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Faculty Awards

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Lillian T. Kamal

Lillian T. Kamal

Lillian T. Kamal, Associate Professor of Economics, Barney School of Business, is the 2018 recipient of the Roy E. Larsen Award for Excellence in Teachingthat is presented each year to one of the University’s most outstanding teachers. This monetary award and honor is intended to assist the recipient in personal endeavors and, by rewarding teaching excellence, serves to underscore the centrality of teaching at the University of Hartford.

Kamal’s innovative, engaging, and supportive teaching methods have earned outstanding evaluations from students and colleagues every semester since her arrival at the University in 2008.

Of special note is that Kamal earns high marks from both undergraduate and graduate level students. “Professor Kamal was my favorite professor. She was funny, engaging, and so caring. I really felt like she cared about my success in the class.”

“My first semester with Dr. Kamal taught me the value of discipline and perseverance. Although her exams were challenging, she gave all her students the opportunity to excel. What makes

Dr. Kamal such an accomplished professor is her dedication to her students and the desire to watch them succeed. ”

Kamal’s support of students extends outside of her classroom. Keeping an open-door policy, she takes time to advise and guide the progress of her students through to graduation and beyond. In addition, she supports the enrollment and retention of students in several ways including by developing and teaching Summer Bridge, the Barney School’s summer transitional program for first-year students; meeting parents and making presentations during Hawktober Weekend; and planning to teach classes for Barney’s new Summer Business Institute for high school students.

Kamal’s has earned previous honors, including the Barney School of Business Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching in 2014 and 2017 and the Barney Leadership Council Best Professor Award in 2012 and 2017.

Kamal has a PhD in economics from West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia, and earned her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in international business at the United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya.

Alan Rust

Alan Rust

Director of the Theatre Division in The Hartt School, is the recipient of the 2018 Humphrey R. Tonkin Award for Scholarly and/or Artistic Creativity presented each year to a faculty member who has displayed unusual creativity and innovation in the pursuit of his or her scholarship.  

Rust received his Master of Fine Arts from Ohio University in 1973 and has been busy ever since. Today, heis an internationally recognized professional actor, director, producer, and educator. He joined the University more than two decades ago, recruited by then President Humphrey Tonkin, to establish and build a Theatre Division at the then Hartt School of Music and help transform the distinguished school of music into what is now an internationally recognized performing arts conservatory of music, dance, and theatre.

Rust began the Theatre Division with 14 students in less than stellar performance space. He has since gathered a distinguished faculty of professional theatre artists who work with 165 theatre division students in the state-of-the-art Mort and Irma Handel Performing Arts Center. The training programs are highly competitive and considered among the best in the country. 

Rust has established professional partnerships between the University of Hartford and the renowned local theaters including Hartford Stage Company, Goodspeed Musicals, and TheaterWorks for training programs that are without peer at the undergraduate level.

There is no item on his extensive resume that speaks more profoundly to his enormous influence on the American theatre than his 39-year tenure as artistic director of the Monomoy Theatre on Cape Cod. His other accomplishments include serving as president and board member of the National Theatre Conference, United States representative for the International Theatre Institute in Istanbul and Izmer in Turkey and Moscow and Ashkabad in the former Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan board member of the World Theatre Institute, and dean of the North Carolina School of the Arts. 

Rust has continued a professional acting career in theatres throughout the country and has directed over 100 productions in university and professional theatres in the United States, Sydney, Australia; Goteborg, Sweden; Birmingham, England; and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since being an original cast member in 1998, he is now well known regionally for his annual role in A Christmas Carolat Hartford Stage.

Deborah Kidder

Deborah Kidder

Deborah Kidder, professor of management and chair of the Department of Marketing, Management and Entrepreneurship in the Barney School of Business, is the 2018 recipient of the Trachtenberg Award for Sustained Service to the University that honors full-time faculty members for their sustained and exemplary service to the University.

Since arriving at the University in 2006, Kidder has consistently and increasingly dedicated herself to the University, the Barney School of Business, and the Department of Marketing, Management and Entrepreneurship. Her extensive Barney-related service ranges from chairing faculty search committees, and chairing her department, to serving as the accreditation coordinator for the Barney School. 

At the University level, she has chaired or been a member of nearly three dozen committees and task forces, including the Faculty Senate; the Senate’s diversity and curriculum committees; an Educational Leadership dissertation committee; the Provost’s Committee on Promotion, Tenure and Academic Freedom; the New Program Approval Task Force for the University's Strategic Plan; the 2016 Faculty Annual Evaluation Working Group; and the Presidential Search Committee.

As Martin Roth, dean of the Barney School, wrote in Kidder’s award nomination, her “list of service work is impressive in both activities and length. It is hard to imagine any faculty at the University who has been more dedicated to sustained service work than Deb.” Key to her ability to serve so effectively, her colleagues note, is the excellent working rapports she has established across campus. “She goes out of her way to know about, meet, and develop effectual relationships with colleagues throughout the Barney School and University,” Roth wrote, adding that she is respected for the work she does and for her enthusiastic and gracious support of the work of others.

Kidder’s institutional knowledge, connections, and commitment to excellence are invaluable to the University and exemplify the qualities the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Award applauds. She earned her PhD in industrial and labor relations at the University of Minnesota and her bachelor’s degree in economics at Swarthmore College.


Caryn Christensen

Jane Horvath

Caryn Christensen, associate professor of psychology and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences is the 2018 recipient of the Donald W. Davis All-University Curriculum Awardthat recognizes effective interdisciplinary teaching, as well as the overall contributions to the All- University Curriculum (AUC) program.

Christensen has been an invaluable member of the University community for more than 25 years and a tireless champion of interdisciplinary studies. In roles ranging from associate professor to program director to psychology department chair, she has inspired colleagues, students, and parents alike with her thoughtfulness, support, and inclusive good-natured approach.

Her work ethic is legendary. While shouldering commitments in the Department of Psychology, she also served the interim dean of undergraduate learning, where her responsibilities included oversight of the All-University Curriculum and First-Year Interest Groups; revision of the AUC; design of a support structure to sustain University-wide Strategic Plan initiatives; and the linking of undergraduate academic programs, like the Honors Program and the Writing Center, to key strategic initiatives.

The AUC program revision she undertook was a thorough process that engaged the campus community in meticulously refining the 31-year-old program to meet the modern demands of interdisciplinary general education. As Douglas Dix, professor of biology in the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, wrote in Christensen’s nomination, “It would be impossible, in my opinion, to spend more than a few minutes listening to Caryn and not be inspired to be more interdisciplinary.”

Christensen has served on numerous University committees and task forces, including The Women’s Advancement Initiative, University Graduate Council, Council of Associate Deans, and the NEASC Standard 4 Committee. She earned her PhD and master’s degrees in experimental psychology from Ohio University and her bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University.

Yingcui Li 

Yingcui Li

Yingcui Li, assistant professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences is the 2018 recipient of the Belle K. Ribicoff Junior Faculty Prize that recognizes an outstanding junior faculty member—an assistant professor in a tenure-track position, but not yet tenured—who demonstrates combined excellence in teaching, scholarly or creative activity, and service.

Since 2013, Li, PhD, MD, has distinguished herself through her infectious enthusiasm for teaching, scholarship, and service. Known for a passion that transcends the classroom, Li motivates students in the lab and in life. When former UHart student Asiona Findletar ’16 nominated Li nomination, she said Li is one of the great professors who “dares to go beyond the duties of a regular professor. They become a friend, who captures all your respect. One who happens to teach that class you enjoy and genuinely want to go to even if it’s at 8 a.m. One that not only cares about your growth as a student but as a person as well.”

In five years on campus, Li has accumulated many accomplishments, including creating a new developmental biology lecture and lab course for which she won an Innovations in Teaching and Learning Award, and teaching a First Year Seminar (FYS) on Birth Defects for which her class won the Alumni Award for Most Professional Presentation at the FYS Symposium.

Her scholarship includes numerous peer reviewed journal articles and several prestigious grants, including The Women’s Advancement Initiative Faculty Fellowship, Greenberg Junior

Faculty Grant, and Vincent B. Coffin Grant. She has co-chaired the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Residential Learning Community and served on the University’s pre-med committee and the College of Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee.

Li earned her medical degree at Hebei Medical University in China; a master’s in cell and genetics at Peking University; and a master’s and a doctorate in cell and developmental biology at Temple University. Her post-doctorate fellowship in cartilage biology was completed at UConn Health.