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CCRI Faculty Receive Prestigious NISOD Excellence Awards

May 29, 2019

Four Community College of Rhode Island faculty members received the prestigious National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Awards during the organization’s International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence from May 25 to 28 in Austin, Texas. 

 The honorees are Professor Kathleen Beauchene in English, Assistant Professor Mary Costa in Nursing, Assistant Professor Michael Kelly in Computer Studies and Assistant Professor Melanie Soter in Library.

 NISOD is committed to promoting and celebrating excellence in teaching, learning, and leadership at community and technical colleges. The awards were established in 1991 to recognize individuals doing extraordinary work in their respective fields.

 “The College has an outstanding cadre of faculty who transform our students' lives daily,” said Rosemary Costigan, Ph.D., Vice President of Academic Affairs. “We are proud they are being recognized for their commitment and dedication to teaching excellence.”

 Professor Kathleen Beauchene is the program director of the associate degree in Communication and Film/Media Arts and New Media Communication certificate programs, which she helped developed along with new communication and film courses. She chairs the Communication Committee, is a member and juror of the CCRI Film Festival Committee, and is a new faculty and distance learning mentor. She has long been an advocate for strong transfer agreements between CCRI and four-year colleges, and has been an active participant in the annual articulation meetings between CCRI, the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College for many years.

 Her students laud her as a great professor. “There was literally nothing I disliked about this class and if she taught another course I could take I would,” wrote one in an evaluation. “Her class has been my best class this semester and I have felt so much more comfortable speaking in front of people now in just a short period of time. She takes time to get to know her students and really cares!” wrote another.

 She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech and theater (secondary education) with a minor in English and a Master of Arts in communication and instructional technology, both from Rhode Island College. 

 Assistant Professor Mary Costa led the establishment of the new nursing curriculum at CCRI by co-chairing the curriculum committee, mapping out the trajectory of each nursing course, writing learning outcomes and lesson plans, and either writing or co-writing the 11 new courses in the program. She also evaluated unit exam and HESI test data to revisit each course after its launch to assist faculty in making necessary adjustments for optimal student performance.

 She teaches in both the classroom and clinical settings for the advanced medical-surgical course. Her professional experience has been centered on caring for critically ill adults in various settings and she is a staff nurse on the Women’s Progressive Care Unit at Women and Infants’ Hospital in Providence. She has earned CCRN certification by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

 She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University of Rhode Island.

 Assistant Professor Michael Kelly has an extensive background in computer studies and information technology-related areas. He began teaching at CCRI as an adjunct instructor and soon earned the reputation as a fair, knowledgeable and engaging educator who earned the respect of his students and colleagues. Hired as a full-time faculty member, he continued to demonstrate his excellence in the classroom and outside the classroom by working with students struggling with their coursework or trying to decide on a pathway in information technology and helping students secure employment in the IT and cybersecurity industry.

 Under his leadership for the past nine years, the Computer Studies department has grown in student enrollments, and new programs and gained the reputation as a national leader in cybersecurity education.

 Kelly holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island with a concentration in management science and bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major concentration in management information systems. 

 Assistant Professor Melanie Soter has been a librarian at CCRI since 2013. Conducting library instruction sessions for a wide range of courses, she is dedicated to helping students build their information literacy skills to find, evaluate and apply information in the classroom and beyond.

 She also teaches the one-credit Introduction to College Research as a linked course with Composition I for ESL, effectively connecting students’ research skills with their writing.

As a member of the library’s Information Literacy Group, Sotor is engaged in efforts to increase and improve the level of assessment in the library and her classroom.