"I not only want to identify opportunities for those who are already highly awarded, but to nominate faculty who are under-awarded relative to their research and to, of course, engage faculty at all stages of their career." - Maria Almanza
Almanza, a UB alumna, was named in January as the inaugural director of faculty recognition. The new position at UB will support the university’s goal to increase the number of prestigious national and international awards for faculty.
“Having held a similar position for the past two and half years at North Carolina State University, I know well the value of having someone who can work alongside chairs, deans and individual faculty to increase award efforts across campus,” Almanza says.
In her new role, Almanza is responsible for working with faculty, staff and academic leaders to identify and manage faculty award nominations.
This, she says, requires a multifaceted approach, such as identifying opportunities well in advance of deadlines, developing award committees where necessary and tracking awards data.
It’s also going to take some faculty mentoring and development, she says. Next academic year, for instance, Almanza plans to develop relevant workshops and resources that may include webinars, a searchable database of awards and a repository of successful applications.
Getting to know individuals at UB will be vital, as well, when it comes to supporting a diversity of work across campus — research, teaching and service, she says.
She says she is especially keen on supporting faculty of color and historically underrepresented faculty.
Almanza, who earned a master’s and PhD in English while at UB, honed her talents in communication and writing as a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Institute of Technology from 2017-19, says Robert Granfield, vice provost for faculty affairs at UB. Prior to that, she was a visiting assistant professor at Lynchburg and Randolph colleges from 2014-17.
Her efforts led to an increase in faculty awards and honors from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the National Academy of Inventors, Granfield says. Most notably, he says, Almanza worked with faculty and department chairs at North Carolina State to coordinate 10 successful nominations to the American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows — a 400% increase from the number of fellows at NCSU the prior year.
Almanza is no stranger to accolades, herself. She has received several awards, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar and a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship.
“Dr. Almanza possesses the broad-base knowledge and skills needed to successfully work with faculty and academic leaders in our efforts to increase the national and international recognition of UB’s outstanding faculty,” Granfield says.