Dr. William D. Rezak who led Alfred State as president from 1993 until he retired in 2003 is being remembered as an accomplished educator, engineer, author, benefactor, and good friend. Rezak passed away on January 14 after battling cancer. A memorial service is planned for Saturday, January 21 in Orlando, FL.
“Bill was an outstanding president to work under as a vice president,” stated SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and longtime member of Alfred State’s Business Department Jim Grillo. “He was extremely supportive of his people, and under his leadership, we significantly expanded our bachelor’s degrees, and began to increase our enrollment. Bill will be remembered as a tremendous mentor and good friend to many of us here at Alfred State.”
“Bill was a tremendous advocate for students and remained a great supporter of Alfred State College,” stated President Dr. Skip Sullivan. “This pioneer will be missed.”
President Rezak was instrumental in adding baccalaureate programs to the former two-year technical college. In 1996 he created the Alfred State College Development Fund for enlisting alumni support and the college’s endowment quadrupled during his tenure. During his administration funding and enrollment declined across SUNY institutions but enrollment increased at Alfred State while also raising standards for student selectivity. Additional innovations included creation of the college’s first football team in 1995, and development of plans for a multi-million-dollar Workforce Development Training Center on the Wellsville campus.
While Alfred State’s President, Rezak was also honored to be on the Allegany County United Way Board of Directors, serving as both campaign chair and president for multiple years. Alfred State students with financial need continue to benefit from the Radia Khouri Rezak Family Endowed Scholarship established in 1994. His generosity is also reflected in sponsorship of a leadership suite for clubs and benevolent organizations at the Student Leadership Center.
His beloved wife Paula died in late 2006. As first lady of Alfred State, she was a founder of the Rainbow Union. She established the Paula Rezak Memorial Library Collection, which includes books, movies and additional resources that are constantly updated for the LGBTQ community. Bill and Paula also established an endowed fund dedicated to enhancing the living-learning environment for all students, especially those addressing the challenges associated with sexual orientation.
Prior to Alfred State, Rezak was Dean of the School of Technology at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia. Before entering higher education, he spent 18 years in engineering, design and construction of power generation facilities, both nuclear and fossil fueled. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University where he played on Lehigh’s 1961 Lambert Cup Championship Football Team. He also has a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Human Resource Development from Georgia State University. He was a registered professional engineer in several states.
In retirement Rezak authored a book entitled “The Arab and the Brit: The Last of the Welcome Immigrants” a memoir that spans multiple generations and countries. Born of a Palestinian father and British mother, he traced the lives of his ancestors and narrated their experiences against the backdrop of two world wars and the volatile Middle East. In 2013 the college hosted the former president as he discussed his book and how history shapes modern events and policies.
Next he published “The Best Dang Job in the World: A Leadership Guide for College and University Administrators” based on observations from his own career. In the novel, Rezak created a fictional campus to highlight characteristics, attributes, and behaviors that are a key to success in leading an institution of higher learning. Both books remain available for purchase online.
In lieu of flowers, the Rezak family is asking for donations to be made to the Radia Khouri Rezak Family Endowed Scholarship or the Paula Rezak Support for a Caring Campus Endowed Fund at AlfredState.edu/make-a-gift.
The ongoing support of the Educational Foundation of Alfred, Inc. has greatly contributed to student success at Alfred State through a generous annual donation to peer tutoring.
Since the 2010-2011 academic year, the Foundation has provided $5,000 annually to the college’s peer tutoring program. As a result, the program has fulfilled more than 450 student requests over the last three years, providing more than 2,650 hours of support.
Students receiving assistance through peer tutoring have earned a significantly higher GPA (1.02 GPA points on average higher), and report, through student surveys, a “stronger confidence in the course material.” Furthermore, the peer tutoring program has initiated a new Tutor Training Program to enhance the service provided, with initial steps being taken to earn national College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) Certification.
These funds will also support a new initiative in the spring 2017 semester: Alfred State “Learning Labs.” Learning Labs will provide drop-in tutoring in the content areas of business, biology/chemistry, psychology/sociology, and physics. This evening service will support students during homework hours, answering questions for drop-in students from 6-8 p.m.
Alfred State offers free peer tutoring services for most courses. Peer tutors are students who have earned an “A” or “B” in a course and have received special training. Sessions are usually face-to-face, but online tutoring may be arranged upon request.
The peer tutoring program is housed in the Student Success Center, located in the Hunter Development Center on the Alfred campus, and the Student Services Building on the Wellsville campus. Casey Cowburn is the peer tutoring coordinator in Alfred and Leslie Buckley serves as tutoring coordinator and coordinator for Disability Services in Wellsville.
The Educational Foundation of Alfred, Inc., is a private foundation representing faculty, staff, and friends of Alfred State dedicated to improving the college community through the support of educational programs. The activities pursued by the Educational Foundation of Alfred, Inc., are governed by a board of directors made up of representatives from each of the following groups: alumni, College Council, faculty and staff, and friends of the college.
The Foundation provides monetary support to enhance learning opportunities for students through scholarships, work grants, and community service projects. The Ed Foundation also funds the Building Trades programs’ hands-on home construction projects.
Additionally, the Foundation owns and maintains the School of Applied Technology campus in Wellsville. The campus, which attracts some 800 students annually, is recognized as one of the best applied technology schools in the nation.
Since 1966, the foundation has invested approximately $8 million in improvements on the campus.
Aiming to combat drug and alcohol abuse among teenagers, Alfred State is teaming up with the Steuben Prevention Coalition and the Steuben County District Attorney’s Office to sponsor a free program titled, “High in Plain Sight: Current drug, concealment, and alcohol trends.”
Taking place Wednesday, March 29 at the Bath-Haverling High School, 25 Ellas Ave., Bath, the program will be held from 9-11 a.m. for school personnel, area professionals, educators/prevention providers; from 1-3 p.m. for law enforcement, probation officers, first responders, and fire departments; and from 6-7:30 p.m. for community members/parents.
During the program, Officer Jermaine Galloway, also known as “Tall Cop,” will cover alcoholic energy drinks, alcopops, alcohol and drug concealment methods, drug paraphernalia, over-the-counter drugs, e-cigarettes, popular party drugs, and more. Each presentation is tailored to meet the education needs of the audience. A teenager’s “mock room” will be available at the afternoon and evening sessions.
Wendy Dresser-Recktenwald, senior director of Human Resources and the Center for Community and Education and Training (CCET) at Alfred State, said organizers are confident no one will be disappointed at the level of expertise Galloway brings to the training.
“Alfred State is honored to be a part of the Steuben County consortium and excited to bring this incredible prevention education opportunity to our area,” she said. “If you have kids, even if you don’t think they will ever do drugs, this training is an opportunity for every parent to get state-of-the-art education on a difficult subject.”
Dresser-Recktenwald noted that the period of adolescence becomes even more challenging when a family is affected by a youth’s or other family member’s substance use disorder.
“Because we are rural, our area is not immune to the drug epidemic sweeping our country,” she said. “Opioid addiction is widespread in our rural area, and unfortunately our youth are at high risk of using opiates and other drugs such as marijuana and alcohol. Thousands of New Yorkers die of addiction each year, and this program is an example of a collaboration of agencies and programs who worked hard together toward one common goal to provide one of the best prevention education trainings available for counselors, law enforcement, parents, and families.”
Norm McCumiskey, Drug Free Communities project coordinator, said as a former health educator for 34 years, he has been involved with alcohol and drug prevention all his adult life, and has attended many workshops and presentations about substance abuse, including High in Plain Sight last year.
“This presentation was absolutely the best I have ever attended about youth and drugs,” he said. “The presenter, Jermaine Galloway, does a tremendous job at showing the audience the current drugs that are being abused today by youth. His knowledge of what is being used, how it is being used, how it is being hidden by youth is second to none.”
McCumiskey added that he thinks every adult who has children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews should attend High in Plain Sight.
“You may never again see a program of this caliber,” he noted.
The mission of the Center for Community Education and Training at Alfred State is to advance economic development in the Southern Tier through the integration of vocational/occupational training, personal and career development, and organizational development. The mission of the Steuben Prevention Coalition is to promote healthy and safe communities in Steuben County by reducing alcohol and drug use among teens and young adults.
Supervised child care will be provided by the Youth Action Forum during the evening session. To participate, attendees must pre-register with the Center for Community and Education at Alfred State at 607-587-4015 or firstname.lastname@example.org and include their group affiliation to be put in the appropriate session.
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) recently hosted seven Alfred State students at the 16th annual Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP) symposium in Washington, DC.
Supported by ARC and organized by the Center for Appalachian Studies and Services at East Tennessee State University, ATP coordinates student teams from participating colleges and universities in Appalachia to develop applied research projects on topics related to building a sustainable future for the Appalachian Region. As part of ATP, student teams travel to Washington, DC, to formally present their research to other participating schools and ARC leadership.
“Each year, the Appalachian Teaching Project brings together students from across the region to share their research, work, and vision,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl. “These next-generation leaders are energetic and innovative, and give a glimpse into Appalachia’s bright future.”
The Appalachian Regional Commission is a regional economic development partnership of federal and state governments across 420 counties in 13 Appalachian states. ARC's mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.
The 2016 ATP symposium was held at the Crystal City Marriot in Arlington, VA, and featured 150 students representing 14 schools from 11 Appalachian states. The team from Alfred State included fourth-year students in the Urban Design Studio. They presented their research titled “Connecting Downtown to the River: A Vision for Sustainability and Growth in Wellsville, New York,” which discussed the Community Visualization Study completed for that community in fall 2016.
The research team was led by Professors David Carli and William Dean. Dean was also named an Appalachian Teaching Fellow for the 2016–2017 academic year, along with Dr. Craig Clark. Carli and Dean both teach in the Department of Architecture and Design. As part of their ATP visit to Washington, DC, the Alfred State team also toured a number of monuments and museums on the National Mall, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Led by the Consortium of Appalachian Centers and Institutes, the ATP offers students a unique opportunity to conduct active community-based research on their campuses.
Nearly 2,000 students from 20 colleges and universities across Appalachia have participated in the ATP since the program began in 2001.
Electrical workers from across the Southern Tier and beyond converged on the Wellsville campus recently to meet some of their future coworkers. By giving students the opportunity to meet members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), these young people are gaining an in-depth view of what it’s like on the job and may be making connections for finding an employer.
“We run this as an annual event cooperatively with the Career Development Center to offer opportunities for students to learn about career pathways,” said Electrical Trades Department Chair Jeff Stevens. “It shows our students the choices they have as graduates of Alfred State.”
Electrical workers came from several different local IBEW chapters, including: Local 106 Jamestown, Local 139 Elmira, Local 86 Rochester, Local 840 Geneva, and Local 241 Ithaca. Some of the visiting electrical workers are always looking for more talented electricians to add to their teams and they have the opportunity to find out more about each student.
“For about 45 minutes, the electrical workers met as a group and then individually met with interested students,” stated Stevens. “This is a tremendous opportunity that our Electrical Trades Department and the School of Applied Technology offers to our students. Students leave empowered, knowledgeable about the choices they have, and a future within the Skilled Trades.”
The IBEW members find this gathering so beneficial that they have come to meet Alfred State students each year. Plans are already underway for a meeting between another group of electrical professionals and students this spring.
In many ways, Alfred State is all about opening doors for students.
This can be taken literally, as it is common for students, faculty, and staff alike to hold doors open for one another when entering a building on campus. It can also be taken in a more symbolic sense, in which “doors” (opportunities) are opened for students because of the education and experiences they receive at Alfred State.
President Dr. Skip Sullivan focused on this very topic in his Opening Remarks speech for the spring 2017 semester. He began by talking about famous doors, doors in popular movies, scary doors, and even the band The Doors, before encouraging everyone to take seriously the notion of opening doors for students.
“Bus driver, faculty member, ISA, administrator, cleaner, tutor, coach, let’s make it a point to open doors for our students,” he said.
Sullivan then shared the story about how Paychex founder/chairman and Alfred State alum Thomas Golisano has maintained a close relationship with his former accounting professor, Tom Dunn, over the years. Golisano attributes a lot of his success to Dunn’s mentorship, and the “doors” that Dunn opened for him as a student at Alfred State.
The president then outlined ways in which employees can open doors for students on campus, including challenging them to step outside their comfort zones, introducing them to someone or an organization that might benefit them, helping them find a job or internship, and building their confidence.
“College is full of open doors,” Sullivan said. “We need to constantly encourage our students to push themselves, to open doors, to close the bad doors, or look for open doors. We the faculty and staff of Alfred State open doors all the time. Don’t take the responsibility lightly, but do embrace it. When our students knock on opportunity’s door, they must be ready and confident to open that door and walk in it.”
Additionally, Sullivan also spoke about new and planned programs, completed facilities and those under construction, projects in development, the college budget, athletics, enhancements to a number of areas, and more.