Penn State Shenango honored for excellence in teaching

August 29, 2013

Penn State Shenango announced the recipients of its full- and part-time teaching awards. Diane Kuharsky, instructor in biology, and Richard Talbert, part-time instructor in communication, were awarded the 2013 Leonard R. Riforgiato Memorial Teaching Award and the 2013 Margaret Cunningham Foley Memorial Teaching Award, respectfully.

The Leonard R. Riforgiato Memorial Teaching Award is a campus award bestowed on a full-time faculty member who has been chosen through a series of steps that include nominations and recommendation from students and the nominee’s peers. Riforgiato, for whom the Shenango campus teaching award is named, was an associate professor in history and the first recipient of the Penn State Shenango Teaching Award. He taught at the Shenango campus for 26 years until he passed away in 1999.

Kuharsky, who joined the Penn State Shenango faculty in the fall of 2011 to teach anatomy and physiology, earned her bachelor's degree in biology at Slippery Rock University and her doctor of physical therapy from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Physical Therapy. Prior to joining the Penn State faculty full time, Kuharsky taught at Slippery Rock University, as well as at the Shenango campus as an adjunct faculty member.

Since joining Penn State Shenango, Kuharsky has been an active faculty member. She is currently chairperson of the Academic Affairs Committee leading the committee in curriculum development to serve the needs of the campus. She is also to co-founder of the campus’ Earth Festival, which brings regional vendors, entertainers and speakers to highlight sustainability to our area in a family, friendly event. As the chairperson of the campus’ Outreach Committee, she works on various fundraising projects to support the annual event.

In addition to teaching anatomy and physiology, and human musculature this fall, Kuharsky is the adviser to students in the campus’ Physical Therapy Assistant program.

Kuharsky completed her clinical residency at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Pittsburgh. Upon graduation, she was a health care provider at St. John's Specialty Care Center in Mars, Pa., where she worked primarily in the skilled nursing setting.  She has had extensive experience in orthopedic and neuromuscular rehabilitation, as well as with specialty wheelchair seating. She is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and is an American Heart Association Health Care Provider.

In letters of recommendation, Kuharsky’s students stated, “This faculty member is the ultimate teacher and cares about nothing more than making sure the students learn and understand what is being taught,” The Best teacher I ever had…,” “Is a very talented Professor and is also very knowledgeable in her field.”

The Margaret Cunningham Foley Memorial Teaching Award, which was presented to Richard Talbert, recognizes outstanding part-time faculty at the campus.  This award was established in 1998. Margaret Foley was an English instructor at Penn State Shenango from 1967 to 1994. She passed away in 2000.

Talbert has been a part-time instructor at Penn State Shenango since January 2004 where he has taught various communication and English courses. He has an undergraduate degree in communication from Slippery Rock University and a master’s degree is in corporate communication from Duquesne University. Talbert is currently working on his doctorate in rhetoric and philosophy of communication. In addition to teaching for Penn State, he is an adjunct faculty member at several area colleges and universities, including Grove City College; the University of Pittsburgh, Titusville Campus; and Clarion University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches various communication courses.

Outside of the classroom, Talbert is well-written and has presented numerous papers on social media, public relations and communication at state, regional, and national conferences.

As a resident of Grove City, Talbert presently serves as a borough council member where he is chairman of the Airport Committee and a member of the Infrastructure Committee and Technology Committee.

During his tenure at the Shenango campus, Talbert introduced two new communication courses into the curriculum: rhetoric and law and public relations. He is well liked by his students and was nominated for this award in 2012.

Student comments written about Talbert, include “Is up-to-date on issues in every subject and provides a clear understanding of each,” “Committed to student learning and offers advice for career development throughout the course,” and “An asset to Penn State Shenango Campus.”

Both Kuharsky and Talbert were presented a plaque and a monetary award at this year’s Penn State Shenango Advisory Board dinner.


Last Updated September 04, 2013