Employees receive awards at Penn State Wilkes-Barre

A group of people standing against a backdrop with the Penn State Wilkes-Barre logo.

Faculty and staff who were honored were, from left: Christopher Burke, Karen Gallia, Auraleah Grega, Patricia Arcangeli, Dimitrios Bolkas, Gina Miale, Leslie Livingstone, Erin Brennan, Jane Ashton and Christyne Berzsenyi.

Credit: Penn State

DALLAS, Pa. — Penn State Wilkes-Barre honored employees who marked milestone anniversaries and presented special awards to faculty, staff and community members during the annual spring meeting held on campus May 2.

"We celebrate the dedication and excellence of our faculty and staff, whose commitment to our students and their education has made a profound impact on the Penn State Wilkes-Barre community,” said Lynda Goldstein, chancellor and chief academic officer. “Their work anniversaries and special awards are testaments to their outstanding contributions and passion as they make a positive difference each and every day."

Employees honored for years of service: five years: Erin Brennan, Christopher Burke and Gina Miale; 10 years: Karen Gallia; 15 years, Jane Ashton, Ron Gruver, Leslie Livingstone and Scott Miner; 20 years: Patricia Arcangeli; and 25 years, Christyne Berzsenyi.

Each year, the campus presents Hayfield Awards to dedicated individuals who have been outstanding citizens of the campus community during the past academic year.

The recipients of this year’s Hayfield Awards are: Excellence in Service to Campus, Jean Lipski and David and Joy Kozemchak; Fran Brown Humanitarian, Auraleah Grega; Innovation, Dimitrios Bolkas; and Research Excellence/Creative Accomplishment, Dimitrios Bolkas.

The Excellence in Service to Campus Award is given to a Penn State Wilkes-Barre faculty or staff member, a Penn State Wilkes-Barre Advisory Board member, a Penn State alumnus or alumna or a friend of Penn State Wilkes-Barre who has made a significant voluntary and unpaid contribution to the campus or the community. Award recipients Jean Lipski and David and Joy Kozemchak regularly interact with students while walking their dogs at the campus. Their nominators wrote, “The nominees have provided a remarkable boost in student life on-campus with the generous presence of their sibling labradors: Bear and Holly” and “The owners of our unofficial campus mascots exemplify the welcoming campus we strive to exhibit.”

The Fran Brown Humanitarian Award recognizes and rewards an outstanding member of the campus community for fostering an environment that values civility and celebrates diversity. Auraleah Grega, learning support coordinator and disability resources coordinator, was selected as the individual who consistently builds community by appreciating each person’s uniqueness and by making everyone feel welcomed. This award is named after a former campus employee who in her day-to-day interactions epitomized these core values of sensitivity and concern for others. One of Grega's nominators wrote: “She selflessly provides guidance and help to students and faculty. She always does this with a smile on her face and a softness in her voice. You know she cares.”

The Innovation Award, presented to Dimitrios Bolkas, associate professor of surveying engineering and program coordinator, recognizes and rewards an outstanding member of the campus community who has made a significant contribution to the campus through innovation by initiating a new program, activity or service. “This nomination is for designing the new surveying engineering and surveying engineering technology curriculums,” Bolkas’ nominator wrote. “Both curriculums are now approved by the University Faculty Senate and they will be effective starting fall 2024. In addition, the nomination includes the modernization efforts for instruments and software in the surveying program.”

The Undergraduate Research Excellence Award, also presented to Bolkas, recognizes the commitment of Penn State Wilkes-Barre to developing and sustaining an enriched learning environment for undergraduate students.  This award is given to a campus faculty member who has made a significant contribution to enriching the academic and intellectual worth of students by engaging them in undergraduate research activities. Bolkas was recognized for receiving a national award as the Younger Geospatial Professional for 2024, being awarded two external research grants and having four total publications (two journal and two conference), with two of the publications receiving honors from journal editors.