Michael J. Phelps

Michael J. Phelps
Michael J. Phelps
  • High School: Corcoran, Class of 2005
  • Major: Electronic Media Communications with a focus on television and video production

Michael J. Phelps came to Onondaga Community College to pay tribute to his mother’s memory. Kimberly Lethbridge spent many years taking classes at OCC. During her time on campus she was a member of the Student Association. She finally earned a degree in Human Services in the spring of 2010. Three months later she passed away. Today Phelps is also an officer in the Student Association and an outstanding student. “Graduating from this college and participating in leadership positions is in homage to her. It’s a way to honor everything she did to help me become the person I am,” said Phelps.

Phelps took a non-traditional path to OCC. After graduating from high school he joined the United States Army. During his six years as a human resources specialist Phelps visited nearly 30 countries. “Getting to see the parts of the world I saw helped me grow as a person. I wish everyone would have the opportunity to spend a year studying abroad, understand how the world works and think more globally.”

Phelps enrolled at OCC in 2013 as a Math & Science major. He struggled and decided to take time away from higher education. He returned in 2015, became an Electronic Media Communications (EMC) major and earned Provost List honors. “I found a curriculum I could relate to and excel at and it made all the difference. The EMC major here is phenomenal. The talent pool in the faculty is amazing.”

cropped-michael-j-phelps-at-bulletin-board
Phelps’ keeps bulletin boards updated across campus.

Outside class Phelps is very involved in campus. As the Student Association’s Vice President of Media he crisscrosses campus weekly, putting the latest posters highlighting college activities on bulletin boards. Phelps is also a member of the Entertainment Planning Board, the College Leadership Committee, the Diversity Council and a participating member in the Diversity Circle.

Being an officer on the Student Association affords Phelps the opportunity to meet once a month with College President Dr. Casey Crabill and discuss what’s happening on campus. “She really wants to relate to the student body and understand issues students face. She’s a one stop shop for fixing those issues. She’s an advocate for the student body.”

There was a time in Phelps’ life when socializing with and representing others didn’t seem possible. He’s a high-functioning autistic student who found the assistance he needed at the College’s Office of Accessibility Resources. “Daneen Brooks is a phenomenal caseworker. She’s a big reason why I’m successful on campus. As a student officer I’m able to interact with others. It’s made a big difference and helped me grow as a person.”

Phelps will earn his degree in May 2017. He plans to transfer to a four-year college and pursue a film-related degree.

Thank You for Your Service

Donald Mawhinney (wearing blue blazer)  is congratulated by OCC Board of Trustees Chair Allen J. Naples and receives a standing ovation from fellow Trustees.
Donald Mawhinney (blue blazer) is congratulated by OCC Board of Trustees Chair Allen J. Naples as he receives a standing ovation from fellow Trustees.

Donald Mawhinney has been a member of Onondaga Community College’s Board of Trustees since before the College opened its doors to students. Mawhinney was appointed a founding trustee in 1961 one year prior to classes starting in the College’s Midtown Plaza location. Fifty-five years later, on June 21, 2016, Mawhinney attended his final meeting as a member of the Board of Trustees.

During the meeting a resolution was passed in Mawhinney’s honor saluting his extraordinary service to the College and its students. You can read the resolution at the bottom of this story. Mawhinney was awarded “Trustee Emeritus” status and received a standing ovation from his colleagues.

“We can’t thank you enough for what you have done. You’ve been a mentor to many of us for many years and we look forward to seeing you in the future when you come visit us,” said Board Chair Allen J. Naples.

“I want to thank so many of you in this room who have worked so hard for the College. It’s been a real community effort. It’s been a great privilege being with all of you people on the board and having the chance to serve students, faculty, the administration and the community,” said Mawhinney. He turns 90-years-old this week and was the longest serving college trustee in the United States.

You can read more about Mawhinney’s life here. Onondaga Community College thanks him for his remarkable service and dedication to all of Central New York.

 

RESOLUTION TO APPROVE TRUSTEE EMERITUS STATUS FOR

DONALD M. MAWHINNEY, JR., ESQ.

WHEREAS, over the course of more than 55 years of distinguished service to Onondaga Community College as a founding trustee, Donald M. Mawhinney, Jr. has demonstrated unwavering and steadfast commitment to the success of the college and its students, generously contributing his time and expertise to advance key college initiatives; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Mawhinney, a graduate of Nottingham High School and Hamilton College, attended Syracuse & Wisconsin Universities. He graduated from Cornell Law School in 1952 where he was an active member of the Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity. Mr. Mawhinney enlisted in the US Army in 1944 and served until his honorable discharge in 1946, and stayed active in the Army Reserves until 1950, where he completed his service with the rank of First Lieutenant. Mr. Mawhinney then began his law career at Beekman & Bogue Law Firm, at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in New York City. He moved to Syracuse to start his affiliation with Hiscock & Barclay, where he has been a partner since 1958. Mr. Mawhinney also served on the Onondaga County Board of Supervisors from 1958-1965 and was instrumental in many initiatives including the creation of the executive branch of government headed by the County Executive and the construction of the Public Safety Building; and

WHEREAS, as a founding member of the OCC Board of Trustees, Mr. Mawhinney is the longest-serving trustee in the United States and Canada and has held numerous leadership roles, including chair, vice chair and secretary. He served as a member of the OCC Foundation board as attorney, president and secretary and as chairman of the new “on the hill” campus construction program, including the Whitney Applied Technology Center. In 2006, OCC named an academic building in honor of his extraordinary service to the college and its students. In support of community colleges, Mr. Mawhinney has served on the executive committee and as president of the Association of Boards of Trustees of Community Colleges in SUNY, and as director and chair of the New York Community College Trustees Foundation; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Mawhinney has received numerous awards for service to community colleges, including the Distinguished Service in Trusteeship Award from the national Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges; the Distinguished Service Award and the Anne M. Bushnell Award for Extraordinary Leadership and Special Achievement from the New York Community College Trustees Association; and the Trustee Trailblazer Award from the national Association of Community Colleges Trustees. Mr. Mawhinney has also received numerous awards for his legal work, including recognition by the Martindale-Hubbell “AV” Peer Review; and

WHEREAS, through these contributions to Onondaga Community College, the OCC Foundation, and the greater Syracuse community, Mr. Mawhinney has demonstrated an enduring commitment of commendable service to the success of Onondaga Community College that has benefited students, faculty, and staff;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees of Onondaga Community College expresses its most sincere appreciation and gratitude to Mr. Mawhinney for his exemplary service to Onondaga Community College; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, in recognition of his longstanding commitment and outstanding service to Onondaga Community College and the Central New York community, the Board of Trustees hereby awards to Donald M. Mawhinney, Jr. Trustee Emeritus status with all the rights and privileges thereof.

Approved by the Board of Trustees at the regular meeting on June 21, 2016

Donald Mawhinney (sitting) with OCC's Board of Trustees after their final meeting together. Behind Mawhinney are (left to right): John P. Sindoni, Esq., Allen J. Naples, Edward J. Heinrich, OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill, Neil Strodel, Melanie Littlejohn, Dr. Gary R. Livent and Dr. Donna J. DeSiato.
Donald Mawhinney (sitting) with OCC’s Board of Trustees after their final meeting together. Behind Mawhinney are (left to right): John P. Sindoni, Esq., Allen J. Naples, Edward J. Heinrich, OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill, Neil Strodel, Melanie Littlejohn, Dr. Gary R. Livent and Dr. Donna J. DeSiato.

Congrats Grads!

TOP OF STORY 2016 Commencement - RM pics 009Onondaga Community College held its 53rd commencement ceremony Saturday, May 14 in the SRC Arena and Events Center. Nearly 1,600 students were eligible to receive their degrees.

College President Dr. Casey Crabill congratulated students on their accomplishments and lessons learned about themselves during their time at OCC. “Earning a certificate or degree is not the end of your learning. I can assure you of that. The most valuable thing you’ve achieved is that you have learned how to learn, something you’ll need to continue to do for the rest of your life to be successful. You’ve learned how to set a goal for yourself. You can manage your time and your effort and you can bring resources together to get the job done.”

Marissa DeLand
Marissa DeLand

Graduating student Marissa DeLand was the keynote speaker. She is a 2013 graduate of Marcellus High School who earned degrees from OCC in both Business Administration and Mathematics & Science. She will transfer to SUNY Oswego and major in business administration. She also plans to pursue a master’s degree in project management.

The College awarded two honorary degrees to Sean Kirst and Edward Kochian. Kirst is a columnist, writer and storyteller who has worked for four newspapers during his career, including 27 years with The Post-Standard. Kochian is a dedicated community member and literacy advocate who worked for Onondaga County for 41 years, 28 of those as Deputy County Executive.

Retiring faculty members Deborah G. Irwin and Engracia A. Schuster were co-Grand Marshals. Irwin is a professor in the English/Reading/Communication major who started at OCC in 1983. Schuster is a professor in the Spanish major who began teaching at the College in 1995.

OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill addresses the packed house at the SRC Arena and Events Center.
OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill addresses the packed house at the SRC Arena and Events Center.

Brittany Montpetit

 

cropped Brittany MontpetitThe first time Brittany Montpetit sang in public was in middle school. The song was Hillary Duff’s “Wake Up,” a pop tune which won a Radio Disney Music Award for Song of the Year. By her own admission she’s come a long way since then.

Montpetit (right) sings with Opera Tenor Dinyar Vania at the 2015 Alumni Faces event.
Montpetit (right) sings with Opera Tenor Dinyar Vania at the 2015 Alumni Faces event.

Montpetit’s vocal highlight to date came on the night of Wednesday, October 28 when she stood side-by-side with Opera Tenor Dinyar Vania and performed Brindisi from LA TRAVIATA. “It was my best performance ever and my favorite performance ever,” she said. Vania and Montpetit sang together on the stage of the Recital Hall in OCC’s Academic II building. When they finished they received a long and well-deserved standing ovation. Their performance capped off the Alumni Faces celebration at which Vania was one of four graduates honored for their achievements.

Montpetit graduated from Cicero-North Syracuse High School in 2014 and came to OCC where she is majoring in Music with a specialization in Voice. “I love my professors here. Professor (Jean) Loftus is so helpful. We’re like best friends!”

It was another Voice Professor, David J. Rudari, D.M.A. who contacted Montpetit in June about the opportunity to sing with Vania. “He gave me the music and asked me to learn it.” Montpetit had performed Italian pieces in high school and felt comfortable with the opportunity. She worked all summer and into the fall on it. On the day of the event she had exactly a half-hour to practice it with Vania. “I was so nervous all day but Dr. Rudari told me, ‘If you’re not nervous what’s the point of being up there?’ Being nervous is good! It shows you care.”

You can watch the amazing performance below. College President Dr. Casey Crabill introduces everyone. Vania and Montpetit perform with the OCC Concert Choir and Pianist Katharine Ciarelli under the direction of Conductor Rudari.

#DreamOCC

OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill speaks at the Achieving The Dream kickoff.
OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill speaks at the Achieving The Dream kickoff.

Work toward the goal of Achieving the Dream has begun! A campus-wide kickoff event was held Friday, October 23 in the SRC Arena. College President Dr. Casey Crabill opened the festivities by welcoming everyone. She was followed by three distinguished speakers:

  • Dr. Steven Murray, Chancellor Emeritus at Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas. Murray is an Achieving the Dream Leadership Coach.
  • Dr. Laura Smith, Dean of Student Affairs, Jefferson Community & Technical College. Dr. Smith discussed how her college Achieved the Dream.
  • David Hartleb, OCC’s Achieving The Dream Leadership Coach. Hartleb introduced attendees to the Achieving the Dream process.

ATD logoThe kickoff event also included the “Dream Cafe,” a structured conversational process intended to inspire participants to think critically and creatively about student success.

OCC is one of only 16 community and technical colleges chosen to join the Achieving the Dream program in 2015. Achieving the Dream is a network of over 200 colleges working to preserve access and assure that their students, especially low-income students and students of color achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth and economic opportunity. To become an Achieving the Dream College, applicants must demonstrate an institution-wide commitment to spend at least three years working with Achieving the Dream experts to implement reforms designed to improve student success and completion rates on their campuses.

You can watch and listen to OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill discuss the Achieving the Dream program and how it will benefit students.

Class of ’65 Reunion

Members of OCC’s Class of 1965 came together for a 50th class reunion Friday, July 17. Attendees were welcomed by College President Dr. Casey Crabill, toured the campus and were treated to lunch in the Bistro at the Gordon Student Center.

Nicolas, '65 and Hyam, '68 Habayeb. He was the College's first international student to earn a degree.
Nicolas, ’65 and Hyam, ’68 Habayeb. He was the College’s first international student to earn a degree.

Among the attendees was Nicolas Habayeb, a Class of ’65 member who holds the distinction of being the College’s first international student toi earn a degree. Habayeb and his wife arrived in Syracuse from Israel October 1, 1962. He started class that day. “When I see this school and what it has become it is fantastic,” he said. “I am very proud to have been a student here.” Hyam Habayeb also attended OCC and graduated in 1968. You can read more about the Habayeb’s journey to the United States and the foundation they built at OCC here.

Phil Klein is a retired Music professor who wrote the College's alma mater.
Phil Klein is a retired Music professor who wrote the College’s alma mater.

Also in attendance was Phil Klein, a retired Music professor who spent 22 years instructing and assisting students. Klein owns the distinction of being the author of OCC’s alma mater. “Shortly after I started teaching here I was asked if I would write an alma mater,” he said. “I had been writing music so it came to me pretty quickly. I wrote the music first then added the words. I’m proud it’s still here today.”

U.S. Senator Comes to Campus

United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand came to OCC June 22 to participate in a conference titled, “Meeting the Workforce Needs of the Food Processing Industry.” The event was held in the Academic II building. Senator Gillibrand spoke with event participants and also answered questions from the media.

OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill (left) and   United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill (left) and United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill presented Senator Gillibrand with a mounted poster commemorating the College’s latest Men’s Lacrosse National Championship. The Lazers have won seven consecutive national titles and nine of the last 10. They have also won 105 consecutive games, the longest winning streak in the history of college lacrosse.

Supporting Workforce Development

Onondaga Community College received a $220,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase. A ceremonial check was presented during a press conference June 10 in the Whitney Applied Technology Center. The funding will support the College’s Workforce Development efforts, specifically in the training of students for employment in the agribusiness and food processing industry. The College is partnering with employers, nonprofit organizations and New York State to develop the program.

This generous grant from JPMorgan Chase is part of its $1 million commitment to supporting advanced manufacturing training programs in the upstate regions of Syracuse, Albany, Buffalo and Rochester, and part of a much broader $250 million commitment to address the skills gap in communities around the world. Goals of JPMorgan Chase’s plan include:

  • Building a demand-driven system through cross-sector gatherings to encourage collaboration, share findings and formulate strategies.
  • Investing in the best training and making targeted investments to strengthen and scale the most effective workforce training programs.
  • Relying on data and sponsoring a data-driven analysis of skills demand to supply gaps in local markets.

The focus of this project on the agribusiness and food processing industry is in response to a workforce demand in a growing sector of the economy. The five-county region of Central New York (CNY) includes 3,585 farm businesses generating products with a market value of $673 million. Agricultural commodity sales in New York State (NYS) increased by 20% from 2007-2012 to over $5.4 billion annually and by 21% in CNY during the same period. NYS is a leader in agricultural production of apples (2nd in the U.S.); feed corn (2nd); sweet corn (4th); fruits, tree nuts, and berries, (6th); and vegetables for market (8th). NYS is the nation’s third largest producer of fluid milk and commodity crops and was the nation’s top yogurt producer in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In addition, there are more than 200 food processing companies in CNY, including a growing list of farm breweries and distilleries producing beer, hard cider, wine, and spirits.

In October 2014, OCC was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program in support of this effort.

“We are thrilled to be selected by JPMorgan Chase to receive this important grant funding. Through our Workforce Development program we are committed to responding to the needs of both local employers and workers and aligning the needs of both as we work to advance the economic vitality and growth of the Central New York region. Having this support in place will make a significant impact upon our mission,” said OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill.

“All of us on the Board of Trustees are keenly aware of OCC’s critical role in the community and the opportunity we have to make Central New York a better place for all of us. We applaud JPMorgan Chase for being our partners in this effort through their very generous grant. We are very fortunate to have their support and thank them for it,” said Margaret M. “Meg” O’Connell, Chair, OCC Board of Trustees.

“At JPMorgan Chase, we believe we have a fundamental responsibility to use our resources and expertise to help the communities where we live and work. We are proud to be partnering with Onondaga Community College to provide training to folks in Syracuse that will fill important jobs within the advanced manufacturing sector,” said Mark Allen, Upstate New York Region Executive, Commercial Banking at JPMorgan Chase.

“I am grateful to community partners JPMorgan Chase and Onondaga Community College for their ongoing support of transformative solutions to impact both employers and un-and-underemployed residents in our community,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO. “This new investment will dovetail with CenterState CEO’s Work Train initiative, which will align with and support the college’s training programs, helping to develop a manufacturing workforce pipeline in the region.”

OCC is working to ensure the programs it develops are well-aligned with employer needs by using the DACUM (Developing A CurriculUM) process. After a half-century of use, DACUM is widely accepted as the best methodology for creating competency-based and employer-driven training to build workforce capacity. Many state agencies, including the IRS, Texas Occupational Standards Committee, and national, international, and multi-billion dollar corporations, including AT&T, Boeing, Disney, Energizer and General Motors use DACUM to establish effective training programs with superior results.

Several leading employers in the Agribusiness and Food Industry sector have committed to the project including: AGRANA Fruit US, Inc., American Food & Vending, Byrne Dairy, Giovanni Foods, G&C Foods, HP Hood, Food Bank of Central New York and Tops Friendly Markets. Employer partners are committed to identifying and validating competencies, validating curriculum, promoting the program, providing content experts and instructors, identifying career pathways, hiring qualified candidates upon completion and participating in program assessment.

Non-profit partners include CenterState CEO, a 2000-member, business leadership organization; Work Train, a collaborative led by CenterState to link low-income individuals with job-training; the Workforce Development Institute; the Southwest Community Center; Catholic Charities; Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center; the Manufacturer’s Association of Central New York and the Onondaga Farm Bureau. The public workforce investment system is represented by CNY Works and JOBSplus!

Partners in the agribusiness program include SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY Morrisville and Cornell University.FEATURE JPMorgan Chase check presentation

Commencement 2015

Onondaga Community College held its 52nd Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 16 in the SRC Arena and Events Center. More than 1,500 students were eligible to walk across the stage and receive their degrees.

College President Dr. Casey Crabill addressed graduating students, telling them this accomplishment was just the beginning of their journey. “Earning your certificate or degree is not the end of your learning. You’ve achieved a significant milestone, but the most valuable thing you’ve achieved is you’ve learned how you learn. It’s something you will need to continue to do for the rest of your life in order to remain successful. You’ve learned to set a goal for yourself. You can manage your time and effort. You can bring resources together and you can get the job done.”

Dewayne Garner Jr.
Dewayne Garner Jr.

Graduating student Dewayne Garner Jr spoke to his classmates about his own journey from Cicero-North Syracuse High School to Onondaga. He admitted coming to OCC wasn’t his first choice but it wound up being his best. “I was an average student with an extraordinary dream of becoming a biomedical engineer. As time went by I saw that attending OCC was the best decision I have ever made. It has prepared me to achieve success.” Garner is a Mathematics and Science major who plans to transfer to a four-year institution, major in biomedical engineering, then advance to a Ph.D. program.

Members of OCC's first class of graduating students in the Nuclear Energy Technology major.
Members of OCC’s first class of graduating students in the Nuclear Energy Technology major.

The Class of 2015 included the College’s first-ever group of graduates in the Nuclear Technology major. The program was started in the fall 2013 semester in response to a workforce demand. Of the 13 graduating students, 11 have secured employment at local nuclear plants. The two other students are considering job offers and higher education opportunities. OCC is one of only 36 colleges in the nation to offer this degree program.

Gladys Thomas 014
Gladys Thomas

Other unique stories included Gladys Thomas, a 74-year-old cancer survivor who earned a degree in Professional Communication. “Miss Gladys,” as she is affectionately known, does volunteer work with women in her church and raises three adolescent grandchildren.

Shannon Houghton
Shannon Houghton

One of the youngest graduates was Shannon Houghton. In June 2014 she earned her high school diploma from Cicero-North Syracuse. Less than one year later she graduated from OCC with a degree in Humanities and an Honors Minor. Houghton came to OCC with 36 college credits which were earned through a combination of AP Classes and OCC’s College Credit Now program. During her one year on campus Houghton was inducted into international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. In the fall she will attend Binghamton University and pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Her goal is to earn a master’s and become a psychologist.

Karim Abdel-Razek and his father, Osama Abdel-Razek check out Karim's poster at commencement.
Karim Abdel-Razek and his father, Osama Abdel-Razek check out Karim’s poster at commencement.

A colorful display of large posters which highlighted stories of graduating students greeted commencement attendees. The posters were placed around the second floor of the SRC Arena.

Retiring faculty members Ken Bobis and Sue Lamanna were co-Grand Marshal’s for commencement. Bobis was a professor in Architectural Technology and Interior Design who started at OCC in 1979. Lamanna was a professor in the Nursing major who began teaching at the College in 1998.

Honorary degrees were given to Timothy C. Penix, Vice President of the SUNY Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) administered by Morrisville State College, located in Syracuse, and Deborah Stanley, President of SUNY Oswego.

Celebrating History

In 1995 members of OCC’s campus community and the Onondaga Nation came together for a ceremony at which the Haudenosaunee flag was permanently raised on campus. Twenty years later the parties came together once again to celebrate the anniversary of the event.

OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill (left) and Onondaga Nation Faithkeeper Oren Lyons (right) celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the Haudenosaunee flag flying on the OCC campus.
OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill (left) and Onondaga Nation Faithkeeper Oren Lyons (right) celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the Haudenosaunee flag flying on the OCC campus.

Lunch was served in the Bistro followed by a brief ceremony on the east side of campus. Participants included OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill and Onondaga Nation Faithkeeper Oren Lyons.

The purple and white Haudenosaunee flag is patterned after the Hiawatha Wampum belt. It represents the original Five Nations joining together to form the Great League of Peace. The Onondaga Nation is in the center and is joined by the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida and Seneca nations.