OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego faculty members Diane Brand of the public justice department and Christopher LaLonde of the English and creative writing department will receive the 2016 President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Advisement.
The honorees will be recognized at the college’s annual Teaching and Learning Awards Ceremony in the fall.
Brand has served as her department’s advisement coordinator for three years. Senior public justice major Collin Carr, who has served as a first-year peer adviser for public justice, nominated her for the award, calling her advisement “phenomenal” in his own case and those of other students.
“By working alongside her in this position, I was able to see firsthand how much of an expert Diane Brand is regarding student advisement and how she personally strives to help students excel at SUNY Oswego,” Carr wrote.
The seven-year faculty member also serves the department as first-year adviser and as a member of its academic probation committee.
In a statement of her advisement philosophy, Brand said mutual respect, honesty and directness are key ingredients. “Each of my 102 advisees has different interests, goals and abilities,” she wrote. “I encourage each advisee to think about his or her goals, and to identify his or her weaknesses.”
Retiring as a sergeant from the town of Clay Police Department in 2007, Brand has 30 years of experience in law enforcement and continues to serve as a town of Camillus police officer, providing her with experience and insight in a multidisciplinary academic program that combines criminal justice, human services and law.
“Some of our students deal with intense personal issues such as depression, separation anxiety, isolation, medical issues, family problems and substance abuse,” she wrote. “I endeavor to accommodate those situations by allowing students to make up missed work or classroom assignments, and I also lend a sympathetic, compassionate and confidential ear when they feel comfortable to talk with me.”
Department chair Margaret Ryniker supported Brand’s nomination, noting, “Her door is always open.”
LaLonde, an Oswego faculty member since 2001, was nominated for the award by junior American studies major William Zenyuk. “Mr. LaLonde has truly gotten to know me personally, and has worked with me when I had difficulties both academically and in pursuing my education,” Zenyuk wrote.
Zenyuk noted that LaLonde also has served as his faculty sponsor for an internship this summer at Sabbatis, a scout camp, “and has spent much time ensuring that all is done properly to secure my application to expand my learning with this internship.”
LaLonde has served as the college’s director of general education for the past 10 years. Patricia Clark, chair of English and creative writing, said LaLonde’s duties “make him an indispensable resource for all students navigating college coursework and schedules.”
She added, “In addition to being a fount of knowledge regarding the curriculum, Professor LaLonde’s affable manner towards all his advisees is an asset in that he puts many a student at ease, especially when dealing with difficult issues regarding academics.”
LaLonde advises not only students, but also faculty members when they have challenges of their own in advisement, Clark noted. He also has been first-year adviser for students who are undeclared or who have declared majors in English, and for returning and transfer students at all levels.
In a statement of his advisement philosophy, LaLonde wrote, “Advising is an important, indeed vital, opportunity to help a student discover what she or he wants from an Oswego education.” He added, “For me, finally, everything follows from what we mean by liberal education and liberal learning. We free students to the degree that we help them see connections, make connections, imagine and explore possibilities.”