Two faculty members at the University of Connecticut are being recognized for exemplary service to UConn with the 2022 Provost’s Outstanding Service Award.
This year’s two recipients are Jason Chang, associate professor of History and Asian American Studies, director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, and a faculty affiliate of El Instituto, American Studies, and Maritime Studies; and Lawrence Silbart, professor in the Department of Allied Health Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources.
“Dr. Chang and Dr. Silbart are pillars of service in the UConn community. They both have made significant contributions within UConn, as well as to the social and economic well-being of our state. I am grateful to them for their efforts and so pleased to recognize them with this award,” said Anne D’Alleva, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.
Jason Chang was lauded in nomination materials for superb teaching, widely respected scholarship, and leadership of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute (AAASI). In regard to service, Chang has played a major role in efforts to improve awareness of racial injustice and to enhance diversity and inclusion. He has devoted his time to making the University of Connecticut, the city of West Hartford, and schools across the state environments where people of all races can feel needed and welcomed.
Along with his skillful service on the West Hartford Board of Education, Chang also played a leading role in the successful advocacy of the Make Us Visible grassroots campaign. This campaign’s goal was to encourage the state legislature to approve a bill creating a model K-8 Asian American and Pacific Islander curriculum. He continues to work as the director of the Make Us Visible Connecticut chapter and continued this legislative session to make Asian American and Pacific Islander studies mandatory in K-12 grades. To further his transformation of education, he created and administers the Institute’s Activist-in-Residence program designed to support community members.
Beyond this legislative advocacy, he has also conducted numerous workshops with students and high school teachers across the state to develop and implement curriculum to include Asian American and Pacific Islander studies. He has established an Advanced Pedagogy Curriculum Lab within the Institute to coordinate these efforts by other Institute faculty and affiliates. He has produced numerous sample lesson plans, digital projects, and other model materials to be used by teachers. Working with other Institute faculty, he is creating professional development modules on Asian American Studies to use statewide, and developing the first Asian American studies course to be taught in high schools as part of the UConn Early College Experience.
He was recently elected to the Faculty Senate and the Senate Executive Committee, where he will carry forward his service to the University. As the former president of the Asian American Faculty and Staff Association, and current director of AAASI, he has powerfully called out the troubling upturn in anti-Asian racism in multiple publications and public events. In professional fields, Chang’s service work is equally impressive. He sat on the board of the Association for Asian American Studies. In that role he organized the East of California Summit’s UnProgramming Asian American Studies effort while also co-chairing that group’s Caucus for Asian American Studies. He is on the editorial board of the digital magazine, “Systemic Change Initiative,” a product of the Community Leader-in-Residence program he created in the History Department. In recognition of his public role and subject matter expertise, he chairs the Community Awareness sub-committee of the Governor’s Hate Crimes Advisory Council.
Lawrence Silbart has been a faculty member at the University of Connecticut for over 30 years. He began his tenure in the Animal Science Department working in the Center for Environmental Health and was the inaugural department head in Allied Health Sciences (2006). He also served as the Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives. In addition to his outstanding service record, Silbart has a sound reputation as an excellent, caring educator, receiving multiple awards for teaching and mentorship. He is an internationally recognized scholar in the domain of immunology and mucosal vaccine/adjuvant development.
Silbart has demonstrated substantial service in numerous areas with outstanding service efforts in the areas of innovation and technology and engagement in program development. Advancing Allied Health Sciences opportunities at UConn has been a core mission. He has served as the department head for Allied Health Sciences from 2006 to 2013, helping to facilitate a doubling in faculty and a five-fold increase in student numbers. He has been consistently insightful, timely, and forward thinking in his advancement of this program. Coupled with his exemplary teaching in numerous courses, including those in the doctoral program in public health with UConn Health, he has championed consistent efforts in the Environmental Sciences program. His passion for the environment has translated into extraordinary advocacy both on and off campus, including overseeing a student group attending the COP22 climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco.
As the Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives, Silbart was instrumental in the development of the Innovation Partnership Building and Technology Park at UConn. Several nominators described his role in advancing the innovation mission of the University. He has also been involved in the University Senate and various Senate committees, served on the Graduate Faculty Council, and numerous other critical committees over the past 30 years. His efforts while chairing the Laboratory Safety, Conflict of Interest, and the Institutional Biosafety committees have been essential to advancing the University’s research mission. He has also contributed creative leadership and membership on strategic planning committees and program development committees.
Silbart’s commitment to advancing science has been demonstrated by his service on the Editorial Board of Clinical & Vaccine Immunology, chairing Division G of the American Society of Microbiology, and serving as a Visiting Scholar at Harvard School of Public Health for 20 years. Although he has held numerous leadership roles at UConn, Silbart’s service to the university is well beyond that expected for his roles.