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Developed and implemented by the University Advising Office and the RIT Advisors’ Council, this award recognizes primary academic advisors who have demonstrated exceptional academic advising of students and outstanding support of students and their success.

The nomination period for the 2019-2020 Provost's Award for Excellence in Academic Advising has closed.

2018-2019 Award Recipients
pradip ananda


Pradip Ananda

Academic Advisor

University Exploration

  • Joined RIT in 2013
  • Advises University Exploration students
  • Serves as a member of multiple professional affiliations, including the National Academic Advising Association, North Eastern Association for College and University Housing Operations, and International Center for Academic Integrity
  • Runs University Exploration’s “coffee talks.” Ananda recruits third- and fourth-year students to speak with first-year students trying to navigate their way through college
  • Serves on the Excellence in Student Life Award Selection Committee and SIS Upgrade Committee at RIT
  • Instructor for Year One Program at RIT
  • Professional experience includes serving as assistant director for honor enrichment and community standards at Christopher Newport University; coordinator for residential student conduct at Florida Gulf Coast University; and assistant director for residence life at Eckerd College
  • MA, educational leadership, Florida Gulf Coast University; BS, biology, Eckerd College


Lindsay Vallone

Academic Advisor

College of Engineering Technology

  • Joined RIT in 2008
  • Advises students in electrical, computer, and telecommunications engineering technology, and audio, telecommunication options
  • Recipient of the STAR (service, teamwork, attitude, reliability) Award from the CET department in 2017-2018 and the Student’s First Award in 2015-2016
  • Year One instructor in fall 2017-2018 and 2018-2019
  • Member of the curriculum committee for electrical, computer, and telecommunications engineering technology department
  • Current vice chair of Staff Council and former chair of the Elections Committee
  • Customized, organized, and oversaw a workshop series called, “Finding Your Way to a New GPA” for the College of Engineering Technology
  • MS, communication and media technology, Rochester Institute of Technology; BA, English literature, SUNY Plattsburgh
2017-2018 Award Recipients



New Advisor: Paul Muenzer
Academic Advisor
College of Art and Design

  • Joined RIT in 2015
  • Advises students in media arts & technology, biomedical photographic communications, imaging & photographic technology, advertising photography, and undeclared photography undergraduate programs
  • Serves on the Commencement Planning Committee and coordinates commencement ceremonies for six schools within the College of Art and Design
  • Worked with program leadership and the imaging science program in the College of Science to develop a framework for class substitutions and double majors
  • Collaborates with NTID liaison for the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (SPAS) to ensure appropriate support and accessibility for all students
  • Participates in recruitment and open house efforts for SPAS, and coordinates the summer photo program with undergraduate admissions
  • Adjunct professor in hospitality, travel, and tourism at Monroe Community College
  • MA, student affairs administration, and BGS, general studies, Ball State University



Experienced Advisor: Gary Cole
Academic Advisor
College of Health Sciences and Technology

  • Joined RIT in 2011
  • Advises students in diagnostic medical sonography, echocardiography, dietetics and nutrition, nutritional sciences, and physician assistant programs
  • Assists with articulation agreements with other colleges and universities
  • Participates in open houses and serves as admissions liaison for nutrition programs
  • Recipient of the Dancy Duffus Outstanding Citizen Award for outreach to at-risk students and creative programming efforts
  • Recipient of the Club Advisor of the Year Award due to work with Health Sciences and Technology Student Association
  • Developed group advising process for students in each academic program
  • Serves on the Professional Development Committee for Advising and the Early Alert Advisory Committee
  • Oversees the organization and planning of the RIT Research Spotlights: Health and Life Sciences annual event
  • Developed individual advising plan documents for undergraduate programs during calendar conversion from quarters to semesters
  • MS, student personnel administration, Buffalo State College, State University of New York; BA, communication, University at Buffalo, State University of New York
2016-2017 Award Recipients

New Advisor: Brittany Rourke
Academic Advisor, Civil Engineering Technology and Environmental Sustainability
Health and Safety
College of Engineering Technology
(formerly known as the College of Applied Science and Technology)

  • Joined RIT in 2015
  • Professional interests include advising first-generation, first-year, undeclared, or undecided students; developmental advising; and educating students on self-advocacy
  • Organized tutoring program between students in civil engineering technology program and first-year physics
  • Co-developed and managed six-week workshop series for students on academic probation or with low grade-point averages to improve career, time management, and study skills
  • MS, student affairs counseling, State University of New York College at Plattsburgh; BA, psychology, State University of New York College at Cortland

Experienced Advisor: Michelle Firnstein
Senior Academic Advisor
School of Individualized Study

  • Joined RIT in 2001
  • Serves as lead advisor for cross-registered deaf and hard-of-hearing students
  • Teaches the online section of the capstone course for SOIS students
  • Supports international students and military veterans in the enrollment and transfer process
  • Administers RIT Osher Foundation Scholarship for adult students and coordinates review process for Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar Awards
  • Served on several college-level and university committees including those focusing on advising outcomes, alumni, semester conversion, and graduate satisfaction
  • Co-developed introductory course for students entering SOIS programs
  • Co-presented at National Academic Advising Association and Council for Adult & Experiential Learning conferences on topics of adult learning, enrollment, and learning assessment
  • MS, higher education and BA, political science and psychology, University of Rochester
2015-2016 Award Recipients

New Advisor: Megan Fritts
Academic Advisor, Department of Computing Security
B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences

  • Joined RIT in 2008
  • Professional interests include career advising, peer advising and mentoring, at-risk students, and non-traditional students
  • Serves as club advisor for RIT’s Competitive Cybersecurity Club, Kappa Delta Rho fraternity, and Delta Phi Epsilon sorority
  • Serves on the following college and university-level committees: WADE (Wellness Alcohol and Drug Education), CARES- Campus Advocacy Response and Support, RIT’s On Time Graduation Committee, Golisano Curricular Pathways Committee, Golisano Student Success Committee, and Golisano Community Building Committee
  • Nominated for the Golisano Staff Excellence Award: 2012-2013, 2014-2015, 2015-2016
  • BFA, illustration, Rochester Institute of Technology, AS, graphic design, Rochester Institute of Technology

Experienced Advisor: Veronika Talbot
Counselor and Academic Advisor, ASL & Interpreting Education Program
National Technical Institute for the Deaf

  • Joined RIT in 2003
  • Professional interests include first-generation students, non-traditional students, students with disabilities, coaching and mentoring, and career advising
  • Serves as club advisor and advocate for Student Interpreting Association, ASLIE Honors Program, Big Brother and Big Sister, and Back on Track programs for the department of information & computing studies
  • Certified DISC Coach and recipient of RIT Advisors’ Council professional development series certificate of recognition  
  • Serves on several college and university-level committees, including “Go Roar” Committee for NTID Counseling & Academic Advising, Counseling Services Task Force Committee, Marketplace Scanning Committee and RIT’s Freshman Registration Committee
  • Led professional development presentations for students, faculty and staff, including Promoting Social/Emotional Growth in Students, Diversity at NTID/RIT, Stress Busters, Leadership Skills, Time Management, Introduction to ASL for RIT Advisors workshop, and DISC Communication Styles
  • Presented at ASL conversational lunches, as well as the ASL & Deaf Culture Experience Program for Academic Advisors
  • MSW, social work, Syracuse University, BSW, social work, Rochester Institute of Technology, AAS, accounting, National Technical Institute for the Deaf

Provost’s Award for Excellence in Academic Advising Criteria:

In addition to successfully performing all aspects of their overall duties and responsibilities, nominees will demonstrate excellence in the following:

  • Supporting student success through a blended approach of developmental and prescriptive advising techniques
  • Embracing and championing the diverse cultures, experiences, and points of view of all students
  • Pursuing continual professional growth and development
  • Modeling and promoting teamwork and collaboration with all constituents (advisees, peers, campus partners, etc.)
  • Employing innovative and creative advising practices

The nomination period for the 2019-2020 Provost's Award for Excellence in Academic Advising has closed. 


  • All professional full-time and part-time staff academic advisors and NTID counselor/advisors, within the Division of Academic Affairs, with a minimum of one full year of RIT advising experience.

Provost’s Award for Excellence in Academic Advising:

  • New Advisor category recognizes RIT academic advisors with 1- 3 years of RIT academic advising experience.
  • Experienced Advisor category recognizes RIT academic advisors with more than 3 years of RIT academic advising experience.

Award recipients will receive a $1000.00 taxable award and will be announced along with the Provost’s Celebration of Teaching and Scholarship awards.

If you have questions regarding the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Academic Advising, contact Carla DeLucia, associate director, University Advising Office, at 585-475-2874 or