Two “truly good human beings” were honored with Spirit of Emerson Awards Thursday.
Jaqi Holland, MA ’04, assistant director of academic support at the Lacerte Family Writing and Academic Resource Center, and Jade Zaroff ’17, creator and producer of the annual Emerson Green Gala, were presented with their awards in the Bordy Theater at the final faculty meeting of the academic year.
The Spirit of Emerson Awards are given annually to people or groups who embody the “Spirit of Emerson,” defined as “that which increases the radiance, reputation, pro-social organizations, and/or creative, positive expression of Emerson College.” Candidates are nominated by members of the Emerson community and selected by a committee made up of faculty, staff, and students. Recipients must meet at least 3 of 10 criteria, including advancing President Lee Pelton’s five strategic objectives, building morale, or making the College a better place.
Associate Professor Eike Satake, chair of the awards committee, was part emcee, part standup comedian as he introduced Holland, who in addition to her work at Emerson, also volunteers with Girls Inc. and is an active blogger and photojournalist.
“If I have to choose one person…say, to keep an eye on my wallet, I choose Jaqi,” Satake said to laughs.
Satake said Holland has a way of making students who are struggling with a class or a project feel at ease. Whenever a student in one of his math or statistics classes is feeling anxious about the work, he usually sends them to Holland for help.
“She instinctively knows how to create a nonthreatening atmosphere,” he said.
Satake said he first met Zaroff about a month ago.
“From the moment she walked into my office, I felt passion and energy,” he said. “When she shows up in my office it’s like fresh air comes [in].”
He said he asked Zaroff—a campus Eco Representative, winner of a 2016 Emerson Recognition Award for sustainability and a John Zacharis Scholarship, and a student entrepreneur—what her motivation was.
“She said, ‘I always wanted to make people happy…I wanted to make a significant contribution to the College,’” he remembered. “She doesn’t expect to get any [return on investment].”
Doing good when no one’s looking is the key to good character, Satake said in his opening remarks, remembering a college wrestling coach’s words to him after he lost an important match.
“He said, ‘Eike, my son, doing your best and trying hard is something you are supposed to be doing day in and day out, when no one is watching you. It’s not something you’re supposed to broadcast when everyone is watching. Good character generates good, positive energy; good, positive energy creates good spiritual energy,’” he recalled.
“Thirty-five years after that, I still hear him saying that to me, though I have no idea what that means,” he added, to laughter.
Also at the faculty meeting, Associate Professor of Journalism Jerry Lanson bid farewell for now to his colleagues as he prepares to move to France.
He came to Emerson in 1999, and before that time, had never stayed at any job longer than six years.
“One of the reasons I stayed that amount of time is because I found a community here, and I’ve really enjoyed my time on this campus working with all of you,” he said, prompting a standing ovation.
Chief Academic Officer Michaele Whelan announced a handful of other faculty accolades.
She announced that faculty members David Kishik, Alden Jones, and Rhiannon Luyster received Teaching Awards, and that Associate Professor Tulasi Srinivas has been named one of only 50 Fellows of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Srinivas’s latest research is on the feeling of wonder in modern Indian society and its impact on creativity and innovation.
Whelan also announced that Professor Daniel Kempler, of the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department, will become Professor Emeritus.