DeFalco receives SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

Thursday, April 27, 2017

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DeFalco receives SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Elissa DeFalco, an associate professor of humanities at SUNY Maritime College, received a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from the State University of New York this year.

The award was given in recognition to her dedication to the success of her students, her willingness to serve her department and the college, and her commitment to academic excellence.

“Your mastery of teaching, dedication to students, adherence to the highest academic standards, and continued professional achievements are reflected in your selection for this honor,” said Nancy L. Zimpher, SUNY chancellor. “Your dedication and continuing contributions to SUNY are a source of great pride and inspiration to us all.”

In nearly a decade at Maritime, Dr. DeFalco has developed three elective courses, including one for the master’s in Maritime and Naval Studies program. She has also served on several department and campus committees, and completed an intensive study program at Mystic Seaport funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Dr. DeFalco especially shines is in the classroom. According to Dr. Karen Markoe, humanities department chair, students regularly request permission to take her classes after they are full and give her some of the highest course evaluations in the department. She also regularly revises her courses to reflect students’ input, interests and recommendations.

“Her dedication to students struggling with materials is quite clear: she does not wait for students to come to her, or allow them to quietly sneak through a course with work that barely qualifies as passing,” said Dr. Markoe. “Elissa shows students that she cares intensely about their success, but that they need to match her in that intensity. Perhaps most notably in her student evaluations, she is not only ranked at the highest levels in terms of her teaching, accessibility and fairness, but also for challenging students to think analytically.”

Dr. DeFalco is also highly praised for developing a “writing index,” or a guide of the most common mistakes students make in writing assignments. This makes it easier for her to give constructive feedback quickly, and allows her students to take an active role in their own improvement, Dr. Markoe said.

“Elissa takes pride in her teaching,” Dr. Markoe said. “I am enormously proud of her and how she has helped countless students to succeed, move on to graduate and take their place in the world, confident of their abilities, even when the waters were sometime quite rough on their way to success.”

Dr. DeFalco was one of three faculty members to receive a chancellor’s award. Dr. Richard Burke, ABS professor of naval architecture and marine engineering, received a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Service, and Dr. Daniel Fridline, associate professor of mechanical engineering, received a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activity.