Kevin Hallock, the Kenneth F. Kahn Dean and the Joseph R. Rich Professor of Economics and Human Resource Studies in the ILR School, said the first office professional he met was his grandmother, who was “brilliant, hardworking and organized,” and who, having lost her husband at an early age, confronted “work/life balance” issues “long before that term was even invented.”
Glenn Altschuler, the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies anddean of the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, was impressed with the importance of office professionals through his mother, who was “the fastest typist I ever encountered.” She taught him “what commitment and devotion to work really mean.”
Hallock and Altschuler joined President Martha E. Pollack and Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Mary Opperman in commending the 600-some attendees at the 30th Jennie T. Farley Office Professionals Program April 25 in Barton Hall for having the same values.
Pollack noted that in her first year as president she has met many Cornell staff members. “I am awed by the professionalism, the devotion, the dedication, the commitment to hard work that we see across our staff,” she said. “I want to thank you all. We could not do our work without you.”
Opperman said much has changed in the 30 years since the office professionals program began, but what has not changed is “how much the university relies on the dedication and the expertise of our office professionals.” She thanked the audience for stepping up to meet new challenges and for supporting Cornell’s students, faculty and staff.
In keynote remarks, Altschuler described the staff response to the 62 University of Puerto Rico students who came to Cornell for the spring 2018 semester after Hurricane Maria devastated the island last fall. “You stepped up like no one else,” he said, noting the work of the staff in the registrar’s office to accept the student applications and get them enrolled; the “dozens and dozens” of knitters at Cornell who created gloves, caps and scarves to help keep the students warm; and staff contributions to the crowdsourcing effort launched to raise funds for transportation and living costs.
“It is you who make this place tick and who make Cornell an extraordinarily interesting and humane place,” he said. “It is you who are the glue that holds this place together, and I hope that every one of you has inside the pride in what you do.”
All speakers recognized staff in their own offices. Hallock also reflected on the origins of Cornell’s office professionals’ recognition in the work of the late ILR professor Jennie Farley, who along with colleague Alice Cook held a brown bag lunch in 1988 to recognize the ILR office professionals. Farley died in 2002 but a course she taught still is offered as part of the ILR curriculum.
Gary Stewart, associate vice president for community relations, recognized staff for their volunteer efforts in their home communities and school districts, and presented a $500 gift basket door prize from the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce. Door prizes and gift certificates from other local businesses and Cornell offices also were distributed throughout the event.
Students from the Cornell Celtic Club, Cornell Bhangra and Rise Dance Group performed.