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Custodial staff extolled for excellence at Bartels Awards

Phil Bartels ’71 and his daughter, Katie Bartels ’06, returned to Cornell to recognize the work of more than 400 Building Care staff at the 11th Bartels awards and scholarship program, Dec. 14 in Bartels Hall. They joined Rick Burgess, vice president for infrastructure, properties and planning, and Facilities Management leadership to honor six custodial and housekeeping staff members and to present two staff members and nine children of staff members with scholarships.

“To me, this Building Care department is a backbone department of the university,” Phil Bartels said. “You pursue and you achieve excellence every day, not only in the living environment, which is first-class, but also in the first-class learning environment.” On behalf of his family and many generations of Cornell students, Bartels thanked staff “for what you do to strive for and achieve that excellence.”

Ben Kuo, associate vice president for facilities management, noted that Building Care has always had a culture of kindness and caring. But in 2006, when Katie Bartels, then a senior, described to her parents how a custodian had supported her and her friends while they were studying for finals, Phil Bartels was “really impressed,” Kuo said. “He understood what it meant to have a caring community here.”

From that understanding, Kuo said, the Bartels family developed “a generous, thoughtful and long-lasting gift that truly represents all the best in our university.”

The Bartels Award is given annually to six custodial and housekeeping staff members with at least five years of service, nominated by their managers for their strong customer service orientation, reliability, team-building and communication skills, technical knowledge, support of the Cornell mission and positive attitude. Awardees also receive a certificate of recognition and a monetary award.

This year’s awardees were:

  • David Boronkay, a custodian known for his quiet, friendly demeanor, witty sense of humor, loyalty and reliability. He came to work on time even during last year’s blizzard. An 18-year veteran, Boronkay “gives his all and does it without fanfare,” said Lisa Belokur, director of facilities, Facilities Management.
  • Louise Braren, who works in Sibley and Klarman halls and at 726 University Ave. Her manager, Dave Trout, said she is “always willing to work overtime, cover for her co-workers and do all the extras that make all the difference for her co-workers and customers.” She is known for her excellent work, professional attitude and humor.
  • Pattie Gordinier, a lead custodian who enjoys interacting with students. Devan Carrington, residence hall director for buildings in the Collegetown area, “cannot think of anyone else who exemplifies what the Bartels Award for Custodial Excellence stands for” when it comes to “reliability, service, positivity and support.”
  • Deborah Hetrick, who has had a 32-year career at the university. Dependable, responsible and well organized, Hetrick is known for her strong work ethic, honesty, consistency, thoughtfulness and excellent customer service.
  • Phil Lorer, a head custodian who has worked in Building Care for nine years. This year, he assisted the table and chair crew, provided coverage for special events and took on extra shifts for weekend cleaning. “This model employee is everything a manager, Building Care and Cornell could ever wish for,” said Darrell Reynolds, director of facilities, Facilities Management.
  • Aye Lahpo Paw, a 10-year employee who “defines quality in every way.” Paw is known for his work ethic and commitment to Johnson – and for singing while he works the night shift. “He cleans, he polishes, he sweeps, shovels and mops … and entertains at the same time,” said Stephen Devlen, associate director, Facilities Management, contract colleges.

Julie Parsons, event coordinator, Facilities Management, announced the Bartels scholarship recipients, congratulating them “not just on getting the awesome scholarship that the Bartels family created, but on making a hard decision [to decide to pursue their education] and sticking with it.” Staff children receiving scholarships were Brianna Clark; Kevin Hollenbeck; Dway Htet; Savanna Padgett; Thomas and Daniel Schmitt; Tia Soprano; Kayla Stewart; and James Williams. Staff members receiving scholarships were Peter Alexander, head custodian, and Carmelo Melice, custodian.

Media Contact

Lindsey Hadlock