In March, all students, faculty and staff were invited to nominate a teaching faculty member and a staff member whom they believe demonstrates and deserves Newman’s annual excellence awards.
The 2021 faculty excellence award was presented to Larry Straub, Ph.D., associate professor of the School of Business, and the 2021 staff excellence award was bestowed upon Celina Marchetti, housekeeper in facilities and housekeeping.
Faculty Excellence Award
Straub’s nominators describe him as a “helpful advisor” who demonstrates academic discipline, thorough preparation, prompt feedback and uses creative and dynamic approaches to courses.
“When COVID hit, (Straub) decided to move a test back so that we could not feel rattled by what was going on and still do okay on an already very hard exam,” another nominator said.
Straub said he received the award with mixed emotions. On one hand, he said he felt honored to be nominated and recognized by the students and administration. On the other, Straub said it’s hard to pinpoint “one best professor” in any given year.
“I know many of the faculty members and just how fabulous they are,” he said. “I have seen them in action. Especially this year, with the heroics everyone showed in keeping students on campus for both the fall and spring semesters. It was collectively one of the most impressive things I have seen, and quite a testament to the entire Newman community.”
Straub and his wife make it a point to attend as many Newman sporting events, theater and choir performances as they can during the academic year.
“I really believe you cannot truly know and understand these students until you see them in those settings, as well as in the classroom,” Straub said. “We love to get to everything we can.”
One of his students, an international soccer player, even asked Straub and his wife to be his “parents” for senior day.
“Wow, that was better than any award you can get,” Straub said. “I have kids that just graduated from college and I know what an important and vulnerable time that is for these young people.”
In addition to his love for being in the classroom and attending student events, Straub said one of his favorite aspects of working at Newman is seeing the campus cats.
“It made my heart smile when I figured out that we collectively help take care of (the cats),” Straub said. “That is just the exclamation point on the character of this community.”
Newman recently announced the launch of its first doctoral program, the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). This doctoral program, the first in the institution’s 87-year history, will be led by Straub as the program director.
“This will be a new pathway for me and I am excited to learn more and embrace the challenges and opportunities that will come with this new position,” Straub said.
He added, “It is so exciting to be a part of this historic direction for Newman. This will definitely take this university to the next level of leadership in the higher education realm.”
Staff Excellence Award
Celina Marchetti was honored with the 2021 staff excellence award.
Marchetti’s “contagious smile,” “attention to detail,” and “friendly disposition” all factored into her selection as this year’s honoree.
This is Marchetti’s fourth year working in housekeeping at Newman. She also worked under a contracted position in the cafeteria for 17 years. She is known by many around the Newman campus for attentively cleaning every surface.
“Celina always goes above and beyond her job duties,” one nominator said. “She cleans Sacred Heart Hall, always smiles and asks you how your day is going no matter who you are.”
James Sanny, video communication specialist, can also attest to Marchetti’s “courteous personality.”
“While Celina works in a relatively low profile manner, she can be seen each and every day in the cleanliness and organization that she provides throughout Sacred Heart Hall,” Sanny said. “She’s one of those people who, even behind a mask, you could hear smiling through her voice and her tone.”
Sanny appreciates how respectful Marchetti is of others’ work spaces, and how she always informs employees in advance when she needs to vacuum nearby. Marchetti actively asks about Sanny’s family, shares stories of her own and keeps an “upbeat” attitude in all her interactions with students, faculty and staff, he said.
“She is always willing to help out at Newman in any capacity that she can assist with, and ensures that the spaces on campus are kept tidy and clean so students have the best environments to learn in,” another nominator said.
Marchetti said it’s both “shocking and humbling” to receive the 2021 staff excellence award.
“Thank you so much. This is truly a humbling experience,” Marchetti said. “I’m just thrilled.”
When Marchetti’s children were growing up, she was an active parishioner of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wichita. There, she cleaned the Adoration Chapel, served as a paraprofessional educator and helped as needed within the parish.
“Now that my children are grown, I find myself doing more to help with my family than I do with other organizations,” she said.
Marchetti added, “Thank you so much for this humbling award.”