PNW recognizes faculty, staff and student accomplishments during annual Founders Day celebration

March 30, 2023
Thomas L. Keon addresses crowd at PNW 2023 Founders Day.

Purdue Northwest Founders Day 2023 Thanks to all who joined us March 24, 2023 as we celebrated the 6th annual Founders Day celebration! We were excited to honor award recipients and congratulate PNW faculty and staff for their dedicated years of service.

Purdue University Northwest (PNW) recently honored several standout students, faculty and staff members, nominated by their peers, for their exemplary accomplishments. Awards were presented during PNW’s seventh annual Founders Day celebration, hosted on the Westville campus.

PNW’s Founders Day event celebrates the anniversary of the university’s founding and its mission as a metropolitan university to provide transformational and impactful change for Northwest Indiana. In doing so, the event also recognizes a new set of nominees each year who have advanced PNW’s mission through academics, scholarship, and service to the campus community and Northwest Indiana.

During Founders Day, PNW honors select employees for their years of service and the recipients for outstanding faculty, staff and student awards.

Four PNW faculty members were honored with outstanding faculty awards in the areas of teaching, scholarship and engagement. They are as follows:

Outstanding Faculty Awards

Afshin Zahraee, assistant professor of Construction Engineering & Management Technology — Teaching

John Durocher, Nils K. Nelson associate professor of Integrative Human Health — Scholarship

David Feikes, professor of Mathematics, and Kim Scipes, professor emeritus of Sociology — Engagement


PNW staff members who received awards in each of the following categories are as follows:

Outstanding Administrative Leadership Award

  • Joy Colwell, director of Graduate Studies
  • Matthew Wells, associate vice chancellor for External Engagement and Development
  • Julie Wiejak, executive director of Undergraduate Admissions

Outstanding Management & Administrative Professional Award

  • Matt Dudzik, assistant athletic director for Facilities and Recreational Sports
  • Steven Taylor, Grounds and Landscape Manager

Outstanding Clerical Staff Award

  • Susan Delatorre, administrative assistant, department of Chemistry and Physics
  • JoEllen Sanders, administrative assistant, department of Psychology

Outstanding Service Staff Award

  • Eric Popa, lead groundskeeper
  • Jeffrey Williams, service worker


Two PNW students received awards for their service in the following categories:

Outstanding Undergraduate Student

  • Lizzy Campuzano, fourth-year Psychology major

Outstanding Graduate Student

  • Kayla Vasilko, master’s of Communication candidate


Additional Recognitions

Shontrai Irving, clinical associate professor of Business Law, was recognized for his Purdue University system-wide Dreamer award. Purdue’s Dreamer awards annually recognize individuals and organizations who further the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of service and commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Four women, including one senior administrator, two staff members and an alumna were recognized for their Purdue system-wide Title IX Distinguished Service awards. The awards recognize the individuals for their service and contributions to the advancement of gender equality in higher education.

The four honorees included Lisa Goodnight, vice chancellor of Institutional Advancement, Chief of Staff, professor of Communication, and chair of PNW’s Intercollegiate Athletic Advisory Committee; Stacie Reardon, student affairs specialist; Oriana White, MBA ‘22, BA ‘20; and Julie Wiejak, executive director of Undergraduate Admissions.