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Heather Huckins

Distinguished PAT (Professional, Administrative, and Technical Staff) Award

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Patricia Cantor

Award for Excellence in Faculty Service

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Bonnie Bechard

Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award

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Mary Campbell

Patricia Storer PAT (Professional, Administrative, and Technical Staff) Award

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Jennifer Frank

Distinguished Operating Staff Award

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Janis Bass

Distinguished Adjunct Teaching Award

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Warren Tomkiewicz

Distinguished Teaching Award

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Naomi Kline

Award for Distinguished Scholarship

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Terri Johnson

Sara Jayne Steen Operating Staff Service Award

David Starbuck

February 12th, 2010 by Bridget
"I like connecting with students. They are engaged, inquisitive, and want to be part of the research process.”

"I like connecting with students. They are engaged, inquisitive, and want to be part of the research process.”

Award for Distinguished Scholarship

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Sociology
Archaeologist/Photographer/Dreamer

David Starbuck has learned that when you are an archaeologist and a professor, sooner or later people will compare you to Indiana Jones. And while he doesn’t often find himself trotting the globe in search of treasure while being pursued by nefarious rivals, his work has its share of thrills.

For more than three decades, Starbuck has been leading excavations throughout the northeastern United States, training hundreds of students in the techniques of archaeology. These excavations have shed light on the lives of the Canterbury Shakers as well as on late 18th century soldiers and officers of the battlefields of north­ern New York.

Working under a hot sun and moving heavy shovelfuls of dirt can be grueling, but Starbuck loves what he does.“I enjoy being outdoors, the thrill of discovery, and the opportunity to share it with people,” Starbuck explains. And share he does: Starbuck’s work has been featured on The History Channel, The Learning Channel, National Public Radio, and in National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, and Discover. He has also authored more than a dozen monographs and more than a hundred journal articles and papers.

Perhaps his greatest satisfaction comes from sharing his passion for archaeology with his students.“I wouldn’t want to do research all the time. I like connecting with students,” says Starbuck, who has taught at Plymouth State since 1993. “They are engaged, inquisitive, and want to be part of the research process.”

In addition to the excavations in New York and New Hampshire, Starbuck and his students have conducted archaeological and historical research on Loch Lomond, Scotland, where his mother’s ancestors lived. “That’s another kind of thrill, digging up your own ancestors’ artifacts,” Starbuck notes. “To be on my ancestors’ land with my students, and to try and understand what their lives were like, is very gratifying.”

Most recently, Starbuck has been digging closer to home: his family’s farm in the Adiron­dacks, which has been in the Starbuck family since the 1790s. “For years, I’ve wondered if there would ever be something worth digging up at the farm,” he says. A recent renovation project revealed a large dump containing numerous pairs of shoes, scraps of leather, glass bottles, and other artifacts, many of which are currently in the archaeology lab in Rounds Hall. With more renovations planned, Starbuck is excited to see what else he’ll dig up. It may not be the stuff of a blockbuster movie franchise, but that’s okay with him. “A lot of research can seem so distant from our own lives,” says Starbuck.

“But this is relevant to my own life, and that’s a cool thing.”

Gary McCool

February 12th, 2010 by Bridget
“My involvement with (Common Ground) allows students to see me as an engaged citizen who also wants to make the world a better place.”

“My involvement with (Common Ground) allows students to see me as an engaged citizen who also wants to make the world a better place.”

Award for Excellence in Faculty Service

Academic Reference Librarian and Coordinator of Reference Services
Political and environmental activist/Singer/Antiques Enthusiast

You don’t have to be a wizard at time management to pack more than a century of committee service into three decades. You just have to be service-oriented, like Gary McCool, reference librarian and Coordinator of Reference Services at Lamson Library and Learning Commons.

Since he came to PSU in 1978, McCool has served on 25 campus committees, including 30 years on the Council of Teacher Education, 17 years on the Executive Council, six years on the Saul O Sidore Lecture Series Committee, and five years on the University Environmental Committee. In addition, over the course of five years, McCool coordinated an extensive project to review and update the Faculty Handbook and Bylaws.

McCool’s long and diverse record of service to the University is rooted in his belief in shared governance, a partnership among faculty, staff, students, and administration in the governance of an institution. “If governance is really going to be shared, faculty members have to be on com­mittees and help make decisions that govern the university,” he says. By serving the University in this way, McCool notes, “I truly feel a part of Plymouth State.”

In addition to his involvement with University committees, McCool has served as an advisor to Common Ground, an environmental and social justice student organization, since its founding in 1982. “Common Ground focuses mainly on environmental issues, but it has also been a venue for students to learn about broader social issues,” notes McCool, who adds that his involvement with the group has allowed students to see him “as an engaged citizen who also wants to make the world a better place.”

McCool’s determination to make the world a better place led him to work to prevent a New Hampshire utility from purchasing a share of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. He brought several cases to the New Hampshire Supreme Court—each time without legal representation. While McCool won some of these cases, he was unable to prevent the Seabrook purchase, which drove the utility into bankruptcy. Following the bankruptcy proceedings, McCool ran for elec­tion to the new board of directors, and served on the board for a decade to help rebuild the utility. “It’s a very different utility now,” says McCool, who adds that the experience “showed me that there were some things I was interested in enough to become informed, find out how I could make a difference, and then follow through.”

Making a difference is something McCool does every day in his work, which includes researching and purchasing print and electronic resources for the library’s collection, conducting course-related library instruction, and help­ing individuals find the resources they need. For McCool, it’s the personal interaction that makes his job not only enjoyable, but fulfilling. “It’s very rewarding to help people navigate our resources, get the information they need, and watch them leave happy.”

Kathryn Melanson

February 12th, 2010 by Bridget
"My life has come full circle—I started kindergarten here, and here I am now. It was just meant to be.”

"My life has come full circle—I started kindergarten here, and here I am now. It was just meant to be.”

Distinguished Operating Staff Award

Administrative Assistant, Department of Social Science
Plymouth native/Bruins fan/”Mammy” of four

Kathryn Melanson remembers running around the Plymouth State campus as a kinder­gartener. “I went to Plymouth Elementary School, in the Speare building,” she explains. “The Green was my playground.”

Melanson has lived in the Plymouth area all of her life, except for her first—and only—year at Champlain College in Burlington, VT. “I liked Burlington, but I didn’t feel like I fit into the traditional college student mold,” she says. After leaving Burlington, she returned to her home­town, and shortly thereafter married and settled down in Holderness.

She started her professional career in banking before embarking on an 11-year stint as a legal secretary. In 1995, Melanson returned to the Plymouth State campus as an adminis­trative assistant in the Department of Social Science, a post she has held ever since. Among her responsibilities are managing the department’s budget and course scheduling. “We have such a large department, so scheduling the courses and finding the right times and the right rooms for everyone can be difficult,” Melanson says. “There’s some creative juggling involved to keep everyone happy.”

Melanson has proven herself to be a capable juggler, both on the job and in her personal life. For four years, she took courses part-time while working full-time and raising her two children. Her hard work paid off when, in 2000, she earned her associate’s degree.

Among her favorite aspects of her position are the people with whom she works. Melanson recalls the time when her department, upon learning that her sister who was living in Florida had been diagnosed with cancer, chipped in and purchased phone cards for her. “They were a great support system,” she said.“They’re really kind, considerate people.”

Losing her sister to cancer was a defining moment in Melanson’s life, one that ultimately inspired her to volunteer for Keeping You, Me, and Memories Alive, a Plymouth-based nonprofit organization that raises funds for people with cancer and their families living in the Plymouth area.“Volunteering started out as a way for me to work through my grief,” says Melanson, who has been president of the organization since 2006. “Now, it’s just part of me.”

Another important part of Melanson is family, including her husband of 27 years, their two children, and their four grandchildren, whom she sees nearly every day. “Being with them is so refreshing,” she says. “We have a lot of fun together.”

When she considers her life and her career thus far, Melanson feels a great sense of satisfac­tion. She particularly enjoys the fact that she is working on a campus that meant so much to her as a child. “My life has come full circle—I started kindergarten here, and here I am now,” she says. “It was just meant to be.”

Marcel Lebrun

February 12th, 2010 by Bridget
“I approach my research as problem solving. I think, ‘How can I create assessment tools so parents and teachers can recognize the warning signs and address them before the student resorts to violence?’”

“I approach my research as problem solving. I think, ‘How can I create assessment tools so parents and teachers can recognize the warning signs and address them before the student resorts to violence?’”

Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award

Associate Professor of Education and Special Education
World traveler/High achiever/Adventurer

Marcel Lebrun is the first to admit he has way too much energy. Fortunately, none of it goes to waste.

Lebrun arrived at PSU in 2002 with a résumé that included two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree, a doctorate, 23 years of classroom teaching, and a decade of counseling experience. In the years since, he has developed three new certificate programs in the College of Graduate Studies—in positive behavior inter­ventions and supports, learning disabilities, and emotional behavior disorders—as well as a fifth-year master’s program in special education. Then there’s his prolific research, which focuses on the link between adolescent depression and violence and has yielded three books, with two others slated for publication in late 2008 and in 2009. As if this weren’t enough, he also teaches a full course load each semester.

It’s a demanding schedule, but you won’t hear Lebrun complain. “I love what I do,” he says. And while some may see his chosen field of research as depressing or discouraging, Lebrun accentuates the positive.“I approach my research as problem solving,” he says. “I think, ‘How can I create assessment tools so parents and teachers can recognize the warning signs and address them before the student resorts to violence?’”

Lebrun’s boundless energy and passion for his work are evident in his teaching. In the class­room, he notes, “I get to perform and inspire.” Whether it’s through his storytelling—drawn from his own wealth of experience teaching throughout the world—or role-playing exercises, Lebrun strives to prepare his students for the real world. For one student in particular, Lebrun’s lessons may have saved a life.“One of my former students was confronted by a kid with a gun during the first week of school,” he explains. “He knew what to do because we had practiced how to deal with kids who have weapons or who are physically aggres­sive. He had a set of skills and knowledge because of what we had done. That’s pretty powerful.”

For Lebrun, teaching skills and sharing knowledge is only part of what he enjoys about his job.“I love the fact that I know all of my students,” he says. Lebrun credits the small size of PSU for this.“They drop by [my office], we’ll chat after class, we’ll go for coffee … When I taught at the University of Manitoba, there were 28,000 stu­dents. I didn’t have the same kind of relationship with my students there as I do at Plymouth.”

Perhaps the greatest reward of teaching for Lebrun is the fact that he is able to help his students launch their own fulfilling careers in education. “I’ve had great opportunities, and as a teacher, I get to pay it forward to a lot of people,” he says. “And that’s incredibly gratifying.”

Jay Moskowitz

February 12th, 2010 by Bridget
“I’m here to teach about self-discovery, the creative process, and the positive intent and actions we need to create an engaged, compas­sionate world.”

“I’m here to teach about self-discovery, the creative process, and the positive intent and actions we need to create an engaged, compas­sionate world.”

Distinguished Adjunct Teaching Award

Adjunct Faculty, Department of Art
Plymouth State alumnus/Musician and songwriter/Justice of the peace

An important part of teaching, Jay Moskowitz contends, is creating the right environment for learning. “It’s important to provide a safe, respect­ful, and joyful environment in which students feel comfortable in expressing themselves,” he says.

Moskowitz is proof that the right learning environment can make all the difference. When his first year of college left him uncertain that the college track was for him, he dropped out. He spent the next two decades in various trades and professions, among them factory worker, street musician, paralegal, and private investigator. “If an opportunity presented itself and it looked like it was in a positive direction, I was there,” he says. When the opportunity to be a substitute science teacher at a local middle school presented itself, Moskowitz was there. It didn’t take long for him to realize he had found his niche. “I realized that I loved being in the classroom,” he recalls.

Inspired to return to school to earn his teaching degree, Moskowitz enrolled at Plymouth State, where he majored in elementary educa­tion and minored in art. At age 45, he earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education with certification to teach kindergarten through 8th grade. Without missing a beat, Moskowitz enrolled in PSU’s graduate studies program.

After receiving his Master of Education degree with an integrated arts option, he made the transition from student to adjunct faculty mem­ber, teaching in the education department and in interdisciplinary studies.

Over the past decade, Moskowitz has taught courses in the art department, the educa­tion department, and within interdisciplinary studies, as well as supervising both elementary education and art student teachers. Outside of PSU, he trained as an elementary-level Montessori teacher and cofounded Bodhi Tree Montessori School in Rumney, NH, where he served as a director and taught 1st through 4th grades over the course of five years.

Moskowitz’s teaching approach has many influences, from his eclectic career to the teach­ings of Maria Montessori and world-renowned Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, who bestowed upon Moskowitz the dharma name Benevolent Teacher of the Heart at a retreat. It’s an appro­priate name for Moskowitz, who sees his job as more than teaching course content to students. He says, “I’m here to teach about self-discovery, the creative process, and the positive intent and actions we need to create an engaged, compas­sionate world.”

Carol Kuzdeba

February 12th, 2010 by Bridget
“My work gives me the opportunity to listen to, understand, and help people. It’s not just about relaying policy; it’s about connecting with people.”

“My work gives me the opportunity to listen to, understand, and help people. It’s not just about relaying policy; it’s about connecting with people.”

Distinguished Professional, Administrative, and Technical Staff Award

Assistant Director, Human Resources for Benefits and Employee Relations
Beagle rescuer/Avid walker/Polka dancer

There aren’t many people on campus who don’t know Carol Kuzdeba. From the time she joined human resources in 1992, Kuzdeba has been one of the first people most new employees meet during their first days and weeks at PSU.

As assistant director of human resources for benefits and employee relations, a large portion of Kuzdeba’s time is devoted to reviewing the University’s benefits package with faculty and staff. “People sometimes ask me ‘Do you ever get tired of doing benefit overviews?’” Kuzdeba says. “I don’t. I love what I do—I get to meet new people and talk about a benefits package that’s easy to brag about.”

But meeting with new employees for benefits reviews is just one facet of Kuzdeba’s work. Another is managing employee relations—from simply listening to an employee who needs a confidant to collaborating with an employee and a supervisor to develop a performance improve­ment plan. Kuzdeba appreciates PSU’s approach to employee relations, which she characterizes as “respectful and humane. If someone is having a difficult time in their position, we do all we can to get them back on track.”

While she loves what she does, a career in human resources was not in Kuzdeba’s plan. A member of the Plymouth State class of 1971, she earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary edu­cation and taught for six years in the Nashua area. One of the highlights of her teaching career was cofounding the first after school care program in New Hampshire elementary schools. She helped direct the program for three years before making a career change to human resources—a change prompted by her need for health care benefits.

Her first human resources position was at a large company in Nashua. “I loved the company,” she says. “They trained me in human resources and financed my master’s degree in counseling.” But when a merger resulted in mass layoffs, it fell to Kuzdeba to deliver the news to employees. “For two years, that was my job—laying people off.”

Wanting a more positive work environment, Kuzdeba looked at numerous human resources positions, including the one she ultimately accepted at Plymouth State. She credits her long tenure to PSU’s close-knit community. “I love the people,” she says.“When you work in a place that has 11,000 employees, you don’t get to know them like you can here.”

Over the years, Kuzdeba’s love of people, cou­pled with her experience in teaching and counsel­ing, has earned her the trust and admiration of her colleagues. For Kuzdeba, that is a reward in itself. “My work gives me the opportunity to listen to, understand, and help people,” she says. “It’s not just about relaying policy; it’s about connecting with people.”

Elizabeth Cox

February 12th, 2010 by Bridget
“It’s important for my students to see me work; I have my own way of working, my own struggles with character that they need to see. And it’s important for me to feed my creativity. Besides, it’s fun.”

“It’s important for my students to see me work; I have my own way of working, my own struggles with character that they need to see. And it’s important for me to feed my creativity. Besides, it’s fun.”

Distinguished Teaching Award

Director of Theatre, Associate Professor of Theatre
Actor/Director/Signer

Elizabeth Cox loves words. “I love the way  they sound, the way they look on a page, all the different ways you can use your body to portray a word,” she says.

Fostering her students’ appreciation for words is one of Cox’s many goals as associate professor of theatre and director of theatre at PSU. A member of the faculty since 1995, Cox teaches acting, voice and diction, stage dialects, and other theatre courses. She also teaches courses in American Sign Language for the language and linguistics department, an endeavor she sees as being closely linked to her work in theatre.“Sign is about conceptualizing thoughts into a pictorial language,” she says. “As with acting, there are many physical nuances that indicate emotion and meaning.”

Cox’s teaching responsibilities reflect her own diverse background, which encompasses speech pathology, counseling, and working with the deaf. An actor since high school, Cox earned her bachelor’s in speech and dramatic art from the University of Missouri. She then earned her master’s in rehabilitation counseling with a con­centration in counseling for the deaf and hearing impaired.

While she began her professional career working with the deaf and hearing impaired, she realized after a few years that something was missing from her life. “I loved my work, but I wasn’t feeding my creativity,” Cox says. Com­pelled to return to theatre, she enrolled in the MFA acting program at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, where she was also a graduate teaching assistant and instructor in the communication and theatre department.

As an instructor, Cox strives to make her acting lab a nurturing environment in which her students can make a psycho-physical connec­tion to their characters, and understand and gain insight into themselves prior to taking on a char­acter. “These insights allow them to make bolder choices in characterizations,” she says.

Cox knows about bold choices: among her most recent roles at PSU was the volatile Martha in Edward Albee’s emotionally charged drama Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? “It was fun working with Paul [Mroczka, associate professor of theatre] and two students,” she says of Woolf. “But it was a tough play and a demanding role.”

Balancing her teaching and directing respon­sibilities with her acting—not to mention family life—can be a challenge, but for Cox, the benefits are manifold. “It’s important for my students to see me work; I have my own way of working, my own struggles with character that they need to see,” says Cox, who also performs professionally with area theatre companies. “And it’s important for me to feed my creativity. Besides, it’s fun.”

In Plymouth Magazine

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Remembering Gene Savage ’58

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