Chancellor Recognizes SUNY Plattsburgh Faculty, Staff For Excellence

By Gerianne Wright
June 2017

Nine SUNY Plattsburgh faculty and staff members have been named recipients of the 2017 Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence. Those selected by the state are role models within the State University of New York community.

College recipients for 2017 are:

  • Dr. Julia Davis and Dr. Kirsten Isgro: Teaching
  • Dr. Kathleen Lavoie: Scholarship and creative activities
  • Dr. Michael Morales: Faculty service
  • Dr. Joshua Beatty: Librarianship
  • Diane Merkel and Denise Philo: Professional service
  • Joy LaPorte: Classified service

In addition, Laura-Jean Schwarteau, adjunct teacher in theater, was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Adjunct Teaching.

“The strength and impact of SUNY is powered by expert faculty and staff from throughout our 64-campus university system, and the 361 individuals receiving this year’s Chancellor’s Award for Excellence are the best among the best,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. “The many faculty and staff honored have ensured student success as they educate and mentor students with innovative approaches to academic instruction, infuse curricula with applied learning opportunities, adapt best practices from throughout SUNY, and much more. It is an honor to recognize the excellent work of the faculty and staff at SUNY Plattsburgh and that of their colleagues across SUNY. Congratulations to all of this year’s recipients."

A certificate and Chancellor’s Excellence Medallion are bestowed upon each honoree to commemorate selection. The SUNY Plattsburgh recipients will be honored during the President’s Welcome prior to the start of the fall semester on Aug. 25.

“We are extremely proud of these seven individuals," said SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling. "It is gratifying to see them recognized for their efforts among peers across the entire SUNY system. They have demonstrated excellence for years and are justly being honored in this way."

Dr. Julia Davis: Teaching

Dr. Julia Davis, associate professor in counselor education program, joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 2008. Prior to that, she worked as a student-affairs professional in a variety of higher-education settings. Promoted to associate professor at SUNY Plattsburgh in 2012, Davis has taught graduate-level courses in student affairs, international education, and research and assessment. She was named department chair in January 2014.

Dr. Kirsten Isgro: Teaching

Dr. Kirsten Isgro began her career at SUNY Plattsburgh as a visiting lecturer in 1997. In 2010, she was appointed to the rank of assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies and was promoted to associate professor in 2014. Prior to joining the faculty, Isgro was a visiting lecturer and teacher of record at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, assistant speaking coordinator for the speaking, arguing and writing program at Mount Holyoke College, and instructor at Champlain College. Her program of scholarship focuses on the roles of gender and motherhood in American communication systems.

Dr. Kathleen Lavoie: Scholarship and Creative Activities

Dr. Kathleen Lavoie, former dean of arts and sciences, is professor of biology, having joined the faculty in 1997. She returned to full-time teaching in biological sciences in 2013, turning her attention to research that has involved crawling into cramped caves alongside bats and guano. Often in collaboration with undergraduate students, Lavoie has authored numerous books, papers and reports on her research. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the National Speleological Society for her work in the study of caves. She has been elected a fellow of both the Cave Research Foundation and the National Speleological Society.

Dr. Michael Morales: Faculty Service

Dr. Michael Morales joined the SUNY Plattsburgh faculty in 1999 as an assistant professor in psychology following a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Miami. He was promoted to associate professor in 2005 and awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching that year. The co-chair of the psychology department, Morales has served as interim executive director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Health since 2013. In addition to his interim position, Morales has served the college as a faculty senator, a member of the curriculum committee, the graduate advisory, student grievance, and the assessment student awards committees and on the judicial review board and the student/faculty research board.

Dr. Joshua Beatty: Librarianship

Dr. Joshua Beatty joined the Feinberg Library staff as a visiting assistant librarian in 2010. Two years later, he was appointed senior assistant librarian, a position he continues to hold. Beatty participates in numerous aspects of instructional services and has taught across semesters and in varied formats. Tasked with the instruction and reference services unit, Beatty also responds to requests via the online reference chat service and is responsible for maximizing the value of the college’s Digital Commons Institutional Repository. He chairs the campus-wide Digital Commons advisory board, is a member of the Faculty Senate Writing Across the Curriculum committee, and serves as librarian liaison to the anthropology, art, history and political science departments.

Diane Merkel: Professional Service

Diane Merkel joined the college community in 2008 as assistant to the provost. Prior to joining SUNY Plattsburgh, she served 15 years at Clinton Community College as assistant to the dean for administration, college bursar and human resources/Affirmative Action officer. She was promoted to assistant provost where she acts as key adviser to the provost on financial aspects within the academic affairs division. She manages multiple budget accounts to monitor expenditures and allocations, coordinates the budget process by working closely with deans, chairs, and the budget office. She organizes new faculty and new chair orientation sessions, spreads awareness of professional development offerings, and manages the sabbatical application process for faculty.

Denise Philo: Professional Service

Denise Philo, a member of the Class of ’96, joined the staff in 1981 and has moved up the ranks, holding positions that include typist, writing tutor, senior clerk, secretary, academic adviser, assistant college registrar, associate registrar and college registrar. Over the past 14 years in the registrar’s office, Philo has shepherded the implementation of key programs that have improved student, faculty and staff experience. She has been involved in the implementation of programs such as Banner, Degree Works and Student Outcome Tracker, and has functioned as project manager, trainer, tester and more. A frequent volunteer for committee service, Philo has worked to make sure the staff she supervises has the skills and resources to accomplish desired outcomes.

Joy LaPorte: Classified Service

Joy LaPorte joined the staff at SUNY Plattsburgh’s Student Health and Counseling Center in 1990 as a keyboard specialist 1, was promoted to keyboard specialist II in 1998 and then to Secretary 1 in 2000. The numerous letters of support included in her file attest to LaPorte’s superior performance and achievements. Her immediate supervisor, Assistant Director of Counseling Christy Minck, referred to LaPorte’s “extraordinary work ethic, competence, organizational skills, and continuous loyalty to the college and especially to the students.”

Laura-Jean Schwartau: Adjunct Teaching

Laura-Jean Schwartau ’79 trained at Circle in the Square Theater Program and at the University of Minnesota, earning her master of fine arts. She has taught introduction to acting, introduction to theater, acting I, II and III, among many other courses as an adjunct faculty member. A longtime company member of Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake, Schwartau has performed in “Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Candida,” “The Christmas Cat and the Pudding Pirates,” and “A Christmas Story,” among others. She is a specialist in movement studies and has directed and choreographed shows for the college such as “June Moon,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” “Oklahoma,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” and “Guys and Dolls,” among many others.


About the Awards

The awards provide systemwide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and encourage the ongoing pursuit of excellence. Through them, SUNY publicly proclaims its pride in the accomplishment and personal dedication of its instructional faculty, librarians and staff across all 64 campuses and system administration.

Awards are presented annual to faculty and staff in six categories: Faculty service, librarianship, professional service, scholarship and creative activities, teaching, adjunct in teaching (biannually), and classified service.




Previous Chancellor's Faculty and Staff Award Winners



Contact Information

For more information about SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact:

Phone: (518) 564-2040
Toll-free: (888) 673-0012
Fax: (518) 564-2045
Email: [email protected]