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Event honors faculty and staff

Ashley Morgado
Staff Writer

They may be strict in the classroom, but on May 7 the University of La Verne faculty was anything but serious.

It must have been the warm air or the excitement that summer break is approaching. The Faculty and Staff Recognition Ceremony, held in the Sports Science and Athletics Pavilion, at times mimicked a Comedy Central Roast.

Master of Ceremonies Mike Laponis, professor of communications, set the tone for the afternoon by opening the ceremony with some comedy after he quieted the crowd.

“It’s nice to recognize friends and co-workers,” Laponis said. “But because I’m nervous, I thought, if I tell some jokes I will be okay.”

The annual event marked faculty and staff milestones from five to 40 years of service, honored promotion and tenure and celebrated excellence with awards for outstanding teaching, service and scholarship.

Laponis kept the tone light.

“Wow. If I had that command in my classroom,” he said.

He started with light jokes and then began a story to set up the main material.

“I saw a sign that said ‘Need help? Call extension 4130.’ So I called OIT,” Laponis said of his search for joke material.

Once he was done with his opening act, Laponis invited Purchasing Lead Johnny Chavez and Biology Department Administrative Assistant Melissa Lau to the podium.

Chavez and Lau announced the names of the 37 recipients distinguished for the five-year service award.

Vice President of University Advancement Jean Bjerke was then asked to speak about this year’s Classified Employee of the Year – Lena Ramos, senior accounts payable assistant.

“(She) gets the job done right,” Bjerke said and read highlights from letters written on Ramos’ behalf.

Denise Shiokari, executive assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences dean’s office, and Mary Van De Brake, behavioral science administrative secretary, were brought to the podium to recognize the 34 employees of the University for 10 years of service.

Twelve were awarded for 15 years of service, seven members were thanked for 20 years of service, and five more received honors for 25 years of service.

Aghop Der-Karabetian, Charles Doskow and Arthur Gonchar marked 30 years of service. Adeline Cardenas-Clague, academic support and retention associate vice president, and Thomas McGuire, professor of education, marked 35 years at ULV. And Ahmed Ispahani, professor of business administration and economics was honored for 40 years of service to the University.

Excellence in Teaching awards went to Assistant Professor of Theater Arts Sean Dillon and Associate Professor of Education Valerie Beltran.

The Ellsworth Johnson Service Award went to Professor of Strategic Manage­ment Richard Simpson and Doug Waite, associate director of the Campus Center, was named Administrative/Profes­sional Employee of the Year.

“It is important to celebrate these achievements,” said Loretta Rahmani, dean of student affairs.

“(Faculty and staff) are the heart and soul of the University,” Ruby Montano-Cordova, associate dean of student affairs, said.

“They make the University what it is.”

Ashley Morgado can be reached at

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