On October 11, the Simmons community gathered to honor the outstanding achievements of six faculty members representing five disciplines. This year’s awardees received recognition for superlative undergraduate and graduate teaching, research, service, and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“We have come together to celebrate leaders, communicators, and teachers — our faculty,” said Teaching Professor of Biology Charlie Russell, President of the Faculty Senate, at the Simmons Faculty Awards Ceremony on October 11. “Over the last few months, a number of things have become truly apparent: that our faculty are resourceful, passionate, committed, and above all else dedicated to Simmons and its students.”
President Lynn Perry Wooten took the podium to commend Simmons’ faculty for the “deep and lasting impact that your expertise, commitment, and generosity of spirit have on our students and alums. This impact is something that unites our students and alums of all ages and disciplines. And it is something that continues to elevate this institution.”
Dr. Wooten emphasized that “Simmons was founded for equality nearly 125 years ago and it is built for this critical moment.” Despite the challenges posed by a global pandemic, threats to democracy at home and abroad, and a rapidly changing field of higher education, “our institution plays a pivotal role in helping to address so many of these social and economic challenges. And that is in large part because of you — your teaching, research, service, and mentorship. I continue to be inspired by your resiliency, creative thinking, and passion.”
Provost Russell Pinizzotto expressed his honor and privilege to present the awards to excellent faculty in five core domains: undergraduate teaching, graduate teaching, research, service to the University, and promotion of a diverse, equitable, and welcoming Simmons community.
The first awardee, Associate Professor of Practice of Nutrition and Assistant Director of the Dietetic Internship Program Sharon Gallagher, received recognition for her excellence in undergraduate teaching. “Even as a seasoned teacher,” said Provost Pinizzotto, “[Professor Gallagher] continues to seek opportunities to learn about how to become more responsive to students to maximize their learning and engagement. . . Her outstanding course evaluations for introductory nutrition show that she is highly skilled at teaching scientific nutrition concepts to both Nutrition students and non-majors.”
Associate Professor of Social Work Joanna Almeida received the University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching. Provost Pinizzotto quoted from Professor Almeida’s course evaluations, which highlighted her adaptability to different learning styles and her genuine concern for students. Professor Almeida is a dedicated advisor and mentor to doctoral students. In her colleagues’ words, “she is to be commended for her consistent and thoughtful mentorship of Ph.D. students.”
Assistant Professor of the School of Library and Information Science Rebecca Stallworth received the University Award for Excellence in Research. Provost Pinizzotto noted Professor Stallworth’s impressive track record of scholarship, including peer-reviewed articles, a book chapter, numerous conference presentations and invited talks, and a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Studies (IMLS) for her research. Beyond Stallworth’s productivity, the Provost praised her critical lens and “focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion, which is so central to the missions of both Simmons University and the School of Library and Information Science. For example, her work includes research on Black and African-American students’ experiences of academic libraries and research on first-generation master’s students.”
This year, Simmons recognized two awardees for their excellence in service: Associate Professor of Biology Anna Aguilera and Associate Professor of Nutrition Lisa Brown. Aguilera serves as the organizer of her department’s pre-tenure and tenure-track mentoring groups. In addition to her robust committee and leadership work, noted Pinizzotto, Professor Aguilera “is an advocate of service-learning and has long incorporated it in her lab-based courses, Principles of Ecology and Plant Biology, with the Charles River Watershed Alliance and the Needham Community Farm. . . As Director of Sustainability in the Colleges of the Fenway, she raised Simmons’ profile for environmental change.” For the Nutrition Department, Professor Brown played an instrumental role in expanding and directing the Dietetic Internship program, and continued to provide support during her sabbatical. Moreover, Brown chaired the Graduate Curriculum Committee and served as a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
The final award honors stellar commitment to promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Simmons. The recipient, Professor of Sociology Jyoti Puri, came to Simmons in 2000 and specializes in sexuality, gender, race, nation, and state from a transnational/postcolonial feminist perspective. As Puri’s colleagues have observed, she can “contribute her own unique experience and perspective to situations while at the same time actively engaging in critical analysis. . . Based on her understanding of the dynamics of oppression, Professor Puri is able to help students explore themes and situations in which advocacy, empowerment, and social justice are central.” In 2022, the Sociology of Sexualities section of the American Sociological Association bestowed a Simon-Gagnon Lifetime Achievement award to Puri. Last academic year, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Photographs by Donna de Chavigny