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Inaugural Stony Awards Honor Employee Excellence

Stony awards 23 11
Stony awards 23 11
President Maurie McInnis (center) with four of the Stony Award winners (from left to right): Srinivas Pentyala, Urszula Zalewski, Heather A. Montague and Omar Badessi. Not pictured: Sujatha Palat. Photos by Juliana Thomas.

Stony Brook University rolled out the red carpet to honor exceptional employees at the inaugural Stony Awards, held November 29 at Flowerfield in St. James.

The Stony Awards were established this year as an additional opportunity to recognize Stony Brook faculty, staff and healthcare personnel who go above and beyond in teaching, service and creating a sense of community. Members of the campus community submitted 135 nominations in support of their colleagues’ excellence, service and dedication to Stony Brook.

Master of Ceremonies Alex Jones opened the festivities with a performance of This Is the Moment, and while guests enjoyed dinner, Chanel Jones from the Office of Equity and Access performed Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. The duo closed the ceremony by singing You Gotta Be.

Stony awards 23 12
Chanel Jones from the Office of Equity and Access was one of the performers at the Stony Awards reception at Flowerfield.

President Maurie McInnis addressed the gathering and reflected on recent campus achievements: Stony Brook is now one of the top hospitals in the nation, a national leader in inclusive and equitable education and socioeconomic mobility, a leader in research innovation and multidisciplinary scholarship, a national pioneer in the fight for sustainability and against climate change, and a flagship university of the SUNY system, all while enjoying the highest rankings to date.

These successes would not be possible, she said, without the work of employees who are diligent in the pursuit of excellence and who go above and beyond for the university and the community.

“So many of our contributions — our work, our advocacy, our research and study — look outward, but tonight is about looking inward, at the incredible individuals who generate this drive for excellence and whose dedication and talent are integral to our success,” said McInnis.

Winners of the 2023 Stony Awards are:

President’s Award for Nurturing a Welcoming, Inclusive Campus Culture: Omar Badessi
Presented by Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Judith Brown Clarke

President’s Award for Excellence in Patient Service: Sujatha Palat
Presented by Interim Executive Vice President for Stony Brook Medicine William Wertheim

Excellence in Leadership Award: Heather A. Montague
Presented by Chief Deputy to the President and Senior Vice President for Government and Community Relations Judith Greiman

Community Award: Urszula Zalewski
Presented by Vice President for Student Affairs Rick Gatteau

SB YOU Award: Srinivas Pentyala
Presented by Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Jed Shivers

The final award of the evening was the President’s Stony Brook Champion Award, bestowed by President McInnis upon the awardee “who epitomizes this university’s mission and exemplifies the best of the best.” That award was given to Srinivas Pentyala, director of translational research and a professor of anesthesiology with joint appointments in orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation, urology, health sciences, physiology, biophysics and mechanical engineering.

“I am truly humbled by this recognition and am inspired by the incredible support from administration, colleagues, and students of Stony Brook University and also by my family,” said Pentyala. “This recognition motivates me to continue striving for excellence in everything I do. I share this recognition with all those who have been part of my journey at Stony Brook University.”

In addition to the Stony Award winners, the ceremony recognized those faculty honored as SUNY Distinguished Professors, as well as recipients of both the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence and Provost’s Awards, including Outstanding Mentor, Outstanding Lecturer and the Stony Brook Trustees Award.

President McInnis thanked the winners, their guests and everyone in attendance for celebrating the Stony Brook community, and for recognizing the faculty and staff who are making a difference. “Tonight has been an excellent opportunity for us to celebrate together what makes being at Stony Brook so rewarding — the work we do and the people we get to do that work with,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier to be celebrating with all of you.”

Visit the Stony Awards website for complete bios of all of the winners and nominees. View our Flickr gallery for more photos from the event.

— Beth Squire

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  • Dr. Pentyala could be recognized every month for his good works, and it would still never be enough. We’re all very lucky to have him here.

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