The SUNY Canton College Council has selected a highly respected expert in the funeral services field as the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Faculty Award.
Professor Emeritus Barry W. Walch was recognized at the college’s William J. Mein Honors Convocation Ceremony April 24.
Walch’s career at SUNY Canton has spanned 30 years, during which time he played a key role in developing two academic programs: an associate degree in Mortuary Science, and a bachelor’s degree in Funeral Services Administration. His ongoing work to revise and update the four-year program’s curriculum has resulted in improved student test scores on the National Board Exam. His university service also includes 16 years as chair of the Curriculum Committee.
Many of Walch’s current and former students supported his nomination, saying he was an influential mentor and professor. The Phi Theta Kappa honor society has presented him with six Golden Apple Awards, which honors outstanding faculty members.
“Barry’s teaching style exemplifies quality education at a collegiate level,” said Walch’s former student Steven L. Johnson, class of 2005 and 2016, a licensed funeral director and an adjunct instructor in SUNY Canton’s Funeral Services Administration program. “His ability to take complicated concepts and make them understandable by providing real-life examples and interesting anecdotes is what makes him unique.”
Walch’s colleagues also praised his skill in developing the right learning environment necessary to promote success.
“Barry is a skilled educator who is passionate about teaching. His ability to engage and involve students in obtaining knowledge of subject matter is exemplary,” said SUNY Canton Professor Maureen P. Maiocco, Ed.D., director of the Early Childhood and Early Childhood Care and Management degree programs. “Students and colleagues appreciate his friendly demeanor, humor and collaborative nature.”
Walch’s position as a leader in his field was also a contributing factor to his selection. He is the former director of the New York State Funeral Directors Association and a founding director of the Tribute Foundation, the association’s philanthropic arm. The foundation seeks to stimulate research, improve and support professional education, increase public outreach, and sponsor forums to foster policy dialogue on end-of-life issues.
His commitment to education extends beyond campus, and he frequently leads continuing education seminars for licensed embalmers and funeral directors, as well as for hospice volunteers.
Upon receiving his award, Walch spoke to the audience about the importance of college’s mission as an applied learning institution.
“We equip students with the skills and competencies to be on the front lines of socially significant fields like law enforcement, disaster mitigation and emergency health care,” he said. “You take care of our pets and farm animals; our young children and our computers. Our graduates serve the community, and I feel great about that.”
Walch holds an Associate of Applied Science in Mortuary Science from the New England Institute of Anatomy, Sanitary Science and Embalming; a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Colby College; and a Master of Education in Counseling from the University of New Hampshire.
About SUNY Canton
SUNY Canton is Northern New York’s premier college for career-driven bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs. The college delivers quality hands-on programs in digital design, engineering technology, health, management and public service. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY’s leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 18 online degree programs. The college placed first in 14 categories in a SUNY-Wide Student Opinion Survey, most notably in career services, tutoring, library resources, and classroom facilities. The college’s 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also offers varsity esports and cheerleading.