Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith congratulates Rosaline Salifu during the annual Dean's Distinction Awards inside University Hall.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Writer

Campus & Community

FAS stars honored with Dean’s Distinction Awards

8 min read

Four teams, 61 employees recognized for contributions

Given the distractions of mobile technology and the internet, it can be a challenge to keep a student’s attention in the classroom these days.

Thankfully, the Lecture Demonstration Services team is here to help.

The three-person team is responsible for more than 400 demonstrations that have enriched the classroom experience for students, working on everything from a vacuum cannon capable of firing pingpong balls through aluminum cans to a series of four lenses that can bend light around objects like an optical “cloaking device.”

Their efforts — along with the work of dozens of other Faculty of Arts and Sciences staff members — were honored last week as part of the annual Dean’s Distinction Awards ceremony.

“You have successfully spearheaded one of the most popular programs at Harvard College, providing students and faculty the opportunity to connect outside the classroom,” Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith told the honorees during the ceremony. “You curated an exceptional exhibition to celebrate Houghton Library’s 75th anniversary… that highlighted the ways Harvard’s incredible collections have shaped the intellectual lives of our faculty and students, and thoughtfully organized new programming in our libraries and labs. You are a fantastic portrait of the best of our staff. Our faculty and students are incredibly fortunate to have your ideas, your engagement, and your partnership. And I am grateful to be able to acknowledge your superlative work. You make Harvard better. On behalf of the faculty, I extend my sincere thanks to you.”

Smith congratulates David Evans of the Harvard College Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Launched by Smith in 2010, the Dean’s Distinction Awards are a way for FAS administrators to honor the important work and recognize the talents of FAS staff.

In all, 61 employees spanning 15 divisions with service ranging from one to 48 years were recognized at this year’s ceremony. In addition to FAS staff, honorees included staff from Alumni Affairs and Development and Harvard Public Affairs and Communications.

In addition to the Lecture Demonstration Services team, three other teams were honored for their work:

  • The Classroom to Table (C2T) team was recognized for facilitating nearly 1,000 gatherings between students and faculty, each of which required individual follow-through. Launched in 2015 as a pilot program and designed to give students and faculty the chance to meet outside the classroom, the program has grown exponentially since then.
  • The Center for African Studies team this year realized a major milestone for Harvard with the opening of an office in Johannesburg — the University’s first cross-disciplinary area-studies center in sub-Saharan Africa. The opening was accompanied by several high-profile events, including a panel with prominent entrepreneurs, a roundtable discussion moderated by Harvard Provost Alan Garber, and a screening and discussion of the six-part film series “Africa’s Great Civilizations,” hosted by Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.
  • The Pre-College Program Startup and Growth team helped manage a popular program in which high school students had the opportunity to experience an intense residential academic experience. From its start in 2015, the program has grown from 200 to more than 1,500 students.

Among the individual winners was Sarah Zeiser, project manager and special assistant to Dean of Arts and Humanities Robin Kelsey, who was recognized for her work to create a guide on the undergraduate experience in the Arts and Humanities and to develop a new website for the division.

“To know that my supervisor and colleagues had taken the time to write a nomination in recognition of my work was enormously gratifying,” Zeiser said. “To then receive the award among the many, many hard-working staff members of the FAS was a wonderful acknowledgement of my accomplishments last year, of which I’m very proud.

“Harvard can feel like a vast network of programs and departments operating at some distance from each other, so an occasion that recognizes the service we as staff members perform for the University is one of great value,” she added.

Nthatisi Quella (from left) is congratulated by Smith along with fellow prize winners Rosaline Salifu and Maggie Lopes, all from the Center for African Studies.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

For associate registrar for operations Ethel Falaise, who was recognized for her skills as a manager, being nominated by her colleagues was an honor in itself.

“It’s always such a heartwarming feeling when you are recognized by your community in such a public manner as the Dean’s Distinction Award,” she said. “I enjoy being a resource for my office and care very much about the work that I do and people whom I work with. Additionally, the fact that this community award is nomination-based made receiving it even sweeter. The idea that someone took the time out of their day to write accolades about me is such a kind and selfless gesture. I’m honored.”

Nyasha Borde, coordinator in the Department of Philosophy, was recognized for her proactive work in reaching out to experts in the Finance Office and International Office and her ability to take on a variety of responsibilities in the department.

“I was so humbled when I discovered that I was nominated by several faculty and staff members within my department, people for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration,” she said. “I always tell people that I am so lucky to have landed in the Philosophy Department. They have gone out of their way to make me and my family feel like an integral part of their community and have recognized me and my efforts in many small, and not-so-small ways since I joined the department as a temp in 2013. Now to be recognized by the dean as well … it’s hard to find the words to express my gratitude to the FAS, the deans and, most importantly, the Harvard Philosophy community for all of the love they have shown me over the years.”

2018 Dean’s Distinction Individual Recipients

Amina Alam, Harvard Museums of Science and Culture
Seth Avakian, FAS Office for Faculty Affairs / Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Lisa Ball, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Adam Beaver, The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning
Emery Boose, Harvard Forest
Nyasha Borde, Department of Philosophy
James Capobianco, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Carolyn Choong, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Rachael Dane, Harvard Public Affairs and Communications
Janet Daniels, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Paul Dwyer, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
David Evans, Harvard College Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
Ethel Falaise, FAS Registrar’s Office
Lisa Frazier-Zezze, SEAS Academic Programs
Katherine Gates, Administrative Operations, Administration and Finance
Jessica Gauchel, Department of Sociology
Mark Gerstel, Department of Psychology
Sarah Gordon, Harvard University Asia Center
Odile Harter, Widener Library, Harvard College Library
Kara Kelley, FAS Development
Jiyoun Jennie Kim, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies
Anna Kreslavskaya, Department of Mathematics
John Langridge, Division of Continuing Education
Rebecca Loose, SEAS Computing
Monica Munson, Department of Anthropology
Mark Omura, Museum of Comparative Zoology
Monica Oyama, Department of Human Evolutionary Biology
Kristin Pennarun, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Christopher Perry, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Monique Rivera, Department of Anthropology
Damari Rosado, Department of Economics (Interim)
Michaela Schmull, Harvard University Herbaria
Lauren Scully, Division of Continuing Education
Victoria Shen, Instructional Media Services
Rebecca Skolnik, Harvard College Writing Program
Katherine Steele, Harvard College Freshman Dean’s Office
Britta Wierich, Office of Physical Resources and Planning
Sarah Zeiser, Office of the Dean of Arts and Humanities
Adam Zewe, SEAS Communications

2018 Dean’s Distinction Team Recipients

Classroom to Table (C2T) Team

Lauren Raece, Harvard College Office of Undergraduate Education
Ian Richmond, Harvard College Office of Undergraduate Education
Kara-Sue Sweeney, Harvard College Office of Undergraduate Education
Candice Wesson, Harvard College Office of Undergraduate Education

Lecture Demonstration Services Team

Allen Crockett, Science Education
Daniel Davis, Science Education
Daniel Rosenberg, Science Education

Center for African Studies Team

Obenewa Amponsah, Center for African Studies
Susan Cook, Center for African Studies
Maggie Lopes, Center for African Studies
Candace Lowe, Center for African Studies
Lerato Motaung, Center for African Studies
Nthatisi Quella, Center for African Studies
Rosaline Salifu, Center for African Studies

Pre-College Program Startup and Growth Team

Megan Baugh, Division of Continuing Education
Heather Codner, Division of Continuing Education
Karen Flood, Division of Continuing Education
Beserat Kelati, Division of Continuing Education
Matthew Muro, Division of Continuing Education
Jacqueline Newcomb, Division of Continuing Education
Karen Ogden, Division of Continuing Education
Re’sheka Tapps, Division of Continuing Education