Shining A Spotlight On Excellence

Photo by Dana Schmerzler.
Photo by Dana Schmerzler.
Photo by Dana Schmerzler.


Binder filled to the brim with paperwork detailing his career history, Chair of the Department of Theater Arts, Jack Wade, finds himself feeling incredibly humbled over receiving the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching this year.

“It’s probably one of the greatest honors of my life,” Wade said. “It’s an enormous privilege to be acknowledged for the hard work I put into being an educator.”

Wade said that “a teacher is a constant student, and even after all this time, [he’s] still learning.

“This award represents years of hard work and trying to be the best educator I can possibly be for my students,” Wade said.

According to, the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence acknowledges those who go above and beyond in their work and are always striving for brilliance in all their endeavors. The SUNY system recognizes the effort and dedication of its recipients to advancing the boundaries of knowledge through their leadership.

Colleague and Assistant Professor Ken Goldstein describes Wade as an amazing educator who is committed to teaching and mentoring his students in all the ways he can.

“Jack’s knowledge and passion make him the right choice for this award,” Goldstein said. “One of his strengths as a professor lies in his ability to teach through story — he really cares about making a connection with his students.”

Andrea Varga surrounds herself with walls painted a vibrant yellow, her bright room sticking out like a sore thumb in the best way possible. Office cluttered with books, artwork and baby toys, it now needs room for something else — an award. A professor, costume designer and new mom, Varga is a superwoman in her own right and receiving this recognition only further affirms that.

Assistant Professor of Theater Arts, Varga was the recipient of another award given to a faculty member of the Theater Department. She received The Provost Award for Teaching Excellence this year.

“I am extremely honored and feel that this award also acknowledges all of my mentors and colleagues who have invested in my career,” Varga said. “I couldn’t have done it alone.”

According to, the winner of this award is recognized for all they’ve done to fulfill the educational mission of the school through their teaching. They also receive a spot on the Provost Award Committee and are asked to make a presentation about all they have done leading up to receiving this recognition.

Varga places a huge emphasis on how important her students are and focuses on making a difference in their education by being the best teacher and adviser possible.

“Students bring so many things to the classroom with them and if one has the patience to listen, give honest feedback and work together, you can really come up with some innovative ideas and interesting results,” Varga said.

Eleanor Wolfe, manager of the Theater Department’s costume shop, frequently collaborates with Varga and said Varga is an “artist and academic intellectual.”

“She has devoted her life and most of her energy to teaching a craft and art in which she is extremely talented,” Wolfe said. “She is also a new mom, and to think that she won the award while developing that new project is also quite a testament to her strengths.