Five to Be Honored With Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence

Five Syracuse University faculty and staff members will receive the Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence at a campus ceremony and reception in their honor on Monday, April 1.

The 2013 Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence honorees are:

  • Luvenia Cowart, professor of practice in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics;
  • Edward L. Galvin, director of Archives and Records Management and Pan Am 103/Lockerbie Air Disaster archivist;
  • James T. Spencer, Meredith Professor of Chemistry and associate dean for science, mathematics and research in The College of Arts and Sciences;
  • Raja Velu, professor of managerial statistics and JPMorgan Chase Faculty Fellow in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management; and
  • Marion Wilson, associate professor of art, design and transmedia in the College of Visual and Performing Arts and director of community initiatives in the visual arts in the School of Education.

The Chancellor’s Citation awards were first presented in 1979 in recognition of outstanding achievement in teaching, scholarship and creative work. Over time, the focus of the awards has changed to reflect new priorities and institutional directions. The emphasis on excellence and outstanding achievement remains unchanged. Each year, members of the University community are invited to nominate a colleague or co-worker for recognition. A selection committee composed of faculty and staff from across campus reviews the nominations, and award winners are honored each spring.

All five honorees will receive a special art object, along with a citation statement recognizing his or her accomplishments.

The honorees are:

As a professor of practice in the Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, Cowart co-founded the Genesis Health Project in 2004. It is a partnership between minority churches, community and government sponsors and the University to reduce health disparities in minority populations. Focused on black families in low-income areas of Syracuse, this community-designed, culturally sensitive initiative promotes healthy lifestyles across the lifespan among African Americans, who have the highest rates of obesity in the U.S., by empowering them to improve their diets, food preparation techniques and exercise habits. In 2012, membership and project scope increased to include 10 inner-city minority churches and an expanded programmatic reach encompassing diabetes prevention and management as well as stroke.

Under Cowart’s leadership, the Genesis Project has accomplished numerous milestones, including health seminars, fitness programs, educational programs at barbershops and healthy lifestyle activities with churches and universities. Her work and the Genesis Health Project were recognized with the prestigious National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities Director’s Award in 2008 from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health. She received the 2011 Robert F. Allen Symbol of H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People through Empowerment) Award from the American Journal of Health Promotion for her efforts related to addressing health disparities and received the 2012 Post-Standard Achievement Award for her pioneering work with the Genesis Health Project in the Syracuse community. The Genesis Health Project has also been recognized several times with the SU Chancellor’s Award for Public and Community Service.

The Barbershop Education Program is one of the health promotion and outreach activities sponsored through the Genesis Project. The program has gained national attention and funding with its efforts to reduce the prostate cancer death rate among African American males, which is double the rate of white males. Instead of doctor’s offices—which many men avoid—Cowart reaches out through barbershops. Educators emphasize the importance of testing and diet and exercise and offer referrals for testing. Barbershops also hand out educational materials and continue the conversation.

“The Genesis Health Project is truly a best practices model of excellence that communities across the country are replicating to promote healthy lifestyles. The value of Dr. Cowart’s leadership by example for our students—the healthcare leaders of the future—is monumental. Working closely with her, they are gaining valuable, life-changing, how-to experience, to address health disparities and other major public health concerns that plague poor and underserved populations,” says Diane Lyden Murphy, dean of the Falk College. “Her leadership of the Genesis Health Project represents the essence of the Falk College’s mission of service to others. I am very proud and incredibly grateful for her tireless work advocating for the health needs of others.”

“Dr. Luvenia Cowart is a passionate advocate for the health needs of underserved populations. The Genesis Health Project is an example of her creativeness and ingenuity, as well as her professional and personal commitment to community health and social change,” notes Mary Ann Middlemiss, associate professor of public health in the Falk College.  “She has made significant contributions to the health of minority populations, empowered lay community members to take charge of their own health, organized collective community action and created sustainable health care ministries. Dr. Cowart’s knowledge, skill and ability to establish authentic and sustainable partnerships have created environments that continue to transform individuals, communities and institutions locally and nationally.”

Students enrolled in Cowart’s “Culturally Competent Healthcare” class complete an experiential learning practicum in support of the project that often ties into Genesis Health Project initiatives. “The experiential learning component provided an opportunity for students to engage individuals and families from various cultures and utilize new culturally competent strategies in promoting health in a non-traditional setting,” says Bruce Kingma, associate provost for entrepreneurship and innovation, who nominated Cowart for the award.

The project not only benefits the communities served, but gives students—future healthcare leaders, policymakers and practitioners—practical experience in addressing major public health issues that affect poor and underserved populations.

“These learning activities help prepare and equip students to enter health professions specific to working with vulnerable populations and eliminating racial and ethnic disparities,” says Kingma. “Furthermore, such learning activities enhanced student awareness of potential business opportunities in Syracuse and in the healthcare profession.”

Cowart has been a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nursing Fellow. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Wayne State University and a master’s degree in nursing education, a master’s degree in rehabilitation and vocational counseling and a doctorate in adult education and administration, all from SU.

Edward L. Galvin

When Galvin joined Syracuse University as the director of Archives and Records Management in 1995, the Pan Am 103/Lockerbie Air Disaster Archives collection had already been established. It already included Syracuse University materials on the 1988 tragedy and memorabilia and some personal effects relating to the 35 SU students who perished aboard the doomed flight.

But the collection became a labor of love for Galvin. He expanded its scope to include all 270 victims, not just those associated with SU. His efforts have resulted in many of the victims’ families “adopting” SU as their partner. With an extensive catalog of materials, including trial transcripts and government reports, the Pan Am 103/Lockerbie Air Disaster Archives has become a primary source for research about terrorism.

Even though Galvin has now hired an assistant archivist for the Pan Am 103 collection, he still retains the title of Pan Am 103 Archivist because of how strongly he feels about the collection and the families. He has become respected within the profession for his knowledge of collections of this type—after the Virginia Tech shooting tragedy a few years ago, Galvin provided advice and support to the institution on how to preserve both the memories of those lost and critical incident information.

In large part because of Galvin’s work and the relationships he has built with the Pan Am 103 families, the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 (VPAF 103) families’ advocacy group holds its annual meeting on the SU campus. Galvin was a 2008 recipient of the group’s “Keeping the Spirit Alive” award, and has recently been elected to the VPAF 103 advisory board.

“As the parents of one of the students killed on Pan Am 103, we feel very grateful to Ed Galvin for his tireless effort and dedication to have undertaken the huge task of archiving the thousands of items given to him by family members of all Pan Am 103 victims,” say Suse and Peter Lowenstein, parents of Alexander Lowenstein. “Because of this work, the memory of our loved ones will live on.”

That is one of the many reasons that Galvin has been chosen to receive a Chancellor’s Citation this year.

In addition, Galvin is teacher who reaches out across campus to explain the importance of preserving SU’s institutional history. He gives talks to student classes and to alumni groups. As a result, a growing number of departments and campus organizations contribute materials to the archives regularly, and students understand and increasingly access the resources available to them. Galvin has been a member of the University’s Remembrance Scholar Selection Committee, and works closely with the Remembrance Scholars, preparing them for their roles as campus and community ambassadors.

“Perhaps one of the greatest examples of Ed as a teacher is his interaction with the Remembrance Scholars each year, says Kelly Rodoski, communications manager in the Office of News Services and chair of SU’s Pan Am 103 25th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, who nominated Galvin for the award. “Ed’s wisdom, compassion and knowledge help our current students to research and get to personally know the student victims they represent. The scholars, in turn, educate the campus and greater community about the tragedy and how we can make the world a better place. This is another example of how Ed’s work has an extremely broad—even global—reach.”

Anna Kahkoska, a senior biochemistry major in The College of Arts and Sciences and 2012-13 Remembrance Scholar, contacted Galvin to help with a time capsule idea the Remembrance Scholars wanted to do as part of the “Look Back, Act Forward: theme they selected for the year. “I was referred to Ed to understand what exactly was in the archives and how archives could help us. Besides being incredibly knowledgeable about the logistics of constructing a time capsule, Ed helped me to brainstorm some really moving ideas for the contents of the time capsule. He also sent me a thorough research that he had done on time capsules previously. Overall, I found Ed to be very friendly, enthusiastic and a true expert in what he does.”

Beyond the time capsule project, Galvin also made the broader impact of Pan Am 103 tragedy a reality for Kahkoska, who hadn’t been born when the tragedy happened in 1988. “His enthusiasm for the project reminded me of how people all across this campus have been deeply affected and shaped by the Pan Am 103 bombing. In our discussion, it became apparent very quickly that Ed is deeply connected to the students and the tragedy- his knowledge on the subject and the archives themselves is vast and inspiring to me. He referred me to specific collections in the archives that I did not know existed and offered some insightful ways that we could connect our generation of scholars to different scholars’ projects in the past; he essentially offered me a physical way to embed myself in the campus as a Remembrance Scholar, interacting with the sense of tradition and connectedness through the act of remembering. He listened to my goals as a scholar, opened the archives to me and helped me figure out a way to make our vision a reality.”

Galvin is a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists. In 2009, he was named a fellow of the Society of American Archivists in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the archives profession. He received an M.A. from Northeastern University in 1980 in historical agencies and administration, where he was the first graduate in the program.

He has published several papers, including “Archives of Memory: Pan Am Flight 103” in the Spring 2011 issue of New York Archives Magazine. His presentations include “Darkness into Light: 20 Years of the Pan Am 103 Archives,” which was presented to the Society of American Archivists and the American Library Association in 2009.

James T. Spencer

If there were truly a modern manifestation of a Renaissance man on the Syracuse University campus, Dr. Jim Spencer should have his picture by the definition,” says a cross-disciplinary group of faculty members who nominated Spencer for the Chancellor’s Citation, citing his “outstanding scholarship, superlative teaching, extensive community engagement and commitment to the University community.”

Spencer is a professor of chemistry and a Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence in The College of Arts and Sciences, where he is also associate dean of science, mathematics and research. His research interests involve the exploration and application of new compounds to a variety of technological problems, and the creation of materials that have unique capabilities.  These materials are critical candidates for use in next-generation photocells and as solid state sensors and detectors of particular interest to forensic and national security applications. His work in cluster photochemistry has also helped scientists to understand the forces holding molecular cluster molecules together. He was awarded the “Distinguished Achievements in Boron Science” award in recognition of his seminal research work in main group chemistry. He is also a member of the New York Academy of Science and the American Academy of Forensic Science.

Colleagues describe Spencer as a “passionate, dedicated and gifted teacher,” and his classes are among the most popular at SU. He conceived and created the concept of Integrated Learning Programs in The College of Arts and Sciences, integrating traditional undergraduate majors with those focused in applied areas. He also created the SU Project Advance Forensics Program, which has become the single largest course that SUPA offers, with more than 2,200 students and nearly 200 teachers involved annually. He has also written the definitive textbook and lab manual in introductory forensic science (due out this fall).

In his vital outreach to younger students, he has lectured to more than 20,000 high school students in the past decade in more than 200 different high schools about the excitement of scientific creativity and discovery. Spencer has worked with the “Pulse of the Planet” radio program to help excite children about science. The program broadcasts nationally, including on NPR and other stations, to more than 1 million listeners weekly. Besides the Meredith Professorship, Spencer has also won the Excellence in Teaching Award from SU’s University College.

Spencer founded and developed the University’s Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute (FNSSI), joining the issues of forensic science with national security science. The institute, for which Spencer currently serves as executive director, now encompasses 15 core faculty members and faculty fellows, nearly 100 researchers, six corporate partners, four colleges on campus, numerous graduate students and more than two dozen course offerings. He has recently served as the principal investigator, with three other faculty members, on a $912,000 National Institutes of Justice grant in forensic science.

Spencer has served in numerous leadership roles at SU, including interim director of the Renée Crown University Honors Program; director of the SU Soling Program; chair of the Faculty Council, Senate Research Committee and A&S Promotion and Tenure Committee. He also serves as liaison for the Goldwater Foundation and the Astronaut Foundation for the University. Since Spencer took over the organization of these scholarships, the University has doubled the rate of students receiving these prestigious and highly competitive awards. He also founded the first National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates Award in Chemistry at SU and played an integral role in designing and implementing Mayfest: A Celebration of Study, Creativity and Discovery for its first five years.

Spencer’s contributions to the University also extend into the arts at SU. He is the founder and director of the Syracuse University Brass Ensemble, an ensemble within The College of Arts and Sciences, that is a group of 35 accomplished brass and percussion musicians comprised of SU faculty, staff and students; the State University of New York Upstate Medical University faculty and staff; and musicians from Upstate New York communities. The SU Brass performs annually at the SU Commencement, for the annual “Holidays at Hendricks” concert that is broadcast on WCNY, and has twice placed first nationally in the North American Brass Band Association’s Festival.

“Jim is a gifted and sought-out teacher, a nationally known researcher and an inspired leader who has wholeheartedly put forward the good of the University and the greater community,” his nominators say, “Dr. Spencer’s creativity, leadership, organizational skills, focus on innovation and excellence, coupled with the highest integrity, showcase not only the best in the Scholarship in Action ethos, but in the University community.”

A professor of managerial statistics in the Whitman School of Management since 1998, Velu’s research focuses on multivariate analysis and data mining, among others. He has published in numerous premier journals in statistics, and his work in data mining is driven by extensive contacts with leading high-tech Internet firms, including Yahoo!, Microsoft and IBM. His intellectual contributions have resulted in several patents and his articles in data mining are presented at the most prestigious global technology conferences.

With Microsoft, Velu worked with data scientists and engineers to develop Prodcast, a price prediction engine for high-end products sold on the Internet. At Yahoo!, he was the lead advertising marketplace architect for the Sponsored Search division and developed a signature click-bid landscape based on empirical analysis of search/impression/click bid data. “Raja’s intellectual contributions exemplify the ‘innovative curiosity and experimentation that contribute to new understandings of our world and creative responses to its problems,’” says Michel Benaroch, associate dean for research in the Whitman School of Management, who nominated Velu for the award.

Velu has led and worked on seven sponsored JPMorgan Chase research projects, bringing a total of $1.8 million to campus and producing results that are poised to appear in the most prestigious academic publications in finance and data mining. He was chosen in 2011 as an inaugural JPMorgan Chase Faculty Fellow, serving as a liaison and facilitator between JPMorgan Chase and SU and helping to foster deeper understanding between the two institutions and facilitating collaborative research. In this capacity, he helped JPMC managers develop awareness of Syracuse University’s faculty excellence in several areas of expertise and facilitated faculty connections with JPMC teams.

In a letter to SU, Daniel Nehren, head of Linear Quantitative Research (LQR) at JPMC, concludes, “But in some way the most valuable unexpected outcome for me was that Raja became almost one of the team, interacting with all members and sharing ideas, expertise and research. He acted as a sounding board and mentor to all and the whole team learned a lot from him and we are better because of the interaction. We can always count Professor Velu as an honorary member of LQR.”

“Professor Velu, with his expertise in highly technical statistical mathematics and finance, was a uniquely qualified and highly effective liaison,” says Gina Lee-Glauser, SU’s vice president for research. “He not only conducted applied research projects with practitioners, he was a true educator. … He truly embodied ‘Education for the World—In the World.’”

“Raja’s extensive work with industry leaders, and particularly his relationship with JPMorgan Chase, is an amazing example of how excellence in intellectual endeavors combines with excellence in service to Syracuse University and its strategic partners,” says Benaroch.

Velu has taught courses at all levels and spearheaded the development of statistics courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and has made tireless efforts to guide doctoral students through their programs. “Throughout his time at Syracuse University, Raja’s focus has been on bringing his real-life industry experience to the classroom and on enabling students to learn methodologies that help them make informed business decisions,” says Benaroch. “Raja is a professor who truly cares about student learning and keeps in touch with students long after they graduate.”

Velu has served as department chair in Whitman and on numerous college committees, including dean and associate deans’ evaluation committees. He is also a well-known leader in his professional communities and has held a visiting appointment in the statistics department at Stanford University since 2005.

Marion Wilson

As the director of community initiatives in the visual arts in the School of Education at Syracuse University, Wilson works in the Near West Side, where she promotes the coproduction of culture in collaboration with the city schools, the neighborhood and SU.

Wilson, who is also an associate professor of art, design and transmedia in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, is the founder of 601 Tully, a center for engaged artistic practice that houses an international art gallery, incubates high school entrepreneurship and offers neighborhood barista certification classes in its Recess Cafe West. 601 Tully is a living sculpture where artists, community members and scholars engage in the coproduction of culture.

The building at 601 Tully was an abandoned residence that had become a neighborhood drug zone. Students in Wilson’s “Social Sculpture: 601 Tully Design/Build” class (students from the School of Architecture, College of Visual and Performing Arts, School of Education, Creative Writing Program, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Fowler High School) were responsible for re-zoning, designing, building and sustaining the program. 601 Tully opened to the public in June 2011.

“Marion’s work at 601 Tully has been a major catalyst for the arts-based community engagement in the neighborhood,” says Maarten Jacobs, director of the Near West Side Initiative. “Her commitment, and the commitment of her students, to the residents of the community has been unwavering. 601 Tully has been a shining example of how creative people can find creative ways to unite diverse groups of individuals together for the greater good of a community.”

601 Tully is also made possible by the support of the Syracuse University School of Education, The Kauffman Foundation, The Near West Side Initiative, Imagining America, Home HeadQuarters Inc., Say Yes to Education and National Grid.

Wilson devised her “Social Sculpture” interdisciplinary curriculum in 2007. She conceptualized and directed the construction of the Mobile Literacy Arts Bus (MLAB), a 1984 Winnebago that was converted into a mobile classroom by a team of art, architecture and design students. MLAB was born as a physical space for use as a mobile classroom, digital photo lab, gallery space, radio, publishing house and community center for students in the Syracuse City School District. The bus also offered creative art, photography and writing programming during afterschool programs for elementary students through Say Yes to Education, and a conversation and creativity space for young women in high school through an MLAB-developed program, Girl Talk.

“With a holistic approach, Marion follows the projects from conceptualization to completion to sustainable implementation,” says Sarah McCoubrey, professor of art, design and transmedia in the School of Art and Design in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “This includes building a web of partners, operating with a modest budget and employing former students to ensure continuity and integrity of the project as they are brought to full realization.”

Wilson also maintains an art studio and art practice in New York City. She has had exhibitions or completed public commissions for New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City; KK Art Projects, New Orleans; Dorsky Gallery, NYC; and Shroeder Romero Gallery, Exit Art, Cheryl Pelavin Fine Arts and Sculpture Center, NYC; Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo; SPACES in Cleveland; and SCOPE Miami/Art Basel in Miami.

Wilson received a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University, a master’s degree in pedagogical studies from Columbia University, and an M.F.A. from the University of Cincinnati.