April 2, 2016

Joan Johnsen Receives Excellence in Professional Service Award

President Merodie Hancock and Alec Meiklejohn presented Joan Johnsen with the 2016 Empire State College Foundation for Excellence Award in Professional Service at the All College Conference. Meiklejohn the 2015 award recipient.
President Merodie Hancock and Alec Meiklejohn presented Joan Johnsen with the 2016 Empire State College Foundation for Excellence Award in Professional Service at the All College Conference. Meiklejohn was the 2015 award recipient.

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – April 5, 2016)  Joan Johnsen, director of academic review for the Northeast region of SUNY Empire State College,has received the Empire State College Foundation Award for Excellence in Professional Service.

Johnsen received her award at the annual All College Conference held in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. at the end of March.

President Merodie Hancock said, “Congratulations. I join the cabinet, the foundation board and the rest of your colleagues in extending my thanks and appreciation for your extraordinary efforts on behalf of our students.

“Thanks also to all those who support the foundation’s mission and programs. The ceremony itself, and many other programs, would not be possible without your support.”

In announcing the award, last year’s recipient, Alec Meiklejohn, said, “Joan Johnsen has worn many hats in the past 10 years at the college and actively participates in a number of collegewide initiatives and committees outside the scope of her own work. With great attention to detail and a deep knowledge of college policies, she excels in her service to students and works with her colleagues across the college.”

“President Hancock told me she could feel my heart beating,” said Johnsen, upon receiving the award. “It is the students that inspire my work. I feel that it is the students who do the hardest work."

When asked about her reaction to hearing she had won the award, Johnsen replied that she did not recognize herself in the announcement made by Meiklejohn. Specifically, in her role as director of academic review, she consulted with faculty and assessment staff to identify best practices and enhance the academic quality of degree plans. After receiving feedback, she made key changes to the review process, which have resulted in a positive assessment culture at the center.

Johnsen also worked to digitize the review process. She started the practice of scanning degree plans and having them distributed to committee members a week before a review committee meets. The results from this small change have been that mentors have more time to consult with field experts when questions regarding a plan arise, potentially resolving issues before the portfolio is reviewed by a committee and increasing the portfolio’s likelihood of approval. As a result, students are better served.

Johnsen has participated in a number of collegewide initiatives, grants and committees. Her active participation demonstrates that her dedication to the college extends beyond the level of one location. She has worked with the Office of Collegewide Academic Review on a grant related to prior learning assessment and worked with distance learning mentors and the administration of the Northeast region to pilot an e-portfolio project with the Center for Disability Services in Albany. During a time of institutional change, she has participated in collegewide discussions focused on “what assessment might look like within the new institutional structure” with peers from across the college.

About the Excellence Award in Professional Service Award

The criteria for selection for the Foundation Award for Excellence in Professional Service speaks to superbly fulfilling the responsibilities of the position, demonstrating initiative and strong leadership skills and providing excellence in decision making as well as problem solving. This year’s recipients exemplify excellence in their service and commitment to the college.

About Empire State College

Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates more than 20,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 35 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students average age 40.

Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.

Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.

Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.

The college’s 73,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

The college was first established in 1971 by the SUNY Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY system from 1970 to 1977.

Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

More information about the college is available at www.esc.edu.

Contact: Hope Ferguson, senior writer
518 587-2100, ext. 2509