Bergen Community College Faculty and Staff Honored for Excellence
Bergen Community College Faculty and Staff Honored for Excellence

Nine Bergen Community College faculty and staff have earned recognition for their contributions in supporting student success at the institution.

“While the faculty and staff honored come from different disciplines and areas of the College, they share a common thread,” Bergen President B. Kaye Walter, Ph.D., said. “Each honoree remains committed to supporting our students from application to graduation and ensuring they have every opportunity to achieve success.”

The League for Innovation in the Community College sponsored the College’s honorees for the Innovation of the Year Award, Vice President of Student Affairs Naydeen Gonzalez-De Jesus, Ph.D., and Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center Dean of Student Affairs Denise Liguori. Gonzalez-De Jesus, of Franklinville, and Liguori, of Glen Rock, received recognition for their leadership of the College’s project graduation initiative, which identifies students who attended Bergen, or who are currently enrolled, to assist them with their academic progress toward program completion. The initiative has played a significant role in the College securing the state’s No. 1 ranking for associate degree graduates two years in a row. Gonzalez-De Jesus joined the College in 2013; Liguori has spent more than two decades at the institution. The pair will receive $750 from the League to advance the innovation.

Project graduation also recently placed as one of 10 finalists among nominations from the nation’s 1,200 community colleges in the planning, governance and finance category for the Community College Futures Assembly 2016 Bellwether program. Organizers recognized the College at the group’s annual event in Orlando in January.

Professor Phil Dolce, of Ridgewood, earned Bergen’s John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Award, also sponsored by the League. Dolce has taught at the College for more than 45 years, focusing much of his research on the social, economic, political and cultural impact of American suburbs. The history professor leads the renowned Suburban Studies Group, which helped make Bergen the only community college to earn entry into the Cultures of the Suburbs International Research Network last year. Dolce will attend the League’s annual conference in Chicago next month.

Finally, local benefactor Judith Greenberg Seinfeld sponsored the institution’s first Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Fellowships, which awarded two projects $500 each.

Dental Hygiene professor Denise Avrutik, of Kendall Park, received one of the fellowships for “Active Learning: Patient Case Studies and Grand Rounds Presentation Utilized to Enhance the Learning Process in Periodontology,” a project to improve student knowledge, enhance patient healing and facilitate the discussion of outcomes.

Mina Ahn, of Ridgewood, Gemma Figaro, of Teaneck, Maria Kasparova, of Norwood, Camelia-Manuela Lataianu, of Hackensack, and Margarita Lopez-Bernstein, of New Milford, earned the second fellowship for “ESL Learning Community,” a program of paired classes, assignments, professors and classmates that seeks to promote synergy in the learning process.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College, a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls 16,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.