By Lauren Hapcook
The Center for Excellence in Learning, Teaching, Scholarship, and Service (CELTSS) held its annual Distinguished Faculty Awards Recognition on Oct. 24. The event celebrated four faculty members who were recognized for their achievements and received awards.
The four recipients were biology professor Amanda Simons, sociology professor Xavier Guadalupe-Diaz, English professor Kelly Matthews, and retired English professor Elaine Beilin.
Simons won the award for Excellence in Teaching, because she “cares for her students and cares about their learning experiences,” according to CELTSS. Simons has been an “innovative teacher, opening up the possibilities to new teaching mechanisms.”
Simons said one of her influences was her science professor from the University of Delaware, Hal White. She became a peer-mentor in his classes for two years. She said she teaches in a similar manner to White because she loved his encouragement of “active learning.”
According to Simons, she learned to be passionate from her Harvard professor Richard Losik. “What I learned from him is that education doesn’t have to be dry and boring,” said Simons.
Guadalupe-Diaz won the award for Excellence in Scholarship or Creative Work. According to CELTSS, “His work is published in several peer-reviewed journals, books and encyclopedias.” He also helps students reach their goals by working directly with them as a mentor.
Guadalupe-Diaz is studying transgender intimate partner violence (IPV). He said transgender people suffer more from domestic violence than cisgender women and are more likely to be murdered by their partners.
He added there is an absence of transgender people in research. Guadalupe-Diaz shared stories that were told to him during his research on transgender IPV.
One victim recounted to Guadalupe-Diaz their abuser said such things as, “Nobody would love a circus act like you. ... You are just a man in a dress. ... They just want to sleep with you.”
Guadalupe-Diaz said, “Overall, we all have a role to play in ensuring that trans people enjoy healthier and safer relationships. Our first step is acknowledging and evaluating the existence of trans people.”
He added, “We all play an active role.”
Matthews won the award for Excellence in Advising/Mentoring.
Matthews advises secondary education majors whose coordinate is English. She helps them navigate the Massachusetts State Licensure process for those students in education, according to CELTSS. Matthews is also the program coordinator for Liberal Studies.
“I believe that it is important to recognize the work of advising and mentoring that we all do in so many different capacities,” said Matthews.
She added, “I think that one of the drawbacks of our training as professors is that there are so many times we ourselves are scrutinized and assessed that we face a risk of over-focusing on our own progress. ... It is hard to remember that our students really need us to be present for them as well.”
Beilin won the award for Excellence in Professional Service. She retired in May of 2018, and was an English professor for 33 years, and chaired the English Department for 11 years. She was the director
and co-founder of CELTSS. She mentored faculty members and helped establish the CELTSS’ peer-mentoring program, according to CELTSS.
When referring to her relationships with the faculty and staff, she said, “I particularly like the honesty of our discussions. We can share our failures to connect with our students as well as our successes.”
Beilin said she learned her leadership and professional skills from a book called “Servant Leadership,” by Robert Greenleaf.
“I found Framingham State to be a place where we could make exploration and innovation happen, because we have striving, hardworking students and an extraordinary faculty of teacher-scholars,” she said. “It is a privilege and a joy to have served,” she added.