Seenath and Patel selected as 2022 NISOD Excellence Awards winners
Professors Lystra Seenath and Dharmesh Patel, two well-regarded department chairs, have been selected as Palm Beach State College’s 2022 recipients of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Excellence Awards.
NISOD annually recognizes faculty and staff chosen by their respective community and technical colleges for excellence in teaching and learning. This year’s award winners will be recognized at NISOD’s annual International Conference on Teaching and Learning Excellence, which is scheduled for May 28-31 in Austin, Texas.
“I’m really honored to be selected by the leadership of the College,’’ said Patel, who chairs the architecture department on the Boca Raton campus. “There are a lot of amazing faculty members at this institution.”
“I’ve been at the College for a very long time and to be recognized is always a pleasure,” added Seenath, social science department chair in Lake Worth. “I’m very happy to be receiving the award.”
Patel and Seenath, both PBSC alumni, were nominated by College administrators, who lauded their work on campus and in the community.
“Professor Seenath is passionate about teaching and learning,’’ wrote Susan Caldwell, associate dean on the Lake Worth campus. “She loves being with her students and sharing what she learns from the courses she takes and the reading she does.” She noted that Seenath, who holds a master’s degree in sociology from Florida Atlantic University, is currently pursuing a doctorate in comparative studies.
After serving as an adjunct instructor, Seenath joined the faculty full time in 2007 and teaches sociology courses, including Introduction to Sociology, Cross-Cultural Communication and others. She has served on various committees, including the General Education Council, and she participated in the development of Guided Pathways. She was a mentor during the College’s transition from Blackboard to Canvas and currently serves as a coach for continuing contract faculty.
Patel oversees the same program where he received his higher education foundation. He was hired as a full-time professor in 2009 after serving for two years as an adjunct instructor. He launched that year Arch Attack, a juried event to connect students to industry leaders and to each other. It became one of many ways he has engaged and supported students through the years to ensure a well-rounded education.
For two years, he and his students participated in Canstruction, a charitable event benefitting the Palm Beach County Food Bank. In 2012, his students created the “Lake Worth Image-ability” project to give city leaders ideas for how to enhance the city. Other student projects developed concepts for the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach to expand its 50,000-square foot arts education facility and provided ideas for an expansion project for the YMCA in Boynton Beach.
He said he often reminds students of the need to be engaged. “You’ve got to be involved in the community and stay connected with the people in the community,’’ said Patel, who holds a master’s degree from UCLA and a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University. “I think architecture has to be a community-based profession. By me reaching out to the community, they see that.”
Patel, who was selected Educator of the Year by the Palm Beach County Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2014, also helped reestablish the Architecture Club and serves as its advisor.
“Professor Patel has dedicated himself to staying on the cutting edge of information related to the aspects of architecture. He has developed a solid Business Partnership Council that assist in providing valuable feedback to the needs of student employability and career path learning outcomes,” wrote Dr. Germany Dixon, associate dean at the Boca Raton campus.