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A celebration of excellence at GCC's 50th commencement ceremony

STAFF REPORTS

BATAVIA, N.Y. -- As Genesee Community College prepared for its 50th Commencement on May 20, 2018, a new ceremony was introduced reinforcing the spirit of achievement, hard work and dedication. Instead of GCC graduates walking across the platform stage, College officials recognized members of faculty and staff.

"The new SUNY GCC Employees Serving Beyond Expectations was a formal ceremony, yet a fun and festive way to recognize the quality of service and the hard work of our GCC family," GCC's President James M. Sunser said. "It is a new tradition that combines several different award programs, and gives us all a chance to celebrate our hard work and also decompress at the end of the academic year."

The new event collectively recognized:

Longevity Service Awards recognizing 38 employees who reached milestone years between 10 to 30 years of service, collectively serving 630 years!

SUNY Chancellor's Awards for Excellence

The new Cougar Awards honorees were awarded as a surprise to the honorees in the following categories: Rookie of the Year; Teamwork Award; Spirit and Community Award; Innovation Award; Cougar Salute; Inclusive Excellence Award, and President's Award.
A special congratulations was also given to nine employees who have or will soon be retiring from GCC.

Many images of the entire event can be seen on GCC's Facebook album, Serving Beyond Expectations - GCC Employee Recognition Ceremony.

At this special ceremony, in front of the GCC community, Dr. Sunser and GCC's Board of Trustees Chair, Laura Bohm awarded nine prestigious 2018 State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor's Awards for Excellence.

Receiving the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Faculty Service which recognizes consistently superior service contributions of teaching faculty over multiple years, was Professor and Director of Social Sciences, Timothy P. Tomczak. Tomczak joined the faculty at GCC as an Instructor of Psychology in the fall semester of 1987. In that capacity his teaching load consisted primarily of courses in General, Abnormal, and Social Psychology. He expanded the range of his teaching subjects at the College to include Introduction to Logic and Child and Adolescent Development as well as Beginning Karate. He has been a pioneer of the College's distance learning movement, first teaching "telecourses" and moving on to teaching online sections of psychology. Tomczak was also one of the first full-time faculty members to teach in GCC's ACE program at the program's inception. In 1994, Tomczak received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Tomczak was promoted to Associate Professor commencing with the fall 1996 semester, and to the rank of Professor effective fall 2007, the year that he received the Chancellor's Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities. Tomczak holds a B.A. in Psychology from Mercyhurst College and a M.A. in General Experimental Psychology from the State University of New York, College of Geneseo.
Recognizing consistently superior professional achievement, the SUNY Chancellor's Award for 

Excellence in Professional Service was awarded to Assistant Registrar, Tara E. Conrad. Conrad came to GCC in 2007 as the Records Information Specialist. She joined the highly productive Records Office which provided a great base of functional user knowledge of Ellucian Banner and that has been a central building block of her career. Conrad has been a leader in developing technological solutions to complicated processes, creating time and cost efficiencies that support the mission of the college. She is recognized for her work both within the SUNY system and in other organizations and has been sought after to help in System-wide ways. Conrad's enthusiasm and flare for technology and her desire to work with software applications prevailed as her career unfolded at Genesee. She has lead several software implementation and has become an effective and essential functional resource for the college. Conrad earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Merrimack College and a M.S. in Education from the State University of New York, College at Brockport. In addition, Conrad has received a one-year full-time appointment as a SUNY Provost Fellow, the first-ever at GCC. The focus of this fellowship is to perform research and develop recommendation for the implementation of Enrollment and Completion Infrastructure that would support SUNY's student access, completion and success initiatives with a particular focus on Re-enroll to Complete.

Technical Specialist/ Financial Aid Retention, Amy A. Masters, was also awarded the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service. Masters first joined the joined the College staff in the Business Office in 2008 and transferred to her current position in Financial Aid in 2012. As she did in the Business Office, she has made significant contributions to the operations and procedures of the Financial Aid Office, particularly in the areas of scholarship awards and tracking and streamlining office processes and forms. She was instrumental in making the scholarship application process a smoother one for students, both for institutional scholarships and emergency scholarships for students in need. Masters has a B.S in Psychology from Elmira College and she continued her education since she has been at Genesee, receiving her M.S. in Management from Keuka College.

Dr. Sunser and Bohm awarded Assistant Professor of Photography and Art, Joseph L. Ziolkowski the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Service for his consistently outstanding scholarly and creative productivity, conducted in addition to teaching. Ziolkowski has been a member of GCC's Fine Arts faculty since August of 2012. Upon arriving, he immersed himself completely in the GCC classroom the college community, and in continuing his own professional development. Ziolkowski provides "applied learning" opportunities for his students by frequently organizing field trips to exhibits and museums to expose them to all types of art. He uses technology and other teaching modalities to engage the students and encourage them in their own creative development. He has a passion for creating and sharing it with the world around him that benefits his students and the internal and external college community. Ziolkowski received a B.A in Photography from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, a M.F.A. in Photography from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an M.S.Ed. in Art Education from Nazareth College of Rochester.

The fifth award at the ceremony, the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, which recognizes consistently superior teaching at the graduate, undergraduate, or professional level of the highest quality was received by Associate Professor of Psychology, Candice S. Vacin. Vacin has been teaching psychology for over sixteen years and joined the GCC faculty in 2007. She is committed to providing a learning environment for her students that helps them to be successful in her class and beyond, and she creates an environment that encourages each student to express their individuality in a safe and respectful way. She brings much energy to the classroom in her teaching, and she not only makes herself available to students via office hours, but she also meets with each student individually at various points in the semester to provide feedback on their progress and assist them as she can. She uses a great deal of creativity in presenting the subject matter, and does so in a way that students can relate it to "real life." Vacin holds an A.A. in Liberal Arts from Niagara County Community College, a B.A. in Psychology from the State University of New York at Geneseo and a M.A. in Psychology from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Also receiving the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching was David W. Johnson, Instructor of Biology at GCC. Johnson joined the GCC faculty in 2014. He is a strong advocate of the natural science program, bringing tremendous passion and enthusiasm for science, the teaching of science, and he values the role community colleges play in today's educational arena. The enjoyment that students get from his classes is evident by their enthusiasm in and out of class. He can often be found in the lab working with students and perfecting labs the students will be doing. Johnson has spent a great deal of time reworking the General Biology sequence and bringing it into the new century with a modern focus. He belongs to several professional organizations in his field and has made several presentations both on campus and off. Johnson received a B.S in Biochemistry from the State University of New York at Oswego and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Rochester.

Similarly, the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching, recognizes consistently superior teaching at the graduate, undergraduate, or professional level of the highest quality. Receiving this award was Adjunct Instructors Carol E. Geiselmann and Raymond A. Boucher.

Geiselmann has been a member of the Genesee adjunct faculty since 2011 teaching several English courses. For ten years prior to that, Geiselmann was an instructor in the College's Accelerated College Enrollment program. She provides her students with clear syllabi so they understand their responsibilities for the course. She willingly comes to campus on her days off or stays after class to meet with students and she continually provides feedback and encouragement. Geiselmann is an instructor who meticulously and tenaciously provides students with a solid foundation for life success, and an opportunity for each to develop their own style and voice, simultaneously instilling confidence as students learn and develop writing skills. Geiselmann earned an A.A. in Arts from Orange County Community College, a B.A. in Education/English from the State University of New York at Geneseo and a M.S. in Education/English from Elmira College.

Boucher joined the adjunct faculty at Genesee in 2003 and has taught a variety of course in Theatre, English and Speech. A 2014 winner of the NISOD Award for Teaching Excellence, Boucher is a master teacher. While he sets high expectations for his students, he is cognizant of the differences of learning styles and he varies his teaching methods to help students be as successful. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the classroom that students find intriguing, and a disciplined yet fun energy that keeps control of the classroom and invites students to explore. Boucher takes his teaching responsibilities very seriously and is a role model for faculty. Boucher holds a B.S in Theatre Arts and in Literature from the State University of New York at Brockport, Post-Graduate classes in English Education from Buffalo State College and a M.A. in Literature from the State University of New York at Cortland.

The final SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence was presented to Raymond J. Strzelecki, Building Maintenance Supervisor for Excellence in Classified Service. This award is a system-level award established to give recognition for superior performance and extraordinary achievement by employees in the Classified Service. These awards demonstrate SUNY's commitment to individuals who provide superior service to its students and the community at large. Strzelecki started his career at GCC as Building Maintenance Mechanic in 1991 and went to Building Maintenance Supervisor in 2002 and has been an outstanding employee ever since. He is a team player and demonstrates excellence by continuously going above and beyond in the scope of his job description. He provides exemplary customer service to the entire College community and is highly respected by his colleagues. This recognition formally thanks Strzelecki for being a role model to everyone on campus.

For the newly established "Cougar Awards," nominations for each of these categories were collected throughout the last semester, and the selected honorees were a tightly keep secret until the moment the awards were announced catching all recipients as a complete surprise.

In the Cougar Awards segment, Director of Buildings and Grounds Levi T. Olsen was recognized as the Rookie of the Year for his outstanding accomplishments in his first six months on the job. Fittingly, the entire Buildings and Grounds team, 37 members in all, were called to the stage next to receive the Teamwork Award. The field house audience came to their feet showing appreciation and gratitude for the tireless work of this group especially in light of the two new buildings that were brought on line in the past year. For her exemplary school spirit, Secretary in the Financial Aid Office Rebecca S. Patterson received the Spirit and Community Award. Next, ACE Program Specialist Karlyn M. Finucane was awarded the Innovation Award for the inception and implementation of the STEM Program that provides young students who are gifted in the math and sciences with the opportunity to pursue college credits while in middle and high school. The Cougar Salute, which was presented to GCC's Dean for Distributed Learning and Learning Technologies Craig R. Lamb for consistently demonstrating the College's core values. For embracing the diversity, equity and inclusiveness of the campus community, Director of Student Activities Clifford M. Scutella was awarded the Inclusive Excellence Award. The final Cougar Award, the President's Award went to Director of Athletics Kristen E. Schuth for her distinguished efforts and services in support of the College's mission and strategic priorities.

Genesee Community College also used the "Serving Beyond Expectations" Ceremony to recognize employees' attainment of milestone service through the Longevity Awards.
Celebrating 30 Years of Service, GCC recognized: Meredith L. Altman, Math/Science; Wayne R. Gruendike, Buildings and Grounds; Timothy P. Tomczak, Social Science; and Mark E. Yasses, Housekeeping

Marking 25 Years of Service, GCC recognized: Patricia S. Furness, Albion Campus Center; Dr. Karin E. Kovach-Allen, Social Science; and Garth P. Swanson, Humanities
With 20 Years of Service, GCC recognized: Ricky D. Bezon, Buildings and Grounds; Jennifer L. Ross, Computer Services; Kathleen A. Kimber, Humanities; Pamela E. Swarts, Art Center; Robert J. Terry , Buildings and Grounds; Diane M. Marchese, Buildings and Grounds; Tanya M. Lane-Martin, Student Services; and Lorraine S. Anderson, College Services

For 15 Years of Service, GCC recognized: Celina M. Bartz, Student Support Services; Christine Belongia, Humanities; Michele L. Terry, Student and Enrollment Services; Patricia E. Chaya, Student Services; Timothy D. Davalos, Buildings and Grounds; Jessica L. Hibbard, Warsaw Campus Center; Michael C. Perry, Media Services; Edward J. Levinstein, ACE Programs; Susane J. Nugent, Records; and Margaret I. Szczesniak, Dansville Campus Center

The newest milestone employees, celebrating 10 Years of Service, GCC recognized: Erik L. Anderson, Campus Safety; Charmayne R. Bloom, Medina Campus Center; Tara E. Conrad, Records; Debra J. Crossett, Math Science and Career Education; Rebecca J. Day, Upward Bound; Michelle A. Peck, Athletics / Health and Physical Education; Ebony N. Ross, Admissions; Charles L. Scruggs, Humanities; Daniel E. Snyder, ACE Programs; Candice S. Vacin, Social Science; John M. McGowan, The BEST Center. This category also included Alicia M. Catlin, Career Pathways and Richard P. Bartl, Alfred C. O'Connell Library for 10 years of part-time service.

Lastly, but no less important, the "Serving Beyond Expectations" Ceremony took a moment to share and admire the numerous accomplishments and contributions made by GCC's faculty and staff throughout the past academic year. The number and breadth of these achievements exemplifies the quality and compassion that seems near endemic across all departments and divisions at GCC. From professional presentations to serving as a panelist, board member, keynote speaker, juror, volunteer, evaluator, singer, exhibitor and even earning a certified drone piloting license, 44 members of GCC's staff illustrated their dedication and top-notch professionalism, as well as their passion, patriotism and the idea of making the GLOW community a better place to live and work and flourish.

For more information, contact Marketing Communications Associate Director Donna Rae Sutherland at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6616, or via email: dsutherland@genesee.edu.