Portrait Unveiled at Ceremony honoring Dr. Jason Lee, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor
SUNY Plattsburgh celebrated Dr. Jason Lee as the latest faculty member to join the ranks of distinguished faculty with a portrait-unveiling ceremony in Feinberg Library Friday, Sept. 24.
Lee, professor of accounting in the School of Business and Economics, was appointed distinguished teaching professor by the SUNY Board of Trustees, only one of 37 faculty across the system’s 64 campuses across the state to be promoted to distinguished ranks this year.
SUNY Plattsburgh honors its more than 40 faculty to have been promoted to the title with a portrait in the gallery in Feinberg Library. Lee’s will hang next to most recent recipients, Dr. Mohamed Gaber, distinguished service professor of accounting, and Dr. Timothy Mihuc, distinguished service professor in the Center for Earth and Environmental Science.
Lee joined the faculty in the School of Business and Economics in 2006 and has taught a variety of accounting courses during his tenure here to undergraduate, graduate and online students.
He was promoted associate professor in 2008 and full professor in 2012.
Dr. Alexander Enyedi welcomed the guests, seated at a social distance in the portrait gallery, saying faculty and staff “are the greatest strength of any college. We will unveil Dr. Lee’s portrait so it can take its place in the firmament of our greatest faculty stars,” Enyedi said.
The Distinguished Teaching Professorship is conferred upon instructional faculty for outstanding teaching competence at the graduate, undergraduate or professional level.
Dr. Anne Herzog, provost and vice president for academic affairs, shared with the group student tributes all describe Dr. Lee as a ‘gifted’ and ‘superior’ teacher.
“Students repeatedly referred to Dr. Lee in their course opinion survey feedback as ‘amazing,’ and they repeatedly pointed out, using many of the same words, that he is ‘passionate in helping students to find their path and reach their full potential,’” she said.
'Well Capable of Succeeding'
Herzog recounted how one student, out of college 30 years, returned to take two online courses from Lee just as the pandemic hit. Ready to throw in the towel, “Dr. Lee immediately reassured her that she was actually doing very well in his class, that she should persevere as he believed she was well capable of succeeding in this program,” she said.
“Dr. Lee’s encouragement was essential to this student’s decision to persevere and progress toward her goal of an accounting degree,” Herzog said. “and I know, based on the documents I read in support, that this student was one of many who have benefitted from a compassionate, dedicated faculty member, singularly focused on his students’ potential to succeed. He is exactly the kind of compassionate, amazing and gifted teacher who should be honored and celebrated today.”
As Lee’s colleague and mentor, Gaber, who serves as chair of the accounting department and, along with former SBE dean, Dr. Rowena Ortiz-Walters, served as co-nominator, told how many students counted Lee among the “best professor they have ever had.”
Additionally, Gaber shared how Lee engaged in undergraduate research in accounting with his students, even though such collaborations in accounting are scarce
“That is understandable due to heavy workload and weekly accounting assignments,” Gaber said. “Dr. Lee changed that and successfully motivated one student to join him on a research project that has taken more than one year, submitted to an accounting academic refereed journal and later published.”
The student involved in the project is current chief information officer for Daimler Benz in India, Gaber said.
Dr. Brian Neureuther, who took over as interim dean of SBE upon Ortiz-Walters’ departure four months ago, said even though his tenure has been short to date, “I have done and been exposed to many things. Without a doubt, however, this is the most exciting thing I have done — to be given the opportunity to introduce someone who is not just a wonderful teacher, supporter and mentor of students and faculty, but someone who is remarkable, compassionate, loyal, dutiful and world class; a truly exceptional and delightful human being whose impact goes far beyond the classroom and enters the hearts of all those he touches.
“The SUNY Distinguished Faculty rank is conferred upon instructional faculty for outstanding competence where teaching mastery is to be consistently demonstrated over multiple years; certainly, Dr. Lee, as we have just heard from others, has exceeded this competence,” Neureuther said.
Before unveiling his portrait, Lee thanked his colleagues for their support, applauding what he called “a great culture of teaching at SUNY Plattsburgh,” and saying, “What makes Plattsburgh such a great place is our people.”
In closing remarks, Enyedi mentioned how he kept track of the adjectives used to describe Lee that peppered comments during the ceremony, words like “humble,” “dedicated,” “innovative,” “student-centered,” and “optimistic,” which appropriately marked the man being honored.
As ever “dedicated,” Lee said his students are his inspiration.
“They teach me,” he said. “They have taught me by example.” And he tries to return the favor, saying he keeps going, staying positive.
“There are opportunities out there for us to discover if we pay attention to what our students really need,” Lee said.