Staff graduates applauded for completing degrees

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John Carberry
David Skorton, Mary Opperman, with family
Robert Barker/University Photography
President David Skorton, far left, and Vice President Mary Opperman, back row, right, with the Eldermire family, from left: Lucy, Erin, Wyatt and Charles.
Kathy and Earl Carpenter
Robert Barker/University Photography
Kathy and Earl Carpenter.
President Skorton, Davine Bey and Mary Opperman
Robert Barker/University Photography
President David Skorton, Davine Bey and Vice President Mary Opperman.

A research support specialist in the plant pathology and plant-microbe biology department has worked at Cornell for 22 years and just completed her Ph.D. from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). An assistant superintendent from facilities services is also receiving a degree from CALS; she has been at the university for 10 years. And completing his MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is a talent acquisition manager from the Recruitment and Employment Center who has worked at Cornell for two and a half years.

The three – Ewa Borejsza-Wysocka, Heather Mulks and Davine Bey – were among 13 staff who gathered with family and friends at the 18th annual Staff Graduate Reception, May 20. All completed a degree this year through Cornell’s Employee Degree Program or Tuition Aid Program.

Eight staff members received Cornell degrees. In addition to CALS graduates Borejsza-Wysocka (Ph.D.) and Mulks (B.S.), Kathy Carpenter (B.S.) and Mary Catt (M.P.S.) are graduating from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations; Scott Molnar (MBA), Christine Wais (MBA) and James Brannan (MBA) from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management; and Jeremy Williams (M.P.S.) from the College of Engineering.

Lorrie Chase and Shelly Hall received associate’s degrees from Tompkins Cortland Community College; Erin Eldermire, a master’s in library and information science from Syracuse University; Judy Briggs, an M.A. from SUNY Empire State College; and Bey, an MBA from RIT.

Expressing “gratitude and admiration” for their achievements, President David Skorton said that these accomplishments extend beyond the lives of the staff members to affect the “aspirations and dreams of your co-workers” and people “you don’t even know.”

Calling the staff graduate reception “one of my favorite events of the year in my favorite week of the year,” Vice President Mary Opperman said: “You have balanced your work, your life and your studies. You are exploring new avenues to further your skills and enhance your career. You have immersed yourself in learning, which in many ways makes you even better at what we do here at the university. … And you have managed to do that and succeed during a time in which we’ve undergone pretty substantial change and uncertainty.”

Skorton and Opperman thanked all those who supported the graduates while they pursued their degrees. The brief biographies submitted by the graduates and read by Alan Mittman, employee-elected trustee, and Greg Mezey ’09, vice chair of the Employee Assembly, bore witness to that support as graduates thanked faculty mentors, advisers and team members; spouses, partners and children; parents and friends.

The reception was hosted by the Employee Assembly and the Division of Human Resources and Safety Services, with music provided by pianist Andrew Adelson ’16.

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Nancy Doolittle