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Falk in Paris

Falk College Students, Faculty and Athletes Featured in Summer Olympics

Dan Griffiths standing infront of a USATF NYC Grand Prix sign

In his work with the U.S. Track and Field team, sport analytics major Dan Griffiths attended the New York City Grand Prix Meet–the final meet for track and field athletes before the U.S. Olympic Trials.


The 2024 Paris Summer Olympics and Paralympics are here and representatives from the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics at Syracuse University will have an impact on this year’s Games – and, quite possibly, future Olympic Games.

The Falk College representatives who are involved in several unique ways with the Olympics and Paralympics include current Falk students Dan Griffiths and Livia McQuade, Department of Sport Management Associate Professor Jeeyoon “Jamie” Kim, and Falk graduates and former Syracuse University student-athletes Freddie Crittenden III, Kristen Siermachesky, and Lysianne Proulx. Here are their stories:

Dan Griffith on field show stats on computer to another student
Dan Griffiths spent this past academic year working with the Syracuse University cross country and track and field teams.

Student: Dan Griffiths

At Syracuse University and now with the U.S. Track and Field team (USATF), sport analytics major Dan Griffiths ’26 is helping to revolutionize how performance data is collected and analyzed.

When Griffiths started working with the Syracuse track and field and cross country teams before the 2023-24 academic year, the teams weren’t utilizing a data-gathering system. But the student-athletes were using Garmin wearables to track their own data, so Griffiths built his own application and a tool that transported all of their data into his application, which then created spreadsheets he used to analyze that data.

With Griffiths’ help, the Syracuse women’s cross country team won its first NCAA Division I Northeast Regional championship since 2011. Throughout the academic year, Griffiths conducted and presented his research at various national competitions and conferences, including the UConn Sports Analytics Symposium (he was runner-up in sport analytics research), and the inaugural Sport, Entertainment and Innovation Conference (SEICon) last week in Las Vegas.

Griffiths’ success at Syracuse and his interest in track and field led to his connection with USATF, which gave him the freedom to explore his areas of interest. Using a combination of the latest technology, Griffiths helped create three-dimensional models to best understand an athlete’s musculoskeletal forces.

“For throwers (discus, shotput, javelin), my work focused on using a pose estimation model to detect patterns that could be linked to longer, more powerful throws,” Griffiths says. “For sprinters and distance runners, I used pose estimation data to monitor overtraining and track progress throughout the season and before meets.

“I also conducted extensive research for multi-event athletes in the heptathlon and decathlon,” he adds. “This research aimed to understand how fatigue affects scoring in multi-events and how different training sequences can reduce fatigue.”

Griffiths shared his work with the coaches, and at least two of the athletes he analyzed will be participating in the Olympics: javelin thrower Curtis Thompson, and 400-meter runner Alexis Holmes. During his time with USATF, Griffiths traveled to the New York City Grand Prix Meet–the final meet for track and field athletes before the U.S. Olympic Trials–and the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon.

“The thing we think about every morning is ‘How can we win another gold medal today?’” Griffiths says. “Having the opportunity to combine everything I’ve learned and truly be a trailblazer and innovator for USATF and those athletes, especially in a track and field biomechanics context, has made me uber-passionate about the work we are doing at Syracuse and the future of AI/analytics and sports.”

The track and field events run from Aug. 1-11.

Liva McQuade Portrait
Sport Management major Livia McQuade will attend the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games to serve as a resource for U.S. athletes, their families, and their sponsors.

Student: Livia McQuade

Livia McQuade ’25 is a sport management major and sport event management minor who has spent this summer in Loveland, Colorado, as an Athlete Relations Intern with Olympus Sports Group. Olympus is a management and marketing agency that provides top sponsorship opportunities and marketing strategies for Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

In her role, McQuade has interfaced with athletes from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams and their partners, and with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and other national governing bodies. Her projects have included reviewing contracts, building athletes’ personal websites, and organizing outlines for athletes’ speaking engagements.

“I’ve had a truly incredible experience within the Olympic and Paralympic Movement – during a Games year of all times!” McQuade says. “Through it all, I’ve had the privilege to work with some of sport’s most impactful Olympians and Paralympians, including Apolo Ohno, Jessica Long, Noah Elliott, Sarah Adam, Alex and Gretchen Walsh, Alex Ferreira, and Steve Serio.”

McQuade, the executive vice president of the Sport Management Club in Falk College and co-chair of the club’s 2024 Charity Sports Auction, says she wants to work with the Olympic and Paralympic Movement following graduation and this internship has been an invaluable step in that process. Her experience with Olympus will continue in September, when she’ll attend the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games to serve as a resource for U.S. athletes, their families, and their sponsors. The Paralympic Games run from Aug. 28-Sept. 8.

“I could not be more grateful and excited,” McQuade says of her upcoming experience in Paris. “My leadership (at Olympus Sports Group)–Ian Beck and Jessica Leonard ’16–have thrown extraordinary opportunities my way, and they will remain valuable mentors long into my career.”

Jamie Kim outside stadium
Associate Professor Jeeyoon “Jamie” Kim at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Faculty: Jeeyoon “Jamie” Kim

Jeeyoon “Jamie” Kim is an associate professor in the Department of Sport Management who studies the long- and short-term social and economic effects of hosting the Games and other major sporting events. Kim is the former manager of the Korean Olympic Committee, and on Aug. 8 she’ll present at the 11th International Sport Business Symposium in Paris.

Kim’s presentation will focus on how the Youth Olympic Games, an Olympic-style event for athletes between 15 and 18 years old, can better impact their host city and support the aims of the Olympic Movement.

“The hope for Olympic sport participation legacy is grounded on the ‘trickle-down effect’ (i.e., watching Olympians compete will inspire youth to participate in sport),” Kim says in a Q&A with Syracuse University News. “For the Youth Olympics, the event can also be a steppingstone for younger athletes to compete on the international stage and grow to become Olympians. Additionally, the Youth Olympics offer many grassroots-level sport opportunities (e.g., sport camps, collaboration with local schools) to encourage the general youth to learn about Olympic sports.”

To combat youths’ dwindling interest in the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee added break dancing, sport climbing, and surfing to the lineup for Paris. Kim says this is a critical time for the future of the Olympics as upcoming Games in Paris, Milan Cortina (2026), and Los Angeles (2028) will be held in traditionally strong sports markets where there are opportunities to increase interest.

“Paris 2024 will be the first Olympics to include breaking in the official program,” Kim says. “We will have to see how the event turns out. But, so far, looking at the Olympics qualifiers series and the ticket popularity, it seems like there is a lot of interest garnered for the sport.”

Kim spent 5 ½ years with Korean Olympic Committee as a member of its International Games, International Relations, and 2018 PyeongChang Olympics task force teams. While in Paris, Kim will conduct research in Korea’s Olympic Hospitality House and share her findings with students in her Olympic Sport Management (SPM 356) and Olympic Odyssey (SPM 357) courses.

And Kim plans to attend the women’s individual finals event of her favorite summer Olympic sport, archery. “Korea has been very strong in the sport historically, and it is always fun to watch a sport where my team does well,” Kim says.

For more about Kim’s research and visit to Paris, read this Olympic Legacy story and watch a video of Kim from Syracuse University’s central marketing team.

Freddie jumps a hurdle in a race.
Freddie Crittenden III, show here competing for Syracuse University, will represent the United States in the 110-meter hurdles event in Paris.

Athletes: Freddie Crittenden III, Kristen Siermachesky, and Lysianne Proulx

At the U.S. Olympic Trials in late June, longtime U.S. hurdler Freddie Crittenden III ’17 qualified for his first Olympic Games by running a personal-best 12.96 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles. Crittenden finished second overall to teammate and three-time world champion Grant Holloway, who recorded a time of 12.86.

A public health major at Falk and a former All-American for the Syracuse track and field team, Crittenden just missed a bronze medal at the World Championships last summer and now at age 29, the Olympic Trials may have been his last opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.

“It feels amazing. Honestly, I’m still in shock and I’m trying to figure out what happened,” Crittenden said immediately after his Olympic Trials run. “But it’s an amazing feeling to come out here and accomplish what I’ve been trying to accomplish for the past 17 years. It’s beautiful.”

Two former Falk College sport management majors and Syracuse University student-athletes, rower Kristen Siermachesky ’21 and soccer goalkeeper Lysianne Proulx ’21, are alternates for the Olympics with Team Canada.

Lysianne Proulx with soccer ball in hands in front of net
Former Syracuse University goalkeeper and Sport Management graduate Lysianne Proulx (center, with ball) is an alternate for Team Canada’s soccer team.

Proulx is Team Canada’s third-choice goalkeeper, meaning she will be activated if either the starting or backup goalkeeper is injured. Although she didn’t start at Syracuse until her junior season, Proulx recorded the fourth-most saves (281), second-most saves per game (5.3), and seventh-most shutouts (eight) in program history.

Since graduating from Syracuse, Proulx has excelled in professional leagues in Portugal, Australia, and now in the United States with Bay FC of the National Women’s Soccer League. This past February, Bay FC acquired Proulx from Melbourne City for what Melbourne City described as a record-breaking transfer fee for an outgoing A-League player.

A native of Montreal, Quebec, Proulx represented Canada in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. She went to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup as Team Canada’s third-choice goaltender behind Kailen Sheridan and Sabrina D’Angelo, who have maintained their positions for the Olympics.

Like Proulx, Siermachesky ’21 will be available to her team if an injury occurs. But unlike Proulx, her path to Canada’s rowing team featured a different sport at Syracuse: ice hockey. She played four years as a defenseman at Syracuse and recorded a black-and-blue inducing 132 blocks in 125 games for the Orange.

After graduating from Syracuse, the native of New Liskeard, Ontario, considered playing ice hockey overseas but decided to pursue her graduate degree in sports administration at North Carolina. She wanted to continue her athletics career, but North Carolina doesn’t have an ice hockey team. Then-Syracuse ice hockey coach Paul Flanagan suggested she try rowing and contacted the Tar Heels’ coach to make that connection.

Siermachesky’s athleticism and potential caught the eye of the Team Canada Development Team, which asked her to move to British Columbia to train with the national team. Just three years into the sport, she is now on the cusp of competing in the Olympics and it’s likely she and Proulx will remain in the mix for the next summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028.

The rowing competition runs from July 27-Aug. 3, while the women’s soccer tournament started July 24 and runs through Aug. 10.

Editor’s Note: This story does not include all Falk College representatives in the Olympics. If you know of someone who is involved and not mentioned, please email Matt Michael, Falk College communications manager, at

Committed to Service

Social Work’s Benetta Dousuah Among 3 Student Veterans Honored as Tillman Scholars
Benetta Dousuah portrait
Benetta Dousuah was named a 2024 Tillman Scholar as one of the next generation of public and private sector leaders committed to service beyond self.

Social Work student Benetta Dousuah G’25 is one of three talented and passionate Pat Tillman Foundation Syracuse University 2024 Tillman Scholars.

The award unites and empowers remarkable military service members, veterans, and spouses as the next generation of public and private sector leaders committed to service beyond self. Dousuah was selected out of nearly 1,600 applicants.

Tillman Scholars are provided with academic scholarships, leadership development opportunities, and access to a supportive national network as they embark on career journeys in the fields of health care, public service, business, STEM, law, the humanities, and education.

The fellowship program honors Pat Tillman, a starting safety for the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals, who in 2002 put his football career on hold to serve his country with the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. Tillman’s family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation following his death in April 2004.

Syracuse University was invited to become a Pat Tillman Foundation University Partner in 2017. To date, the university has seen 13 students honored as Tillman Scholars.

Dousuah sat down with SU News to discuss why she wanted to become a Tillman Scholar, reflect on the prestigious honor, and share how she will use the scholarship to make a difference in her community.

Benetta Dousuah G’25, U.S. Army

Academic major: Social Work

What drew you to study at Syracuse University?

“I chose Syracuse University because it’s known for being a veteran-friendly school. While transitioning out of the military, I visited and was impressed by how much they support student veterans. The National Veterans Resource Center at the Daniel and Gayle D’Aniello Building showed me how much the school cares about their veteran community.”

Where did your interest and passion for your field of study come from?

“My aim is to challenge and transform the existing stigma surrounding mental health and well-being in the military. My goal is to become a social worker and serve as Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) representative at a behavioral health clinic on a military installation, particularly regarding sexual assault and harassment. This position will allow me to address significant issues related to mental health and advocate for policy changes within the SHARP program.”

How does it feel to be recognized as a Tillman Scholar?

“It’s an honor to be surrounded by people dedicated to making a difference in our military. My passion is to change how investigations are done in the SHARP program. I am excited to bring this idea to other scholars and see what the future holds.”

What motivated you to apply to be a Tillman Scholar, and why do you think you were selected?

“Pat’s story is incredible. It demonstrates selfless service and leadership, two of the Army’s core values. As a Tillman Scholar, I am honored to carry on Pat Tillman’s legacy. I’m inspired by these exceptional individuals who are making a difference. I was chosen as a Tillman Scholar because of my dedication to making a positive impact. Despite facing a traumatic experience, my goal is to reform the system that failed me, ensuring a safer military for future generations.”

How do you plan to use this scholarship and this experience to make an impact in your community?

“I aim to use the education and experiences from Syracuse University and the Tillman Scholar program to advocate for significant policy changes, specifically to reform the investigative process within the SHARP program.”

Read the full story.

Excerpts from a Syracuse University News story by John Boccacino originally published on June 27, 2024.

Focused on Future Success

Human Dynamics Task Force Members Appointed, Set to Begin Work

drone image of SU campus

A task force charged with the reimagination of Syracuse University’s human dynamics academic programs has been convened by Vice Chancellor, Provost and Chief Academic Officer Gretchen Ritter.

The work of the Human Dynamics Task Force will focus on programs in human development and family science; marriage and family therapy; public health; and social work with the aim of positioning them for future success by leveraging opportunities and expanding impact. Those programs have long been housed in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics which, as announced in April, will become the David B. Falk College of Sport and focus exclusively on sport-related disciplines.

“The human dynamics programs have played an important role in the history of our University, and have had a significant impact on the communities they serve,” Provost Ritter says. “With the transformation of Falk College comes a unique opportunity to take a thoughtful approach to ensuring the future success of these programs and the continuation of that legacy.”

The first meeting of the task force was held May 28, and work will continue throughout the summer. A final report will be submitted to Provost Ritter by the end of October.

Members of the task force include:

  • Lois Agnew, associate provost for academic programs (co-chair)
  • Rachel Razza, associate dean for human dynamics, Falk College (co-chair)
  • Colleen Cameron, professor of practice of human development and family science, Falk College
  • Marcelle Haddix, associate provost for strategic initiatives
  • Jody Levison-Johnson, Falk College Advisory Board
  • Melissa Luke, Dean’s Professor, School of Education
  • Kenneth James Marfilius, assistant dean for online and distance education and associate teaching professor of social work, Falk College
  • Sharon Owens, deputy mayor, City of Syracuse
  • Ian Richardson, assistant director of undergraduate admissions, Falk College
  • Ann Rooney, deputy county executive for human services, Onondaga County
  • Tracey Reichert Schimpff, member, Falk Faculty Council and associate teaching professor and graduate director of marriage and family therapy, Falk College
  • Merril Silverstein, professor of human development and family science and Marjorie Cantor Professor of Aging Studies, Falk College
  • Yvonne (Eevie) Smith, associate professor of social work, Falk College
  • Maureen Thompson, associate professor and undergraduate director of public health, Falk College
  • Dyane Watson, professor of practice and chair of marriage and family therapy, Falk College
  • Ryan O. Williams, associate dean, College of Professional Studies

A Syracuse University News story by Wendy S. Loughlin originally published on June 6, 2024.

Providing Support and Services

University to Launch Innovative Mental Health Program for Student Veterans

In recognition of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, the University’s Office of Veteran and Military Affairs (OVMA) is pleased to announce the launch of the OVMA Resiliency Program (ORP) in partnership with Falk College and Hendricks Chapel. The ORP is an innovative wellness program tailored to meet the unique needs of veterans pursuing higher education and aims to enhance the overall well-being of veteran and military-connected students throughout their academic journey.

According to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report earlier this year, almost 70% of student veterans who are patients in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals received services for mental health care, compared to just 40% of all other veterans who received mental health care from the VA. Aside from seeking services to address concerns regarding post-traumatic stress disorder, the report shows a rising trend over a six-year period of student veterans seeking out care for depression and anxiety-related disorders more than their non-student veteran peers.

Ken James Marfilius Portrait
Ken Marfilius

“Aside from being non-traditional students, which brings additional stresses to their academic studies, student-veterans also have unique needs that most colleges and universities are not prepared to handle. There’s a clear need to provide military-connected students with assistance beyond just information on where they may find resources,” says Ken Marfilius ’11, assistant dean of online and distance education and associate teaching professor of social work in the Falk College. “This program will help assist student veterans in not only knowing what resources are available, but also how to navigate the process to receive those services and, sometimes, providing further support to ensure they get the care they need.”

Marfilius, a U.S. Air Force veteran, will become the associate director for the ORP where he will lead two Falk College graduate student interns, Brenic Nam G’25 and Natalie Hawes G’25, as well as leverage his extensive experience in providing mental health care services to the military-connected community to ensure the program’s effectiveness.

Both interns are military-connected students at Syracuse University who are pursuing master’s degrees in social work. Hawes is a veteran spouse as well as the granddaughter of two World War II veterans, and has more than five years of experience in supporting the military-connected community. For Nam, currently a sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve after spending time on active duty, it’s an opportunity to build upon lessons learned while working at Clear Path for Veterans, a nonprofit veteran’s service organization located in Central New York.

Brenic Nam portrait
Brenic Nam G’25

“Veterans and military-connected students undergo significant transitions as they shift from military to civilian life. Through this phase of acculturation, they endure unique challenges that often result in immense stress. A dedicated program like ORP will provide imperative support, empowering these veterans and (military-connected) students to confidently navigate these challenges while pursuing their personal ambitions and reaching their fullest potential,” Nam says.

Hendricks Chapel, alongside the OVMA, will provide a stipend for both interns and support engagement with local community programs and services that are available in the area. The program will also seek to leverage support from the Syracuse VA Medical Center, which already provides medical services for many of Syracuse University’s student veterans.

“This initiative is a clear reflection of Syracuse University’s strategic vision to be recognized as the premier institution for veteran and military-connected students,” says U.S. Army Col. (Retired) Ron Novack, executive director of the OVMA. “By harnessing the strengths of its community and resources, the University is poised to not only meet but exceed the needs of this distinct student population. The ORP embodies the University’s commitment to fostering an environment of excellence and support for veterans and their families, further establishing Syracuse as the best place for veterans.”

The program will officially launch on Aug. 26, the first day of classes for the fall 2024 semester, with more details to come later this summer on how to access the program. Aside from standing as a beacon for the University’s resolve to create an inclusive and supportive environment for student veterans, the ORP will support military-connected students with concierge-style support to help them thrive academically during their transition to post-service life.

For more information on the programs and services available to veterans and military-connected students at Syracuse University, please visit the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs website.

An SU News story by Charlie Poag originally published on May 30, 2024.

Inspired to Give Back

Social Workers United Collecting School Supplies for Children in Liberia
Four people sitting together showing school supplies they have collected

Members of the Social Workers United (SWU) student group from Falk College are collecting school supplies for children in Liberia. From left to right, SWU members Carina St. Andrews, Benetta Dousuah, Gideon Casper, and Mary Claytor.

The West African nation of Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Seven out of 10 children live in extreme poverty and the educational system has faced many challenges, including a lack of learning materials and school supplies.

Benetta Dousuah, a graduate student in the School of Social Work in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics at Syracuse University, is well aware of the hardships experienced by Liberian families. Dousuah’s family escaped from Liberia during back-to-back civil wars that ravaged the nation between 1989 and 2003, and it took almost a decade at a refugee camp in Ghana before they could immigrate to the United States.

Dousuah is a member of the Social Workers United (SWU) student group from Falk College, and she asked the organization to help her with a drive to collect school supplies for children in Liberia.

“Donating school supplies to children in Liberia is an impactful gesture that resonates deeply with me,” Dousuah says. “As someone who fled Liberia during the civil war and found refuge in the United States, I understand firsthand the transformative power of access to education.”

The drive is underway through July 15, and SWU is asking for donations of school supplies: pens, pencils, paper, folders, binders, crayons, backpacks, glue, tape, calculators, sporting goods, and scissors. Donations can be dropped off in the School of Social Work Suite 244H in Falk College’s White Hall, or made through SWU’s Amazon Wishlist.

The enduring memories of U.S. Army soldiers providing humanitarian aid in her homeland influenced Dousuah’s decision to enlist in the military. She served as a U.S. Army unit supply specialist–a crucial role in the logistical backbone supporting the U.S. military’s global presence–and the units often play a vital role in humanitarian operations.

“My family’s journey from a refugee camp in Ghana to the United States was made possible by the generosity of others, inspiring me to give back,” Dousuah says. “The school supplies–which will be donated to Victory International Christian School System, Paynesville Harvest Christian Academy, and Pamela Kay High School–will directly enrich the educational experiences of countless children. These supplies, ranging from backpacks to writing materials, hold the potential to empower Liberian students and enhance their learning environments.”

Two people gathering school supplies to give out

Social Workers United students Carina St. Andrews (left) and Gideon Casper are asking members of the campus community to donate school supplies for children in Liberia. Donations can be dropped off in Suite 244H, White Hall, or made through this Amazon Wishlist.

Faculty and staff advisors Jennifer Genovese, Nadaya Brantley, and Kristin Esposito advise and support SWU students as they develop service projects, but the students lead the projects.

“Being involved in this donation drive is truly remarkable,” says SWU President Mary Claytor, a graduate assistant in the School of Social Work. “SWU is dedicated to fostering service projects aligned with students’ passions, and Benetta’s contribution exemplifies the limitless potential of our initiatives.”

This the third donation drive organized by SWU this year, following the Hendricks Chapel Food Pantry in the fall and Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in the spring. It’s the first international drive facilitated by SWU.

“The students of Social Workers United continue to exemplify the core values of social work: service, social justice, human dignity, the importance of relationships, integrity, and competence,” says Genovese, social work associate teaching professor and Master of Social Work Program director. “These key values drive all social workers and can be seen in action in the students of Social Workers United.”

Genovese and Dousuah say it’ll take about three months for the school supplies to reach Liberia by boat, so they’ll be shipped by the end of July to ensure delivery during the school year.

“Personally, I plan to visit Liberia in December to distribute the supplies myself, allowing me to witness firsthand the impact of our collective contribution,” Dousuah says. “By supporting education in Liberia, we are investing in the future of these children and fostering global education equity.

“Together,” Dousuah adds, “we can make a difference in the lives of Liberian students, providing them with the tools they need to build brighter futures.”

U.S. News and World Report has ranked the Syracuse University School of Social Work among the “Best Schools of Social Work” in the country. To learn more about the School of Social Work’s academic programs, experiential learning, and career opportunities, visit the Falk College website.

High Impact

Dessa Bergen-Cico Named Honors Core Faculty Member from Falk College
Dessa Bergen-Cico presenting at conference

Public Health Professor Dessa Bergen-Cico (left), shown here speaking at the International Drug Policy Academy in Strasbourg, France, in June 2023, is the new Honors Core Faculty member from Falk College.

Dessa Bergen-Cico, professor and graduate director in the Department of Public Health, has been selected as the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics’ Honors Core Faculty member for a three-year term starting this May.

Renée Crown University Honors Program Core Faculty help shape the Honors Program curriculum and policy, and assist with strategic planning. Their academic vision and scholarly rigor guide the Honors Program in matters crucial both to the larger Honors faculty and to Honors students.

At Syracuse University, Bergen-Cico is coordinator of the Addiction Studies Programs, faculty in the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program, and a research affiliate for the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She was selected as Falk College’s Honors Core Faculty member by a four-person committee in consultation with Falk Dean Jeremy Jordan and Honors Program Director Danielle Taana Smith.

Dessa portrait

“Dessa’s credentials and passion for this opportunity were simply outstanding, and we are fortunate to have her represent us with the Honors program,” says Falk College Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs Mary Graham.

“Dessa’s credentials and passion for this opportunity were simply outstanding, and we are fortunate to have her represent us with the Honors program,” says Falk Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs Mary Graham, who was joined on the committee by Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Kay Bruening, Associate Dean of Research and Administration Katie McDonald, and Nutrition and Food Studies Associate Teaching Professor Chaya Charles.

“The Honors core faculty are so pleased to welcome Dr. Bergen-Cico to the group,” says Honors Program Director Smith, Professor of African American Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse. “The core faculty are high-impact teachers and researchers, at the forefront of their disciplines. They enhance the collegial experiences of students and are integral to the program.

“Dr. Bergen-Cico brings a background of undergraduate education excellence and academic leadership,” Smith adds. “We are excited to work with her to impact students, the campus, and our communities as a whole.”

Bergen-Cico holds a research appointment at the Syracuse Veterans Administration Medical Center and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders. She is a Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS), Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), and Certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Teacher.

Bergen-Cico completed her MBSR teacher training through the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She has been selected for two Fulbright Scholarships and was selected as a Rotary Peace Fellow in the International Rotary Peace Program at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand.

Bergen-Cico is currently leading a research team that’s exploring how to combine an artificial intelligence system with mindfulness-based practices to help people in treatment for opioid use disorder, and she co-developed the International Drug Policy Academy, which is one of several unique opportunities for students to obtain global experience that exposes them to new ways of thinking about substance abuse and addictive behaviors.

“As an Honors Faculty member, I would be able to teach students interdisciplinary and global perspective courses that encompass depth and breadth of content I am otherwise not afforded the opportunity to teach, at the level our top students need and want,” Bergen-Cico said in her letter of interest for the Honors Core position. “For example, it would afford opportunities to engage students in learning and research in applied neuroscience and cross-cultural biomarkers across diverse fields of study integrating sociology, psychology, and neurobiology in the study of addictive behaviors, stress, trauma, and conflict.”

Bergen-Cico is replacing Rick Burton, David B. Falk Endowed Professor of Sport Management, as Falk College’s Honors Core Faculty member.

“I and my colleagues in the Dean’s Office would like to thank Professor Burton for serving so capably for over 10 years as our Falk College designee to the Honors Program,” Graham says.

With Deepest Gratitude

Falk College Honors Retiring Faculty and Staff
Standing in a row with Dean Jordan, 2 males and 2 female persons retiring from Falk

At a May 3 reception, Falk College Dean Jeremy Jordan (far left) celebrated the retirement of, from left to right, Michael Veley, Dennis Deninger, Donna Fecteau, and Dianne Seeley.

Falk College acknowledges with gratitude the contributions and dedicated service of five faculty and two staff members retiring this year: Thom deLara, Dennis Deninger, Donna Fecteau, Eric Kingson, Eileen Lantier, Dianne Seeley, and Michael Veley.

Here’s a look at the Falk College retirees who were honored at a celebration Friday, May 3 in Falk College Complex:

Thom deLara portrait
Thom deLara

Thom deLara, M.S.W., M.B.A.

Professor of Practice in the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)

Thom has 50 years of experience as an administrator, academic, licensed mental health practitioner, and management consultant. Prior to joining Syracuse University, he was chief executive for two not-for-profit organizations and served as vice-president of business development and strategic planning at a large health care organization.

Thom has authored more than 30 funded federal, state, local, and foundation grant applications, totaling more than $10 million. These grants established and expanded primary care services for rural and underserved communities in New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Thom also taught courses at Cornell University on the politics of public budgeting, critical issues in healthcare, and strategic management in healthcare.

Thom joined the Syracuse University faculty in 2002 and served for 14 years as Chair of the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy. He led substantial advancements in the curriculum to train students to meet the mental health and relational needs of children and families. Thom was deeply involved in the creation of the highly respected MFT training facility at Peck Hall, and he led the development and implementation of the online master’s degree program in marriage and family therapy.

In addition to his service as a faculty member and department chair, he served as a member of the University Senate, and numerous college and university committees. In all his work, Thom has demonstrated personal dedication to expanding and improving the quality of health care and mental health care for underserved populations and communities.

Dennis Deninger portrait
Dennis Deninger

Dennis Deninger

Professor of Practice in the Department of Sport Management

Dennis is a former television production executive and Emmy Award-winner for innovation in sports television, production on digital platforms, and educational television. He spent 25 years leading production teams at ESPN, where he launched more than a dozen televised series and events, including Wimbledon, Major League Soccer, and the National Spelling Bee. He developed for American television the digital instant review technology called “Shot Spot,” which is now in use at all major tennis tournaments.

Dennis is the author of three books, including “The Football Game That Changed America” from Rowman and Littlefield scheduled for release this fall. He has written and directed two documentary films at Syracuse University: “America’s First Sport” about the history and rapid growth of lacrosse, and “Changing Sports, Changing Lives” on the impact of adaptive sports on persons with disabilities. His expert commentary is published in countless national and international media outlets, including The New York Times, Forbes, USA Today, Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, and many others.

As a professor of practice at Syracuse University, Dennis created new graduate and undergraduate level courses and served as the founding director of the sports communications graduate program at the Newhouse School. Dennis has taught in Falk College since 2010. He was honored with the Falk College Faculty Member of the Year Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2014 and 2024.

Donna Fecteau

Donna Fecteau

Administrative Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science

Donna joined Syracuse University in 1987 as a temporary part-time employee in Human Resources. Within just a few months, she was hired full-time as office coordinator position in Health and Physical Education, now known as Falk College’s Department of Exercise Science. At the time, she had the only computer in the department with a hard drive. In fact, her understanding of hard drives and floppy discs was a key reason she was hired for the job.

She coordinated reservations for the gyms, pools, and fields used by students throughout campus. She was responsible for the one-credit activity courses that eventually became the I-Move program. Those courses enrolled up to 3,000 students each year from across campus.
In 1996, she was promoted to the administrative secretary position. The Exercise Science offices were in the Women’s Building until they joined Falk College and moved into the Falk Complex. During her time at Syracuse, Donna has supported students and faculty alike with her positive energy and kindness.

Eric Kingson Portrait
Eric Kingson

Eric Kingson, M.P.A., Ph.D.

Professor in the School of Social Work

Eric joined the Syracuse University social work faculty in 1998. He is also a faculty affiliate of the Syracuse University Aging Studies Institute and an affiliated researcher with the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Eric is a founding co-director of the Social Security Works, which launched the Strengthen Social Security Coalition with over 300 national and state organizations dedicated to advancing economic security through strengthening and expanding Social Security policies and programs.

Eric served as policy advisor to two presidential commissions — the 1982 National Commission on Social Security Reform and the 1994 Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform. He was also an active volunteer on President Obama’s Retirement Security Policy Advisory Committee and later served on the advisory committee to the Social Security Administration’s transition team. He has held many service and leadership roles, including with the National Academy of Social Insurance and the Gerontological Society of America.

His numerous journal articles, book chapters, and research studies examine the politics and economics of population aging, Social Security policy, cross-generational obligations, and retirement income security. His expert commentary and contributions have been published in major media outlets such as the Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, and many others. Eric is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2007 Chancellor’s Citation for Faculty Excellence and Scholarly Distinction, the 2010 Martin Luther King, Jr. Unsung Hero Award from Syracuse University, the 2015 Falk College Faculty Researcher of the Year Award, among others.

Eileen Lantier
Eileen Lantier

Eileen Lantier, R.N., Ph.D.

Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health

Eileen joined the Syracuse University College of Nursing faculty in 1983. She served as the Director of the Learning Resource Center on campus and assisted with the development of satellite learning resource centers in Binghamton and Waverly, New York, to support students enrolled in nursing programs in those regions. She and her colleagues successfully secured grants to procure the most up-to-date technology and promote excellence in clinical care. One standout example was the limited residency Nurse Practitioner program, which enrolled students from across the U.S. and as far away as Saudi Arabia. In addition to her teaching, applied research, and service, Eileen developed a NYSED-approved Certificate in Nursing Informatics at Syracuse University.

In 2006, Eileen was appointed Associate Dean of Academic Affairs of the newly merged College of Human Services and Health Professions, a predecessor of Falk College. For nearly 20 years, Eileen led the formation and transformation of countless academic degree programs across Falk College, including the inception of new programs for Syracuse University ranging from public health to sport analytics and beyond. Eileen skillfully managed curriculum, program review, course delivery, academic integrity, admissions, and many other key administrative areas.

At the university level, Eileen has served on the Syracuse University Senate, Chancellor’s University Leadership Team, Forum on Institutional Effectiveness, Health Care Advisory Committee, Campus Wellness Task Force, Nurses Alumni Association, and many others. She was appointed to several city, county, and state commissions, including the Syracuse Commission for Women and County Drug and Alcohol Commission. The New York State Board of Regents appointed Eileen to its Blue-Ribbon Panel on the Nursing Shortage.

Dianne Seeley portrait
Dianne Seeley

Dianne Seeley, M.S.

Operations, Space, and Facilities Manager for the Office of the Dean

Dianne worked at the Syracuse University Registrar’s Office as a classroom scheduling assistant before joining Falk College in 2008 as an administrative assistant in the Dean’s Office. Two years later, she started working in space, operations, and facilities for Falk. At the time, Falk programs were scattered across eight locations, from Drumlins on south campus to several main campus locations.

When the College of Law planned to vacate MacNaughton, White, Barclay, and Grant for the newly constructed Dineen Hall, Dianne and her colleagues prepared to bring Falk College under one roof. Dianne was a driving force in developing and implementing this extraordinary project that involved four years of planning, renovations, and construction from 2011 to the Falk College Complex dedication in 2015. The convergence of academic departments and administrative suites involved careful planning to ensure the Complex met the diverse programmatic needs for research and teaching. It included construction of major laboratories, including the Nutrition Assessment, Consultation and Education (ACE) Center, the Milton Conrad Sport Technology Lab, and the Susan R. Klenk Learning Café and Kitchens. The innovative design of the Klenk Kitchens earned recognition and honors from the American Institute of Architects Central New York Chapter.

In the years to follow, Dianne managed major projects such as the construction of the Falk Café on the second floor, the exercise science and public health relocations into Barclay, and the conversion of the former College of Law Library Stacks to the beautiful multipurpose space in Falk 335. In between these major milestones, Dianne has facilitated countless numbers of moves, ensuring everyone has what they need—from desks to door keys.

Michael Veley
Michael Veley

Michael Veley, M.P.S.

the Rhonda S. Falk Endowed Professor in the Department of Sport Management

Michael spent nearly two decades as a Division I athletic administrator at Cornell and Syracuse, including 10 years at Syracuse University, where he implemented marketing, communications, and corporate sponsorship initiatives. He is a three-time National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators (NACMA) award winner.

Michael has served as founding director and chair of the Department of Sport Management since 2005. Under his leadership, the program has become a national trailblazer in the sport industry. He led the development of more than 25 new academic courses, the nation’s first undergraduate degree in sport analytics, and a first-of-its-kind undergraduate degree in esports. Michael ensured that experiential learning was a defining feature of sport academic degree programs, which has resulted in a strong tradition of alumni career success and industry impact.

He brought the industry into the program, building partnerships with organizations such as the New York Yankees, National Baseball Hall of Fame, National Basketball Association Development League, and many others. Michael was instrumental in creating the Sport Management Advisory Council, which is comprised of influential sport industry presidents, founders, and CEOs. In 2013, he was named the inaugural Rhonda S. Falk Endowed Professor of Sport Management. That year he was also honored with a Faculty of the Year Award for excellence in service and dedication to Falk College, Syracuse University, and the greater Syracuse community.

Faculty of the Year Awards

Falk College Honors Faculty for Excellence in Teaching, Service, Research
Three portraits

Falk Faculty of the Year awardees (from left) Dennis Deninger, Bernard Appiah, and Joey Merrin.
Dennis Deninger, Bernard Appiah, and Joey Merrin were honored with 2024 Falk College Faculty of the Year awards for excellence in teaching, service, and research, respectively. The honorees were nominated by their peers for outstanding teaching, scholarship, and internal and professional service contributions and announced by the Falk College Faculty Council in early May.

Chaya Lee Charles, an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies and chair of the Falk Faculty Council, thanked all faculty members who submitted nominations and her fellow Faculty Council members for their time and efforts in the award selection process.

“It is inspiring to see the talent and excellence that we represent as a college, and the high caliber of the nominees made our job challenging,” Charles says. “The Faculty Council is excited to share the results of our thoughtful deliberations.”

Here’s a look at the 2024 honorees with comments from their award presenters:

Dennis Deninger

Professor of Practice in the Department of Sport Management
Evan Weissman Memorial Faculty of the Year Award for Teaching Excellence

From presenter Chaya Lee Charles, assistant teaching professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies and chair of the Falk Faculty Council:

Dennis has an impressive and extensive resume, which many of us are aware of. But as a refresher in this, his final year with us, and in the spirit of his broadcasting background, I will now provide you with the fastest three minutes in Dennis’ top-10 highlight reel:

Two individuals stand together with an award between them
Dennis Deninger, who received the Evan Weissman Memorial Faculty of the Year Award for Teaching Excellence, with presenter Chaya Lee Charles.
  1. Dennis is a former television executive who has produced live sports television from six continents and across the United States. In his 25 years at ESPN, he launched coverage of Wimbledon, the French Open, and Major League Soccer, and was the executive in charge of production for World Cup Soccer in 1994, a dozen Australian Opens, Friday Night Fights, Triple Crown horse racing, and a multitude of other live events.
  2. Dennis is a three-time Emmy award winner for categories in innovation in sports television, production on digital platforms, and educational television.
  3. Dennis developed for American television the digital instant review technology called “Shot Spot,” which is now in use at all major tennis tournaments.
  4. Dennis’ comments and analysis have been quoted in national and international media including The New York Times, USA Today, ABC News, CNN, Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, and many other prominent media outlets.
  5. Dennis wrote, produced, and directed the biographical documentary “Agent of Change: David Falk,” which premiered at the ribbon-cutting of the Falk College complex and aired on ESPN2.
  6. Dennis has written and directed documentaries working with his students at Syracuse University as his research team. “America’s First Sport” was broadcast across the U.S. on the ESPN networks and explored the history, culture, and rapid expansion of lacrosse in the U.S. and around the world. “Changing Sports, Changing Lives” focuses on sports that have been adapted for persons with disabilities, and how these sports have impacted so many lives.
  7. Dennis has a new book coming out in September entitled “The Football Game That Changed America.” It is the direct result of the research he has done for his Falk Sport Management course on the Super Bowl and its impact on American life. He is the author of two books previously published entitled “Live Sports Media: The What, How and Why of Sports Broadcasting,” and “Sports on Television.”
  8. Dennis was the founding director of the sports communications graduate program at the Newhouse School of Public Communications, and he has created several new graduate- and undergraduate-level courses at Syracuse.
  9. Dennis is an outstanding teacher and colleague, as evidenced by his previous Falk College award for excellence in teaching 10 years ago. He has served as faculty advisor of the Sport Professionals of Color student club, and was an early supporter of the newly required sport management course, Race, Gender, and Diversity in Sport Organizations. He has consistently received positive course evaluations in all courses he teaches, including Sport Communications; Sport, Media, and Society; and the ever-so-popular Super Bowl and Society, in which he arranges for several students to travel with him to the Super Bowl and hosts a live Zoom class from the host city.
  10. And . . .

  11. The most important highlight and reason for his receiving this award–Dennis’ engagement with students in and out of the classroom is a model we can all aspire to. Whether providing academic or career advice, he is rarely seen in his office without a student seeking his guidance or support. One student summarized it best: “Professor Deninger has great enthusiasm every day and is a great storyteller, so his lectures are much more engaging than other professors might be. It’s very obvious that he knows the content from both an academic and experience perspective. It was an extreme privilege to be able to learn from this industry professional.”

Bernard Appiah

Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health
Faculty of the Year Award for Excellence in Service

Two individuals stand together with an award between them
Bernard Appiah, who received the Faculty of the Year Award for Excellence in Service. with presenter Lisa Olson-Gugerty.

From presenter Lisa Olson-Gugerty, associate teaching professor in the Department of Public Health and a member of the Falk Faculty Council:

Since 2021, Bernard has been faculty advisor of the Graduate Student Association for Public Health, which he helped establish. Under his guidance, the association became the first student association officially affiliated with the New York Public Health Association. Additionally, since 2021, Bernard has served on our department’s Program Review and Assessment Committee (PRAC), a pivotal committee responsible for curriculum review and quality improvement. During his tenure on PRAC, our department achieved accreditation as a “Public Health Program” from the Council for Education in Public Health. In 2023, Bernard served as a member of the Falk Program Review Committee and contributed to the evaluation of SOURCE grant applications, furthering the work of Falk College and Syracuse University.

Bernard has also made significant contributions to our international community, serving on committees relevant to his expertise in pharmacy and health communication. Notably, he is a member of the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) Expert Committee on Healthcare Safety and Quality and the USP’s Drug and Classification (DC) subcommittee. His work with the DC subcommittee led to it being awarded the 2023 USP Award for Outstanding Contribution to USP Standards by a Volunteer Expert Group. Additionally, in fall 2023, Bernard mentored participants in Farm Radio’s online course on using radio for development, fostering impactful radio program design.

Furthermore, Bernard was selected by the Africa Center for Disease Control as a trainer and evaluator for its Public Health Journalism Fellowship program, where he secured funding for a research assistant to attend the conference in Zambia. This initiative contributes significantly to the internationalization of Falk College and the University. In the same period, Bernard joined the expert panel for the development of a manual for blood donor recruitment across Africa, an initiative of the Belgian Red Cross. Finally, Bernard has served as an editorial consultant for Health Psychology and a reviewer for PLOS Global Public Health, enhancing his contributions to the field of global health.

Joey Merrin

Assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science
Faculty of the Year Award for Excellence in Research

Two individuals stand together with an award between them
Joey Merrin, who received the Faculty of the Year Award for Excellence in Research, with presenter Ambika Krishnakumar.

From presenter Ambika Krishnakumar, professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science and a member of the Falk Faculty Council:

Dr. Gabriel “Joey” Merrin was selected for this honor from a very strong pool of Falk candidates, all with excellent research credentials.

Dr. Merrin is a developmental psychologist and an applied methodologist whose research agenda focuses on a wide range of important and relevant topics such as identity-based harassment, aggression, victimization in the school context, delinquency, substance use, adolescent development, and the transition to young adulthood. His research indicates a commitment to the lives of minority and oppressed groups, and he is currently engaged in translating and mobilizing research knowledge to inform intervention and prevention efforts in these communities.

In the calendar year 2023 to the present, Dr. Merrin published his work in 17 high-impact journals such as Frontiers in Psychology, Psychology of Violence, Journal of Child and Family Studies, and the Journal of Contemporary Educational Psychology, to name a few. He currently has five manuscripts under review and 10 manuscripts in preparation.

In this academic year, Dr. Merrin presented his research at 16 professional conferences. Dr. Merrin received one external grant from the National Institute of Justice as co-investigator and has one grant proposal under review with the National Institute of Health as Co-PI (co-principal investigator). According to the Scopus citations report for 2023-2024, Dr. Merrin’s research was cited by his peers in 367 articles.

Last week, Dr. Merrin was awarded the Excellence in Graduate Education Faculty Recognition Award from Syracuse University for his commitment to graduate student research. In recognition of his excellence in research and his contributions to the advancement of knowledge, Dr. Gabriel Joey Merrin receives the 2024 Falk Faculty Award for Research. Congratulations!

Class of 2024 Falk College Scholars

‘Thank you, Syracuse, for the path, passion, and people that made a difference and challenged me to do the same’
Falk scholars students standing together

Falk College Scholars and Undergraduate Department Marshals recently gathered a reception hosted by Dean Jeremy Jordan. Front row, left to right: Scholar Alison Gilmore and Marshals Jane Alexander Morales-Pinto (Food Studies) and Marissa Taylor Schneider (Sport Analytics). Middle row, left to right: Marshal Emily Jo Shuman (Human Development and Family Science), Scholars Sophia Lehrer and Ainsley MacLachlan, Marshal Julia Geronimo (Exercise Science), and Scholar Creagan Mee. Back row, left to right: Scholars Nicholas Kamimoto, Tyler Bolebruch, Mariana Pérez Lugo, and Tess Palin, Marshal Lirona Brucaj (Nutrition), and Scholar Alex Oppel.

Ten members of the Class of 2024 have been named Falk College Scholars–the highest academic award conferred by the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics on graduating seniors. Falk Scholars represent undergraduate students who display academic excellence, exceptional campus and community engagement, independent research and creative work, innovation in their disciplinary field, and personal integrity.

We asked the Class of 2024 Falk Scholars to describe their most impactful experiences at Syracuse University. Here’s what they wrote:

Sean Bolan stands on a soccer field with a trophy
Sean Bolan with the Syracuse University’s 2022 men’s soccer NCAA Championship trophy.

Sean Boland, Sport Analytics

My most influential–and certainly most memorable–experience at Syracuse University has been working as an analyst for the men’s soccer team. In this role, I have been able to develop technical skills, create memories, and build relationships that will last long after graduation.

I started working with the soccer team as a sophomore, thanks to a connection through the Sport Analytics program, and have loved every minute of the journey it has taken me on these last three years. Standing on the sideline with the team during the decisive penalty kick shootout that won us the 2022 NCAA Championship, running onto the field after the final shot, and getting to hold the national championship trophy are memories that I will never forget. Getting the chance to experience moments like this while also developing relevant skills that will help me as a professional in the sport analytics industry has been everything that I could have asked for and much more.

Four male students pose in a stadium
Tyler Bolebruch (left) with the Syracuse University team that won the National Collegiate Sports Analytics Championship in Dallas, Texas.

Tyler Bolebruch, Sport Analytics

The most influential moments that I have had at Syracuse University and Falk College are all the events I was able to travel to, and be a part of, including the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Analytics Conference, MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and National Collegiate Sports Analytics Championship (NCSAC). Each one of these events was a great experience that allowed me to meet a lot of different people and learn from the many different talks and presentations.

Beyond that, for the SABR Conference and NCSAC, I was able to compete and present my work to industry professionals. This has helped me substantially in my search for a job. Instead of simply meeting some of these professionals, they have been able to see my work and what I can do. The exposure from the Sport Analytics program and Falk College has had a massive impact on my college experience and future career opportunities.

Alison Gilmore stands outside the student center at Syracuse University.
Alison Gilmore was also named one of 12 Syracuse University Scholars, the highest undergraduate honor the University bestows.

Alison Gilmore, Sport Analytics

My time at Syracuse University has been unforgettable and life-changing in so many ways. Involvement in clubs such as Sport Analytics Women Club, Baseball Statistics and Sabermetrics Club, OrangeSeeds, and OttoTHON allowed me to tap into my passions, develop personally and professionally, and surround myself with remarkable and diverse individuals. Further, my work as a Student Assistant and Peer Mentor at the Disability Cultural Center helped support my passion for advocacy while facilitating my growth in exponential ways, from speaking at the New York State capitol to co-presenting in a panel discussion at the University’s inaugural DEIA symposium.

Beyond that, as a Remembrance Scholar—forever the greatest honor of my life—attending the Pan Am Flight 103 35th Anniversary memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery alongside a few of my fellow Scholars was incredibly special. Within sport analytics, the opportunities I was afforded to attend conferences such as the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Analytics Conference and the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference were fundamental for me professionally. I am endlessly grateful to those who have had a hand in my journey. I am forever Proud to be Orange!

Nicholas Kamimoto portrait
Nicholas Kamimoto presented his research at the prestigious MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

Nicholas Kamimoto, Sport Analytics

Syracuse University and the Sport Analytics program has provided me with countless opportunities throughout my four years here. I have been able to build relationships and create memories that will last a lifetime. The most memorable experiences that I have had here at Syracuse have been the competitions and research that I have been a part of, such as representing Syracuse during the 2024 Business Analytics National Collegiate Sports Analytics Championship. Our team ended up winning the championship and that was such a great feeling seeing all our hard work pay off. I had an incredible time traveling with my friends to compete.

I have also had the opportunity to work alongside (Associate Professor) Dr. Justin Ehrlich this past year. We have worked on various research papers, most notably being a paper analyzing NBA true shot charts. I created a dashboard to display all the GAM (generalized additive model) shot charts. The paper made it all the way to a finalist at the 2024 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. I am so grateful for my time at Syracuse and in the Sports Analytics program at Falk College. I thank all my professors and peers who have helped me along the way.

Sophia Lehrer Leans against on of Falk College's buildings.
Sophia Lehrer’s varied experience at Syracuse University included an appearance in the gymnastics national finals and a cover story for Healthy You magazine.

Sophia Lehrer, Human Development and Family Science

Discovering curiosity’s compass in Falk College and the Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) program revealed many shapes and silhouettes that now frame my seasons at Syracuse–challenging valleys traversed, majestic hills ascended, faces and hearts of those that stirred me on. Combining research, fieldwork, and mentorship instilled a passion for pediatric healthcare. Working with toddlers at the Bernice M. Wright Child Development Laboratory School, observing surgeries at St. Joseph’s NICU, and trips including Bloomberg’s London headquarters through Syracuse Abroad connected science, practice, and journalism as integrated pursuits.

Professors and students inspired my path from HDFS Outstanding Freshman to Falk Scholar and beyond. A USA Gymnastics State Vault Champion, I applied the physics of leaping as my teammates and I led Syracuse to the NAIGC Gymnastics National Finals! Syracuse sparked creative leaps as well, encouraging me to publish the cover article in “Healthy You” magazine while earning a minor at Newhouse. Academic, athletic, and life lessons remain as guideposts to pursue a doctorate in healthcare on a journey to become an engaged clinician, researcher, and educator. Thank you, Syracuse, for the path, passion, and people that made a difference and challenged me to do the same! A slice of gratitude among many–Go Orange!

Ainsley MacLachlan portrait
Ainsley MacLachlan was involved in a groundbreaking study showing how wastewater surveillance is a potent tool in understanding COVID-19 transmission within school settings.

Ainsley MacLachlan, Public Health

My time at Syracuse University has truly been the most memorable four years of my life, thanks to my friends, professors, and mentors. I am incredibly grateful to have received the guidance of (Chair and Professor) Dr. David Larsen, who has supported the start of my research career while teaching me the power of wastewater surveillance in public health.

With my colleagues in Dr. Larsen’s lab, I have had the incredible opportunities of both having my work published in PLOS Global Public Health and attending the New York Water Environment Association’s annual conference. It is because of my experiences during my studies at Syracuse University and Falk College that I feel truly prepared and confident to embark on my next chapter of life.

Creagan Mee portrait
Since August, Creagan Mee has served as crew chief for Syracuse University Ambulance, a student-operated organization that responds to over 1,500 medical emergencies per year.

Creagan Mee, Public Health

Syracuse University has played a huge role in my personal and professional development. Working as an EMT (emergency medical technician) for Syracuse University Ambulance allowed me to explore my passion for medicine. This experience not only taught me essential skills in patient care but also significantly developed my self-confidence. Studying abroad in Florence, Italy, was also a transformative experience that broadened cultural understandings and pushed me outside my comfort zone.

Additionally, conducting research for my honors thesis on the relationship between preterm births and the social determinants of health enhanced my understanding of health issues, especially in maternal reproductive health. This experience equipped me with research skills and valuable knowledge that I will apply in my future career to deliver equitable and compassionate healthcare. I am forever grateful for the friendships, mentorship, and opportunities that Syracuse University has provided me, shaping me into the person I am today.

Alex Oppel stands next to a S.A.B.R. Conference sign.
Alex Oppel was a member of the Syracuse University team that won the 2024 Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Diamond Dollars Case Competition in Phoenix, Arizona.

Alex Oppel, Sport Analytics

My time at Syracuse University has been everything I could have hoped for. While COVID made my college transition more challenging, the experiences I have had and the relationships I have built have allowed me to grow into the person I am today.

Many of my favorite memories at Syracuse have come from my involvement with the Baseball Sabermetrics Club. I have had the opportunity to participate in several baseball analytics case competitions, which served as a platform to showcase and develop my analytical skills. The last two in-person competitions in Phoenix, Arizona, were especially fun. Being able to attend World Baseball Classic and spring training games with peers are experiences I will always remember.

Whenever I reflect on my four years at Syracuse, I will think about the people I am thankful to now call good friends. I have thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by like-minded classmates who share my passion for sport, as well as interacting with the faculty and staff who make our program unrivaled.

Tess Palin works with a young child at a table.
As site coordinator and outreach coordinator for Syracuse University’s Shaw Center, Tess Palin facilitated a cooking and nutrition literacy program in the Syracuse City School District.

Tess Palin, Nutrition Science

My most influential and memorable experiences in my undergraduate career have been in my time working with Syracuse University’s Mary Ann Shaw Center for Public and Community Service. Starting as a sophomore, I volunteered at Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection to teach students at risk of not graduating how to cook and build balanced meals. After becoming an intern at the Shaw Center, I was able to run that specific program, as well as create and facilitate two different pilot programs that worked with different community partners and students.

I have also been able to help create community events in collaboration with “Take Back the Streets,” a grassroots initiative out of the west side of Syracuse to bring resources to different members of the community. These experiences have strengthened my desire to work with, and for, the various communities I am a part of, which has informed my future education and career goals.

Mariana Pérez
Lugo portrait
A Syracuse University Scholar as well as a Falk Scholar, Mariana Pérez Lugo received the 2023 Norma Slepecky Undergraduate Research Prize from Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE).

Mariana Pérez Lugo, Nutrition Science

My time at Syracuse University has truly been a journey filled with impactful moments. Joining Dr. Latha Ramalingam’s research lab during my freshman year stands out as a highlight of my undergraduate journey, particularly as I took on the role of primary author for our published manuscript. Beyond academics, I found various ways to fulfill my passion for serving others, such as volunteering with the Shaw Center’s Food Busters Program, leading the Catholic Student Association as president, and even studying abroad in Madrid, immersing myself in diverse communities and cultures.

In addition to these endeavors, my role as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician at Syracuse University Ambulance was pivotal in shaping my journey. It solidified my passion for medicine, strengthening my commitment to a personalized approach to healthcare as I work towards my goal of becoming a physician.

A Lifetime of Service

Jim Stone’s Falk College Legacy: Service to the Advisory Board and Legislative Policy Day
Three people are standing together at a podium

During this year’s Legislative Policy Day, School of Social Work Professor Eric Kingson (left) and Professor and Chair Carrie Smith presented Jim Stone with an award for his dedication to the annual event at the Onondaga County Courthouse in downtown Syracuse.
When Jim Stone started his freshman year at Syracuse University in 1958, he had every intention of following in his parents’ footsteps and becoming a teacher.

In his junior year in the University’s School of Education, Stone was required to spend one afternoon a week working with children at a local school or agency and he selected the Hillbrook Juvenile Detention Center. That decision started Stone on a career path that led to a long and distinguished career as a social worker and as a member of the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics Advisory Board.

“I really liked that work (at Hillbrook) and, long story short, I decided I wasn’t going to be a teacher, I was going to be a social worker, much to the dismay of my mom and dad, who were both teachers,” says Stone, a Syracuse native who graduated from Syracuse in 1962 and received his master of social work (M.S.W.) degree in 1964.

Stone’s first field placement as a social work student was with the New York State Division of Youth. His early career was in the juvenile justice system as Onondaga County Director of Detention Care and with the state Division of Youth in positions ranging from director of community-based programs to superintendent of the largest training school in the state.

He then moved into the mental health field as Chief of Service in two New York State Office of Mental Health psychiatric centers, and as director of community services for Livingston and Monroe counties. He served as New York State’s Commissioner of Mental Health from 1995-2003 and entered the federal Senior Executive Service until his retirement in 2009.

“The marvelous thing about social work personally is that it gave me fabulous opportunities,” says Stone, who now lives in Albany. “I never went to the School of Social Work thinking I’d be the state Commissioner of Mental Health or working for the federal government as director of behavioral health for Indian Health Service.”

But even before he started his social work career, Stone displayed the traits that made him such a respected social worker. After earning his M.S.W., he spent one year as a teacher in the Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District near Syracuse because he had initially received scholarship money toward becoming a teacher.

“Nothing bad would have happened if I didn’t accept (the teaching position), but my conscious would have bothered me,” Stone says. “So, I taught for a year, and I had the good fortune of meeting a fellow teacher, Joan Borzelle (G ’67), and we got married and had three wonderful boys.”

Legislative Policy Day

At Falk College, Stone recently retired after more than 30 years as a volunteer with the School of Social Work Board of Visitors, which evolved into the Falk College Advisory Board when the School of Social Work and other departments joined to create Falk College. On April 12, Stone was bestowed with the title of Emeritus Board Member, and Falk Assistant Dean for Advancement Megan Myers says Stone will continue to be invited to Syracuse University and Falk College events and remain available as a sounding board for other board members.

“There is no one more deserving of emeritus board member recognition than Jim Stone, and we are forever grateful for his service,” Myers says. “For more than 30 years–even before Falk College was created–Jim has provided leadership and mentorship to our social work students and faculty. His philanthropy and dedication to educating future social work students can be seen every year with the James L. Stone Legislative Policy Day.”

Named after Stone because of his personal and financial support of the event, Legislative Policy Day is an important component of the Social Work curriculum. Held annually at the Onondaga County Courthouse in downtown Syracuse, the event provides Social Work undergraduate and graduate students a unique opportunity to witness the real-life involvement of community leaders, citizen organizations, politicians, and social workers who are actively involved in shaping policies that address an important social issue.

This year marked the 25th Legislative Policy Day and the April 12 event focused on “Social Security Across Generations.” That topic was a fitting tribute to retiring School of Social Work Professor and national Social Security expert Eric Kingson, who has worked closely with Stone over the years to build Legislative Policy Day into a signature event for the School of Social Work.

“I’ve always been interested in the Legislature and the legislative process, but I had to teach myself about it and Legislative Day gives students a good perspective on what’s out there and how to make connections,” Stone says. “I feel really good about it because the students are getting something out of it. The speakers get something out it, too, because they’re getting a perspective from the students’ point of view.”

This year’s event started with James T. Rowley, Chair of the Onondaga County Legislature, describing how the Legislature works and how citizens, community leaders, social workers, and other professionals can effectively address county issues and related legislation. That introduction was followed by panel discussions with guest speakers focusing on various perspectives related to social work, including the strategies and efforts of national and local organizations and advocates who work to protect and expand Social Security.

“Social workers have a professional responsibility to advance social justice by working to address systemic inequities and strengthen health and human services that individuals, families, and communities rely upon,” Kingson says. “Through their practice, they have direct experience with numerous social concerns This event is designed to encourage them to use that knowledge and reinforce how important it is for social workers to be engaged in policy and community change.”

A person talks with media crew in a courtroom

Social Work Professor Eric Kingson, shown here talking the media at this year’s Legislative Policy Day, has worked closely with Jim Stone to build Legislative Policy Day into a signature event for the School of Social Work.

Providing Support

During this year’s Legislative Policy Day, Kingson and School of Social Work Professor and Chair Carrie Smith presented Stone with an award for his dedication to the annual event. They thanked him for his contributions and, as Kingson said, “we’re all here because of Jim.”

“I’m grateful that over the years, Jim has become a friend,” Kingson says. “He has been very positive and helpful, including making contacts (with guest speakers) for us on some of the legislative days that focused very closely on his areas of knowledge, including mental health.”

In addition to Stone, Kingson and Smith presented an award to the members of the County Legislature and their staff for their support over the years.

“Over the 25 years we’ve held Legislative Policy Day conferences at the County Legislature, we’ve never been charged for use of the county’s historic Legislative Chambers and members and staff have always been very welcoming,” Kingson says. “Each chair of the Legislature has been introduced and presented to the students. It’s a perfect opportunity to educate students about how citizens, advocates, politicians, and other professionals engage in policy and community change..”

As they head into their respective retirements, Stone and Kingson will remain connected to the School of Social Work and committed to help with future Legislative Policy Days as the event grows and evolves.

Most of all, Stone and Kingson remain optimistic about the future of the social work profession and they’re confident that the students who have attended Legislative Policy Day over the years will continue working to creating social and economic justice in a diverse and rapidly changing world.

“There’s only one direction for it to go, and it is going in that direction,” Stone says. “It has to be there for people. These are particularly difficult times, it seems to me, and people need a lot of support and social work is a profession that can provide that kind of support.”

U.S. News and World Report has ranked the Syracuse University School of Social Work among the “Best Schools of Social Work” in the country.

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