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July, 2019

Faculty and Staff Celebrate Milestone Years


By Mary F. McCarthy

Director of Treasury Management Renell Lewis, who has worked at CUA for 10 years, receives a flower pin from student Claire Bordelon.

On Nov. 18, Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., university president, hosted a dinner for scores of faculty and staff members to celebrate their 20- or 10-year anniversary of employment with the university. Along with them, Father O’Connell was celebrating his 10th year as university president.

Also present at the dinner were faculty and staff members who had previously celebrated their 20th anniversary with the university and continue to serve CUA, and guests of the honorees.

Mechanical engineering major and President’s Society member Nick Berg surprised Father O’Connell with a tribute from members of that student organization. “Father David M. O’Connell, C.M., became our president in 1998 and has served in that capacity for the past 10-plus years,” Berg said. “During these years, CUA has seen unprecedented growth in students, property, buildings, endowment, scholarship, professionalism, athletics, customer service and, most importantly, faith. Father ‘O’ has embraced the mission of the university that calls us not to be to the left or to the right, but at the heart of the Church. We, the students who benefit from your leadership, thank you for the past 10 years and hope for 10 more.”

“For me, the past 10 years-plus at The Catholic University of America have been a blast.” Father O’Connell said. “But tonight is not about me, it is about you,” he said to the faculty and staff members also being honored. (Click here to read Father O’Connell’s remarks.)

Father O'Connell with the 20-year employees.


Following are excerpts of remarks about the 20-year honorees who were able to attend the dinner. The remarks, based on statements contributed by the employees' supervisors, were delivered by master of ceremonies Frank Persico, who is also the vice president for university relations and chief of staff:

  • Aaron Barkatt completed 10 years of service to CUA at the Vitreous State Laboratory in 1986 before joining the chemistry department and completing 20 years of service there as an associate and then full professor. “Two of the hallmarks of his work are the ability to bring basic scientific principles to bear on real-world problems and to focus his efforts on projects that tie into larger national and societal needs. His endless work habits and loyalty to and support of students are well known.”

  • Gail Beach, clinical associate professor and chair of the Department of Drama, has been an integral part of the department for more than 20 years. Prior to joining the university in 1988 she worked as an independent design artist on several of the department’s productions. Since becoming a full-time member of the faculty she has taught a wide variety of courses both in general theater and in costume design.

  • Paula Blackwell has worked in many offices at CUA, most recently in the law school as the assistant director of the Department of Budget Administration. “Wherever she has worked she has exhibited great dedication to the university, wisdom beyond her years and an astonishingly wide knowledge of how things work and how to ‘get the job done.’ ”

  • Cindy Brewer, adjunct professor, is the heart of the chemistry department. “There is no job too tedious for her to do if it will help a student or co-worker. She never asks for any recognition but we all know that this department would not run half as well if she were not here. Her smile and her gentle ways are the hallmark of her generous nature.”

  • Greg Brewer, chair and associate professor, is the quiet force in the chemistry department that keeps everything running smoothly. “He works efficiently with a kind word and smile for everyone — faculty, staff and students. The students know him to be a good, organized and fair teacher who gives freely of his time to help anyone who asks. The faculty acknowledge his unassuming leadership and the respect he offers all those in the building, even when things get tough.”

  • “Speak of dedication and you speak of Toni Cameron.” This 20-year veteran of custodial services takes pride in every aspect of her job. “She is rumored to have the cleanest scrub bucket on campus! In addition, she has an unbridled respect for co-workers, faculty and staff, but most importantly the students.”

  • Professor Thérèse-Anne Druart, a beloved teacher and a scholar of international standing in Greek and Arabic medieval philosophy, is “known by all of us for her generosity.” Along with her exceptional record of service within the School of Philosophy, she has directed CUA’s Center for Medieval and Byzantine Studies, has devoted herself to the University Honors Program and stands tall with the university mace as our university marshal.

  • Claudette Duncan “is a manager’s dream — she comes to work on time, does her job, and is an example to others. She really knows how to get around. She has to! She’s a cleaner with custodial services assigned to Mullen Library and anyone who can master maneuvering through those endless stacks of books has to be smart and know how to get around.”

  • Lorenzo “Tony” Gomillion is an employee who is a “go-to guy,” someone CUA can always depend on to get the job done. He leads a grounds crew that has the challenging job of providing all the exterior support services for our athletics facilities. This past year, Tony and his team painted the CUA logo with the cardinal’s head on the grass at several points on campus for a variety of special events, including the Pope’s visit. “The painted logo seen throughout the campus instills a sense of pride in our campus community and is a beacon for our visitors.

  • One might sum up Joan Grimbert, chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, in five words. To find those words, one need look no further than the spines of her books, and you will find Companion to Chrétien de Troyes. This 12th-century French poet has been Grimbert’s inspiration and raison d’être. Her fascination with the Tristan legend has made her an expert on its medieval treatments.

  • David Guillet, a professor in the anthropology department, has helped countless students in their studies. He has guided research in the Andes, where he started his own research in graduate school, and in Spain, where he initiated a new field of resource management studies. “This research, and his teaching based on it, have spanned the scale from decision making in small-scale societies to their incorporation increasingly into supra-national global systems that link farm to table.”

  • Dave Jobes first came to CUA in 1987 with a joint appointment in the Counseling Center and psychology department. He is an internationally known scholar in clinical suicidology as well as an expert in suicide prevention. In 1998–1999 he served as president of the American Association of Suicidology. A graduate student who recently presented a paper with Jobes at the annual meeting of this organization reported that “Dave is treated like a rock star at this conference.” While not a rock star, he holds a black belt in tae kwon do and is a frequent marathoner.

  •   Take Note A Capella performs during the dinner.

    Michael McGonnigal
    is a clinical assistant professor in the university’s Columbus Community Legal Services. “He is probably one of the best friends to students in the evening program — he relishes their expertise and enthusiasm, he admires their determination and he inspires their best work. If you spend even a few minutes in his office you can’t help but notice that this is a thinking man's office — the teachings from Scripture, his extensive library, the Pre-Raphaelite painting. It is as if somewhere along the line, Michael got the secret decoder ring that allows him to translate the teachings of the Church, classical rhetoric and beautiful images into a way of teaching students about the law and justice.”

  • Urszula Montwill-Zwaniecki has worked in the libraries serials office for 20 years. She loves a job many would not appreciate — she conscientiously keeps the university’s holdings of journals and magazines up to date in the catalog. She is always eager to take on projects that help the CUA community, and she always remembers the birthdays of all her co-workers.

  • Georgia Niedzielko began her career at CUA as director of legal career services. She then moved to the law school Office of Academic Affairs and has served as assistant dean for academic affairs since 1997. An alumna of the law school, she has a keen appreciation of the demands placed on law students and the academic qualities needed for success. She serves as the primary academic adviser for all law students.

  • Lolita Rillorta-Deyto has had a variety of positions in the CUA libraries’ technical services operations. She is constantly trying to improve her work through education and meets the challenges of her changing job with enthusiasm. Her co-workers also know how dedicated she is to helping all of her extended family.

  • Raj Savari originally worked in the cataloging office of the university libraries while earning his Master of Science in Library Science degree. He was hired as a professional cataloger shortly after receiving his degree. He currently works in the libraries' management systems office integrating new technologies into the work of all library staff. Most important, he can never have enough gadgets to play with.

  • Marc Sebrechts is a familiar face on campus. At one time or another he has served on just about every major CUA committee and he has been the psychology department chair for the past several years. His research investigates how virtual reality can be used to familiarize people with unfamiliar spatial environments and how to help children with autism spectrum disorder learn to interact with others.

  • Lawrence Somer, professor of mathematics, is a highly dedicated and accomplished mathematician. He is happiest when he is in class, teaching number theory. His scholarly work includes numerous articles and books published in the United States and the Czech Republic.

  • “The traditional measure of optimism is whether your glass is half full or half empty. With Phil Venable, the glass is overflowing. He is always anxious to help anyone with anything and he always does so with an engaging smile.” Every year the law school gives an award to the outstanding staff person who has made their lives easier and better. A library staffer has been given that award only two times — in both cases it was Phil Venable.

  • David Washington, a plumber for building maintenance and grounds, is an extremely easygoing guy with a wonderful demeanor. He gets along with everyone and is always willing to lend a helping hand or give some seasoned advice. "He is a major asset to the facilities department as well as the CUA community."

  • Chad Wright’s best trait is his generosity — the time and attention that he lavishes on family, friends, colleagues and students is unparalleled. A devoted teacher, the associate professor of modern languages and literatures is also a first-rate scholar, a true intellectual who is happiest when he has the time to spend reading literature and literary criticism and pursuing his research on the 19th-century Spanish novels that constitute his special field.

Twenty-year honorees who were unable to attend the dinner included:


Haywood Beale, zone HV/AC engineer/mechanic with the power plant
Anita Cook, professor of anthropology
Rev. John Galvin, professor of theology and religious studies
Helen Marie Huntt, accounting analyst in treasury management
Mary Catherine Paul, writer/editor for the Vitreous State Laboratory
Kevin Woods, assistant registrar for information technology.

Father O'Connell with the 10-year employees.


The following faculty and staff are celebrating 10 years of service:

James Battle, assistant director of custodial services

Judy Ann Blower, administrative assistant for the law library

Steven Brown, associate professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering

Kathleen Buckley, associate professor of nursing

Joseph Capizzi, assistant professor of theology

Casimiro Deleon, grounds department

Durand Dohawk, officer of public safety

Vernon Ennels, officer of public safety

Lisa Everhart, clinical assistant professor of law

Kerstin Gaddy, assistant professor of modern languages and literatures

James Gallamo, director of information systems and services

Hao Gan, VSL scientist

Nirmal Gomes, technical services technician for the libraries

Noel Guerrero, grounds department

Stephen Howes, men’s basketball coach

Cynthia King, assistant to the chair of sociology

Wing Kot, VSL scientist

Renell Lewis, director of treasury management

V. Bradley Lewis, associate professor of philosophy

Chiquita Shields Lopez, administrative assistant in the Office of Career and Professional Development at the law school

Michael Mack, director of the University Honors Program and associate professor of English

Suzanne McCarthy, assistant vice president for university relations for university events

David McKeown, VSL scientist

Letemicael Mesmer, cleaner for custodial services

Kim Parrott, administrative assistant for University Center, Student Programs and Events

Louis Price, painter with building maintenance and grounds

Monroe Rayburn, director of the counseling center

Sumpter Riley, facilities design manager

Mary Romain, senior accountant for the controller’s office

Phillip Rousseau, Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor of Early Christian Studies and director of the Center for the Study of Early Christianity

Jonathan Sawyer, associate vice president and dean of students

Rev. Robert Schlageter, O.F.M. Conv., university chaplain and director of campus ministry

Andrew Simpson, associate professor of music

Rev. David Thayer, S.S., formation adviser for Theological College

Panos Tsopelas, associate professor of civil engineering

Duncan Wheatley, senior systems administrator for CPIT

Juanita Williams, administrative assistant for facilities

Robert Willis, curator, slide librarian and drawing archivist for the School of Architecture and Planning

Fred Woods, clinical instructor of law





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Last Revised 25-Nov-08 12:57 PM.