Spotlight on Excellence Celebration


A wide shot of many employees gathered and conversing in the Ballroom for the Spotlight on Excellence event.

At the second annual Spotlight on Excellence Celebration, held May 13, 2024, University of Detroit Mercy acknowledged the contributions and achievements of our faculty, staff, administrators and retirees.


See the photos from the event in a shared OneDrive folder. (To preview the photos, you may need to use the view option button in the upper right to change to the Tiles view.)


  1. Welcome – Pamela Zarkowski, Provost and VP for Academic Affairs
  2. Opening Prayer – Charles Oduke, VP for Mission Integration
  3. Presentation of Gifts to Retirees
  4. Presentation of Years of Service Pins
  5. Announcement of Administrator and Staff Promotions
  6. Announcement of Promotion and Tenure Achievements
  7. Announcement of 2024 Faculty Recognition Awardees
  8. Announcement of 2024 Jesuit Community Faculty Stipend Awardees
  9. Announcement of and Presentation to Commitment to Excellence Awardees
  10. Announcement of and Presentation to Mission Leadership Awardees

Congratulations on your Retirement!

  • Patricia Baker, Administrative Assistant, School of Dentistry (21 Years)
  • Mark Denham, Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Education (9 Years)
  • Michael Dosch, Associate Professor, College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing (19 Years)
  • Julia Eisenstein, Library Professor, McNichols Campus Library (15 Years)
  • Marjorie Lang, Personal Counselor, Wellness Center (14 Years)
  • Joan Lewis, Clinical Associate Professor, School of Dentistry (9 Years)
  • Sohayla Mammo, Clinical Assistant Professor, Division of Clinical Essentials and Simulation, School of Dentistry (10 Years)
  • Becky Nauta, Associate Professor, College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing (12 Years)
  • Michael Pyatenko, Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Dentistry (9 Years)
  • Dinetria Sams, Administrative Assistant, School of Dentistry (8 Years)
  • Gilbert Sunghera, S.J., Associate Professor, School of Architecture & Community Development (17 Years)
  • Maureen Van Hook, Associate Clinical Professor, Division of Dental Hygiene, Director of Dental Hygiene Program, School of Dentistry (11 Years)
  • Mary Yim, Director of Clinical Patient Operations, School of Dentistry (27 Years)

Years of Service Recognition 

10 Years of Service

  • Kristen Abraham
  • Michael Armstrong
  • Mazin Askar
  • Arneshia Austin
  • Barraka Baber
  • Sean Bacon
  • Cindy Bauer
  • Christopher Benson
  • Adam Bouton
  • Teri Carroll
  • Steven Chang
  • Sean Clark
  • Debra Cope-Huff
  • Louis Davis
  • Rachel DeWitt
  • Troy Diaz
  • Felicia Hartinger
  • Renady Hightower
  • Darrick Hollowell
  • Terry Howard
  • Kristie Jones
  • Renee Kettering, RSM
  • Arthur Ko
  • Zigmond Kozicki
  • Eric Krukonis
  • Genevieve Meyers
  • Denise Morabito
  • Nancy O'Shea
  • Susan Paurazas
  • Evan Peterson
  • Nancy Poznick
  • Joshua Scheys
  • Victoria Spallone
  • Debbie Stieffel
  • Mark Stoll
  • Diana Swider
  • Monisha Tunstall
  • Brenda Vance
  • Robert Vowels
  • Ian Walker
  • Michelle Whalen
  • Amy Wisniewski
  • Rita Yeremian

15 Years of Service

  • Darnella Anchrum
  • Bruce Balconi
  • Julia Belian
  • Claudia Bernasconi
  • Odie Boley
  • Richard Broughton
  • Stephanie Conant
  • Charles Cross
  • Amy Dereczyk
  • Marilyn Dow
  • Kendra Evans
  • Donna Gormely
  • Danielle Harris
  • Mary-Catherine Harrison
  • Karen Henning
  • Amanda Hiber
  • Richard Hill
  • Saran Hollier
  • Hsiao-Lan Hu
  • Melissa Keith
  • Shamaila Khan
  • Christopher Kolon
  • Mohamed Mansour
  • Molly McClelland
  • Lauri Moore
  • Helena Perez
  • Kimberly Raleigh
  • Noah Resnick
  • Rhonda Robinson
  • Jason Roche
  • Jennifer Ruel
  • Omid Sabbaghi
  • Bryce Schonfeld
  • Nart Shawash
  • Nutrena Tate
  • Shelley Wagnon
  • Rodney Warren
  • Carmon Weekes
  • Charles Wilson

20 Years of Service

  • Sara Armstrong
  • Monica Barbour
  • Crystal Becker
  • Tierre Brundige
  • Abhijit Dasgupta
  • Barry Dauphin
  • Don DiPaolo
  • Heather Hill
  • Petra Hurt
  • Lazaros Kikas
  • Walter Lim
  • Gregory Ott
  • Linda Slowik
  • Julie St John
  • Julia Stocker-Schneider
  • Cassandra Wadley
  • Mary White

25 Years of Service

  • Jeffery Boats
  • Stephen Corder
  • Tyra Dahlerup
  • Jenny Duncil
  • Harold Greene
  • Yvonne King
  • Katherine Lanigan
  • Wendy Marshall
  • Andrew Moore
  • Anthony Neely
  • Dan Pitera
  • Mitzi Saunders
  • Lori Small
  • Jill Spreitzer
  • Jonathan Stevens
  • Prasad Venugopal
  • Lynn Vitale
  • Lara Wasner

30 Years of Service

  • Steven Abell
  • Janet Baiardi
  • Stokes Baker
  • Michael Barry
  • Mark Benvenuto
  • Shuvra Das
  • Alan Hoback
  • Michael Jayson
  • Lisa MacDonnell
  • Maryrose Patrick
  • Katy Snyder
  • Gregory Sumner
  • Jonathan Weaver
  • Sandra Wilson

35 Years of Service

  • Mary Burns
  • Adrian Currie
  • Utpal Dutta
  • Carole Fletcher
  • Joel Gallihugh
  • Cindy Gillham
  • Alesia James
  • Lezly Pruitt
  • Edward G. Tracy

40 Years of Service

  • Elizabeth Boyar
  • John Finan
  • Cynthia Langham
  • Kristine McLonis
  • Brigette Murphy-Barbee
  • Mark Paulik
  • Gregory Ulferts

45 Years of Service

  • Diane Praet
  • Pamela Zarkowski

50 Years of Service

  • Jane Schley

Administrator & Staff Promotions

  • Lori Armstrong, System Specialist, Admissions and Recruitment
  • Arneshia Austin, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations, Alumni Relations
  • Taylor Baker, Director of Credentialing, Clinical Compliance, School of Dentistry
  • Holly Cunningham, Patient Services Specialist, Wellness Center
  • Juliette Daniels, Associate Dean of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management, Schools of Dentistry & Optometry
  • Gregory Grobis, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, College of Liberal Arts & Education
  • Danielle Harris, Director, Student Services, School of Dentistry
  • Darrick Hollowell, Corporal Investigative, Public Safety
  • Stephen Huprich, Associate Dean for Graduate Education, College of Liberal Arts & Education
  • Melanie Johnson, Accelerated Program Clinic Coordinator, School of Dentistry
  • Yvonne King, Assistant Dean, Student Academic Success & Inclusive Excellence, College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing
  • Tracey Knowles, Director of Center for Career and Professional Development, Student Life
  • Thaddeus Lindsay, Mechanical Engineering Lab Manager, College of Engineering & Science
  • Betsy Lozano, Director of Student Engagement & Belonging, School of Dentistry
  • Nick Neamonitis, Sergeant, Public Safety
  • Leslie Samano, Assistant Director/Event Coordinator, Admissions and Recruitment
  • Tommie Smith, ReBUILDetroit Director of Student Success, College of Engineering & Science
  • Thommy Snell, Acquisitions & Electronic Services Specialist, School of Law
  • Jack Sydorchuk, Director of Athletic Facilities & Operations, Athletics
  • Kimberly VanAssche, Assistant Director of Financial Aid, Financial Aid
  • Michael Wynn, Director of University Recreation, Fitness Center

Promotion & Tenure

Promoted to Professor

  • Shadi Banitaan, Ph.D., Electrical & Computer Engineering & Computer Science, College of Engineering & Science
  • Eric S. Krukonis, Ph.D., Division of Integrated Biomedical Sciences, School of Dentistry
  • Yu Peng Lin, Ph.D., Economics, College of Liberal Arts & Education
  • Michelle L. Richards, J.D., Law, School of Law

Promoted to Clinical Professor

  • Sanjay P. Chand, M.B.B.S., M.D., Division of Integrated Biomedical Sciences, School of Dentistry
  • Melanie E. Mayberry, D.D.S., M.S.-HCM, Oral Health and Integrated Care, School of Dentistry

Promoted to Associate Professor with tenure

  • Wilfred Allen, Ph.D., Nursing, College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing
  • Louis Davis, DNP, Nursing, College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing
  • Yolonda Freeman-Hildreth, Ph.D., Physician Assistant Program, College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing
  • Amandeep Gupta, M.D., Division of Integrated Biomedical Sciences, School of Dentistry
  • Janet Joiner, Ph.D., Social Work, College Liberal Arts & Education
  • James Leach, M.Arch, Architecture, School of Architecture & Community Development
  • Rachel L. Lee, Ph.D., Psychology, College of Liberal Arts & Education
  • Nicole Najor, Ph.D., Biology, College of Engineering & Science
  • Ivy J. Razmus, Ph.D., RN, Nursing, College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing (Aquinas Campus)
  • Naama H. Sleiman, Ph.D., Division of Integrated Biomedical Sciences, School of Dentistry
  • Cristine Smoczer, M.D., M.Sc, Ph.D., Division of Integrated Biomedical Sciences, School of Dentistry

Promoted to Associate Library Professor with tenure

  • Rebecca Tull, MLIS, Libraries, McNichols Campus Library
  • Nadine Wodwaski, DNP, Nursing, College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing

Promoted to Clinical Associate Professor

  • Eliana Sanchez-Castano, D.D.S., M.S., Clinical Dentistry, School of Dentistry

Promoted to Senior Lecturer

  • Anne-Marie Kosi-Kupe, Ph.D., Biology, College of Engineering & Science

Faculty Recognition Awards

2024 Faculty Excellence Award

  • Claudia Bernasconi, M.Arch, Professor, School of Architecture & Community Development

2024 Faculty Achievement Award

  • Nadine Wodwaski, DNP, Associate Professor, Nursing, College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing

2024 Jesuit Community Faculty Stipend

  • Dr. Rosemary Weatherston, Associate Professor, English Department
  • Dr. Erin Henze, Associate Professor, Psychology Department; Dr. Rachel Lee, Assistant Professor, Psychology Department; Dr. Sarah Rowe, Assistant Professor, Psychology Department

Commitment to Excellence Awards

2024 Commitment to Excellence Rising Star Award

  • Dwayne Arnett, Helpdesk Technician, ITS

2024 Commitment to Excellence Staff Award

  • Lalisha Griffin, Administrative Assistant, Biology, College of Engineering & Science

2024 Commitment to Excellence Administrator Award

  • Tyra Dahlerup, Executive Director of Admissions, Admissions & Recruitment

Mission Leadership Awards

2024 Agere ex Missione Staff Award

  • Karla Lewis, Administrative Assistant to the Dean, College of Engineering & Science

2024 Agere ex Missione Administrator Award

  • Megan Novell, Title IX Coordinator and Equity and Compliance Specialist, Co-Director of Women’s and Gender Studies Program

2024 Agere ex Missione Faculty Award

  • Arthur Ko, Ph.D., Associate Professor, College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing
Four people, three holding lamps, stand and pose for a photo inside with a blue University of Detroit Mercy backdrop behind them.
Three people stand smiling in front of a blue University of Detroit Mercy backdrop.

Colleague Reflections

40 Years of Service

Elizabeth Boyar, Administrative Assistant, College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing

I started working at Mercy College of Detroit in the Registrar’s Office. At the time of consolidation with the University of Detroit, Brigette Murphy-Barbee and I had to decide who was staying at the Outer Drive Campus and who was moving to McNichols Campus. I decided to move to McNichols Campus Registrar’s Office.

Then returning from maternity leave, I was sent to the Outer Drive Campus Student Service Center in 2001. When the Student Service Center closed, I became an Administrative Assistant in the College of Health Professions. And when the Outer Drive Campus closed, I returned back to the McNichols Campus in the new CHP Building.

I have truly enjoyed my years working at the University. Every year it is exciting to see the students graduate knowing that we have made them the best Health Care Professionals in their field. Plus, if it wasn’t for working in the Registrar’s Office, I would not have met my best friend, Brigette! 

Who would have known that after 40 years, I would have a son in the graduation ceremony in Calihan Hall with a Master’s degree from the 5-year Computer Science/Software Engineering program.

Fun fact about me: I took an Anatomy Class at Mercy College with Dr. Ed Tracy and Mr. C. This was with the cadavers. I wanted to take it and I could. I really enjoyed the class.

John Finan, Lighting Technician, Facility Operations

I was hired at Detroit Mercy (then Mercy College) in April of 1984 with the encouragement of my late mother, Ruth Finan, who was a Professor of Dietetics there at the time. If someone had told me then that I would still be here 4 decades later, I might have considered making an appointment with Dr. Kevorkian. I’m glad I didn’t! LOL

For me, these 4 decades have been a mix of trial, error, success, growth… and ultimately, satisfaction. I’m currently working with a skilled crew and a supervisory team with whom I have great communication and mutual respect. And seeing the changes to the campuses over the years has been exciting and exhilarating.  To have been a part of those changes has been deeply gratifying. 

To my Detroit Mercy family, thanks for having faith in me. And Mom, I hope I did you proud.

Fun fact about me: Outside of Detroit Mercy, I am a working singer, songwriter and guitarist. I have recorded and released 5 albums of my original music, and am currently working on a 6th. One of the songs for which I’m known is based on the statue of Jesus on the McNichols campus (“The Ballad of Touchdown Jesus”.)

Cynthia Langham, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Department Chair, Communication Studies, College of Liberal Arts & Education

I am grateful to have spent the past 40 years of my professional career teaching, advising, and mentoring students at the University of Detroit Mercy. I look back with gratitude that I entered a profession dedicated to assisting individuals achieve their potential, to revealing or finding their authentic selves. I appreciate my colleagues for being exemplars of what it is to serve faithfully and with humility. One of my favorite quotes (attributed to Theodore Roosevelt) is “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is at the core of my mission and purpose as a person and as a teacher.

Fun fact about me: I have volunteered at the Huron Valley Humane Society for over 50 years.

Kristine McLonis, Associate Library Professor, McNichols Campus Library

I am part of a rare breed of employees in that almost my entire work history has been with a single institution -- first known as the University of Detroit and then as the consolidated University of Detroit Mercy. I had experienced the University from the perspective of a student before becoming a full-time employee at the McNichols Campus Library. My time as a Circulation Assistant in the mid-to-late 1980s was when I provided the most direct service to students, faculty and staff, and other researchers.  It was during my participation in a library project arising from the consolidation of the University of Detroit and Mercy College of Detroit in the early 1990s that I discovered my affinity for the cataloging aspect of librarianship. This led to my completing a Master’s degree in library science in 1995 and shortly thereafter being hired as a cataloging librarian at the McNichols Campus Library. The tools of my profession have changed over time; but the objective remains the same: maintain a catalog that most effectively provides access to the print and online resources that our students and other users need. Even though I don’t have time to read all the books that I catalog, I am amazed by how much the world of information and knowledge has grown and continues to advance. Librarianship has fed, and continues to feed, my sense of wonder and curiosity.  My affiliation with the University of Detroit Mercy has shaped my worldview for the better; and I am proud of all the ways in which I have contributed to its evolution and impact.

Fun fact about me: I served as Associate Producer of the public access cable television show “Erica’s Tyme” from 2001 until 2012.  My production tasks included videotaping, editing footage, and burning the final version of each episode to a DVD for broadcast via the Community Media Network in Troy, Michigan. I was also an actor/musical performer for many episodes.

Brigette Murphy-Barbee, Executive Assistant to the Dean and Business Manager, School of Architecture & Community Development

I started my career at Mercy College of Detroit, in the Registrar’s Office, which became the Student Service Center, after the consolidation with the University of Detroit.

My next stop was Faculty House at the Outer Drive campus, with Liberal Arts faculty. We moved to Reno Hall in 2003, and then I moved from CLAE to the College of Health Professions in 2005.

Currently, I work in the School of Architecture + Community Development, and I have been there since 2014. I love our close-knit school, and the wonderful, creative, caring, and kind students, whom we love to serve, every day.

During my time at Detroit Mercy, I was also able to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, as well as a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. I really enjoyed my time as an “Adult Learner”. I also had my two daughters while working at UDM, and I am grateful for the support of my colleagues, during those years.

I love all the friendships that I have made at Detroit Mercy over the years, and I look forward to retiring at the end of 2025. I am especially grateful to have worked with my friend, Elizabeth Boyar, for the past 40 years, first in the Registrar’s Office at Mercy College, and then again in the College of Health Professions.

Fun fact about me: I love attending our Men and Women’s Basketball games, and enjoy our UDM Theatre productions as well. Many moons ago, I enjoyed playing the guitar, quilting, basket weaving, etc. I hope to enjoy those pastimes again, once I retire!

Mark Paulik, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering & Science

I have been with the University for 40 years, but I also did my undergraduate electrical engineering degree at U of D between 1976 and 1981. The values of a Jesuit/Mercy education drew me to join the faculty in the first place and convinced me to stay over the years. The classroom permitted me to blend these values with a technical education -- a rare and rewarding vocation.

The things that stand out for me as I reflect on these years:

  • It has always been about the people: the department, college, & university as an extended family
  • The great privilege it is to interact with students
  • 20+ years of teaching senior design with Dr. Mohan Krishnan and later with Utayba Mohammad – the highlight being 3 consecutive 1st place wins in the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition
  • A national best-paper award (w/Mohan) on teaching engineering design
  • Advocating for faculty and students in the years I served as chairperson, and
  • The unexpected joy of teaching the children of former students.

Fun fact about me: I love to take long motorcycle trips, alone, and with my wife of 40+ years, Helene. I also play guitar and live on a cattle farm.

45 Years of Service

Diane Praet, Associate Vice President and University Registrar

Diane has been a part of the university since the day she was born. Her father was a long-time faculty member as she grew up, then she became a student and earned two degrees which was 2 out of the 17 degrees that her family earned over the years.

Diane started her career at the University of Detroit in the Office of Admissions as an assistant administrative supervisor/database manager in 1978. She moved to the Office of Institutional Research four years later and then in 1988 became the Registrar/Director of Institutional Research when the former registrar retired after over 40 years. Diane continued to advance at the university and took on additional responsibilities as the Associate Vice President & University Registrar in 2007.

Internally, she has served on numerous committees and task forces, including chairing the Undergraduate Coordinators Committee and the annual McNichols Campus Commencement Planning Committee. She currently serves on the University Leadership Council and the Academic Leadership Team. She is the University’s FERPA officer, VA Certifying Official and has been Banner Student Team Lead since 2006.

Externally, she served on numerous MACRAO committees from 1986 to the present including President of the Michigan Associate of Registrars and Admissions Officers (MACRAO). She also chaired the Conference of Jesuit Registrars (CORe) and chaired the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (AACRAO) Committee on Academic Progress and Graduation.

In 2013, Diane received the University Commitment to Excellence Award.

Fun fact about me: I went to Frankfurt, Germany in November 2023 to see the Kansas City Chiefs play the Miami Dolphins.

Pamela Zarkowski, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

In the last 45 years, she has served in several administrative roles, including Chairperson of the Department of Professional, Community and Behavioral Sciences and Dental Hygiene, Director of Dental Ecology and Extramural Affairs, Associate Dean for Admissions and Community Relations, and Associate Dean for Academic Administration. Her last role at the School of Dentistry was as Executive Associate Dean. In 2008, she became the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. She continues to teach predoctoral and dental hygiene resident students about dental public health, legal issues, and professional ethics.

My greatest reward has been teaching and working with students as part of their education and professional development. My greatest joy is the colleagues I have worked with at the School of Dentistry and the University. My greatest gift has been serving as a member of the University of Detroit/University of Detroit Mercy community for 45 years.

Fun fact about me: I enjoy antiquing and collecting vintage broaches, pottery and ink pens.

50 Years of Service

Jane Schley, Administrative Assistant, Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, College of Engineering & Science

For over 50 years, Jane Schley has been the face of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Detroit Mercy. Alums who graduated in the 1970s stop in to view the renovated Building and marvel at seeing the exact same face behind the reception desk as the day they registered for General Chemistry. That being said, referring to Jane’s position as Department Admin from the perspective of only reception would be a gross, gross understatement. In just the last few weeks, Jane has recognized multiple course schedule conflicts for Fall and their solutions, booked six faculty candidates full-day interview schedules, consoled the hearts and minds of students going through final exams, distributed safety goggles, arranged the schedule for 50 teaching assistants, proctored exams, certified 20 students for graduation, counseled countless relationship problems, and walked around campus three times during her daily lunch break, all while making sure the cake for the end-of-term Department meeting has that filling we like. She is the very heart of the community-building that our Department and the University stand for.

Fun fact about me: I love to travel! Though the pandemic slowed that down quite a bit, I hope to get back out there in my retirement.