Community Health Professor Honored with Faculty Distance Education Award


Dr. Kelly Bonnar-Kidd of SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Community Health has been named the recipient of the 2010 Thomas L. and Jane D. Russell Distance Education Faculty Excellence Award. She received the $1,000 award for her course titled “Navigating the American Diet,” which she taught online in Summer 2009.

The Russells, who live in Raleigh, N.C., endowed the award to encourage excellence in SUNY Potsdam’s distance education program. They established the honor to recognize faculty who conduct their courses in an exemplary manner, by providing professors with a financial incentive to improve their distance education courses and reach out to as many students as possible.

Dr. Bonnar-Kidd’s course provided students with an in-depth analysis of the science of weight management. Using current scientific nutrition research, students learned about the nature of hunger, appetite and satiety, and they explored how the current American diet promotes weight gain. The students also learned about fad diets, how obesity and weight gain are associated with chronic disease, the role of physical activity in weight management, the dangers associated with disordered eating, and medical treatment methods for treating obesity, including appetite suppressants and gastric bypass surgery. Students were required to collaborate on a group project online and participate in group discussions using evidence from their readings and at least two sources gathered on their own.

Criteria for the award are based on course access, excellence in course design and presentation, student evaluations and academic assessments of teaching effectiveness, scholarship and completion rate. A committee determines the winner each year.

A 1957 alumnus of SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, Mr. Russell is director emeritus of the Office of Instructional Telecommunications at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He has more than 40 years of experience in education, having taught music in both elementary and high school before later focusing on instructional technology, research and distance education. 

Mrs. Russell taught at the elementary through university levels and then enjoyed her career as a university law librarian. From the University of Florida, she moved up to a position at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2009, the SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association awarded Mrs. Russell Honorary Alumni status.

Founded in 1816, SUNY Potsdam is a four-year liberal arts college nestled on the outskirts of the Adirondack Park. Among the 64 units of The State University of New York system, SUNY Potsdam has the longest history and currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. It is well known for its academically challenging liberal arts and sciences and teacher education programs, as well as its world-renowned Crane School of Music.