After evaluating industry's needs for laboratory technicians, Pagano developed a successful academic laboratory science technology program for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
He also taught himself American Sign Language in the space of a few months.
"Todd is a person who sets the bar so incredibly high and then shows and teaches everyone else how to jump over it," noted a department colleague, who says Pagano not only encourages hands-on applications of theories learned in his classroom but also requires students to participate in cooperative work.
"Dr. Pagano broke new ground when he began taking deaf and hard-of-hearing undergraduate students to national conferences to present their research," noted another colleague. "He does not see any limitations in the students he teaches who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to conduct scholarly work, and his students have benefited far beyond what might be experienced in the classroom."
"[Dr. Pagano] has been very successful in attracting deaf and hard-of-hearing students, including those from traditionally underrepresented groups, to participate in various outreach programs [outside the university]," said Gerard Buckley, president of NTID. "[He] is building alliances between academia and industry to educate them about the abilities of deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the chemical sciences and to show they are capable of filling critical job funcations in industry."
This extra effort does not go unnoticed by his students. One former student, who said she faced challenges both as a hard-of-hearing native Honduran and the first person in her family to go to college, recalls how Dr. Pagano was the source of motivation and support she needed to continue her education.
"You have to realize that he is among the busiest people on campus," she wrote in her nomination letter. "Still he takes time from all of this to go to the financial aid office to get scholarships for his students. It was directly because of this help that I was able to stay in school."
As far as his personal philosophy, Pagano said he believes that teaching is reciprocal.
"In the context of the shared mission of student success by the teacher and the student, instructors should be willing to learn, not only by keeping current in their field but also by learning from their students," he wrote.
2012 National Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students Into Careers in the Chemical Sciences
Rochester Business Journal's Forty Under 40
2008 Delta Sigma Phi Faculty Humanitarian Award
2005 Richard & Virginia Eisenhart Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching
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