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Four RCC Employees Earn SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence

Four RCC Employees Earn SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence

2019 Chancellor's Award for Excellence recipients

Matthew Matcovich, Talia Lipton, Shamika Mitchell, Lilia Juele garner honors

DATE: May 21, 2019

RAMAPO, N.Y. – Four Rockland Community College employees have been recognized for outstanding professional achievement by earning SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence, which will be conferred at the college's Commencement ceremonies on May 23. Matthew Matcovich and Talia Lipton received the award for Excellence in Teaching; Dr. Shamika Mitchell was honored with the award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities; and Dr. Lilia Juele merited the award for Excellence in Professional Service. The Chancellor's Award is the highest honor bestowed by New York's state university system.

Matcovich, an assistant professor of Mathematics, joined the RCC faculty as a math adjunct in 2011 and has been a full-time faculty member since 2013. A 2008 RCC graduate who earned the Outstanding Student Service Award, Matcovich has added significantly to the stellar record he forged as an honors student. He has taught more than a dozen courses, ranging from developmental classes to advanced seminars within the Honors College. He has been particularly effective at curricular development. He revised and updated five courses to better align with departmental goals; worked with a team of faculty in his department to create College Algebra; developed a free online textbook that is used in all of the department's developmental math classes; and was a key contributor in his department’s adoption of the Carnegie Math Pathways Quantway through Quantitative Literacy.

Matcovich's value to the college extends beyond his classroom teaching. He is a highly sought-after volunteer in the Tutoring Center who is an indispensable asset for the college's academic support services. A former star baseball player for the Hawks and for St. Thomas Aquinas College (where he was chosen East Coast Conference Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year), Matcovich works successfully with the team's current players as an assistant coach. His mentorship encompasses academic advisement, help with transfer applications and general life coaching.

Continual professional growth is also a hallmark of Matcovich’s teaching career. He attends at least one conference each year, such as the New York State Mathematics Association of Two-Year Colleges. The material he brings back is usually about instructional technology such as the Tools of Engagement Project (TOEP) and Open Educational Resources (OER), and he shares this information through RCC's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

In addition to being a well-regarded teacher, Matcovich is among a select group of professors recognized as leaders of the campus community. He makes important contributions through his participation with multiple committees and task forces, including Guided Pathways, Middle States Accreditation, New Student Orientation, Open Educational Resources, Curriculum Committee, Faculty Senate, Educational Technology, and the Rockland Community College Federation of Teachers.

Lipton, instructor of Speech, joined the RCC faculty in 2011 following a 17-year career as a speech language pathologist. As a Speech instructor, she has devoted much time and effort to bring real-world experiences into the classroom, calling upon popular culture, personal anecdotes and students' shared experiences to make the information relevant and interesting. In addition to teaching a variety of Speech courses, Lipton provided the leadership that enabled RCC's Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative to receive a SUNY Innovative Instructional Technology Grant (IITG) for the establishment of an OER repository.

Lipton co-developed a course, Anatomy and Physiology for the Speech and Hearing Mechanism, and developed an Intercultural Communication Hybrid course. She founded and advises the Speech Pathways Club on campus, has organized enrichment activities at the Campus Fun & Learn Center, and has provided support for students with communications difficulties including fluency and articulation issues. She also mentors students on the Speech Pathology track. Lipton has been heavily involved with many committees on campus such as the RCC OER Committee and Guided Pathways and served as chair of the Division Curriculum Committee. She has been an active member of the Faculty Senate and Speech Department Assessment Review Committee and was asked to be chair of the SUNY OER Advisory Committee.

To maintain herself as a professional speech pathologist, Lipton completes continuing professional education courses in her field of Speech Pathology on an annual basis. She also had an article published in the Journal of Educational Technology titled, “Digital Distraction: Shedding Light on the 21st Century College Classroom.” In the community, she has consulted for the New Jersey Council for Exceptional Children, and has engaged in fundraising for Helping Hands therapy center and Autism Speaks.

Dr. Mitchell joined the RCC faculty in 2005 and currently serves as assistant professor of English. Her emphasis on curriculum development is reflected in her commitment to diversifying the course offerings within her department. She has revised two courses ― African-American Literature 1 and Asian-American Literature ― and created a new course, African American Literature 2. She is also developing a new course on comics and comics studies, which will collaborate with the History and Art departments.

Dr. Mitchell’s scholarship is interdisciplinary and focuses on ethnic literature and culture in America. Her specialization is in African American literature, hip-hop culture, comics, and subjectivity theory. Among her prolific written works, she has published reference materials in several texts, such as “Icons of Hip Hop,” contributed to “The Encyclopedia of Black Comics,” and offered an innovative analysis of the late novelist Gloria Naylor in “Gloria Naylor's Fiction: Contemporary Explorations of Class and Capitalism.” She has authored a groundbreaking article on American comics, “Unstable Masks: Whiteness and American Superhero Comics,” set for release in 2020. She has also written extensively about contemporary American social politics, American identity and popular culture.

At RCC, Dr. Mitchell uses technology to help engage students in the classroom. She won first place in 2017 in the SUNY Tools of Engagement Project (TOEP) and has given well-received presentations on digital tools. She has also extended her talents to campuses beyond national borders, participating in the SUNY Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) program. She visited Mexico and partnered in 2016 with the Universidad de Guadalajara, developing a course that was offered the following semester. She later visited Egypt for a second COIL teaching opportunity, with the American University in Cairo, and is currently “COILing” with Tianjin University in China and Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil.

Outside of the classroom, Dr. Mitchell has served as a co-adviser of RCC's Black Student Union and is adviser to the Muslim Student Association. Through her dynamic lecture series, “Elements of Style,” she has combined her research knowledge with student interests, with recent programs featuring rare film screenings, a celebrity cooking demonstration and food tasting, and recent Grammy Award winners. She has hosted various comic creators and publishers on campus, moderated two panels at the 2018 New York Comic Con, and has been a panelist and moderator at numerous other comics conventions.

Dr. Juele has devoted 12 years of dedicated service to RCC. Among her responsibilities as director of eLearning and Academic Technology are preparing and monitoring the five-year Academic Master Plan for the eLearning department; developing and monitoring the successful enactment of the yearly department strategic plans and budget; and working on ensuring that distance learning courses are designed to meet student learning outcomes at the course, program and institutional levels.

Dr. Juele's professional record is replete with noteworthy accomplishments. She wrote the application to gain approval of RCC’s Open SUNY Institutional Readiness Plan in 2016; received approval for offering and listing RCC online/hybrid courses in the Open SUNY website; received a $20,000 grant from Open SUNY toward helping RCC’s marketing efforts of online degrees; and paved the way to obtain approval by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) in 2017 to offer 14 online degrees following the state's requirement using the distance learning format.

While Dr. Juele has excelled in her professional duties, she has also shown initiative, advocacy and leadership beyond her job parameters. She has served on several Middle States Association evaluation teams and committees, has written several publications and presented at conferences worldwide. Her passion for distance learning and serving her country led her to start an initiative to connect U.S.-based Filipino American teachers to the Philippines to conduct seminars and workshops to share their expertise with their Philippine counterparts. As president of the Association of Fil-Am Teachers of America (AFTA), she conceptualized and implemented in 1994 the BalikTuro “Return to Teach” project, which has reached thousands of teachers in the Philippines.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Lilia is one of the hardest-working individuals on campus, improving the lives of our students, our colleagues, and the members of the community we serve,” said Bill Baker, Distinguished Professor of Biology. “Her service to the college is extraordinary.”

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CONTACT: Susan Lyddon, VP of Institutional Advancement
845-574-4595 or 347-840-1247