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Westphal Faculty Receive Awards from Drexel's Office of Faculty Affairs

August 31, 2020


Each year, the Drexel University Office of Faculty Affairs hosts award programs to support the ongoing development of faculty research, scholarship, and creative activities. These awards take the form of Research, Scholarship and Creativity Awards, Provost Awards for Teaching, Scholarship, and Professional Service, Career Development Awards, Teaching and Learning Conference Travel Awards, and Drexel Adjunct Faculty Professional Development Awards. 


The following are this year’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design award recipients:  

Rena Cumby, Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture, Design & Urbanism, has received the Harold Myers Award for Distinguished Service. This prestigious award is given to an administrator, member of the professional staff, or full-time or part-time faculty member who has engaged in service work that has been recognized to be truly significant to the University. Over the course of her Drexel career, Professor Cumby has proven an invaluable asset to the Westphal College and the Drexel University community, advising students in the BS Interior Design and MS Interior Architecture & Design programs, and serving on numerous committees, including the Westphal Faculty Caucus Executive Committee, tenure review committees for her faculty colleagues, the Interiors Advisory Board Committee, and as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Academic Affairs. In addition to her dedication to University and College service, Professor Cumby represents Westphal on a national and international basis as a member of the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC), Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA), and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. The College is undoubtedly stronger for her commitment to service and academic excellence.

Jacklynn Niemiec, Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture, Design & Urbanism, has received the Faculty Summer Research Award. This aware provides tenured and tenure-track faculty the opportunity to pursue research activities that will enhance their careers as well as increase their contributions to Drexel. Niemiec has also received the Allen Rothwarf Award for Teaching Excellence. This award is given to a tenure-track junior faculty member with at least two years of service at Drexel who exemplifies and coordinates high standards of teaching while developing research in their areas of expertise. The Summer Research grant supports a project titled “Cost in Space,” which was kickstarted by a Westphal Mini Grant and with the help of Digital Media Graduate Student, Steven Lilley. “Cost in Space” is focused on the simulation of paths through indoor spaces that are not solely based on efficiency or a “shortest path” algorithm. The project assumes that architectural conditions, such as light, material, or even proportions, could affect the value of spaces and, how occupants move through them.

Toby Seay, Professor in the Department of Arts & Entertainment Enterprise, has received the Faculty Scholarly and Creative Activity Award. This award supports both scholarly and creative activities of Drexel University’s faculty, placing an emphasis on fields and projects where limited external funding is available. The award will fund research of mediative practices in music production and engineering. This research will consist of practice-led examinations of in-studio engineering practices by documenting and observing recording sessions spotlighting the mediative approaches that audio engineers employ and the sonic result of those practices. Additionally, Seay will examine legacy recording media from the Turnbull Library’s Flying Nun Records collection, which consists of a comprehensive set of post-punk recordings of the 1980s and 1990s, including master tapes, multitracks, outtakes, alternate mixes, and demos, tracking sheets, label copy, technical documentation, and label correspondence.


John Avarese, Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Cinema & Television, is also a recipient of the Faculty Scholarly and Creative Activity Award. Funding from this award will support the recording of a new score for the planetarium feature Oasis in Space, in collaboration with the Music Industry program at Drexel’s Studio One. Oasis in Space has been translated into 27 languages and has screened in hundreds of theaters.