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Nuttall, Stanley honored by their peers with St. Bonaventure Faculty Excellence Awards

May 15, 2020

St. Bonaventure University faculty members have honored two of their colleagues with awards of excellence for their efforts inside and outside the classroom.

Dr. Steve Nuttall, who has taught in St. Bonaventure’s Department of Philosophy for 39 years, was honored for Professional Excellence in Teaching.

Dr. Chris Stanley, a professor in the Department of Theology since 1999, was honored for Professional Excellence in Community Service.

 “Since graduation from both SBU and Boston University Law — and with the benefit of hindsight and some more life experience — it has become clear to me that Dr. Nuttall’s commitment to his students is more serious, committed, and personal than all the other teachers and mentors I have had,” said Daniel Kerns, SBU Class of 2015.

The praise for Nuttall was effusive, from longtime colleagues to former students. One former student wrote a four-page, single-spaced endorsement of Nuttall’s excellence in the classroom.

“If Dr. Nuttall hadn’t served as a mentor for me at an important time in my life, I have no idea whether I would have had the insight and courage to move all the way from Western New York to start a life and career in Washington, D.C.,” said Luke Brown, ’89, who just joined SBU’s Board of Trustees in 2019. Brown is the associate director for Supervisory Policy in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection.

Nuttall was lauded by former students for his “optimism and trust” in them and for his “practical and real-world” mindset in the classroom.

“While I graduated from St. Bonaventure 30 years ago, Professor Nuttall’s impact on my educational and legal career still resonates with me,” said Brian Bellavia, Esq., ’90.

Nuttall’s colleagues marvel at his dedication to his students.

“I don’t think it can be emphasized enough just how much time, effort and care Steve gives to his students,” said Dr. Russell Woodruff, chair of the Department of Philosophy. “He teaches a full load; coaches Mock Trial, which has competitions out of town several weekends from September through March; advises all pre-law students; and runs the Center for Law & Society.

“In the words of another of his colleagues, ‘I have no idea how any one human does what Steve does.’” 

Nuttall established the pre-law program when he came to SBU and has directed the program since. During that time, he has guided hundreds of students through the maze of taking LSATs and applying to law school.

Since 1994, Nuttall has served as adviser to SBU’s Mock Trial team, traveling with students to compete in roughly a half-dozen mock trial competitions each academic year at other colleges and universities.

“I have been aware for a number of years that Dr. Nuttall is a remarkable mentor to his students, but I was nonetheless somewhat overwhelmed … by the deep appreciation all of his students have for him,” said Dr. Barry Gan, a colleague of Nuttall’s for 36 years in the Department of Philosophy; Gan nominated Nuttall for the award.

Nuttall earned his doctorate in philosophy (1991) and law degree (1983) from The Ohio State University. He is a member of the New York State Bar Association (since 1983), the American Association of University Professors, and the Northeast Association of Prelaw Advisors.

DR. CHRIS STANLEY has been devoted to the community he’s come to call home for more than 20 years.

Linda Matthews, a retired professor of human services at JCC, has only known Stanley since 2017, but was so impressed with his dedication to making Olean a better place that she nominated him for the award. They met when Stanley formed the Citizens Action Network of Southwestern New York, which serves as a conduit for progressive social action in Olean and Allegany.

“While Chris has involved himself in national issues, he has a strong belief that we can be most effective by working locally and regionally,” Matthews said. “The Greater Olean community has benefitted from having Chris live among us. He is a wonderfully kind human being.”

For the past two decades, Stanley and his wife, Laurel, have been among the most visible community volunteers at Olean’s Warming House, the soup kitchen established by the university more than 40 years ago.

Dismayed about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Stanley helped form the Olean Area Coalition for Peace and Justice in 2003.

Upset with housing conditions for low-income tenants in Olean, he formed a Poverty and Housing Task Force that lobbied the Olean Common Council to pass a housing inspection bill to hold landlords accountable.

Stanley started the South Olean Renewal Project to focus attention on the needs of a poor neighborhood, and helped plan and install the South Olean Community Garden, the first of its kind in the city.

He served for six years as the education director for the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and worked as a grass-roots volunteer and organizer for eight Democratic congressional candidates between 2004 and 2018.

Stanley’s list of contributions to the community isn’t endless, but it takes quite a while to get to the bottom.

“Chris is an excellent role model for young people and others in the community,” said Betty D’Arcy, a member of the Citizens Action Network. “I believe that because Chris is dedicated to making the community better for all who live here.”

Marcia Kelly, herself a community activist for a number of years, called Stanley a “phenomenon.”

“Chris’s personal commitment to community work, his values and far-ranging interests, plus an unlimited amount of energy and single-minded concentration, make him a dream resident of any community,” Kelly said. “He sees a need, makes a plan to fill the need, gathers supporters and teammates, and leaps into action faster than the speed of light.”

Stanley is active at Olean’s Believers Chapel, where he’s done everything from leading young-adults and Bible study groups to preparing and delivering meals to new mothers and sick members of the congregation.

“Chris’s values are out there for all to see and which I almost always shared,” said Rev. Bernie Survil, a prominent Catholic activist priest and an Olean native. “In action, if not in creed, Chris Stanley is one of SBU’s better Catholics.”

Stanley earned his Ph.D. in religion from Duke University in 1990


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. In 2019, St. Bonaventure was named the #1 regional university value in New York and #2 in the North by U.S. News and World Report.