HCC recognized several outstanding faculty and staff members during a special gathering in the Leslie Phillips Theater on Wednesday, May 14. Above (left to right), James Knapp, biology professor, received the 2014 Elaine Marieb Faculty Chair for Teaching Excellence; Karen Desjeans, Administration & Finance staff associate, received the 2014 Outstanding Professional Staff award; and Susan Mulry, library assistant, received the 2014 Outstanding Classified Staff award.
President Bill Messner recognized the award recipients following a video presentation in their honor.
Susan Mulry was lauded for her friendly manner and service to students. ""She's the first to open the library in the morning, and she's always cheerful, always has a smile on her face," said librarian Jennifer Adams. "When she's working with students they are her priority—she is so attentive, and has a way of making them feel special."
An avid gardener, Mulry has created a lovely space just outside the library for students and staff to enjoy, noted Adams. When she's not in the library, Mulry is a volunteer reader at the Morgan Full Service Community School, where HCC staff participate in the school's Reading Mentors program.
"Karen Desjeans is the glue that holds our division together," said Bill Fogarty, VP of Administration and Finance. "She is one of the best people I've ever worked with. My four most dreaded words are, 'Karen is on vacation.'"
Desjeans, whose responsibilities encompass purchasing as well as the coordination of the college's annual budget process, recently played a key role in the development and implementation of the college's new Event Management System software. Long-time chair of the annual HCC Giving Tree Campaign that provides holiday gifts to area nonprofits, she is also president of Massachusetts Women in Public Higher Education (MWPHE), where her focus is on building confidence in women and supporting access to education through the MWPHE scholarship program.
The former long-term chair of the biology department, Jim Knapp's enthusiasm and dedication to teaching excellence has earned him the affection and respect of his colleagues and students. "Jim's classes have a reputation for being academically challenging and current in their lab practices (which requires frequent updating in microbiology and genetics)," said professor Erica Bergquist. "Jim is earnest, thoughtful, painstaking, and has a dry and sometimes surprising sense of humor."
Knapp was instrumental in helping HCC secure a $3.8 million grant to establish a Center for Life Sciences in the Marieb building. In preparation for its opening, he will be interning at the molecular genetics and microbiology labs at Baystate Hospital, and will also be working with HCC alumnus Steve Richter, to train in clean-room operations at Richter's Microtest Labs in Agawam.