Faculty & Staff Appreciation Month The Art Institute Online

A message from Jamie Carson, Vice President of The Art Institute Online

Jamie Carson, Vice President - The Art Institute Online
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division appreciates the tremendous effect that our instructors and staff members have on the lives of their students. Each year, we ask each of our students to nominate an instructor or staff member to receive special recognition from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division for his/her efforts in helping the student reach his/her potential and beyond. This year, we asked students to submit nominations of faculty and staff who have positively influenced them! Check out the nominations below!

If you haven't yet had the chance to nominate a faculty or staff member and wish to do so, please complete the form by May 28, 2018!

Sherry Abdel-Aziz

Academic Counselor

Sherry has been my Academic Advisor since I started at Ai in October of 2016. She has been so amazing at getting me in the right classes when I needed to switch and helping my best friend and I stay in the same classes so we could work together. Over the past two years she has helped me to stay in school numerous times when I felt like quitting because life was getting in the way. Being a single mom of 2 kids ages 2 and 5, and a full-time job is not easy when you're going to school as well. Sherry always calls me to make sure things are going ok in school and in life and always has an encouraging word. I have to say she is the reason I am still in school right now by helping and pushing me forward. She's just amazing!!!

Debbie Baskerville

Fashion Marketing & Management Faculty

Professor Baskerville demonstrates a profound interest in her students education and the work that they submit. She takes the time to offer guidance and extensive feedback that encourages her students to think beyond the assignments and improve their work so that they gain a solid understanding that will help them in their careers, after graduation. During my time in her class, Dr. Baskerville reached out to me, numerous times, to discuss my work and provided me with direction and guidance that has helped me in other classes. She cares about her students and goes above and beyond what I could have ever expected from an instructor.
Professor Baskerville has always made herself available for her students to ensure their success. I have had her for two courses and hope to have more with her. Additionally she has always stated that if we ever need anything regardless if we are in session with her or not feel free to contact her for guidance.

Nancy Da Silva

Finance Counselor

Nancy is always making sure that I am ready financial wise, and she also supports me in my goals of graduating. She is a very positive person. I am grateful to have her in my corner.

Penney DellaValle

Graphic Design Faculty

I have had Penney DellaValle as an instructor in multiple classes and she always gives the best constructive criticism. You can tell that this is a professor who cares and who wants her students to do well.
I've had Penney in two different courses and she understands the limitations of her students. She offers help and provides encouragement.

Gabriel Etenberg

Digital Photography Faculty

Besides the knowledge and experience that Gabriel Etenberg shared with us, his willingness to help is genuine and that stood out to me. He answered questions that I had even after I took his course and promptly responded to emails even after graduation. Outstanding instructor!

Ashley Fuentes

Academic Counselor

Ashley is always making sure that I am succeeding in my classes. She is always here for me. She is one of my back bones, and the reason I keep working hard.

Traeton Garl

Digital Photography Faculty

"I am in my second year at the Art Institute and have had the pleasure of taking two of professor Garl's courses, studio photography and portraiture. Professor Garl has been the only instructor I have had that has went to such great lengths, above and beyond, to ensure myself and fellow students understood the material, assignment, and general information. He went out of his way numerous times to refresh or teach information to students that other instructors failed to address, even if it wasn't in the class material. Even though this is information that was covered in previous courses, he took the extra time to make sure we all left his course on the same page. He always responds to emails, calls, and instant messages in a timely manner. Personally, Professor Garl has taught me more in the two courses I have had with him than all of the other courses combine. I will look forward to another opportunity to learn from Professor Garl again in the future!
Professor Garl is the one we dread! We've all heard about him and when we land in his class, we want to quit. He pushes us to do things we didn't know we could do. He gives in-depth critiques of our work so we can understand the reasons for making errors or the unlimited possibilities for continuing onto something bigger and better. He made a huge impact on my last 6 months at AI because he opened my eyes to the field I was about to step into. We need many more like him in the early stages of our courses as well, so we can have a better understanding of what's to come.

Noelia Goss

Game Art & Design Faculty

Noelia Goss gives an ample amount of information for each specific assignment throughout the course. I've learned so much from her in each and every class that I have had her for.

Jennifer Greenwood

Regional Dean of Student Life

Jennifer Greenwood has kept open ears from the beginning of our time interacting. She was great at guiding other students and myself through web development and to work as a team to finish our web page for the Special Projects course. Natalie Hruska also played a huge role in this and without her there would have been no organization for our team. She always encouraged us to keep working and to do the best that we could do. Both of you have always responded and helped me during my time at Ai and after providing me with encouragement to keep working at what I love and working as a tutor for ThinkingStorm.

Virgil Gribbin

Admissions Representative

Virgil was there to help assist with enrollment and even helped me to understand the introduction of coursework.

Natalie Hruska

Web Design & Interactive Media Faculy

I've had the pleasure of taking several classes with Dr. Hruska and I absolutely love her. She really challenges me to be my best and has helped me grow so much as a web designer.

Kevin Lee

Game Art & Design Faculty

I wish to nominate Kevin Lee because of the great experience I have had with him as an instructor. I have had the pleasure of having two classes with Professor Lee and by far he is my favorite and best teacher. He is very responsive to my emails. He helps and explains how to do things in a timely and descriptive fashion. I think he is a great teacher and asset to the school.

Timothy Lhotka

Academic Counselor

Tim Lhotka has been my Academic Counselor/Adviser while I have been a student here. He has constantly showed support to both my academic and personal success through the last few years. I have had some major health issues, and Tim was very helpful to me in navigating school at the same time. Even to the last few weeks as I am about to graduate, Tim has been helpful every step providing the correct information and always making sure I understand everything that I need to! I am grateful that Tim has been my Adviser because he is thorough and consistent in his job!
Timothy has shown very good customer service towards me and is reliable with his follow ups. He has made himself readily available anytime I needed to speak with him. He has been a big help with anything school related and he is who I prefer to speak with every time I have a question regarding school matters.

Stuart Mattingly


Great experience while taking his course. I contacted Stuart Mattingly for equipment advice and he provided detailed recommendations. Very helpful and knowledgeable instructor!

Garry McKee

Graphic Design Faculty

Professor McKee is the most uplifting and understanding professor I've had so far at Ai. Being an online student, it's difficult to connect with your professors, and it's very easy to feel like just a paper they have to grade that week. Professor McKee continually offered amazing feedback and encouraged my design work in his classes, and it made me excited to to my work, not dread it. I know for a fact that he treats each of his pupils like individuals and artists. He is the exact type of teacher that I can only hope my son gets to encounter throughout his school career as well!
I nominate Garry McKee for his exceptional guidance and diligence to students work in class. I appreciate Mr. Garry.

Eric Mia

Academic Counselor

Eric Mia has been a phone call or email away ever since I started my journey with the art institute. He has helped me through troubles with instructors, class mishaps, hospital stays and more. He is always pleasant to talk to and I don't feel afraid to call for any reason. He has been a huge help at making my art institute experience, the best it can be. Thank you Eric Mia!

Marnie Michels


I have had Professor Michels for several different courses through my time here at AIPOD. Professor Michels was always eager to give me feedback that was both positive and constructive. The feedback was always geared to make me not just a better designer or student but also a better person. I have felt that Marnie was always eager to help me with the different projects that I was working on and truly wanted to help! She also shared her knowledge of the industry with the students and gave practical help and encouragement through every course! I am grateful to have taken several classes under her direction!!!

Laney Moore

Academic Counselor

Laney Moore is always there to answer questions and help assist. She even gives encouraging quotes to help with motivation in order to pursue goals.
Laney Moore is my academic advisor and she is amazing! When I was extremely sick, Laney helped coordinate how I would make up my work, while starting two other classes, with my professors. This allowed me two extra weeks to get assignments and Final projects turned in, which took so much stress off of me because I had already started two more classes during those two weeks, and it allowed me to rest and heal. It also helped me do my best and I received two A's in the classes. Laney saved me so much trouble. I kept my GPA intact, didn't have to take any time off, and actually enjoyed the challenge of being in two courses while making up work from two previous courses. I'm not sure if this is true, but I think she purposely placed me in classes that I need and were challenging, but that wouldn't take a lot out of me while I healed and made up my previous class work. Just so I wouldn't been super stressed out. How many people can say their academic advisors care about them like that? Laney always checks in on me to see how I'm doing. I'm disabled, which makes things a little harder, but I'm a strong willed person and can do anything I put my mind to. I can tell Laney cares not only about my school life, education and course work, but about me as a person. She sends me encouraging quotes and notes every week which helps me keep motivated. I know I can trust and rely on Laney, and turn to her for anything I need dealing with school and classes, and know she's there to help. I know that I can call her, and if she's on the phone or not available, she calls back as soon as she can. When I hear other students talk about their academic advisors and complain, I feel so lucky to have been placed with Laney Moore. I can tell she loves her job, the people she works with, and the students she helps. To be honest, I'm not sure where I would be in my education without Laney's help and dedication. Like I said, she's amazing!
Laney Moore is the reason I was able to complete my certificate. She was always encouraging and going above and beyond.

Steven Moore

Academic Counselor

Steven is my Academic Advisor, he's always there to help and goes above and beyond to work with me.
Because he's diligent in his follow ups. He always goes above and beyond to ensure that I am comfortable and gets me whatever I need within reason and ethical standards. He is honest, patient and you can genuinely tell that he cares! I would choose Steven every time!
Thanks to Mr. Moore and his guidance I have stayed in school. Throughout this journey he has maintained regular contact with me to keep me informed of my courses and to see if I had any questions. His information has been most helpful and reassuring. I would've dropped out of college if it had not been for his guidance and support as well as my family's. Thank you so very much for your guidance and help throughout this journey.
For his distinguished advise and rapport with students hence helping me make informed choices in my career path. I appreciate Mr. Moore
Steven Moore keeps me up to date with my classroom attendants. We always chat about my future after AI. He make sure I have everything I need to before starting class. Steven has created a positive influence within me, to continue AI and finish out strong.

Jill Mott

Digital Photography Faculty

Jill was the top instructor during my entire experience at Aii. Not only did she regularly teach me new techniques, but she took the extra personal time to meet my schedule needs and video chat with me on numerous occasions to critique and better my work. In addition, following graduation she continues to reach out and provide resources and critiques/guidance with my current photography. I can not say enough as to the positive impact Jill had on my photography school experience!

Megan Oliver

Academic Counselor

From the first time I called Megan she was responsive, kind professional and knowledgeable. I have had a very very rough time throughout my time here at The Art Institute Online. I started in the state of Georgia at 57 years old, not sure if I could do it or if I should do it. Megan assured me all through the way that I could. I called so much I just knew she would get tired of me and then she called me just to see how I was doing and it blew me away. There is a saying that "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care," and I know Megan cares. I went to visit my Mother in April of 2016 in Massachusetts who has been living with cancer for twenty years, twenty years you tell me that prayers don't work. And when I saw her I knew I had to come home and take care of her. I told my wife and we moved in thirty days everyone. my wife and our two children. My mom passed away May 30 2017, to make a longer story short Megan was there every step of the way, calling me, adjusting my schedule so I wouldn't be overwhelmed. Who does that? I will tell you someone who cares, that's who! For me and I can just imagine for everyone who has had the privilege of having Megan Oliver as an academic adviser and friend.

Stephen John Phillips

Digital Photography Faculty

Professor Phillips is a very hands-on instructor and easily accessible! He is always present and readily available with answers to questions. Furthermore, he gives thorough feedback so we can use it to improve our efforts. He is a pleasure to speak with both on the phone and Skype; always offering more than the issue that is being discussed.

Mike Soliday

Graphic & Web Design Faculty

Professor Soliday is very helpful and responsive and I always enjoy taking classes with him. The most important thing he does is to make personalized video feedback that walks you through how to correct any issues you're having. The online learning environment can be somewhat difficult because of the amount of self instruction required and while many instructors provide video feedback I find his to be much more comprehensive and helpful. I always learn a lot when I take classes with him and my frustration levels are always lower.

Sylvia Shapiro

Art Foundations Faculty

Sylvia teaches mix media which deals witjh 3 mediums. Cray-pas, water color and acrylic paint. Her enthusiasm is quite infectious and made me love the mediums as well.

Matthew Swiertz

Interior Design Faculty

Matthew Swiertz is very helpful and responsive and I always enjoy taking classes with him. The most important thing he does is to make personalized video feedback that walks you through how to correct any issues you're having. The online learning environment can be somewhat difficult because of the amount of self instruction required and while many instructors provide video feedback I find his to be much more comprehensive and helpful. I always learn a lot when I take classes with him and my frustration levels are always lower.

Shewit Tsegai

Academic Counselor

I am going through my second program with the Online Division and I requested to keep Shewit as my counselor when I returned simply because she has gone above and beyond to help take care of any questions or issues I have ever had. She has always called or emailed me right away after I have left a message. I think that she has really made going back to school a lot easier for me a student that took off 11 years and was not sure of how to complete a lot of needed tasks. Hands down the best and I will not have any other counselor while I am going to classes at The Art Institute.

Dr. Lisa Tucker Cross

Interior Design Faculty

Dr. Tucker Cross encouraged me to keep going with an out-of-the-box project plan for a class and really helped me to develop it as far as I could. She was honest in her criticism as well as encouraging and overall very helpful and insightful.

Nancy Zeller

Graphic Design Faculty

I want to nominate Nancy Zeller, because she really showed that she cared about our success. She gave us detailed feedback on our assignments; helped us with our revisions; guided us throughout the courses; and has offered to be a source of reference, for us after we graduate. I will forever be grateful to Nancy, for helping me discover how to market myself, and create my brand.


If you'd like to nominate a faculty or staff member, but haven't had a chance to do so, please complete the form below by May 28, 2018!

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