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Perkins Winners Awarded Tomorrow

Ceremony recognizes distinguished service of three BU staff

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One has worked to mentor and support undergraduates enrolled in one of the country’s top business schools, another has created programs to recruit more students to pursue science, math, and engineering degrees, and the third is considered the glue that holds her center together. These longtime BU employees have been selected for this year’s John S. Perkins Distinguished Service Awards, given annually to three members of the BU community in recognition of their dedication to the University.

The winners are Sandra Procopio, School of Management assistant dean of the undergraduate program, Cynthia Brossman, BU Learning Resource Network administrative director, and Joanne Hart, African Studies Center program administrator. They will each receive a plaque and $500 at a ceremony May 7.

Presented by the Faculty Council, the Perkins Awards are funded by an endowment from the late John S. Perkins, a former University faculty member, administrator, trustee, and treasurer. Nominations are made by faculty, and staff, students, trustees, alumni, benefactors, and members of the administration can be nominated. Each nomination must be accompanied by at least three letters of support. Members of the Faculty Council’s Research Activities, Libraries, and Support Services Committee then read each letter and recommend four to six finalists. Faculty Council members make the final decision, and letters are carried forward from year to year so nominees can be reconsidered. There were 18 nominees considered this year, says Faculty Advisory Committee chair Margaret Errante, a School of Dental Medicine clinical assistant professor and director of BU’s Dental Health Center.

Sandra Procopio

Procopio (SED’89) says she was stunned to learn she’d been selected for a Perkins Award. The assistant dean, who has worked at BU for almost 38 years, has “consistently maintained a commitment to excellent student service and supported new initiatives that support student engagement and retention,” noted one professor in a recommendation letter. She has been crucial to the school’s success by “serving students, supporting faculty, and creating a richer, warmer community,” noted another colleague.

Asked what she likes most about her job, Procopio says there is no greater joy than seeing a student develop over a four-year period. “They start out as an 18-year-old and become an adult, with leadership skills and poise,” she says. She estimates she has worked with as many as 10,000 students who have passed through the halls of SMG since she started at the school 20 years ago. Procopio plays an integral part in SMG’s honors program as well.

Cynthia Brossman

Brossman is the founder and director of BU’s Learning Resource Network (LERNet), a center devoted to science, technology, engineering, and math mentoring. Among her many achievements is developing the Artemis Project, a BU computer science summer camp for 9th- and 10th-grade girls. The program originated at Brown University. Brossman secured funding for a similar camp at BU from the National Science Foundation and the BU Office of the Provost, among others, to cover most of the project’s costs. She promoted the program throughout the Boston area by hosting informational events and writing to high school and middle school teachers, who nominate their students for the camp. The program has been a huge success, attracting more than 50 girls since it came to BU in 2011.

Brossman has been at the University for 21 years and says that one of the best things about her job is that it’s never boring and that she finds it gratifying to work with her colleagues to develop programs that didn’t previously exist.

“You have to put all the pieces in place when you have an idea, and one of those is getting people to buy into your idea,” she says. “It’s a cool thing when you see your idea actualized and see students benefit from it. When I get involved in a project, it’s something that I believe in.”

According to one professor’s recommendation, Brossman has had a “remarkable synergistic effect on the University’s outreach activities.” Another noted that her work “strengthens connections between the University and the city, and as such, she is a tremendous asset to our institution.”

Joanne Hart

At the African Studies Center (ASC), Hart supports the teaching, research, and service of the close to 100 faculty and researchers in 20 schools and departments throughout BU that are affiliated with the ASC. A colleague’s recommendation letter described her as a “key pillar” in the office, while another noted that the 38-year BU employee “has demonstrated excellence, dedication, and seriousness in the outstanding services she provided.”

Hart says she was flabbergasted when she received the letter informing her of the award. “Actually, my first reaction was that perhaps this was a letter encouraging me to retire, maybe offering me an incentive,” she says. “When I saw that it was the Perkins, I couldn’t believe it. It’s a real honor and I appreciate it very much.”

There will be a ceremony for the John S. Perkins Distinguished Service Awards tomorrow, Tuesday, May 7, at 5 p.m. in the Trustee Ballroom, One Silber Way.

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Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

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