Rutgers-Newark To Recognize Three From Campus Community For Contributions To Research, Teaching, Service

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Rutgers-Newark will honor three of its own this fall  for their exceptional contributions to teaching, research, or service” at Rutgers-Newark. The three, who will receive Chancellor’s Excellence Awards, are:

  • Dr. Ronald Clarke, university professor, School of Criminal Justice, recipient of the Excellence in Research award; resident of Milburn, N.J.;  
  • Dr. Robert Puhak, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Math & Computer Science Department, recipient of the Excellence in Teaching award; resident of Cranford, N.J.;
  • Dr. Suzanne Willard, associate clinical professor, College of Nursing (now part of the Rutgers Health Sciences campus at Newark), resident of Philadelphia, PA.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Awards are presented to members of the campus community who have made exceptional contributions to teaching, research, or service.   Recipients will receive a small grant supporting their work on campus.  During the fall semester Clarke, as the research award honoree, will also deliver a free public  lecture discussing his work and its impact.  This event will be held on campus.

Here are the three awardees:

Dr. Ronald Clarke (Research Excellence);

Clarke is the primary developer of one of the most important new theories in criminology: the Rational Choice Perspective, which focuses on the role of criminal decision- making in understanding crime events.  Most recently, Clarke has been addressing  environmental criminology and situational crime prevention, in relation to wildlife crime -- the problem of poaching of endangered species -- by examining poaching markets and the likely intervention points to disrupt them.!environmental-criminology/c10fk

Clarke is the author of more than 250 scholarly books, chapters, journal articles, and monographs over the course of his career. Since coming to Rutgers in 1987, he has mentored numerous graduate students and published numerous journal articles with his students, many in top criminal justice and criminology journals. Clarke is the associate director of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing (, an applied crime prevention institute funded by the U.S. Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.


Dr. Robert Puhak (Teaching Excellence);

 “During all my years at the University, I have never seen a set of teaching evaluations that matches the high level of those received by Puhak,” declares his nominator, Dr.  Jacob Sturm, a Mathematics and Computer Science colleague and former chair and senior member of that department.   Here are some comments from student reviews:

  • “Dr. Puhak made me fall in love with math!”
  • “…for the first time math makes sense to me! This was the first time I was able to pass a math quiz/test. It’s like a miracle!”
  • “I am a person who has hated math since the day I started learning my numbers…But after taking this class I feel like I CAN do math…”

In addition to his regular teaching assignments, Puhak is currently writing an Applied Calculus textbook for Wiley Publishing, oversees the College Algebra program at Rutgers Newark, serves on the University Senate and the Senate’s Executive Committee, and during the summer works with STEP (Scholars Training and Enrichment Program), an academic boot camp for incoming freshman students from underperforming school districts entering Rutgers Business School.  His involvement there involves more than teaching, as he has developed programs for STEP students with financial institutions in New York.

Dr. Suzanne Willard (Service Excellence);

Willard is being honored for her role as leader of the College of Nursing  team which established the Rutgers-FOCUS Wellness Center in Newark,  a nurse- managed health clinic that “combines both the service and education goals of the College of Nursing and Rutgers,” according to her nominator, College of Nursing Dean William Holzemer.  The clinic delivers primary care, health education and wellness services to the Newark community, and since its official opening in 2012, the Center has made “significant leaps and bounds” to strengthen its service arm in the Newark community that it aims to serve, says Holzemer.  He credits Willard and her team with raising nearly $2 million in grant monies from federal and local resources, such as the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Horizon Foundation.

Willard also helped the center to secure a grant from the Nicholson Foundation, which supported a project to create murals on the clinic walls, a team effort between Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of Arts and children from the FOCUS Community Center's Summer program.


MEDIA CONTACT: Carla Capizzi, 973/353-5263, or