OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego faculty members Gonzalo Aguiar of modern languages and literatures and David Dunn of biological sciences will receive the 2018 President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Advisement.
The honorees will be recognized at the college’s annual Teaching and Learning Awards Ceremony luncheon in the fall.
Nominator Abigail McCormick-Foley, a recent graduate in psychology and Spanish, said Aguiar is “easily one of the best professors” she had at SUNY Oswego. Accessibility is one of the distinguishing characteristics of Aguiar’s advisement style, she said.
“Professor Aguiar is very active on campus, which makes him easily accessible and knowledgeable about events and school policies,” she wrote. “He lives in Hart Hall (Global Living and Learning Center), so he is always just a short trip away if a student needs assistance.”
Aguiar, who formally adds his mother’s ancestral name, Malosetti, started at Oswego in 2014.
Besides his role as a Hart Hall mentor, he teaches a variety of courses in Spanish and Portuguese, directs the Spanish Colloquium, organizes the Brazilian Film Festival, actively participates in the college’s International Coffee Hour and the Institute for Global Engagement, and represents modern languages and literatures at Faculty Assembly.
“He always puts his professional and academic life first, ensuring that his students are the number one priority,” McCormick-Foley said.
Academic rigor is another of Aguiar’s hallmarks, she said.
He “excitedly” agreed to advise McCormick-Foley’s Honors thesis. “I knew that by selecting him, I was signing up for a critical review of my thesis, which undoubtedly would add more work to my plate, but that he would ensure that my thesis was perfect down to the placement of every single comma. I think that his dedication to student success is commendable and should be the standard for language advisors at the college,” she wrote.
McCormick-Foley added, “He rekindled my passion for learning the language and never stops encouraging me to do better.”
John Lalande II, chair of modern languages and literatures, said Aguiar’s advisement efforts go beyond what is expected. Aguiar also advises students preparing papers to present at the annual Spanish-language colloquium. “It should also be mentioned that Prof. Aguiar also advises students who are contemplating study abroad options in the Spanish and Portuguese speaking worlds,” Lalande wrote.
In a statement of his advisement philosophy, Aguiar noted the growing diversity of the students at SUNY Oswego and in the department.
“For the benefit of my advisees’ holistic development as college students and future global citizens, I culturally embrace those different perspectives in my advising work,” he wrote. “When I advise students I always aspire to meet their expectations, demands and received assumptions so that we can find a common ground when it comes to giving them the best course of action possible within their field of choice.”
Aguiar added, “I believe the purpose of advising is to guide students through the sometimes difficult path to responsible citizenship in an increasingly connected world. Professional guidance, empathy, and respect for their socioeconomic, religious, and political identities are at the core of my advising work.”
Lauren Hardy, a recent graduate in zoology with a chemistry minor, nominated Dunn for the advisement award based on his knowledge of animal science and veterinary medicine, his willingness to discuss students’ goals beyond planning what classes to take and his open-door policy.
“I personally tell other pre-vet students to switch to him as an advisor due to his specific knowledge of the field and his willingness to stay up to date on program requirements,” Hardy wrote. “Dr. Dunn expects a lot from his students in general, but through this he is able to push them to achieve difficult goals.”
Co-nominator Tylissa Ortiz, a junior zoology major and psychology minor, said Dunn began as her advisor when her grades were at their lowest and she had become discouraged.
“He took one look at (my grades) and said, ‘Alright, so how are we gonna fix this?’ And for the first time in months, I felt hope.” Dunn expressed confidence that Ortiz, who has grown up in poverty, could not only survive but also thrive.
“I can’t tell you how much that meant to me,” she wrote. “I’ve been told so often in my life that I wasn’t good enough.”
With Dunn’s guidance, Ortiz went on to succeed in demanding courses such as “Animal Physiology” and “Comparative Anatomy.”
“Dr. Dunn has helped me in so many ways; he’s helped me reshape how I see myself, my skills, my work, and my ambition,” Ortiz wrote. “Dr. Dunn helped me get my summer internship to study with another professor and visit Paris, an idea that was so far out of reach for that young little girl in the projects so many years ago, and is now becoming a slowly shaping reality.”
Dunn, who started teaching at Oswego in 2013, is faculty mentor for the Pre-Vet Club, a member of the Health Professions Advisory Committee and frequently assists with summer orientations.
“Dr. Dunn is an open and caring person who nurtures students’ needs,” wrote James MacKenzie, chair of biological sciences.
In a statement of advisement philosophy, Dunn noted, “One of my most important tasks as an advisor is to help students articulate long, medium and short-term goals and develop strategies for reaching them. I assist students to capture a vision of their academic trajectories at various levels. This includes guidance toward apprehension of not only big picture vistas of where they might arrive, but also microscopic views toward daily practices and habits that lead to goal attainment.”
In the past two years, six Oswego students or recent alumni have been accepted to veterinary school, Dunn noted.
“Of these, three are or were my academic advisees and two others student researchers in my laboratory,” he wrote.
“A major concept that informs my approach to advising is the idea of a customized and changing approach to meet the needs of individuals,” Dunn wrote. “I take pains to see each advisee as an individual, to listen to their needs, to respect their viewpoints, and to build relationships of trust.”