Joan Siegel Cited by State University of New York Chancellor John R. Ryan

PHOTO: Joan SiegelMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – Highly decorated SUNY Orange professor Joan Siegel added another plaudit to her lengthy list of professional achievements recently when State University of New York Chancellor John R. Ryan announced the recipients of SUNY’s 2007 Awards for Excellence in faculty service, librarianship, teaching, professional service, and scholarship and creative activities.

Siegel, who retired from full-time teaching this May after serving in the College’s English and Foreign Languages Department for more than 25 years, was among 88 professors across the entire SUNY system hailed for excellence in teaching. In all, Ryan honored 236 faculty and staff members for their efforts during the 2006-07 academic year.

“These awards acknowledge and honor SUNY faculty members who are truly the best of the best,” said Ryan. “The Awards for Excellence are particularly rewarding for those chosen because they have been nominated by their colleagues on campus and viewed as role models among their peers. It is my pleasure to join the SUNY campuses in honoring these individuals and thanking them for their hard work and dedication throughout the year.”

“Throughout her career, Joan has distinguished herself as an outstanding teacher and a creative thinker, and her award brings credit to our entire group of faculty members,” added Dr. William Richards, SUNY Orange president. “Joan is highly respected by her colleagues and I am grateful that the selection committee recognized her remarkable teaching traits and skills. I am proud of Joan and deeply appreciative of her great work on behalf of the College.”

The Chancellor's Awards for Excellence are system-level honors conferred to provide system-wide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and to encourage the ongoing pursuit of excellence. These programs underscore SUNY’s commitment to sustaining intellectual vibrancy, advancing the boundaries of knowledge, providing the highest quality of instruction, and serving the public good.

The awards provide recognition in five categories: faculty service, librarianship, professional service, scholarship and creative activities, and teaching. Individuals nominated for these awards must meet eligibility criteria and must fulfill – and preferably surpass – the selection criteria for the specific award for which they are being nominated. In all cases, candidates must be individuals of achievement, committed to SUNY and its students, respected by the campus community and worthy of emulation by colleagues and students on the home campus and across the state system. A certificate and a Chancellor’s Excellence Medallion are bestowed to commemorate these honors.

Throughout her career at SUNY Orange, Siegel has demonstrated a tireless devotion to her students’ academic welfare, exhibiting this dedication in the classroom, in counseling and advising sessions, in course development, and through a host of extra-curricular activities on campus and in the community.

Siegel has graced the lives of more than 3,500 students who have passed through her classroom over the past 25 years. s a teacher and innovator, Siegel has enriched the college offerings. In 1984 she wrote the syllabus and developed the Technical Writing Module for the Physical Therapy Assistant Department. Since then, it has served as a model for other such programs across the country.

In 1988 she introduced her advanced literature course, “Women Writers,” which was the first course in women’s studies on campus. It became an instant success and remains one of the most sought-after courses at SUNY Orange. Siegel is just as effective teaching basic writing skills as she is upper-level literature. Always sensitive to the special needs of developmental students, she has helped them to increase not only their writing skills, but self-esteem as well.

Siegel has made considerable contributions to both the college and greater community outside of the classroom. With a long history of participation on departmental and college-wide committees, she also served for 12 years on the Cultural Affairs Committee and was instrumental in bringing to Middletown such notable poets and writers as Bernard Malamud, Stanley Kunitz, Billy Collins, Linda Pastan, Galway Kinnell and William Stafford.

She was co-founder and co-editor with her colleague, Professor Donald Parker, of the much-praised poetry and art journal, “Wordsmith,” which attracted creative work from SUNY and CUNY faculty and staff during the five years of the publication’s funding.

Among its contributors were former United States Poet Laureate, Billy Collins and elder statesman of American poetry, Stanley Kunitz. Over the years Siegel has participated in a myriad of college events including the “Finding Our Voices” series, countless poetry readings and workshops, academic lectures and most recently Walter Jahn’s faculty talks.

Additionally, she hosted Thrall Library’s “Poetry-Out-Loud” events and presented numerous poetry workshops in libraries in the Hudson Valley.

An award-winning poet and essayist, Siegel is also a former writer for MGM/United Artists and an accomplished classical pianist as well.

She was the recipient of the 1999 New Letters Poetry Prize, and the winner of the 1998 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award. Her poetry, essays and short stories have appeared in many national magazines, journals, anthologies, and even in a college literature text. Some publication credits include “The Atlantic Monthly,” “The American Scholar,” “The Journal of the American Medical Association,” “Commonweal,” “The Gettysburg Review,” “Prairie Schooner,” “The Journal of Genocide Research,” and many others. Most recently, she was a finalist for the Poetry Foundation’s 2005 Emily Dickinson Poetry Award.

Most recently, in October 2006, she was awarded the inaugural SUNY Orange Leadership in Education Award, presented by the College’s Educational Foundation.

With her husband, Joel Solonche, she is co-author of “Peach Girl: Poems For A Chinese Daughter.”

The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive university system in the United States, educating more than 417,500 students in 7,669 degree and certificate programs on 64 campuses.

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940