Fairleigh Dickinson University’s 2010 Academic Convocation

President J. Michael Adams with Distinguished Faculty Award winners, from left, John H. Skarbnik, Judith Kaufman and Robert J. Houle.


The University bestows awards to faculty, staff and two lawmakers, while keynote speaker Peter J. Woolley argues that good polls help foster good government.


MADISON, N.J. (Sept. 23, 2010) — Do opinion polls sometimes fool the public? Or do they merely reflect the views of passive, apathetic and ill-informed voters?


In “Polling Fools,” the keynote address at FDU’s 2010 Academic Convocation on Sept. 22 at the College at Florham, Peter J. Woolley, professor of political science and executive director of PublicMind, asked those questions but made the case that sound polls “are a way to compensate for inadequacies in the electoral system.” Given the deficiencies of elections — low turnout, unclear messages — well-conducted polls can supply the missing link between the governed and their government, he said.


PublicMind is the University’s independent research organization. To hear Woolley’s speech, watch the archived convocation Webcast at http://www.fdu.edu/newspubs/convocationwebcast.html

Convocation traditionally marks the opening of the new academic year, introduces new faculty and presents awards to faculty and staff. The ceremony, held this year in Dreyfuss Theater at the College at Florham, was broadcast live on the Web. Distinguished Faculty Awards were presented for excellence in teaching, service, and research and scholarship. In addition, four staff members were honored as Pillars of FDU, and Presidential Medals were given to two state assemblymen for their support of higher education.

Distinguished Faculty Awards

This year’s honorees were Robert J. Houle, assistant professor of history, Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching; John H. Skarbnik, professor of taxation, Distinguished Faculty Award for Research and Scholarship; and Judith Kaufman, professor of psychology, Distinguished Faculty Award for Service.

Robert J. Houle joined Fairleigh Dickinson in 2004. At FDU, he developed a new Introduction to History course, helped redesign the history major and added two courses that transcend national boundaries: Indian Ocean World History and Atlantic Ocean World History. Houle teaches a range of world history courses, from introductory to upper-division, on topics such as “Islam and Christianity in Africa,” “Colonial Epidemics” and “Crime and Punishment in Southern Africa.” He regularly leads his students on field trips to the U.N., Washington, D.C., Boston and Little Senegal in Harlem. Houle’s research interests center on the way Africans and other colonized peoples interact with their colonizers. He has presented his research at conferences and meetings nationwide and at the University of Natal in South Africa. His book, Making African Christianity: Africans Reimagining Their Faith in Colonial Southern Africa, will be published by Lehigh University Press later this academic year.

John H. Skarbnik teaches classes on federal income and corporate taxes, tax accounting, estate and gift planning, and partnerships. From 1994 to 1996, he was director of Fairleigh Dickinson’s M.S. in taxation program. Skarbnik, who has written 15 book chapters and 30 articles and delivered dozens of presentations on the subject of taxation, is especially known for his expertise in estates and trusts. He is the editor of Murphy’s Will Clauses, a five-volume resource for estate-planning attorneys and accountants throughout the United States. Since December 2002, he has revised 14 chapters in the online and print reference — each chapter equivalent to a book of 200 pages or more. Skarbnik, who has a law degree from Rutgers University and an LL.M. from New York University, joined FDU in 1988.

Judith Kaufman is director of the Psy.D. and M.A. programs in school psychology. She came to FDU in 1988 as dean of students at the Rutherford campus after 18 years as a professor and program director at Yeshiva University. In 1989, she became vice president for student affairs at FDU. After returning to the classroom in 1993, she was key in developing the University’s M.A. and Psy.D. programs in school psychology, post-baccalaureate re-specialization program in psychology and M.A. program in forensic psychology. She helped coordinate the University Core and Freshman Seminar programs and edited a customized textbook for the Freshman Seminar program, Steps to Success: The Fairleigh Dickinson Way (Kendall/Hunt, 2010). Kaufman has served on the Faculty Senate and Faculty Rights and Welfare Committee, and is a founding member of the Metropolitan Campus Wellness Committee, a charter member of the Metropolitan Campus Threat Assessment Team and chair of the Behavior Assessment Task Force. She is also a member of the Student Success Team and co-chair of the Freshman Committee.

Pillars of FDU

The Pillars of FDU Award, given to veteran staff members who make extraordinary contributions to the University, went to Lissette Garcia, associate director/student development specialist, Educational Opportunity Fund, and Maria Kocylowsky, head, Hackensack Libraries, Metropolitan Campus; and Rosalie M. Sabatino, assistant director, career development, and Joanne Sapio, financial aid coordinator, College at Florham.

Lissette Garcia started as an EOF counselor more than a decade ago and for more than eight years has directed the day-to-day operations of the program, which includes over 200 students. She has prepared numerous students for successful professional careers and supports all FDU students by frequently attending student activities and athletic events. Garcia teaches Freshman Seminar and Developing Academic Skills and serves as an adviser to the Latin American Student Organization and Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc. She is a member of the Campus Standards Judicial Board and the Student Success Team, and is a Residence Life Fellow.

Maria Kocylowsky joined FDU in 1989 as a librarian on the Rutherford campus. She helped in the formation of the Business Research Library on the Metropolitan campus in 1994 and has served as the managing director since its inception. She is also the New Jersey Documents librarian, has helped to preserve the New Jersey Historical collection started at the Messler Library on the Rutherford campus and has preserved important documents and artifacts surrounding the early years of Fairleigh Dickinson University. In addition, she serves as a marshal at Commencement each year and has supported the annual scholarship dinner of FDU’s International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Rosalie M. Sabatino is a career counselor and internship coordinator at FDU’s College at Florham who works closely with its Silberman College of Business and Becton College of Arts and Sciences. As a Freshmen Seminar instructor, Sabatino helps acclimate and educate students about all aspects of university life. She also created a career module that other instructors could use to introduce students to the career exploration process. A member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, Sabatino builds relationships with employers around the state to help students with experiential learning during college and to find careers afterward. She is also active in the New Jersey Cooperative Education and Internship Association as a member and on the executive board. Sabatino served on FDU’s Professional Administrative Senate as a campus representative and then board secretary for six years. She received a Campus Recognition Award for Exceptional Service in 2005-06.

Joanne Sapio has worked in the Office of Financial Aid at the College at Florham since 1985. As financial aid coordinator, she ensures that students and their families receive the support and assistance needed to fund students’ education and navigate through the many complex issues surrounding financial aid. She has become a trusted counselor, representing the University with class and compassion. Often the first in the office, she lingers late into the evening to ensure problems are resolved, solutions are found and the door to an FDU education remains open. Beyond her vast knowledge of financial-assistance programs, her empathy and sympathy have helped forge strong relationships with many students. For her service and dedication, she was honored with a College at Florham Campus Recognition Award in 2002.

Presidential Medals

Presidential Medals were awarded to New Jersey Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce and Assembly Budget Officer Joseph R. Malone III for supporting funding for New Jersey Tuition Aid Grants during a tough budgeting process. “Initial proposals would have resulted in deep cuts to this program for our neediest students,” said FDU President J. Michael Adams. “That did not happen, in large measure due to the influence and support of these two remarkable individuals.” DeCroce, a legislator since 1989 and the Assembly Republican Leader since 2003, represents Assembly District 26. Malone, of District 30, has been in the Assembly since 1993 and was assistant majority whip in 2000-01.

For Immediate Release

FDU Public Relations
   (Metropolitan Campus Office)
Fairleigh Dickinson University
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Teaneck, NJ 07666

Dina Schipper
Director, University Public Relations

Melissa Payton

FDU Public Relations
   (College at Florham Office)
Fairleigh Dickinson University
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Madison, NJ 07940

Scott Giglio
Assistant Director, Public Relations

Lillian Lukac