Teaching Excellence Awards to John Wolbeck, Joe Zurovchak; Elaine Torda Lauded for Professional Excellence

PHOTO: John WolbeckMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- SUNY Orange professors John Wolbeck and Joe Zurovchak have been named recipients of the State University of New York’s Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence while professor Elaine Torda has been presented with the Chancellor’s Award for Professional Excellence.

The three recipients, who have completed a combined 40 years as full-time members of the SUNY Orange faculty, received their awards during a College gathering in mid-May and were also formally recognized during the College’s annual Commencement ceremony on May 18. Each award winner received a medallion signifying the honor.

Wolbeck (right), who has been chair of the College’s engineering department since 2006, recently concluded his 20th year as a member of the SUNY Orange faculty, including serving the past 14 years in a full-time capacity. In 2011, he was among a group of authors who received the Norbert Gerbier-MUMM International Award for their contributions to a research paper entitled “Climate control of terrestrial carbon exchange across biomes and continents.” Wolbeck accepted the award, issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, during a special ceremony last summer in Geneva, Switzerland.

PHOTO: Joe ZurovchakWolbeck presently serves on the College’s governance Assessment Committee, is vice president of the Staff and Chairman’s Association, sits on the SUNY New Paltz College Science Advisory Board and is a member of the Two-Year Engineering School Association of New York (TYESA). In the summer of 2011, he oversaw the student construction of a small-scale replica of the Vin Fiz airplane that Cal Rodgers used on the first successful cross-country flight. The replica model will be featured as part of the City of Middletown’s 125 anniversary celebrations this summer.

A member of the SUNY Orange biology faculty since 2000, Zurovchak (left)has taught a variety of courses and brings his expertise in ornithology, entomology, natural history, ecology and environmental science to the classroom. Zurovchak has spearhead much of the College’s sustainability efforts over the past six years. He has been chair of the SUNY Orange Sustainability Committee since its creation in 2007, having helped develop an energy audit, greenhouse gas emissions report and interim climate action plan for the College.

Zurovchak has been active in other College initiatives as well. He served on the College’s governance Executive Committee for three years and provided guidance for SUNY Orange’s “Global Initiative: Sustaining the Earth” in 2009. He sits on the New Jersey Natural Heritage Committee and serves on the Orange County Bird Checklist Committee.

PHOTO: Elaine TordaLike Zurovchak, Torda (right) also joined the SUNY Orange faculty in 2000 when she was hired as an English instructor. Torda has coordinated the College’s growing Honors Program since 2003 and in 2011 was named chair of SUNY Orange’s new Interdisciplinary Studies Department. She serves as vice president of the College’s governance Executive Committee.

Torda is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council Board of Directors and just recently completed her sixth year as lead co-chair of the Council’s Two-Year College Committee. Under her supervision and with the aid of faculty mentors from all corners of the College, SUNY Orange’s Honors Students have strongly represented the College via presentations at such prestigious student seminars as the Beacon Conference and the Northeast Regional Honors Council Conference.

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
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Middletown, NY 10940