and uniqueness through sincerity, awareness and inclusion. Niezgoda’s leadership in this area has resulted in the infusion of students from all over the world into our campus community, engaging students, staff and faculty as part of the cultural curriculum.

The President’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship was presented to Prahlad Murthy, professor of environmental engineering, for his dedication to mentoring and advising hundreds of students spanning three decades. In addition, Murthy’s philosophy of student mentoring and advising has served as a model for all faculty on campus. His passion for sharing information about his knowledge of engineering fields goes beyond campus, including alumni and the community.

The President’s Award for Excellence in Community Building was presented to Carol Nicholas, director of the Luzerne County SHINE (Schools and Homes in Education) program at Wilkes University for her tireless work in support of at-risk students in the county. The SHINE program provides quality STEM-based afterschool programming to hundreds of local students each week. During the pandemic, Nicholas successfully developed a system of delivering over 100 boxes of food to the doorsteps of SHINE families each week, exemplifying what it means to be part of an institution that cares about community.

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