The legacy of OCC alumnus and professsor Vinny Spadafora will forever be a part of the College and its Electronic Media Communications (EMC) major.
The establishment of the Vincent Spadafora Jr. Memorial Scholarship Endowment was celebrated during a check presentation ceremony February 13 in the television studio where EMC students come together to learn and develop their skills everyday.
Spadafora was a 1974 graduate of OCC who dedicated more than 40 years to the College and EMC program (formerly known as Radio & TV) as Assistant Professor, Department Chair, and adjunct professor upon his retirement. Spadafora passed away March 15, 2013 at the age of 65. One year after his passing the OCC Foundation announced a special fundraising initiative in memory of Spadafora. A $25,000 scholarship endowment would be formed with Ed Levine, President and CEO of Galaxy Communications, providing a dollar-for-dollar match for every gift contributed to the endowment.
During the February 13 ceremony Levine presented the OCC Foundation a check for $15,618 and reflected on his relationship with Spadafora. “OCC became a major force in developing young students in broadcasting because of Vinny Spadafora. Because of his personal credibility, I brought in OCC students to my radio stations as interns. When they walked in the door 90% would be great from the start. For the few who weren’t I would call Vinny, he would talk to that student and his or her performance would improve immediately.”
EMC co-chair Tony Vadala spoke at the ceremony and talked about Spadafora’s impact on him. Vadala came to OCC in 1981 and took a class with Spadafora his first semester on campus. “Never before had I had a teacher whose irreverent humor was coupled with the most sincere passion for teaching and caring for his students. Vinny never took himself seriously but he took what he did very seriously. I am most fortunate to have called Vinny my teacher, my colleague and my friend.”
Current EMC students took part in the ceremony by reading comments from alumni who donated to the scholarship endowment:
- “Vinny used to push me to be the best. I remember him being honest and straight forward with me, because there were times when I got lazy and became disengaged. He never gave up on me! Never!!”
- “He was “one of us”, not just a teacher who gave lectures and issued book reading assignments. He was truly a “boots on the ground” member of the R/TV department.”
- “It was a very sad day when I read of the passing of “Vinny”. During my time at OCC he was always an inspiration to me. He always had time to chat, and his insights to the business were priceless.”
- “Vinny was one of a kind, and I am so happy to have met him along life’s journey, and share in his joy and passion of radio and television, and his genuine friendship.”
OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill spoke after the students. She asked them to understand the importance of continuing the high standards established by Spadafora. “Those alumni you read comments from are the people whose shoulders you are standing on today. It’s up to you to pay that forward, to cement relationships in a professional way and to be a leader in your field. It’s clear the legacy Vinny built here, that he has left to us and that we pass on to today’s students and the ones who will stand on your shoulders in the future.”
The check presentation ceremony was also attended by Spadafora’s widow, Elaine and other family members. The first recipient of the Vincent Spadafora Memorial Scholarship Endowment will be selected in time for the fall 2015 semester.