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Currents: celebration of service

Cindy Benson Recognized as 2010 Employee of the Year at Celebration of Service

Cindy Benson, international student advisor at Colby-Sawyer College, was named the college's 2010 Staff Employee of the Year. Colby-Sawyer President Tom Galligan presented Benson with the award on Feb. 14 in a Celebration of Service that also recognized other faculty and staff for their contributions and their length of service. Benson is also a tutor and mentor at the college's Student Learning Collaborative.

Every year, Colby-Sawyer invites the college community to nominate staff members who have made outstanding contributions to the college.. The nominees must exemplify characteristics valued at the college such as honesty, integrity, high quality work, resourcefulness and team work and have made a significant effort to help fellow employees or students.

A Warm, Caring Presence

Twenty-one staff members were nominated for the 2010 Employee of the Year: Caren Baldwin-DiMeo, Koreen Bennett, Cindy Benson, Karen Bonewald, Ruth Clark, Robbie Calvert, Linda Gassman, Edward Germar, Jim Hanlon, David Levine, Kelley Perron, Loretta Rayno, Beth Renzulli, Janet St. Laurent, Carrie Thomas, Victoria Tilton, Sondra VanderPloeg, Kristen West, Cally White, Jen White, and Harriette Yazzie-Whitcomb. The winner was selected by a committee comprised of past Employees of the Year.

Benson, who received two nominations from fellow staff members, came to Colby-Sawyer in 1997 as a music teacher for the Windy Hill School. In the fall of 2001, she became a kindergarten teacher at Windy Hill, as well as a writing tutor for the Student Learning Collaborative. In July 2003, Benson assumed her role of international student advisor for the International Student Services. As such, she prepares international students for their arrival to campus and during their college life for academic, intellectual, personal excellence and growth.

Benson grew up in New Jersey and earned a B.S. in Elementary Education at Gordon College and a M.A. in Education at Antioch New England. Her husband, daughter and granddaughter were present to see her awarded a plaque and check of appreciation.

“As you can well imagine, there are many challenges [with Cindy's role]: distance, language, paperwork and the coordination of host families, to mention a few,” said President Tom Galligan Jr. “Her personal presence and interaction with students, faculty and staff is always with a warm, caring presence. Her home is a revolving door for anyone who needs a bed or a meal, and she and her husband are often on the go, driving and chaperoning many of their programs and adventures on weekends and evenings.”

David Elliott, director of International Student Services and the colleague who works most closely with Cindy, said of her, “Any parent who sends her child to another country should pray that Cindy Benson is on the other end. We all know how hard working she is. How dedicated. How patient. But to me, the quality that sets Cindy apart is her belief in the students, in their basic goodness and in their ability to succeed. This quality juxtaposed with her empathy, her sense of humor, and her willingness to extend herself has contributed more than most of us can realize to the success of the international student program at the college.”

Benson, who accepted her award to a standing ovation, says she was amazed and surprised to be chosen as Employee of the Year. “What an honor it is to be recognized by my colleagues,” she said. “I have the best job in the world, working with international students and tutoring students one-on-one in the Student Learning Collaborative, as well as advising the Christian Fellowship on campus. I get to know so many types of students and they teach me so much. I couldn't do it without the support of my co-workers in every other department on this campus.Colby-Sawyer is a great place to work and the day of the Celebration of Service was certainly one of the best of my life!”

Years of Service Recognized

Faculty and staff members marking their 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 55-year anniversaries at the college were recognized with locally hand-crafted gifts and appreciation expressed by President Galligan and the college community.

For their five years of service to Colby-Sawyer, Greg Austin, Jen Austin, Caren Baldwin-DiMeo, Lisa Bozogan, Ruth Clark, Brad Cook, Randy Coy, Julie Crisafi, Melanie Deshaies, Nyla Dowse, Ed Germar, Mike Gregory, Marty Hebert, Kathleen Karr, Donna Marszalkowski, Laura Rowell, T.J. Smith, Lynette Speake, Lisa Tedeschi, Nidrick Tinei and Jennifer Wood were recognized.

Maurissa Abecasssis, Peg Andrews, Susan Azodi, Deborah Brown, Barry Caravan, Judith Ferreira, Kathleen Horten, Robin Jewell, Tom Kealy, Mike Lovell, Jody Murphy, Tamara Phillips, David Swanz and Heather Zahn were honored for ten years of service to the college. Jean Eckrich, Mary McLaughlin, Bob Morse, Helen Sieburg and Liz LaBelle were honored for 15 years of service by a friend or special colleague, and in the case of LaBelle, her sister, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Laura Alexander.

For their two decades at Colby-Sawyer, Carole Parsons, Beth Renzulli, Harriette Yazzie-Whitcomb were recognized by Beth Crockford, Doug Lyon and Pat Anderson, respectively.

25 Years of Service

Vice President of Administration Doug Atkins had a seat on stage while President Galligan paid homage to his quarter-century at Colby-Sawyer. Atkins started in Human Resources and after six years became the assistant to the Vice President for Administration and Finance. He worked in that position until 1987 when he left the college. In 1993 he returned as a senior accountant before becoming a database manager and then assistant controller. After a year away from Colby-Sawyer, Atkins returned and since 1999 has served as the vice president of Administration. As such, he oversees human resources, facilities, contracts, insurance, athletics and works with Sodexo Dining Services.

“In his time here Doug has been in charge of or part of teams that oversaw design and construction of Windy Hill, the Ivey Science Center, multiple residence halls, and more,” said President Galligan. “He has overseen substantial renovations and has worked particularly hard to catch up on our deferred maintenance. He is an advocate of competitive salaries and a master at making sure the right people are at the table for important discussions. He is a collaborator. He has seen and been a key part of the college's growth and success since he first joined us.”

55 Years of Service

A rare milestone was reached by Hilary Cleveland, professor emeriti of social sciences and education. Cleveland has been a distinguished member of the faculty at Colby-Sawyer for 55 years. Among her many awards and titles, Cleveland is a two-time Gown Award winner (1981 and 1999). Five years ago, she was recognized with a proclamation that detailed her and her family's contributions to Colby-Sawyer, which include funding the college's Cleveland, Colby, Colgate Archives and helping to found Adventures in Learning, a program of intellectual enrichment for adults. She was also a founding member of the New London Area League of Women Voters, chair of the New London History Committee, and moderator of the Town of New London.

Cleveland's extensive political accomplishments include her appointment by President Ronald Reagan to serve on the National Advisory Council on Continuing Education from 1983 to 1987. She also served from 1990 to 1994 as commissioner of the International Joint Commission, U.S./Canada. At the state level, she was a trustee and past president of the New Hampshire Historical Society, and the finance chair of George H. W. Bush's primary campaign in New Hampshire in 1980.

-Kate Dunlop Seamans