Two Alfred State faculty and staff members were honored recently with a Leadership through Civic Engagement Award.
The award is presented annually by the College Council to acknowledge students, faculty, staff, and alumni who have led or initiated exemplary academic and/or co-curricular initiatives that demonstrate a commitment to engaging in the community— locally, nationally, or globally — through service, volunteerism, activism, politics, and much more. This year’s recipients were Debra Burch, associate professor in the Culinary Arts Department, and Jason Cronin, senior staff assistant and head baseball coach in the Athletics Department.
Burch has demonstrated leadership by inspiring students, colleagues, and community members to support local disabled veterans. During the fall 2015 semester, Burch arranged for retired US Army Brig. Gen. Arthur Austin Jr. to speak at a Veteran’s Day ceremony. His visit launched a fundraising campaign for the LEEK Hunting and Mountain preserve - an organization that offers programs to wounded and disabled veterans.
Burch mobilized the efforts of 17 baking program students over several days to prepare bread, rolls, doughnuts, and other baked goods for the college sponsored bake sale. Furthermore, she arranged the visit for the Culinary Arts staff and student participants to the LEEK Preserve on Dec. 4 and presented the nearly $3,600 donation received through the bake sale. This campaign raised awareness and funds and exemplifies how college community members utilize their skills and gifts to support a larger cause.
Cronin has developed a culture of civic engagement among the approximately 30 members of his team through example and action. He directs and inspires his team to take part in many local and regional community projects, setting an ambitious goal of 300 community service hours. The team regularly participates in the Celebrate Service Celebrate Allegany day of service each fall and has partnered with New York Special Olympics, the Alfred Box of Books Library, the American Red Cross, and the Bath Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
The squad assisted Chemung County Habitat for Humanity with construction of the Elmira Habitat home in November 2015. They even took time out of a busy tournament schedule during the 2016 spring break to support the Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Myrtle Beach, SC.