Outstanding Plymouth State University Employees Recognized

Plymouth State recently honored faculty and staff whose work and commitment have distinguished both themselves and the University. Awardees were recognized after being nominated by colleagues who detailed their co-workers’ outstanding accomplishments and service.

“Last year was one of the most challenging in Plymouth State University’s 150-year history, and all faculty and staff members have earned our admiration for pitching in, in so many different ways, to keep PSU moving ahead,” said President Donald Birx. “The University deeply appreciates all who are making it possible for our students to succeed, and we are especially pleased to acknowledge our 2021 award winners.”

2021 Faculty Awards

Cheryl Coker, PhD, professor of physical therapy, received the Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award.

Coker is a motor learning specialist who draws from her experiences as a teacher, coach, and athlete to assist practitioners in putting theory into practice. She has given over 100 presentations throughout the US and internationally, and has authored numerous journal articles, book chapters, and the textbook Motor Learning and Control for Practitioners, which has been well received for its applications-based approach. Coker has served in various leadership capacities at the state, district, and national level and is a fellow of both the research council of the Society of Health and Physical Educators and of the North American Society of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance Professionals.

“Dr. Coker has been an outstanding teacher in the doctor of physical therapy program since its inception,” said Professor Sean Collins. “She effectively engages students with a variety of high quality and thoughtful learning activities that ultimately extend well beyond the course objectives.”

Rebecca Noel, PhD, professor of history, received both the Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award and the Excellence in Faculty Service Award.

Noel teaches courses on United States history, including the history of childhood and schooling, the antebellum period and the Civil War, health and illness, the American West, and methods and careers for history students. Her research on the origins of school health in the early 1800s is the focus of her popular New Hampshire Humanities lecture, “The History of Gym Class,” and of her book in development, Save our Scholars: The Quest for Health in American Schools, under contract with Johns Hopkins University Press.

Noel’s service includes her current roles as coordinator of the History and Social Studies Education Program and co-leader of the Humanities, Cultures, and Communication Academic Unit. Her professional service includes committee work for the Organization of American Historians (OAH), New England Historical Association, and the History of Education Society.

“Dr. Noel is a real champion of Plymouth State students from every major, and she treats each and every one with a dedication that they recognize is a genuine love of teaching that blends into the realms of advising,” says Professor John Krueckeberg. “I can’t think of a better teacher on our campus who reaches so broadly across the campus population and so deeply into the field of their specialization. In addition, she has done significant service in many arenas around our campus, in her regional communities, and across the nation.”

Sarah Parrish, PhD, assistant professor and coordinator of art history, received the Transformative Teaching Award.

Parrish’s research interests center on modern and contemporary American craft, but her teaching spans global visual and material culture from prehistory to the present. Her curricular innovation has been recognized by the National Endowment of the Humanities and the College Art Association of America. At PSU, she has helped shape Cluster initiatives such as the Ascent and Integrative Capstone programs. In the community, she serves on the board of directors of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen and the Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network (WREN).

“Dr. Parrish has been a monumental force in the shaping of my career as an educator, artist, art historian, and curator,” says Denis Mwaura ’18. “She advocates for students, fostering their potential accordingly to their interests, be they artistic or otherwise. Part of what makes Dr. Parrish noteworthy is her advocacy for marginalized students. She embodies the quintessential educator that fosters and amplifies her students’ creative and intellectual ambitions.”

Amy Ueland, MEd, teaching lecturer and laboratory coordinator/technical specialist in the biology program, received the Distinguished Teaching Lecturer Award.

Ueland began as a teaching lecturer for the Department of Biological Sciences in 2001. In 2007, she became the teaching technical specialist for the department and has continued teaching on an on-going basis.

Ueland’s interest in the history of science and diseases, as well as anatomy and physiology, has steered her to her current teaching of Anatomy and Physiology I & II and Plagues & Peoples. She has also been instrumental in helping to re-develop and re-design labs for Human A&P and Human Biology, providing students with more hands-on, inquiry-driven learning experiences. Additionally, she played a key role in the restructuring of curriculum for non-major biology courses.

“Amy is a natural teacher, and she has the greatest rapport with students in the Boyd Science Center because she cultivates it daily,” said Professor Leonard Reitsma. “She has willingly taken on new courses to service the needs of biology, despite having many duties as the tech specialist.”

Clarissa M. Uttley, PhD, professor and program coordinator, Curriculum and Instruction, Academic Unit Leader of the Education Academic Unit, received the Distinguished Scholarship Award.

Uttley is a certified pet therapy handler, an equine massage therapist, and is currently completing a program in animal nutrition. The field of Human-Animal Interaction is the focus of her scholarly activities and she consistently explores opportunities to disseminate her work to benefit others. She has published articles, co-authored book chapters, and presented at national and international conferences. Her recently published book chapters explore adolescents across three distinct levels of relationships, from establishing a traditional relationship, grieving the loss of a relationship, and building relationships with a pet as a form of healing.

“Dr. Uttley is an ethical, rigorous, and thoughtful professional who strives to demonstrate excellence in all she does,” said Associate Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy Stephen Flynn. “She works tirelessly to mentor student researchers, collaborate with colleagues on scholarly projects, and frequently serves PSU as an expert on a number of research-oriented topics.”

2021 Staff Awards

Joan Andresen, program support assistant, PSU Counseling Center, received the Distinguished Operating Staff Award.

Andresen’s comprehensive knowledge of the Counseling Center includes all office and service details. She has the vital responsibility of screening to see which cases need to be seen right away. She is highly skilled at using the Center’s electronic medical records system and manages this confidential information with the utmost care and attention.

“While Joan is extremely knowledgeable, it is how she carries herself with that knowledge and responsibility that is most impressive,” said Dr. Robert Orf, director of the Center. “The Counseling Center can get very hectic and busy. Joan manages it all with grace and compassion every day, which she shows to both students as well as the staff. Joan is unflappable, and no matter how many emergencies or appointments we might have happening simultaneously she performs her duties to the highest standard, all with a smile on her face and warmth in her heart.”

Kayla Gaudette, director of operations, Health and Human Performance (HHP), received the Distinguished Professional, Administrative, and Technical Staff Award.

Gaudette’s many contributions include reaching out across campus to support many facets of the work done at PSU. She is involved in the PSU CoLab through her work as a Tackling a Wicked Problem teaching lecturer and in supporting HHP Teaching Lecturers, and she served as a participant/facilitator in the first two sessions of the Cluster Pedagogy Learning Community. She embodies the whole student approach, leading the HHP Team in providing support both academically and personally.

“We have been inspired, both professionally and personally, by Kayla’s heartfelt approach to leadership,” said Assistant Professor of Athletic Training Elisabeth Rosencrum. “Kayla is brave, takes risks in the right places, shows compassion and vulnerability in the right places, and leads with curiosity, empathy, and kindness. She is a shining star and a visionary and creates activation energy in our shared goals.”

Amy Moll, assistant academic student advocate, Office of the Academic Student Advocate, received the Patricia Storer Award.

Moll is an integral part of the University’s Frost House Student Services. Her work is done largely behind the scenes, bridging the worlds of Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Finance. She serves on Academic Affairs’ Retention and Persistence Working Group and plays a key role in the operation of the CARE process, which provides holistic intervention and resource referral to connect students to appropriate campus and local resources supporting their success at PSU. She connects with students and many parents, providing reassurance and necessary information on questions of academic success and financial obligations.

“Frost House, with its intersection of academics, campus life, and financial issues, embodies the Cluster vision,” said Academic Student Advocate David Zehr. “We are all enriched and our jobs made easier by Amy’s presence, her intelligence, and her desire to see the very best outcome for every PSU student.”

Kara Russell, interim executive assistant, Communications, Enrollment, & Student Life (CESLife), received the Sara Jayne Steen Award.

In addition to her many CESLife duties, Russell has been at the helm from the onset of the pandemic, triaging concerns from students and their families, managing campus communications, and coordinating meetings. She then moved into the project management role and has been responsible for coordinating volunteers for testing, meal delivery, and more. When it became clear that students in quarantine needed additional opportunities to connect, she volunteered her time and talent to host a virtual meditation program.

“Kara is not just a talented, whip-smart professional who has worked tirelessly this past year keeping our COVID Task Force on task, she also epitomizes the phrase ‘students first,’” says Interim Vice President for CESLife Marlin Collingwood. “For Kara, students come first no matter what else may be on her daily work agenda. If a student calls, e-mails, or drops by she is always welcoming and kind and does whatever she can to solve their problem.”