Two St. Bonaventure University faculty members were recognized for professional excellence at Sunday’s Commencement Exercises.
Dr. Nancy Cunniff Casey, an associate professor in the School of Education and chair of the Department of Elementary Education, received the Faculty Award for Professional Excellence in University Service, while Edward J. Bysiek, CPA, a lecturer in the School of Business, received the Adjunct Faculty Award for Professional Excellence in Teaching.
Casey’s nomination for the University Service award was supported by letters of recommendation from 10 of her university colleagues, each enthusiastic in its endorsement of an educator described as having a relentless dedication to students, a keen ability to see a need and develop a plan to address it, and an inexhaustible spirit.
“Nancy Casey works harder than anyone I know. She is a university professor and servant of the institution 24/7/365,” said Dr. Joseph E. Zimmer, dean of the School of Education. Under Casey’s leadership, the school’s Elementary Education department is “recognized as one of the most successful programs at St. Bonaventure,” he said.
There is an “aura of energy” around her, said her School of Education teaching colleague Betsy Cashing, noting that “multiple campus programs have benefitted from her guiding hand.”
A 1974 graduate of the College of St. Elizabeth, Casey earned a master’s in early childhood education from Rutgers University and a master’s in computing in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She earned her doctorate in instructional technology and media from Teachers College in 1988.
Casey began her career as an elementary schoolteacher and district computer coordinator in New Jersey. She became an adjunct assistant professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, before coming to St. Bonaventure as an assistant professor of education in 1989. She left the university two years later to work with the Russell Sage Foundation in New York and was recruited back to St. Bonaventure in 1998 to help develop and implement the Professional Development School model of instruction. “She was a leader in the development of this intensive way to train elementary educators,” said Dean Zimmer.
Known by her colleagues as the “go to” person when it comes to technology, Casey helped secure a $1.16 million grant to bring cutting-edge technology to the School of Education and its partner community schools. She was also the key developer of the data gathering system used by the school to support its continuing accreditation by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.
In recent years, Dr. Casey has developed a course and run workshops to help teacher candidates pass the battery of new certification tests in New York state, including edTPA, the new performance-based standardized assessment that all teachers must pass to become certified. St. Bonaventure teacher candidates had a 100 percent pass rate on the assessment in 2014, and Casey is “gaining a national reputation as a leader in the implementation of the edTPA nationwide,” said Zimmer.
Casey was also a major developer of the university’s First-Year Experience (FYE) Program, which she directed from 2007 to 2012. Designed to help freshmen make the transition to college life and to provide help for struggling students, the program has been described as one of the key “selling points” for prospective students and their parents. Casey also implemented All Bona Reads, the FYE program in which incoming freshmen read the same book, discuss it in class, and attend an on-campus lecture by the author.
Casey chairs the university’s Student Success and Retention Committee, and takes an active role in student recruitment. She helped develop articulation agreements between St. Bonaventure and regional community colleges and has been a faculty ambassador for the Office of Admissions. “She works tirelessly to recruit new students to education at SBU by making phone calls, writing letters, and working recruiting events multiple weekends a month,” said Kayla Zimmer, a lecturer in the School of Education.
Underlying this commitment to the university and its students is a “gentle compassion” and a “steadfast belief in each of us – faculty and students alike,” said Cashing. “Nancy Casey is a reflection of all we strive to be at St. Bonaventure. She helps us be better than we think we can be.”
Casey was presented the Vincentian Award for Outstanding Service to Education by her alma mater, College of St. Elizabeth, in 1991 and received the Faculty Recognition Award for Professional Excellence in Teaching from St. Bonaventure in 2004.
She is married to Dr. Patrick Casey, who retired from St. Bonaventure in 2008 after serving on the faculty in the School of Education in multiple programs. “Mr. and Mrs. Dr. Casey,” as they were known to students for many years, team taught in the elementary education Field Block program for several semesters.
Edward Bysiek’s selection for the Adjunct Faculty Award for Professional Excellence in Teaching might come as a surprise to some people on the St. Bonaventure campus, said Dr. Carol M. Fischer, professor of accounting and interim dean of the School of Business. The surprise is not that Bysiek is being honored as an effective teacher, but that he is only an adjunct, or part-time, instructor.
“I suspect that many of our students do not realize that he is an adjunct, as his ‘face time’ on campus is comparable to that of a full-time faculty member,” said Dr. Fischer, one of nine faculty members who recommended Bysiek for the teaching honor. Five students also submitted letters of recommendation on his behalf.
Professors who taught the 2001 St. Bonaventure graduate and now call him a colleague say they are not surprised that Bysiek is again achieving success in the classroom. “He has always been a highly motivated, hardworking individual who attempted to do his best,” said Darwin King, professor of accounting, adding that the accomplished student has become “a talented and dedicated teacher,” and that his “hard work has led to the overall improvement of the accounting program.”
Bysiek earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from St. Bonaventure in 2001 and his MBA in 2002. He is the principal owner and CEO of Bysiek CPA, PLLC, an accounting firm in Olean, N.Y. He has been a lecturer of accounting and finance at St. Bonaventure since 2006.
In 2011, he was named to Buffalo Business First’s annual “40 Under 40” list, a roster of Western New York men and women under the age of 40 who are excelling in the business community.
His ability to run a business while teaching as many as three classes and up to 100 students a semester is noteworthy in itself, but Bysiek’s commitment doesn’t stop there. He holds weekly office hours in order to meet with students, conducts study sessions, offers students internship and shadowing opportunities at his CPA firm, and is involved in other aspects of campus life. He’s a regular at noontime student/faculty pickup basketball games and is a mentor for freshmen in one of the university’s Living and Learning Communities. He and his wife even invited students to their twin daughters’ first birthday party.
“Ed is known by students as someone who is available, understandable and deeply dedicated to their success,” said Robert Donius, a lecturer in the School of Franciscan Studies.
Molly Curry, a senior from Ransomville, N.Y., who worked as Bysiek’s teaching assistant, called him “an inspiration, a sincere, patient and caring professor. He embodies what I hope I can achieve in my life one day.”
Bysiek is known for his ability to connect with students. “He takes it as a point of pride that he learns all the students’ names as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Bryan McCannon, associate professor of economics. “He communicates well and interacts expertly with students, and searches for unique ways to encourage them.”
One such innovation, a “March Madness in Financial Accounting” bracket bracket competition, which Bysiek created to help students review for the final exam, earned him national recognition as honorable mention for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Bea Sanders Teaching Innovation Award.
Bysiek and Bonaventure are a perfect fit, said Michael Kasperski, lecturer of accounting and internship coordinator for the School of Business. “Ed not only brings his knowledge of the accounting world to the SBU student, he lives the Franciscan heritage in his everyday life. He cares for his students and lives the manner of life and ministries for which St. Bonaventure University stands,” said Kasperski.
Bysiek is a member of the Olean Rotary Club and has been honored by Rotary with its Youth Leadership Award and as a Paul Harris Fellow; a former president of the Institute of Management Accountants; a former member of the Industrial Management Council; former assistant basketball coach at Archbishop Walsh Academy; and a youth minister at St. Mary of the Angels Church in Olean.
He and his wife, Evelyn, have three children: Edward IV, age 3, and twin 19-month-old daughters Sylvia and Juliana.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #3 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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