April 19, 2019

Empire State College Foundation Awards go to Heather Gaebel and Robin Oliver

Excellence in Support Service Given to Both

Support service award recipient Heather Gaebel, far left, with Rose Stevens, last year's winner, and Bessie Walker, a winner from last year, with Robin Oliver, far right, this year's recipient.

The Empire State College Foundation Award for Excellence in Support Service was awarded to two employees on March 21 at the college’s All College gathering in Saratoga Springs. The recipients were Heather Gaebel, who works at the college's Watertown location, and Robin Oliver, who works at the college's location in Rochester. According to foundation criteria, Gaebel and Oliver “display superb performance, flexibility and adaptability and demonstrate excellence in leadership, decision-making and problem solving.”

About Heather Gaebel

Secretary Gaebel has been at SUNY Empire for almost four years. She serves as support staff and Governance representative for the Capital Region, on the Climate Committee, as support staff for the sub climate committee and unit secretary on the Transition Taskforce, as well as on the Business Process Modeling Committee. She is an Office of Enrollment management strategy team member and  frequently serves as support staff to search committees to help fill vacancies across the college.

Gaebel is known for going above and beyond for students, alumni and her colleagues – even those who aren’t at her location. She is often the first SUNY Empire staff member who students meet and often takes the lead on planning and securing funding for Student Activity Fee events at her location, such as organizing bus trips to NYC and a Caribbean-themed event in conjunction with a winery in the Thousand Islands. She has also coordinated education planning nights and graduation dinners. She represents SUNY Empire at local information sessions and open houses and set up college information tables at local farmers markets and the New York State Fair.

Gaebel said, "Since I have only been with the college almost four years, I was very surprised to be a winner of this award. I have amazing coworkers all across the college and I feel very lucky to receive this honor. I am just doing my job. I strive to do my best every day and enjoy trying to come up with solutions to existing problems where it will help a student, coworker or a process with the college itself. I am proud to be a part of the SUNY ESC family."

About Robin Oliver

The second recipient, Oliver, is a secretary whose award is a thank you for her “patience, kindness and grace” during a period when the college was undergoing significant change, according to nominators.

At the college for 18 years, Oliver is on the Support Staff Committee, Climate Committee and Ticket Processing Committee. She received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Support Staff Services in 2005. She is respected by colleagues for her ability to “prioritize, responsiveness, caring, commitment and interpersonal warmth contribute to a work environment in which faculty, staff and students feel valued and respected.

“During a transition period in which the Buffalo Business Residency needed hands on support, this recipient stepped up to work with faculty and staff to provide coordination, technology identification, work with students and even order food and supplies. This type of initiative and commitment is extraordinary and reflects ESC’s value of service to our students. 

Oliver said, "I am so honored for this award. I love coming to work every day because I truly work with amazing people."

About the Empire State College Foundation

During the college’s 2018 fiscal year, the college’s foundation provided $1.6 million to directly benefit students, implement collegewide initiatives and support research and assist with faculty and staff development.

Last year, more than 1,900 alumni, employees and friends partnered with the college by making a gift in support of the work of the foundation.

Need-based student scholarships comprise the most significant use of foundation funds. During 2018-19, the foundation distributed more than $778,000 to support more than 700 students living across the country.

The foundation also sponsors a no-interest loan program for students, in the form of an advance of $500 per term on a student’s financial aid funds for education expenses.

These funds are offered by the foundation for education expenses at no interest, with guaranteed repayment. More than $1 million is loaned to students through this program each year.

In addition to donor-established scholarships, emergency funding and foundation-subsidized loans, a fund of $25,000, which includes matching funds from SUNY, was distributed solely to students from historically underrepresented populations, which further demonstrates the college’s ongoing commitment to expanding access and increasing completion diversity, equity and inclusion.

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