Two Niagara University faculty members were honored during the third annual faculty picnic on Aug. 30, 2019. Dr. Joseph Sirianni, assistant professor of communication studies, received the Excellence in Teaching Award, and Dr. Lei Han, associate professor of accounting, received the Innovation in Teaching Award.
The university’s award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates a consistent record of extraordinary performance as a teacher-scholar over time and/or in a range of different courses in their discipline. Dr. Sirianni was recognized for his outstanding work with curriculum development in the department, his student-centered approach in the classroom, and his dedication to mentoring students outside the classroom. As his department chair, Dr. Carrie Teresa, wrote in her nomination letter, “Joe is an exemplar for his students and colleagues: he is hard-working, compassionate, professional, and brilliant.”
Dr. Sirianni joined the Niagara faculty in 2014. His research and teaching interests include the diffusion and utilization of new media by today’s youth, film and cultural studies, media writing and reporting, and mass media theory. His research has been published in academic journals and he has presented his findings at leading communication conferences, including the International Communication Association and the National Communication Association. He holds a bachelor’s degree from SUNY College at Buffalo, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University at Buffalo.
The university’s award for Innovation in Teaching recognizes a faculty member who has devised a particularly innovative and effective teaching tool, such as a pedagogical approach or technique, an assignment, or some other methodological project, that successfully advanced the students’ mastery of material. Dr. Han’s new approach to teaching consolidation journal entries for intra-entity transfers of inventory between parent companies and their subsidiaries more effectively engaged her accounting students and enabled them to score consistently and significantly higher on assessments than those students who had not benefited from the new approach. Dr. Han has presented her initiative at the American Accounting Association Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Han joined the Niagara faculty in 2010 after receiving her Ph.D. in accounting with a minor in finance from the University of Texas at Arlington. Her research interest is empirical capital market research, including earnings management, forecast guidance, and corporate governance. She was awarded the American Accounting Association Deloitte Doctoral Fellow in 2009 and FARS Doctoral Consortium Fellow in 2008. She is a CPA in New York state and a member of the American Accounting Association, Beta Alpha Psi, and Beta Gamma Sigma.
In addition to the awards, faculty promotions were announced and new professors were introduced at the picnic, which gave the university’s teaching staff an opportunity to celebrate the first week of the fall semester with their family and colleagues. The annual event opened with a blessing by the Rev. Aidan Rooney, vice president for mission integration:
“By vocation, the Universitas magistrorum et scholarium is dedicated to research, to teaching, and to the education of students who freely associate with their teachers in a common love of knowledge. […] that joy of searching for, discovering, and communicating truth in every field of knowledge.”