Presidential and Board of Regents Awards (2004)

James Grubb | Cynthia Hody | Jack Suess | Terry Aylsworth | Thomas Cronin | Nancy Miller | Kathy Lee Sutphin

Presidential Research Professor


James Grubb
Professor, History
Presidential Research Professor

James Grubb is a master historian whose work is distinguished not only by its quality but by its range, importance and influence. Since arriving at UMBC in 1983, he has established an impressive research record while serving terms as president of the faculty senate and, in his own department, as graduate program director and department chair.

Known as a pre-eminent scholar of Renaissance Italy, Grubb has has been recognized for pioneering contributions to his field. His first book, Firstborn of Venice, on Vincenza under Venetian rule, is considered fundamental to the study of regional states, examining and critiquing the dominant models of center-periphery relations. Distinguished historian James B. Collins, professor of history at Georgetown University, says, “Grubb’s superb dissection of the political vocabulary of the 15th century…should be required reading for all students of early modern European state building.”

Grubb’s second book, Provincial Families of the Renaissance: Private and Public Life in the Veneto, broke new ground in examining the experiences and and beliefs of ordinary people in everyday settings. The book won the 1997 Marraro Prize—considered the leading award in the field—for the best book in Italian history by an American author.

The recipient of several prestigious fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Grubb’s current research on Venice’s cittadini–an elite of “noble commoners” who managed the state’s civil service and the city’s social services—will give historians a more comprehensive understanding of society in the late medieval-early modern period.

John Jeffries, professor and chair of UMBC’s Department of History, says, “Jim Grubb is a prize-winning scholar of enormous stature, whose work is distinguished by its range, quality and impact alike. But he is also by any measure an outstanding teacher as well as a remarkable citizen of the University, who has served as department chair, Faculty Senate president and in other key positions. In honoring Jim Grubb as Presidential Research Professor, then, we are really honoring a professor whose combination of stellar scholarship, superb teaching and extraordinary service amounts to the highest model of what a faculty member might be.”

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Presidential Teaching Professor


Cynthia Hody
Associate Professor and Chair, Political Science
Presidential Teaching Professor

A six-time recipient of the political science department’s teaching award, Cynthia Hody is a study in effective, compassionate and student-centered teaching. She has been recognized as Honors College Teacher of the Year; and is the recipient of the UMBC Alumni Association’s award for Student Teaching and Mentoring.

Hody’s successful approach to teaching revolves around intelligent, informed discussion and debate. While she is gifted in explaining difficult material and making it comprehensible, Hody structures her courses in such a way that students are required to read their course material thoughtfully and be prepared to discuss the issues and questions it evokes in the classroom.

“Cindy by her nature encourages an interactive classroom experience,” says UMBC political science professor Devin Hagerty. “Simply put, students feel welcome and safe. They know that they are there to participate, not simply to absorb information and echo it later.”

Outside of the classroom, Hody advises UMBC’s Model United Nations team — a group she founded in 1994. In collaboration with UMBC Professor of Political Science Louis Cantori, she created a minor program in international affairs

She has also developed new courses in International Political Economy, Comparative Political Economy, International Organization and International Relations Theory. As department chair, she has put her excellent teaching record to good use in overseeing the revision of the department’s major requirements. Due in large measure to Hody’s leadership, the political science department has seen its number of majors nearly double since she became department chair in 1998.

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Presidential Distinguished Staff Award


Jack Suess
Chief Information Officer,
Office of Information Technology,
Professional Staff
Presidential Distinguished Staff Award

Since he arrived at UMBC as a freshman in 1976, Jack Suess has uniquely experienced the University as undergraduate student, student employee, non-exempt staff, exempt staff, graduate student, part-time faculty, principal investigator and campus administrator.

Suess received his B.A. in mathematics in 1981 and his M.S. in Information Systems in 1995. He began work as a student in 1979 in what was then called the “Computer Center.” After graduation, he began his professional career at UMBC. In 1997, Jack was named director of University Computing Services and in 2001 he was named chief information officer.

During Suess’ tenure, UMBC has evolved from being dependent on UMCP for IT services to being recognized as one of the technology leaders in the country. The University has received accolades as one of the “Most Wired Schools” (1999) and as one of the most “Unwired schools” (2004) because of its work in wireless networking. In 1997 Suess was the principal investigator for UMBC’s $700,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to connect the University to the national high-speed research networking. He assisted in writing successful infrastructure grants to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Maryland Higher Education Commission that provided $450,000 in grant funding, and helped develop corporate partnerships that have greatly benefited UMBC’s academic and research mission.

Suess has also been at the helm of several successful initiatives to make necessary updates to UMBC’s technological resources, including the Y2K transition, the Assured Access program, the PeopleSoft Implementation and the Computer Replacement Initiative.

A national expert and speaker, Suess is a leader in the efforts of Internet2 to develop standards for campus identity management systems and is presently co-chair of the EDUCAUSE/Internet2 Security Task Force.

“Jack is a creative thinker and looks at problems with an open mind, whether it’s a particular technology to deploy or a department to partner with,” says Director of New Media Learning and Development John Fritz. “Ultimately, he’ll do what’s best for UMBC, but he’s not afraid to explore unconventional options or perspectives. He seeks feedback and listens to it, and is extremely committed to professional development.”

In addition to his work as CIO, Suess has served numerous terms as a PASS senator, chaired the UMBC Facilities Committee for three years, is active in support of the on-campus alumni and served on the Campaign for UMBC committee. Currently, he serves on internal boards for the Center for Women in Information Technology and the Imaging Research Center.

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Terry Aylsworth
Executive Administrative Assistant, College of Arts and Sciences
Non-Exempt Staff
Presidential Distinguished Staff Award

Described as “committed,” “collegial” and “enthusiastic,” Terry Aylsworth, executive administrative assistant for the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts and Sciences, is known for her respect for everyone she works with, for her ability to invest every undertaking with a belief in its significance and for her dedication to UMBC’s goals and the value of higher education.

As the person who oversees all of the logistical operations for the Dean’s Office of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Aylsworth works with approximately 80 percent of the University’s departments and centers on a regular basis. Her responsibilities range from maintaining the calendars of the dean and associate deans and supervising other staff members, to keeping track of the steady stream of administrative paperwork that flows through the College of Arts and Sciences.

A former program coordinator for the Center for the Humanities and the Shakespeare Association of America, Aylsworth also finds time to serve the University outside of the office. She served as vice president of the former Classified Staff Senate and is president of the new Non-Exempt Excluded Staff Senate (NEESS), which she helped to create. She is a member of UMBC’s Employee of the Quarter Committee and was recently elected chair of the University Steering Committee.

“As my executive administrative assistant, Terry is inimitable. But this adjectival term applies to Terry in a much larger sense,” says Dean G. Rickey Welch. “She is an indefatigable contributor not only to the smooth running of this office, but to the consideration of staff concerns across our campus….She does more than a job; she embodies the ambition and mission of UMBC.”

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Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Research/Scholarship/Creative Activity


Thomas Cronin
Biological Sciences
Director, Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Sciences (MEES)
Graduate Program
Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Research/
Scholarship/Creative Activity

Whether studying marine life around the globe or in his lab at UMBC, Thomas Cronin, one of the world.s leading experts on animal vision, is known as an extraordinary researcher who is equally talented as a mentor and teacher. In nominating Cronin for the Regents. Faculty Award for Excellence in Research/Scholarship/Creative Activity, President Freeman Hrabowski said Cronin “epitomizes what every research university seeks in its professoriate.”

Cronin, who joined the UMBC faculty in 1983, is currently studying the visual system of mantis shrimp. With 12 types of photoreceptors and as many as 16 visual pigments, Cronin discovered that these tiny shrimp have what may be the most complex visual system in nature. His findings on wavelength and polarization of light not only provide an explanation of why shrimp possess such extraordinary visual systems, but have far-reaching potential applications for human processing of visual information in difficult contexts.

A prolific researcher, Cronin has 113 publications to his credit, with a number of others in press or under editorial review.” In 2002, Cronin was elected a fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his “exceptional contributions” to vision research and graduate education. That same year, he received a Graduate Education Award for his excellence in teaching and service from the MEES Graduate Student Organization.

Underlying all of Cronin’s research is a deep respect for nature. “I hope my efforts will lead to an incremental improvement in our understanding of the world and its value –- or even a wonder – to our understanding. My work won’t save the planet but I hope it helps to show how special our earth is and why it should be protected.”

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Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentoring

nancy miller

Nancy Miller
Associate Professor,
Public Policy
Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentoring

“Nancy possesses an unlimited reserve of patience, creative problem-solving abilities and a keen eye of discernment, all of which greatly support her students in building their research and career paths,” says Bethany Griffin, public policy ’02, in describing what makes her mentor, Nancy Miller, so gifted.”

As the health track advisor to health policy graduate students, Miller has mentored 15 doctoral degree recipients in the last two years, while serving on 13 additional doctoral committees and serving as a reader for 11 others. She also directs, teaches and advises students in the new intercampus gerontology Ph.D. program’s aging policy track.

With her support, students have produced significant dissertations and received numerous awards and recognition for their work. In recent years, two of Miller’s advisees were finalists for the Laurence G. Branch Doctoral Student Research Award (named for one of the major figures in the study of aging and human development), given by the American Public Health Administration, and one of the students received the award.

The relationship Miller builds with her students does not end on graduation day; she continues to be an anchor and guide as they establish themselves in their careers. Keith Elder ’02, assistant professor at the University of Carolina’s School of Public Health, explains, “Dr. Miller became my mentor in fall 1999. Today, she still serves as my mentor, my trusted counsel….When I first met her, I wondered why she displayed pictures of her students and their families mixed in with her own family. Now I know why. She considers her students her family. As a new faculty member, I strive every day to be that kind of mentor.”

According to Miller, who joined the UMBC faculty in 1992, her gift in mentoring is just that–-a gift–passed on to her by the caring individuals who helped to carefully guide her along her own successful academic road and career path. It is a legacy she perpetuates with her students “in gratitude to those who mentored me,” she says.

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Regents Exempt Staff Award for Exceptional Contribution to the Institution


Kathy Lee Sutphin
Coordinator of Special Projects,
Biological Sciences
Regents Exempt Staff Award for Exceptional Contribution to the Institution

As coordinator of special projects in the Department of Biological Sciences, Kathy Lee Sutphin is a driving force behind the success of many of the undergraduate students participating in research at UMBC. In addition, she coordinates a variety of initiatives that help recruit students to UMBC, encourage students to consider research careers, and provide professional development for Maryland high school teachers.

Sutphin came to UMBC the same year she graduated summa cum laude from the University in 1995 with a B.A. in political science and a certificate in public administration and policy. Her outstanding contributions as a grant writer, program manager and assistant to Professor and Chair of Biological Sciences Lasse Lindahl, have played an important role in UMBC’s success.

“Kathy’s contributions in grants writing and administration have been invaluable to the department and to the University,” says Lindahl. “She has been instrumental for obtaining millions of dollars for the renovation of the Biological Sciences Building and multiple extramurally funded training programs, as well as in executing these programs.”

Sutphin helped to write the first proposal that brought the University the MARC U*STAR Program, targeted to students from underrepresented groups in the sciences and mathematics who plan to pursue doctoral degrees and research careers in the biomedical sciences. She provides valuable support to MARC U*STAR Trainees, as well as those accepted to the prestigious Beckman and Pfizer Scholarship Programs. She is also a member of the planning committee for the Provost’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day (URCAD). Sutphin also coordinates a 12-month program in modern biology for Maryland teachers and summer undergraduate research programs supported by the NSF and NIDDK.

With Lindahl, Sutphin wrote a National Science Foundation grant that accelerated the renovation of the Biological Sciences Building, one of the oldest buildings on campus, and participated in the planning committee for that renovation to ensure that the building met both current and future needs of both professors and students. A former reporter and newspaper columnist, Sutphin uses her writing skills to publicize department news and programs through a variety of Web sites and newsletters. She enjoys the variety her position offers and the many opportunities it provides to work with faculty, staff and students.

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