By Megan O’Connell
A secretary, an art professor and an assistant dean might seem to have little in common. But this year, Mary Kildea, Professor Harry I. Naar and Barbara Fruscione were given the same honor — the prestigious Frank N. Elliott Award, named for the 21-year presidency of Rider’s fourth president. The award is presented each year to one member from support staff, faculty and administration for outstanding service to Rider.
Kildea has been part of the Rider staff since Feb. 8, 1988. Initially she worked as support staff in the Science Department. Then, in 1996, she became an administrative associate, or as she likes to say, “secretary,” for the Department of Communication and Journalism.
“I am fortunate to work with great people, and it is exciting to be a part of the success of my department through our talented students,” said Kildea.
Kildea’s responsibilities as an administrative associate include supervising the work of the chair of the department, the director of the Law and Justice program and 12 other full time staff members. In addition, she has been recognized as a Rider Distinguished Employee for the past five years.
Kildea’s life also revolves around her big family, which includes 15 grandchildren. Four of Kildea’s children have received degrees from Rider. Her son, Dr. Shawn Kildea, is a professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism.
“Having your efforts recognized and appreciated is reward enough,” Kildea said. “But then to be an Elliott Award recipient is the icing on the cake.”
Naar has been a part of Rider for almost 30 years and is a professor of Fine Arts and the director of the Rider University Art Gallery. Naar teaches art history, studio courses and gallery management. He is credited with bringing the late artist Isaac Witkin’s sculptures to both campuses and was recently one of 30 artists chosen to take part in the Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
“Being an artist is not about creating pleasant pictures, but about problem-solving and critical thinking, which transcend the walls of the classroom to the world beyond,” Naar said.
Naar is grateful to Rider for allowing him to develop his work as an artist through grants that enable him to teach and interact with other artists.
“I have felt very lucky because I have been able to fulfill some of my dreams as both an artist and educator,” Naar said.
Fruscione is the assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Education and Sciences. She started working at Rider in September of 1977 as a secretary.
Fruscione is involved with many committees on campus. She is the Rider Achievement Program adviser, chair of Student Orientation’s Self-Assessment Committee and is involved with New Student Resource Committee. Fruscione enjoys getting to work with students, faculty and administration. She takes pleasure in watching the freshmen grow and helping them “navigate the system.” She is honored to be an Elliott Award recipient, although she never aspired to it.
“I did the best I can, and at the end of the day, I have to answer to myself and my boss,” Fruscione said.
Although each person received an Elliott Award for different departments and titles, they all have one thing in common: They are grateful to be part of the Rider community.