Seven FIT faculty members have been recognized with SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence. The awards are system-level honors conferred to acknowledge and provide system-wide recognition for superior professional achievement and to encourage the ongoing pursuit of continuous academic excellence. They underscore SUNY’s commitment to sustaining intellectual vibrancy, advancing the boundaries of knowledge, providing the highest quality of instruction, and serving the public good.
Johannes Knoops, Associate Professor, Interior Design, School of Art and Design, Classroom Faculty
For over three decades, Knoops’s scholarship has earned him numerous prestigious research residencies and fellowships, including the Rome Prize in Architecture, the Catherine Boettcher Fellowship at the MacDowell Colony, the John Dinkeloo Traveling Fellowship, and the Emily Harvey Foundation residency in Venice, where he is conducting research on a pioneering 16th century printer. Called a “wellspring of information on design theory, historical precedent and culture,” he has long been an important influence on design scholars. Noted for the elegance of his work, his list of exhibits, architectural commissions, and design competition prizes is extraordinary, and includes recognition from such prestigious venues as the Venice Biennale of Architecture, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Institute of Architects, from which he has won numerous awards. Consistently active at the departmental and collegewide level, he has developed innovative curricula that, according to peers, “challenge students as well as faculty,” and has served with distinction on many departmental and collegewide committees.
Erika Rohrbach, Director, International Student Services, Enrollment Management and Student Success, Non-Classroom Faculty
From her earliest days at FIT, Rohrbach has been a vital member of the college’s support services for international students, mastering the daunting, frequently changing technicalities of government regulations regarding employment, residency, immigration, visas, and international student exchange. Lauded for her deep dedication to the students and her tireless drive to tailor whatever assistance each might need, she has established a personal relationship with them because, as one student from Nepal observed, “she truly cares for each and every one….” Above and beyond her prodigious work on behalf of the international student population, Rohrbach is the quintessential good college citizen, instrumental in the creation of numerous institutional initiatives, including a revamped new student orientation program, and has been a mainstay in the development and implementation of the college’s strategic plan. With great skill, she chaired the task force for one of the plan’s major goals, successfully supervising the implementation of eight major collegewide initiatives geared to enhancing the student experience and building community spirit.
Ajoy Sarkar, Associate Professor, Textile Development and Marketing, Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology, Classroom Faculty
Sarkar teaches eight different courses at FIT, and is an inspiring mentor to students and alumni alike. He is credited by his colleagues for singlehandedly incorporating a newly constructed textile coloration and dye lab into the curriculum, raising the department’s color creation and analysis capabilities to the highest industry standards. He is a major student resource for some of our most distinctive sustainability projects, including the development of a natural dye garden for student research and a national biodiversity challenge for design students (which FIT won in its first year). An internationally recognized authority, Sarkar has secured 25 grants (many highly competitive) to support his research, including eight while at FIT.
Recipients of the 2017-18 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching:
Andrea Casson, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Modern Languages and Cultures, School of Liberal Arts
Casson has been a member of the Modern Languages and Cultures Department for almost 30 years, contributing to its development well beyond the bounds of her job, and, indeed, beyond the call of duty for an adjunct professor. Considered “pivotal” to the department’s growth and excellence, she is called a “model” for creativity and innovation by her colleagues and is universally lauded for her classroom skills and dedication to her students.
Ellen Oster, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Textile/Surface Design, School of Art and Design
A highly regarded textile designer with her own consulting firm and list of well-known clients, Oster has brought expertise and the enthusiasm of a lifetime’s work into the classroom, where her love of teaching and deep commitment to her students is her trademark. She became the department leader in CAD classes when she first arrived in 1980 and, according to a colleague, was “at the helm” of what was then a new curriculum, and even put in charge of recommending and purchasing appropriate hardware and software.
Esther Rifkin, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Science and Math, School of Liberal Arts
Calling herself a “mathemagician,” she has demonstrated what her department chair calls a “remarkable talent for showing students how math applies to their world.” Her large personal collection of dolls, puzzles, toys, and gadgets contributes to classes that are interactive and dynamic, illustrating the mathematical concepts she teaches. Rifkin’s colleagues note her generosity in sharing ideas and information and teaching workshops for new faculty. She is also a leader in the department’s efforts to make the developmental math program more effective.
Elena Romero, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Advertising and Marketing Communications, Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology
A highly regarded communications professional specializing in fashion journalism, Romero brings to the classroom a wealth of industry experience along with a strong commitment to her students. Called a “consummate professional of the highest order” by a colleague, she stays current with contemporary culture; indeed, her groundbreaking book and related articles on hip-hop and its influence on fashion provide her an authenticity to which her students particularly relate.