SPH takes its faculty/staff awards ceremony seriously! Security was tight at the assembly to ensure no Oscar-like tampering with results.

May 15, 2017

The School of Public Health closed the 2016-17 academic year with an assembly to report on schoolwide initiatives and updates, and to recognize faculty and staff accomplishments. On May 12, 2017, SPH faculty and staff gathered for an address from Dean Boris Lushniak, and heard updates on various initiatives including completed and ongoing building renovations, and the recent passage of a bill in the Maryland state legislature that will involve the SPH adding public health perspectives to inform statewide policy decision-making on a range of issues. 

The 2016-17 faculty and staff awards were presented to recognize dedicated service, innovative teaching and mentoring, outreach to the community and leadership and success in research programs. When possible, 2015-16 award winners announced their successors.

Ms. Nacie Grigsby, Department of Family Science

Viki Annand Staff Excellence Award: Established in 2009 in honor of a former assistant dean. Presented to a staff member who has demonstrated superior service and ongoing contributions to a department and/or the school. Special emphasis is given to outstanding achievement and performance, personal interaction, and initiative and creativity.

In less than two years in her current position, Ms. Grigsby has managed seven searches (five faculty and two staff) and assisted with two chair searches, and her performance has been nothing short of superior. Managing a search was a new task for Ms. Grigsby, and she was thrown into managing her first three department faculty searches within hours of assuming her new position. She took on all the associated logistics and within her first four months had successfully completed those first three searches. Almost immediately more searches ensued, with Ms. Grigsby juggling these tasks plus some of the responsibilities of staff positions that were vacant for several months. She worked within the department, school and university positively, respectfully and effectively.

Dr. Mia Smith Bynum, Department of Family Science

Doris Sands Excellence in Teaching Award: Presented to a faculty member who has been evaluated by their Department chair, peers and students as being an excellent teacher in his/her area of expertise.

An outstanding teacher and exemplary mentor, Dr. Smith Bynum has been a leader in creating curricula that address ethnic minority families and cultural competence. Drawing from her research on racial socialization, she has also educated families at UMD and nationally about best practices for raising African American children in today’s society. She updated a large, required undergraduate course, Family Theories and Patterns (FMSC 330) and created a new online course, African American Families. Dr. Bynum actively engages her students by using clickers, video clips and longitudinal case studies—and she does this in classes that start at 8:00 a.m. 

Mr. Josh Montfort, Department of Kinesiology, Head Coach and Director of Gymkana

George F. Kramer Practitioner of the Year Award: Presented to a faculty member who has been recognized for doing an outstanding job of putting theory into practice (application of knowledge in a practical setting).

Mr. Montfort does a remarkable job of translating academic discipline to the field in his gymnastics classes, which can serve as lessons in applied biomechanics and motion analysis. The kinesiology lecturer and Gymkana director/head coach began his association with the troupe in 1989 as a team member. He received a BS in Physical Education and an MS in Kinesiology with a specialization in the Psychology of Sport here at UMD. Mr. Montfort serves as an outstanding role model to the troupe, whose members are wonderful ambassadors of the School of Public Health. It is fitting that he should win this award, as it is named after a legendary leader of the Gymkana Troupe.

Dr. Elizabeth Fost Maring, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and Department of Family Science

Jerry P. Wrenn Outstanding Service Award: Presented to a faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding service in general and specifically to the university community. Special attention is given to noteworthy advising at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. It is our highest award for service to students.

Dr. Maring has been the director of the SPH Global Health Initiatives for the past five years, building global opportunities for students and faculty and leading Public Health Without Borders. She has led multiple groups to Peru to support SPH involvement in a collaborative project with Engineers Without Borders. She is also the director of the SPH College Park Scholars Global Public Health Program, an academic residential community for freshmen and sophomores. Dr. Maring has been instrumental in expanding SPH involvement in study abroad classes, and for four years was the faculty advisor for Half the Sky Movement to work with students in raising awareness of the oppression of women worldwide and developing opportunities to empower women. 

Dr. Dennis Vacante, Department of Kinesiology

Muriel R. Sloan Communitarian Award: Presented to a faculty member who has made a significant contribution through outreach programs to the State of Maryland and surrounding communities. Special emphasis is given to programs designed to assist the public school systems in achieving their overall mission of educating and graduating students.

Dr. Vacante, a lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology, is a national board-certified teacher in adapted physical education. He has served as the regional liaison for adapted physical education for the Prince George’s County Public School system, a specialization in which he has taught for more than 37 years, working with elementary students with orthopedic impairments and autism spectrum disorders as well as high school students with intellectual disabilities. In addition, Dr. Vacante is the coordinator of the Children’s Developmental Clinic, with sites at Prince George’s Community College and College Park, serving children from birth to age 13 with various disabilities in the areas of motor development, language, social skills and reading. Dr. Vacante took on the lead role at the clinic in 2004, and has been working there for 40 years. 

Dr. Jie Chen, Department of Health Services Administration

Research and Development Award: Presented to a faculty member who has been recognized for doing an outstanding job in research and/or development. 

Dr. Chen is a researcher who has distinguished herself nationally and internationally for her health disparities and health services research. Her research areas include health care organization and policy, health disparities, mental health, and economic evaluation. Dr. Chen’s studies are among the first to show evidence of reduced racial and ethnic disparities in health care after the Affordable Care Act. Her research is published in 57 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Chen has one ongoing NIH-funded project and one under review, focused on the integration of health care organizations to prevent mental illness of vulnerable populations. Dr. Chen brings her research and knowledge to the community, working with local health departments and community partners to design, develop and evaluate community interventions. She is also well recognized at the national level. She has been invited to present at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the NIMH Conference on Mental Health Services Research, and she served as a panel member in a discussion on health equity at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management conference. She is a standing member of the Healthcare System and Value Research study section at the Agency for Health Research and Quality, and is a grant reviewer for the CDC Special Emphasis Panel. 

Ms. Anne Anderson-Sawyer, Department of Behavioral and Community Health

Leda Amick Wilson Mentoring Award: Established in 2003 to honor a former FMSC faculty member who was an advocate for undergraduate students and mentoring their progress toward the completion of their degree requirements. Presented to a faculty member who has done an outstanding job of mentoring students in the department or college.

Ms. Anderson-Sawyer developed the large undergraduate and graduate (MPH) community internship program, which represents a defining component of the identity of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health. Each semester, the department sends up to 100 students into the community for a full-time, semester-long internship. For the past 10 years, Ms. Anderson-Sawyer has been the force behind readying the students for the “real world,” providing hands-on assistance in finding internship sites, providing guidance on negotiating the internship throughout, and mentoring students in the transformational process of going from student to worker. She is always quietly building confidence, providing reassurance, and attempting to remove students’ specific barriers, including financial barriers. This year she was successful in securing a gift to the department for just that purpose from Mr. Clayton Bridwell. 

Dr. Neil Sehgal, Department of Health Services Administration

Gloria S. Friedgen School Spirit Award: Established in 2014 in honor of an alumnus and first Coordinator for Alumni and Outreach. Presented to a SPH faculty, staff or student who has demonstrated outstanding performance and consistent dedication, initiative, motivation, positive attitude, and customer service to those they support and with whom they interact.

In his short time here, Dr. Sehgal has worked to be an enthusiastic ambassador for the SPH on campus and in the community. He contributes to the weekly departmental coffee hour to bring students, staff and faculty together to socialize. Here we welcome prospective students and other members of the SPH community. Additionally, Dr. Sehgal serves as the co-faculty advisor for the Health Services Administration Student Association, dedicating his time and energy to foster a positive environment for HLSA students outside of the classroom. His positive attitude and involvement with students has made him an important advocate for our department and school. Dr. Sehgal has also mentored an interdisciplinary team of students who competed successfully in the 2016 Future of Information Alliance Spark Grant competition, winning $10,000 to develop a virtual reality application and representing the SPH on the UMD Banneker/Key Scholarship selection committee. He also advised a student team competing in the Washington Metropolitan Area Chapter of the National Association of Health Services Executives Health Innovation Competition.

Ms. Erin McClure, Office of the Dean

Staff Teamwork and Community Builder Award: Established in 2015 to recognize a staff member who works effectively to advance a department, unit, and/or the SPH through teamwork, collaboration, and cooperation. S/he shares knowledge and helps others to achieve job-related goals, inspires others to work successfully as a team, contributes to group problem-solving, and supports an inclusive community that respects and embraces differences. 

Ms. McClure is an extraordinary mentor and advisor, providing counsel to the school, not only as its chief of staff, but as a seasoned administrator offering support, guidance and confidence to many. It is not unusual to see Ms. McClure working after hours to prepare for the days and weeks ahead, counseling other faculty and administrators, or helping a student to identify supportive resources. Over the years, she has been active in many groups aimed at ensuring equity, diversity, inclusivity, and academic and professional success for faculty, staff and students. She has been recognized across our campus for her leadership of diversity initiatives and her mentorship of students, particularly those from underrepresented groups. She is a facilitator in the university’s Intergroup Dialogue Program, an active Rainbow Terrapin Network Ally, a member of the University Senate Campus Affairs Committee, and an advisor to the Maryland Wishes Foundation. 

Related People
Mia Smith-Bynum, Josh Montfort, Elisabeth Maring, Dennis Vacante, Jie Chen, Anne Anderson-Sawyer, Nacie Grigsby, Neil Jay Sehgal, Erin McClure