Maintaining relationships after college isn’t always easy. Jobs, family, continuing one’s education, and numerous other reasons can often result in friends going their separate ways.
That’s why it is so remarkable that for more than 50 years, a group of Alfred State Gamma Theta Gamma brothers and Pi Nu Epsilon sisters have made it a point to get together at least twice a year for a reunion. They come together to laugh, tell stories, and to simply enjoy being in one another’s company.
For the past 58 years, Ed and Shirley (Reigle) Hatter have hosted the majority of the get-togethers, both at their home in Fort Myers, FL, and at their residence on Owasco Lake in Auburn, NY. Ed, a Cortland-area native, is a 1958 graduate of the air conditioning program, and Shirley, originally from Akron, studied medical secretarial science in 1958 and 1959.
The reunions began simply enough. Originally, several Theta Gamma brothers and Pi Nu sisters would gather every other weekend at Shirley’s parents’ home in Akron, NY. Once word of the get-togethers spread, the numbers soon grew and the venues changed.
“In the early years, we alternated between our home, the Millers’, the Kidds’, and the Blazeys’. After a while, by unanimous vote,” Shirley said, “it was decided to get together twice a year at our home on Owasco Lake near Auburn, NY, in the summer, and at our home in Fort Myers, FL, in the winter. This way, we could accommodate some different people. However, many of the regulars attend both.”
Of the roughly 40 couples who have attended the reunions, several of the regulars over the years, included Jack and Joann Hanel, Bob and Bev Miller, John and Judy Blazey, Bill and Judy (Allein) Abraham, Bob and Gail (Myers) Granger, Earl and Sue Herrington, Howard and Zena Weimer, Ken and Connie (Darling) Oaks, John and Bev O’Malia, Al and Judy (Delmore) Styrcula, Wayne and Helen Kidd, Pete and Lorraine Steen, and Bob and Jane Mullen. Many others also attend as often as possible.
As for the Hatters themselves, who recently celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary, they met at Alfred State at a Student Council meeting. Shortly after Ed graduated, the couple married and Ed bought a 25 percent interest in the family’s HVAC business, which they eventually took over completely. Shirley became a stay-at-home mom until their son and daughter started school.
After Shirley joined the business, it expanded into commercial and industrial projects. The couple also started an oil business and a residential development.
“Life has been very good to us,” Ed said. “We have many very good friends all over the world, and I can truthfully say that Alfred State certainly played a large part in our success.”
To this day, Ed and Shirley continue to greatly enjoy the company of the friends they made at the college so long ago. Ed said he and Shirley hope that they will be able to host the reunions for many more years, but added, “nothing is forever.”
“We have lost several of our dear Theta Gamma and Pi Nu friends over the last 15 years, but they all are always part of our thoughts and memories,” he said.
Shirley notes that hosting the reunions “is so easy” because everyone brings food and drinks and pitches in to help clean up.
“I especially enjoy keeping up with what their children and grandkids are doing,” she said. “It’s hard to believe, but no one has changed in 58 years!”
What else hasn’t changed, and what will likely never change, are the longstanding friendships of these Theta Gamma brothers and Pi Nu Epsilon sisters, who continue to reunite and reminisce of days gone by.
“Our common bond is Alfred State, and especially Theta Gamma and Pi Nu,” Shirley said. “Although our jobs, our families, and our interests have taken us in many different directions, I can truly say that there is a great amount of love in our group. We tell the same stories over and over. We laugh, sometimes we cry, but we never forget.”
Alfred State always meant a great deal to Frank Oppedisano.
It was there that the Honeoye Falls native was able to further his passions for learning and playing sports. As a student, he joined the Alfred Society of Refrigeration Engineers and was a member of the 1959 men’s basketball team that won the first Region III Championship in Alfred State history. Oppedisano would also frequently comment that the college provided him with the foundation that allowed him to excel in his career.
And just as Oppedisano cherished his alma mater, so too was he beloved as a longtime employee at Postler & Jaeckle Corp. out of Rochester. After he passed away in June 2015, the company literally paid tribute to Oppedisano by making a generous donation of $50,000 to the college to create the Frank Oppedisano ’60 Memorial Endowed Scholarship.
A 1960 graduate of the refrigeration program, Oppedisano worked from 1974 to 2015 at Postler & Jaeckle, a mechanical contracting company.
According to Beth Howard, principal at Postler & Jaeckle, Oppedisano’s core competency was that he was an incredibly talented mechanical engineer. This allowed him to perform various duties, including sales, estimating, project management, design-build, and value engineering.
During his tenure at the company, Oppedisano held multiple roles at the VP level, with functions ranging from engineering to construction execution. He was directly responsible for the completion of larger projects, particularly the most challenging ones, Howard said.
As stated in the scholarship’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), “Oppedisano was very highly regarded in the construction community in which he lived and worked. He was revered not only for his technical skill, but also for always striving to do the right thing and exceeding expectations. He had high ideals and inspired the same from those around him.”
The MOU continues, “His professionalism and care for his customers and peers are unparalleled. He left the construction industry he loved so much in a better place, having mentored so many who are now enthusiastically carrying on his vision. It is in this spirit that the Frank Oppedisano Memorial Endowed Scholarship was created.”
The first disbursement of funds for the scholarship will be in the fall of the 2017-2018 academic year. In order to be eligible, students must meet the following criteria:
The company that Oppedisano worked for and whose generosity made the scholarship possible, Postler & Jaeckle, was founded in June 1964, and continues to please customers to this day by combining the latest in mechanical systems with Old World pride in workmanship. The company focuses on construction, service, HVAC/plumbing, and fabrication in New York State and norther Pennsylvania.
According to its website, Postler & Jaeckle “established an organization that has built a solid reputation by providing craftsmanship and service second to none. They pride themselves on integrity and the level of expertise they bring to each of their projects.”
Postler & Jaeckle, the website continues, “became a leader in the field by meeting the needs of private owner, developers, environmental contractors, general contractors, and subcontractors. Their business philosophy is to do an excellent job, no matter what the size of the contract and in the most economical way possible. Integrity and quality will always be their mission statement.”
Integrity and quality are two words that can also be associated with Frank Oppedisano. With his vast amount of knowledge, Howard said, he never passed up an opportunity to help those around him grow.
“He was constantly mentoring both his coworkers and clients,” she said. “Frank was the best kind of leader in that he never shied away from asking tough questions and holding people accountable. What made him so special is that he never set out to solve others’ problems for them, but rather to guide them in developing their own solutions. He taught those around him to be critical thinkers.”
As for his relationships with his customers, Oppedisano was very detail-oriented and concerned himself not only with the construction phase, but also with ensuring peak performance after installation.
“He was not afraid to ask questions if he thought there might be a better way,” Howard noted. “One of the greatest feelings is achieving a level of success that enables you to help others. Frank was a great contributor to our success.”
Given that Oppedisano was not only an invaluable employee at Postler & Jaeckle, but that he constantly sought the best for his clients and always looked to bring out the best in his fellow workers, it is only fitting that the company memorialized his legacy of helping others by creating a scholarship at Alfred State. Through this, Oppedisano’s spirit of generosity will live on, as future generations of mechanical engineering technology students will be able to attend college and fulfill their dreams at the same school that meant so much to him.
“We are very appreciative of having Frank in our lives for 40-plus years,” Howard said. “He was selfless with his time in teaching others, so we thought it would be fitting to have him memorialized through a scholarship where he can continue to help others grow.”
Each holiday season, Jon Nickerson dons the famous red suit and fluffy white beard and travels all over the place, bringing happiness to countless youngsters who simply can’t wait to tell Santa what they want for Christmas.
This yuletide, Nickerson, a project manager/architectural engineering designer at Alfred State, is making a rather special appearance as Kris Kringle, one that will be seen by millions of people all across the US on Dec. 12 when they tune into ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” from 8-10 p.m.
Entering its fourth season, “The Great Christmas Light Fight” features families and neighborhoods across America who decorate their homes to the extreme for Christmas in the hopes of winning a $50,000 cash prize and the coveted “Light Fight” trophy. The show is co-hosted by Taniya Nayak, one of America’s premier designers who is known for designing many of New England’s hottest restaurants and lounges, and Carter Oosterhouse, an expert in green-building solutions and eco-friendly designs and the host of several popular shows, including HGTV’s “Million Dollar Rooms.”
Though Nickerson, a Scio native and Alfred State alum, won’t be competing on the show, his appearance was made possible by a couple of his friends who are. Twins Larry and Dennis Fields, who also hail from Scio, have competed against each other for years for the area’s most spectacular Christmas lights display.
This year, however, the brothers have pooled their resources and creativity together to decorate a house owned by Larry in Lake View. Known as the “Lake View Singing Twinsmas House,” the building features a lights show accompanied by the song “Santa And I Know It.” For more info on the house, visit https://www.facebook.com/LakeViewChristmasHouse/.
Nickerson and his wife, Melissa, who had dressed up as Mrs. Claus, took part in about 30 minutes’ worth of filming for the show. Though he is unsure which portions will actually air Dec. 12 and whether they will appear during the 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. time slot, Nickerson said, “It’s neat to be appearing on TV. If I get five seconds of air time, that’s cool, but the bigger part for me is being with the kids and seeing them. That’s what being Santa is all about.”
Being Santa Claus is nothing new to Nickerson. He first portrayed Father Christmas as a fourth-grader in a school play, and has done so many times since.
“I’ve always been a fairly good-sized guy,” he said with a laugh.
As Santa, Nickerson has traveled to numerous venues in western New York, and even Pennsylvania, taking pictures and listening to the many present requests from children, all of whom, of course, have been good all year. He has countless stories to tell, some that are joyful, others that will tug at even the iciest of heartstrings.
But wherever he goes and whomever he meets when he puts on that red suit and white beard each Christmas season, Nickerson continues to make spirits as bright as an over-the-top holiday display.
“The kids are the best part about being Santa,” he said. “It’s all about the smiles on those kids’ faces, it’s the pictures I see people sharing on Facebook who don’t even know I was the Santa Claus, and it’s about those who don’t have a great outlook on life who maybe got an extra smile.”
Those interested in booking Nickerson as Santa for an event may reach him on the “Santa Hotline” at 585-610-8700.
Last year the United States saw in excess of $1 trillion in new construction projects. Behind the large nationwide gains in construction dollars, many crews are now better educated and managed than ever, with institutions such as Alfred State stepping up with programs designed to be adaptive to industry needs and keep construction moving forward.
In the current issue of “Building the Southern Tier,” Alfred State’s construction-related programs are featured as ways to properly prepare new managers. Leaders from the Civil Engineering Technology Department discuss details of programs related to construction and surveying that match the workforce needs of the publication’s sponsors: The Southern Tier Builders Association and Associate Building Contractors of the Triple Cities.
Working alongside industry stakeholders, Alfred State offers a range of comprehensive, targeted programs that get students into their fields with the skill sets industry needs. For example, the school’s construction management program has been making a difference to New York building sites for more than 40 years, and its grads are some of the most respected members of the construction industry.
Timothy Piotrowski, associate professor with Alfred State’s Civil Engineering Technology Department, notes that the program is accredited by the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE), and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Piotrowski suggests that a powerful part of the program is the blending of academic with applied courses to create a more balanced approach. Students begin taking courses their first semester and have the opportunity to obtain national construction industry certifications, on the campus, as they matriculate through the program.
For example, in a freshman concrete course they can attempt certification as an American Concrete Institute Concrete Field Testing Technician Grade 1. With this credential, many Alfred State students are working in the construction testing sector their first summer out of school. Last year, 22 students attempted the exam, with 100 percent passing.
Getting students into the industry is what Alfred State’s programs are all about. For example, the construction management curriculum includes a construction safety course that covers the required topics to earn an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 30-hour supervisor’s card. Because the faculty has the credentials to provide the training, students are also offered the opportunity earlier in their program to obtain an OSHA 10-hour card so they can find work on commercial projects during the key summer season.
“The idea is to give our students an opportunity to both train and work toward a career in construction technology. We don’t do internships; we suggest our students go out and find paying jobs in the industry and learn on-site and then come back for another semester to put their new work skills into perspective,” Piotrowski notes.
At the end of the BS construction management program, students sit for an eight-hour exam administered by the American Institute of Constructors.
“This exam covers it all, and our students have performed well above the national average, a testament to the quality and breadth of the construction management program,” he said.
Another industry-responsive course at Alfred State is its program targeted to the surveying community. The college offers associate degrees in survey engineering technology and the four-year surveying and geomatics engineering technology program.
The surveying programs, like construction management, are very hands-on with a strong emphasis on fundamentals. It all leads to the Land Survey Licensure, a credential that requires students to have both academically prepared and worked in the field.
“Every fall and spring, the college hosts a job fair. The industry sets up in our gym to take resumes and network with our grads. Placement levels are high because the industry has come to respect the quality of our students,” said Piotrowski, pointing out that the blend of practical and academic creates valuable employees and construction managers.
“We also participate in the American Associated Schools of Construction Region 1 Construction Competition in Morristown, NJ. We send three teams to compete in three categories: Commercial Building, Design/Build, and Heavy Highway,” says Piotrowski. He reports that the school challenges 17 other colleges on the East Coast.
“Over the last 10 years, we have placed in at least one category and were the only public college last year that placed, a fact that speaks to the quality of our teams,” he said.
See the full “Building the Southern Tier” article by Kelly Gray: issuu.com/delcomminc/docs/stba_2016_web.
Like clockwork for 20 years now, past faculty members of the Alfred State Nursing Department have returned to the Southern Tier in the fall for a reunion. This year, they had even more reason to celebrate, with the college’s first nursing program marking its golden anniversary.
Fifty years ago, Alfred State welcomed its first incoming class of nursing students and the Allied Health building was under construction. Since then, it has been transformed into the modern Physical and Health Sciences building to meet the needs of today’s nursing students.
While much has changed for Alfred State nursing, the enthusiasm of students eager to help others, the dedication of faculty, and the building of relationships that last a lifetime, are all traits that have endured.
“We’re very proud of the program and the fact that we had an integral part in the beginning,” said past department chair Marilyn Lusk. “"Each generation of faculty has brought something new to the program that makes it special, and we meet graduates all the time who have achieved great things and are well respected by employers."
Speaking to the continued success of Alfred State nursing grads, past department chair Cynthie Luehman said, “So many of our graduates have far surpassed our level of expertise, and it’s just amazing when you hear what they’ve done. It’s humbling.”
Today, students utilize newer technology such as SimMan 3G manikins, new facilities such as the high-fidelity simulation labs, and have clinical experiences at hospitals in multiple locations in western New York and even Pennsylvania. They can also take one of five academic pathways to earning either an associate or a bachelor’s in nursing, including the online format for the bachelor’s program.
Margaret Brady was the first chair of the Nursing Department, serving from 1965 until 1970, while guiding the establishment of the program. Next, A. Donald Insley became the new chair, a position he would hold until 1982, when he returned to teaching until his retirement in the early 2000s.
Lusk then served as department chair from 1982 to 1996, when the first faculty reunion was held. Joining Lusk for the reunion this year were Luehman, who chaired the department from 1997 to 2008; current chair and nursing program graduate Linda Panter; former interim chair and faculty member Kathy Decker; as well as retired faculty Pam Jones, Mary Amphlett, Rosemary Fischer, Mary Smith, and Therese LeGro.
“One of the things that made us such a strong faculty was that when those of us who were new came, there were already people there who were really effective, hard-working, and very supportive of the students, so we had others to look up to as role models,” Smith said. “Then we ended up all staying for many years.”
Sadly, two beloved members of the reunion group, Loretta M. Smith and Joanne Daniels, passed away in the spring of 2016. The two of them had co-authored a book in 1987 titled “Clinical Calculations: A Unified Approach,” a dosage calculations textbook based on dimensional analysis that has now been used in nursing education for almost 30 years.
Lusk, who joined the faculty in 1971, has provided two deserving nursing graduates with a $200 Annual Award for Clinical Excellence in Nursing for each of the past 13 years. She noted that she plans to increase the amount this year in honor of the program’s 50 years of graduating students.
Some very important aspects of Alfred State nursing have remained the same since its inception, such as the high academic standards, graduates who achieve great success, experienced and knowledgeable faculty, and a desire to assist the next generation of nurses.
In recognition of the nursing program’s 50th anniversary, a celebration will take place Thursday, May 11, 2017. Updates will be posted on the Alumni Facebook page facebook.com/AlfredStateAlumni and the Nursing Facebook page facebook.com/AlfredStateNursing, with dinner and department tour details to follow.
The Center for Community Education and Training (CCET) at Alfred State will be hosting a training session on preventing and addressing harassment in the workplace from 1-4 p.m. Dec. 14 in the Orvis Activities Center Auditorium.
Taught by Harris Beach Attorney Sara Visingard, the training will assist managers and supervisors with understanding harassment in the workplace and how to appropriately handle complaints. Attendees will learn helpful tips for creating policies and protocols to deal with harassment, as well as an overview of what happens during a harassment investigation and ideas for corrective action.
Whether you are a manager at a large or small company, this training contains crucial information that applies to any workplace.
Wendy Dresser-Recktenwald, senior director of Human Resources and the Center for Community Education and Training, said, “Alfred State is once again pleased to bring a high-quality expert on this subject to the Southern Tier to train our businesses. Sara has extensive experience in nonprofit law and we are excited to have her with us.”
The cost of the training is $40, but is free for Alfred State employees in supervisory roles. Participants must pre-register with the CCET by calling 607-587-4015 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.