Three College Human Ecology faculty and two staff members won State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence during the 2020-2021 academic year. The statewide award recognizes faculty and staff at SUNY colleges who have consistently demonstrated professional achievements that sustain intellectual vibrancy, advance the boundaries of knowledge, provide the highest quality of instruction, and serve the public good.
Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities recipient Tamar Kushnir is exemplified for her outstanding research contributions to the department, the College and the University. She conducts creative research on cognitive development that is of real-world relevance. Her research examines mechanisms of learning and conceptual change in young children, with a focus on how early learning accounts for the variability in our beliefs about the social, moral and psychological causes of action. Her primary methods are behavioral experiments with children and adults, with a focus on early childhood. She also takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding human cognition, drawing on ideas from philosophy, computation (including machine learning and AI), and socio-cultural theories as well as core ideas from constructivist approaches to cognitive development.
Among other distinctions, Kushnir has produced 70 publications, with approximately half of them being peer-reviewed journal articles, has over 3,600 citations, and has been highly successful in securing grants from federal and private funding agencies. She and her students have made numerous conference presentations domestically and internationally, in the cognitive development field as well as the general psychology field.
“Given her outstanding contributions to research, Dr. Kushnir truly deserves this prestigious award and recognition,” said Rachel Dunifon, the Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Dean.
Honored with the Award for Excellence in Teaching, Human Development Associate Professor Jane Mendle has accrued several honors and distinctions for her teaching, advising, mentoring, and scholarly record. The SUNY award recognizes Mendle for incorporating innovative assignments in her courses and striving to connect with each of her students, even in large lecture courses. Students remark on her ability to clearly explain difficult concepts in an engaging manner. Mendle joined the human development department in 2011 and developed new courses on developmental psychopathology. Her courses quickly became a cornerstone of the human development major and grew to be among the most popular in the department. Shea also designed an advanced undergraduate seminar, Psychopathology in Great Works of Literature, which uniquely integrates well-known works of fiction and poetry with current empirical findings and theoretical accounts of psychological disorders. In 2017, she was named the inaugural Stephen H. Weiss Junior Provost Teaching Fellow, Cornell’s highest teaching honor.
“Dr. Mendle gracefully balances autonomy and scaffolding as she tasks students with broadening their knowledge and developing their critical thinking skills,” said Dunifon. “She elevates the standards for exemplary teaching and mentoring, inspiring not only the students fortunate to have her as an instructor, but also her colleagues who aspire to achieve the same level of creativity, innovations and caring that infuses her teaching.”
Margret Frey, the Vincent V.C. Woo Professor in Fiber Science and Apparel Design, was honored with the Award for Excellence in Faculty Service. Having served in many roles for the department, college, university, and outside of Cornell, she exemplifies this distinction. Frey has served as the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Director of Graduate Studies, mentor for junior faculty, interim department chair, faculty search committee chair, member of the committee on academic status, academic integrity hearing board chair, and member of the educational policy committee. She was also Senior Associate Dean of Undergraduate Affairs for the College.
Frey developed freshman success courses designed to build cohorts within majors and introduce students to advising, mental health, tutoring, planning and career placement resources available at the College and the University. She partnered with the computer services group and the University of Michigan to launch HEART, the Human Ecology Academic Reporting Tool. Frey served Cornell University as a member of the committee on graduate school, athletics admissions review, Title IX hearing board, the Cornell University Council administrative board and is a faculty fellow for the Balch Hall women’s residence, the Atkinson Center for Sustainable Future, and the Cornell Institute for Fashion and Fiber Innovation. She also chaired the Cornell student experience initiative working group. Frey has made her mark outside of Cornell, as well. She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science at North Carolina State University, served the American Chemical Society in many roles, the Fiber Society, and reviewed tenure and promotion packages for various universities.
Carol Parker won the Award for Excellence in Professional Service. In addition to her role as Nutrition and Health Program Leader for Cornell University Cooperative Extension – NYC Programs, she serves as the Metro Area Regional Coordinator, which includes Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Employed by Cornell since 1990, Parker’s impact on the Nutrition and Health program and CUCE-NYC is profound. She has built a strong and diverse team of community educators and a vibrant nutrition education program in New York City.
She serves in leadership roles representing New York State Cooperative Extension on national steering committees and conference planning action groups, including: the National Urban Extension Conference Action Team (NUEC); the workgroup that developed the paraprofessional training program, “Navigating for Success;” and the Cornell Center for Health Equity. Parker has also partnered effectively with Ithaca-based faculty in research, demonstrating the power of engaging paraprofessional educators to provide effective community-based nutrition education. She has also been recognized nationally.
“Carol is committed to the mission of providing the highest quality nutrition education in NYC that promotes, strengthens, and guides the adoption of healthy behaviors to enhance the wellness of individuals, families and communities,” said Jennifer Tiffany, the executive director of Cornell University Cooperative Extension – NYC Programs.
Honored with the Award for Excellence in Classified Service, Marianne Arcangeli has been employed at Cornell since 2001, most recently as the Graduate Field Assistant in the Department of Human Development. In this role, she launched a number of initiatives to improve efficiency in administering the human development graduate program. She streamlined record-keeping, single-handedly transitioning from paper-based to electronic records.
Arcangeli also improved efforts to reach out to prospective graduate applicants from under-represented backgrounds and implemented a weekly “grad digest” email to students, bundling relevant information (from job announcements to training events and resources). She is recognized for identifying problems before they occur and putting solutions into place that will not just solve the issue at hand but prevent similar problems in the future. In addition, she provides excellent service to graduate students who approach her with questions not just about formal characteristics of the program but also about mentorship issues and managing physical and mental health concerns.
“Marianne is empathetic, warm and supportive,” said Dunifon. “She unfailingly connects students to the resources that will help them succeed in the program. This award recognizes individuals who provide superior service to its students and the community at large, and Marianne exemplifies this distinction.”