Distinguished Faculty Awards Recognition

CELTSS honors Framingham State University's Distinguished Faculty with an event held annually during the fall semester. The four faculty members honored are the recipients of the university's Distinguished Faculty Awards for excellence in scholarship/creative activity, excellence in teaching, excellence in advising/mentoring, and excellence in professional service. Each award winner gives a presentation on his or her career trajectory and achievements.

The Distinguished Faculty event will be held on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. The honorees are: 

Dr. Catherine Dignam, Chemistry and Food Science

Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Catherine Dignam is Chair of the Chemistry and Food Science Department at Framingham State University, where she has taught since 2005. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Smith College and her PhD in Chemistry from Stony Brook University. 

Throughout her career, Dr. Dignam has made a conscious and directed effort to become a better teacher and to better understand the types of students that attend FSU. She has put in an extensive amount of work to assess predictors of student success in early chemistry coursework. Her training has allowed her to better understand the stress students’ experience, which can hinder their ability to learn a subject. As a result of this, she has reduced the number of “high-stakes” assignments, quizzes, and tests that are administered, while developing other ways to assess student learning to ensure they are mastering the concepts. She has focused on interjecting new active-learning experiences throughout the semester and has included an extra hour of remediation weekly for students who require it.

Dr. Dignam has demonstrated a strong commitment to teaching and inclusive-student learning. She successfully submitted a grant application to the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute that resulted in a $1 million award to FSU aimed at removing obstacles to student success in the sciences for underrepresented students. Her leadership in terms of first-year programming, student career development, and mentoring of students is profound and has been recognized by her science faculty peers nationwide.

Dr. Erika Schneider, Art and Music

Excellence in Scholarship or Creative Work

Dr. Erika Schneider has been teaching in the Department of Art and Music at Framingham State University since 2007. She earned her MA at Boston University and her PhD at Temple University.

Dr. Schneider is widely recognized as an active scholar in the field of Art History. In 2015, she published a book titled The Representation of the Struggling Artist in America,1800-1865, which analyzes how American painters, sculptors, and writers, active between 1800 and 1865, depicted their response to a democratic society that failed to adequately support them financially and intellectually.

Dr. Schneider has been engaged in extensive research on the Symbolist Movement and worked with a co-editor to assemble twelve essays on American Symbolism. She was recently awarded a Fulbright-Terra Foundation Grant in the History of American Art, which allowed her to travel to the Netherlands to teach at Radboud University in the Fall of 2015. Her travel fostered many opportunities on site in Europe, but also led to several opportunities to present to our students and the local Framingham community.

She is currently immersed in another monograph, Lost in Translation, Found in Print: American Gift Books. In this book project, she studies image and text in the gift books of Philadelphia publisher Edward Carey.

Dr. Schneider’s considerable travel and research has been beneficial to our students as she incorporates her real-world active art observation into her Art History courses as well as into the oversight of the Museum Studies program here at FSU.

Dr. Suzanne Neubauer, Food and Nutrition

Excellence in Advising/Mentoring

Dr. Suzanne Neubauer has been a professor in the Department of Food and Nutrition at Framingham State since 1978, and has directed the Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CPD) since 1984. During that time, she has directed and mentored 760 Registered Dietitian-eligible students through the program. She earned her MS at Penn State University and her PhD from the University of Connecticut.

Dr. Neubauer has developed and maintained a program with extraordinarily high student outcomes. Framingham State’s CPD graduates have over a 95 percent first-time pass rate on the registered dietitian exam, which is well above national and regional pass rates. Students also have great success at finding employment in the field. In her role as the CPD director, Dr. Neubauer has cultivated professional relationships with clinical, food service, community, and school sites around the Boston-Metro area.

She provides mentoring throughout the supervised practice process, helping students, faculty supervisors, and preceptors navigate complicated issues. Dr. Neubauer teaches some of the most challenging courses in the Department of Food and Nutrition. She offers extensive help to make sure that students are able to succeed and encourages them to take advantage of her availability for extra help.

Dr. Neubauer retired last spring. Earlier this year, she was recognized with the Outstanding Dietitian of the Year award by the Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for her commitment to educating and mentoring dietetic students over the past 40-plus years.

Dr. Robert Donohue, Psychology and Philosophy

Excellence in Professional Service

Dr. Robert Donohue has been teaching in the Department of Psychology and Philosophy at Framingham State University since 1996. He holds an MS and PhD in Psychology from the University of Florida.

Dr. Donohue has been elected by his peers as President of the FSU faculty and library union for the past 10 years. During this time, he has been known for his collegial, inclusive leadership. He has also been elected Vice President of the statewide Massachusetts State College Association for the past five years. His colleagues credit him with always keeping the best interests of students in mind in his work as head of the union. 

Dr. Donohue’s academic background and scholarship are in infant and child development and neuropsychology. He has been a champion of the Centers for Early Childhood Education on campus. His advocacy helped lead to the establishment of a full-day program on campus for faculty and staff at the University.

Faculty credit Dr. Donohue with helping them succeed at their job, as he spends many hours assisting junior faculty members as they seek to rise to the rank of tenured faculty. Dr. Donohue’s work is grounded in concern for equity, fairness, and the well-being for all members of the academic community. As one of his colleagues puts it, “We all turn to him for insight into solving complex problems relying on his vast experience working on the front lines of higher education advocacy.”