Outstanding Faculty Award

The PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award was established to acknowledge excellence among the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. One award certificate of recognition is presented at the breakfast prior to the commencement ceremony each spring. The nominee must be a current full-time faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg campus. The award winner is required to attend the breakfast prior to commencement and is given the opportunity to make a few brief remarks.

Candidates are selected by the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg Vice President of Academic Affairs based on student evaluations. The final list of candidates, including bios and CVs, are given to the PGAA executive committee to review and make a selection. A faculty member who wins the Outstanding Faculty Award is not eligible for nomination in the year immediately following the receipt of the award. A faculty member who was nominated in a previous year but was not chosen as the award winner, however, may be re-nominated.


Year Awardee
2023 Laura Giovanelli, MEd
2022 Dr. Russell E. Phillips
2021 Barbara J.Barnhart, MEd
2020 Dr. Timothy J. Holler
2019 Dr. Olivia S. Long
2018 Dr. Matthew Luderer
2017 Christopher Bartley
2016 Elizabeth Contreras
2015 Pamela Ondeck
2014 Dr. John H. Prellwitz
2013 Dr. Paul S. Adams
2012 Dr. Gary D. Hart
2011 Dr. Elisa E. Beshero-Bondar
2010 Dr. Nancy Estrada
2009 Dr. Melissa J. Marks
2008 Dr. Vickilyn Barnot
2007 Lori Jakiela
2006 Dr. Mary Grace O'Donnell
2005 Dr. Kristen N. Asplin
2004 Dr. Sayre N. Greenfield

Laura Giovanelli, MEd

Laura Giovanelli and Rob NajimLaura Giovannelli, MEd, instructor of chemistry, was the PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award recipient. In her nomination materials, students described Giovannelli as an “exceptional teacher” who “makes herself available for her students no matter what.” In their nominations, students stated that, “she makes a comfortable space to make mistakes . . . and builds confidence in her students.” Noting that she brings fresh ideas to teaching fundamental lessons, Giovannelli was described as accessible and engaging with students outside of the classroom. Others said that she was an effective mentor who stimulated their thinking. Giovannelli is currently working on an EdD with STEM specialization at the University of Pittsburgh (anticipated completion: 2024). She earned her MEd at Carlow University and her BS in chemistry and psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. Giovannelli began teaching at Pitt-Greensburg in 2013 as a lab instructor and advanced to instructor in 2018. She teaches a wide variety of courses including general chemistry lectures/labs, science seminar, chemistry for health-related professions lecture/lab, introductory lectures in chemistry and natural sciences with continued coordination of the general nursing chemistry labs and shared supervision of the chemical stockroom.

Dr. Russell E. Phillips, III

Rob Najim and Russ Phillips photoRussell E. Phillips III, PhD, was the PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award recipient. The nominations submitted in support of Phillips described him as “understanding, helpful, and committed to student success.” Another student wrote, “He’s passionate about teaching, and it shows! He’s kind and thorough, and I retained a lot from his class.” The nominations also spoke of Phillips knowledge of his subject and his willingness to help students identify scholarship opportunities. Phillips, an associate professor of psychology, earned his BA in psychology and criminal justice with a minor in neuroscience from Baldwin-Wallace College. He then earned an MA and PhD in psychology from Bowling Green State University. Since 2012, he has taught a variety of psychology courses, ranging from introductory level to more specialized topics like clinical psychology and test and measurements. In addition to his own research, Russell often includes undergraduate students as part of his research teams, which provides experiential learning opportunities, academic publishing credits in peer-reviewed publications, and opportunities for students to present their work in professional research settings.

Barbara J. Barnhart

Barbara Barnhart photoBarbara J. Barnhart, MEd is the PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award recipient. An instructor of biology at Pitt-Greensburg, Barnhart was one of five recipients of the 2019 Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, just one indication of the teaching excellence she brings to the classroom. A member of the faculty since 1991, she plays a vital part in the education of students majoring in the sciences, teaching foundational courses and labs. Her role in developing the Science Seminar was integral to the campus’s receipt of a National Science Foundation Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics grant. In her nomination, students described her classes as engaging, with students asking questions and staying behind after class to discuss topics. Barnhart is credited with helping students learn and succeed in their major. One student noted, "She is committed to our success which translates into a caring and involved process on the University's behalf...By providing a great classroom setup and reaching out to her students, Dr. Barnhart has created a domino effect of a better work ethic and active student participation." Barnhart graduated from Pitt-Greensburg in 1991 with a degree in biological sciences. She earned an MEd from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010.

Dr. Timothy J. Holler

Dr. Timothy HollerAssociate Professor of Criminal Justice Dr. Timothy J. Holler is the 2020 PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award Recipient. Those who nominated him noted his dedication to the success of his students before and after graduation, his commitment to serving the community, and his efforts to bring knowledge, excitement and insight to his students learning about the criminal justice system.    In addition to the courses he teaches, he is the advisor to the Criminal Justice Club, a faculty affiliate for the Center for Applied Research (CFAR), and the Director of the Community Arts and Reintegration Project (CARP) through CFAR.  Dr. Holler also serves on the Westmoreland County CJAB, the Westmoreland County Reentry Committee, and the Pennsylvania Reentry Council (PARC) and is an active member of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences where he serves as the Vice-Chair to the Restorative and Community Justice Section. His other professional affiliations include the American Society of Criminology, the Pennsylvania Prison Society, and the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Justice Educators. Congratulations, Dr. Holler!

Dr. Olivia S. Long

Dr. Olivia LongOlivia Long, PhD is the 2019 PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award recipient. She received her doctorate in Molecular Genetics and Developmental Biology from the University of Pittsburgh Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program. An associate professor of biology/ biochemistry, she teaches Foundations of Biology, Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Advanced Biochemistry, Science Seminar, and capstone research. Her lab-based research focuses on utilizing C. elegans as a model for human disease -1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, which has been adapted to provide undergraduate students with direct research opportunities. She has received approximately $750,000 in grant funding from national, regional, and university sources. Active in professional outreach and service activities, she is a federal grant reviewer, invited lecturer, and holds leadership roles in multiple professional societies. She is the Northeast 3 regional director and chapter advisor of Tri-Beta, and serves on the Faculty Welfare Committee and the President’s Advisory Committee on Diversity. Student comments in support of this award include: “Dr. Long make an outstanding effort to engage and support her students. She is ALWAYS available to her students . . . and thoroughly involved in their success.” “She makes me want to learn . . . her positivity and demand for her students to strive for greatness is what Pitt-Greensburg is all about. . . I believe that I can learn anything with Dr. Long at my side.”

Dr. Matthew Luderer

Matthew Luderer, PhD, Dr. Matthew Ludereris the 2018 PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award recipient. An associate professor of Chemistry, he teaches General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry & Laboratory, Chemistry Senior Research, and Techniques of Organic Research. A member of the faculty since 2004, he also has taught Spectroscopy and contributed to the development of the campus’ Chemistry major and minor. Chair of the Chemical Safety and Hygiene Committee, he oversees all safety matters. Students nominating Dr. Luderer for this award consistently mentioned his willingness to help students conquer Teaching Award (2011). He is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania (BS and MS in Chemistry) and The University of Connecticut the course materials by taking them through the concepts step-by-step. His engaging teaching style makes learning fun, and he makes even the most complicated topics easy to understand while further developing the analytical skills of his students. Students also noted how he sees students as individuals who have lives outside of the classroom. A recipient of the Pitt-Greensburg Distinguished Teaching award (2010), Dr. Luderer also received the Chancellor’s Distinguished (PhD in Chemistry). His current research interests include developing environmentally friendly organic transformations specifically using water as solvent as well as trace metal concentration determination in venison and various fish species.

Professor Christopher Bartley

Professor Christopher BartleyChristopher Bartley is the 2017 PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award recipient. An instructor of Music, he teaches both Western classical and contemporary popular music and has developed cross-disciplinary curricula for Pitt-Greensburg, including Music and Film, Music and Society, and Music, Culture, and Technology. As the campus’ music director, he directs the Pitt-Greensburg Chorale and Chamber Singers and serves as the music director for campus musical productions, including Man of La Mancha, Urinetown! The Musical, and Eleanor—An American Love Story. Students nominating him for this award described him as passionate about music and willing to help students, both in and out of the classroom. One student noted, “Professor Bartley throws himself into his teaching methods. He is passionate about what he does. When he teaches, he engages his students in the best ways possible. He is inspiring.” A baritone/bass, Bartley actively participates in the wide range of music performances on campus and in the community. His doctoral studies in choral conducting and historical musicology at the University of Arizona have focused on the music of Handel’s Messiah and its relationship to the cultural context of its composition. He expects to receive a doctor in musical arts degree in spring 2017.

Professor Elizabeth Contreras

Professor Elizabeth ContrerasElizabeth Contreras, a visiting instructor of Spanish, is the recipient of the 2016 PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award. With a bachelor’s degree in English Linguistics and a master’s in Translation with a Spanish Concentration, she has a passion for helping students to learn and use the Spanish language. For more than 20 years, she has combined her skills in translation and teaching to help others. Contreras serves as advisor for the Spanish Club, co-sponsor of the Spanish and Italian Conversation Tables that meet bi-weekly on campus, and will co-lead the May study trip to Florence, Italy. She also participates in a campus mentoring program for academically at-risk students. Her specializations include digital storytelling to enhance oral and written proficiency, technology in the classroom, and other areas of related to proficiency and literacy. Students praised her, writing: “If I am ever struggling, she always sits down with me and makes sure I understand. She really cares about you as a person as well as your academic success.” “She gives the classroom an inviting atmosphere that makes the student feel very comfortable participating in her class.” “She cares about what is going on in students’ lives, their well-being, as well as their futures and careers.”

Professor Pamela Ondeck

Professor Pamela OndeckPamela Ondeck, MBA, is the recipient of the 2015 PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award. Ondeck, an assistant professor of Management, combines 15 years of experience in the corporate accounting world with more than 25 years of classroom interaction to create a learning environment that develops the ability of her students to think in an independent and logical manner. She teaches the range of accounting classes, including intermediate accounting, advanced accounting, financial accounting, corporate financial accounting, accounting information systems, and auditing. While at Pitt-Greensburg, she developed courses in accounting methodology, accounting learning community, forensic and investigative accounting, and the senior capstone for the major. Her commitment to her students extends to serving as the advisor to the Accounting Business Network and the campus student chapter of the Pennsylvania Institute for Certified Public Accountants, as well as advising accounting students on scheduling, internships, employment, and graduate schools. Working to provide career development opportunities for her students, Ondeck initiated the Real World Business Insights Conference for business students in 2014, sponsors mock interviews for accounting majors each fall semester, and participates in preparing students for the Career Night sponsored by Career Services.

Dr. John Prellwitz

Dr. John PrellwitzJohn H. Prellwitz, PhD, associate professor of communication at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, is the recipient of the 2014 PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award. The award was presented during a breakfast held Saturday, April 26, as part of the campus’ Commencement activities.
Prellwitz was recognized for his ability to help students to understand the art of persuasion and rhetoric through his classes in advertising, public relations, film and propaganda, visual rhetoric, and public speaking. A faculty member since 2005, he serves as co-advisor for campus chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Honor Society. His classes, which incorporate service learning opportunities, provide students with hands-on experience in advertising and public relations by having them work on projects for community clients. He is a founding member of the Center for Applied Research (CFAR), the Pitt-Greensburg faculty/student consulting group that provides social science research services to the campus and greater Greensburg community. He also serves as the faculty sponsor for Pitt-Greensburg Media, the newly founded group that promotes multi-media storytelling and media production on campus.

Dr. Paul Adams

Dr. Paul AdamsThe recipient of the 2013 PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award is Paul S. Adams, PhD. An Affiliated Faculty member of the  European Union Center of Excellence and Center for European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh (Oakland Campus), Dr. Adams is the Behavioral Science Division Chair and faculty advisor to the Pitt-Greensburg Chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society. He is also a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and Gamma Theta Upsilon, the International Geographical Honor Society. He has authored or co-authored chapters or entries in texts such as New Directions in Comparative Politics (2002) , Authoritarianism and Corporatism in Latin America Revisited (2004), The International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Second Edition (2007), Globalization: Universal Trends, Regional Implications (2008), and co-edited the text Western Europe and the United States: Foundations of Comparative Politics (2005).

Dr. Gary Hart

Dr. Gary HartThe 2012 PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award is given to Gary Hart, PhD, instructor of mathematics at Pitt-Greensburg. His specific areas of interest are optimization and numerical analysis. Dr. Hart's most recent research projects and thesis have involved using optimization for the simulation of nonsmooth rigid multibody dynamics with contact and friction. This allows him to blend optimization and numerical analysis with his general areas of interest, namely, functional analysis, linear algebra, and differential equations. Dr. Hart is faculty advisor for Math Club and the Diversity Student Coalition. He also serves on the President's Advisory Committee on Diversity, Faculty Welfare Committee, Math Placement, and the Technology Committee.