October 4, 2017

SUNY Empire State College Recognizes Three with Inaugural Alumni Awards

Awards Given on Behalf of the Alumni Student Federation Board of Governors

Left-right, Janice M. Novello, Susan H. Turben and Catherine M. Roberts are recognized with the inaugural alumni awards from the Alumni Student Federation Board of Governors by Empire State College President Merodie Hancock.

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Oct. 13, 2017)  The SUNY Empire State College Alumni Student Federation Board of Governors recognized three of the college's  exemplary alumni on Thursday, Oct. 12. The inaugural awards were for an emerging leader, a distinguished leader and an alumnus/a who has especially impacted his or her community. The three, Janice M. Novello, Susan H. Turben and Catherine M. Roberts, were recognized during the joint foundation board and federation board dinner in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Each awardee was recognized with a plaque to be displayed at the college’s Alumni House, as well as a personal award.

President Merodie Hancock said, “We already have a number of ways to recognize our stellar alumni and students, but there can never be too many occasions to shine a spotlight on the powerful work our alumni do as leaders in their fields and communities. I congratulate Catherine Roberts, Janice Novello and Susan Turben for their selection as the first to receive these prestigious awards, to be given annually. This recognition is especially significant since the recipients are selected by their peers.”

“As the incoming president of the federation board, I couldn’t be more pleased to see our alumni celebrated for their amazing accomplishments,” said Keith Amparado ’88. “We know, more than most, how hard we all have worked to earn a SUNY Empire degree and it is important we highlight the successes of our fellow alumni.”

Ralph Aloe ’04, who serves as the chair of the federation board’s Alumni Awards committee, said, “The alumni awards allow us to spotlight the achievements of the leaders ESC has produced.  Our mission is to identify and reward those who have put their past experience with the college into solutions for the real world. Personally, as the chair of this committee, seeing the wonderful and extraordinary work being done by all the applicants, has made me extremely proud to be part of this institution. I hope that the examples set by the winners will significantly influence our current and future alumni, as they have for me.”

The Emerging Leader Award recognizes significant career achievements and civic involvement of a recent graduate within the last five years. This year’s recipient is Catherine M. Roberts ’16 of Buffalo, N.Y. Roberts, who earned her Bachelor of Science in Business, Management and Economics, is senior vice president of the Community Action Organization of Erie County, Inc. In her role, she oversees program administration for 11 program divisions, has helped secure five times the fundraising support from the previous year and was promoted to senior vice president after just two years.

She was team captain for the 2017 Leadership Buffalo Class Experience Program and a graduate of United Way of Buffalo and Erie County Board Governance Program. She is a member of the Buffalo Chapter of the Links, Inc.; the Strategic Council and Scholarship Committee; Junior League of Buffalo; “Say Yes to Education,” a Buffalo after-school advisory committee; and a board member for the Girl Scouts of Western New York. She also established the “Be Committed” scholarship to students interested in media arts.

The Community Impact Award recognizesalumni who inspire the world around them through service to the community. Janice Mary Novello ’83, whose teaching career in STEM education has spanned 50 years, is this year’s recipient. Novello was chosen from more than 7,000 entries to be in the first group of 19 middle school teachers in the Teacher in Space Program in 1988. She is a member of the International Space Academy representing the U.S., and was invited to participate as a key educator and expert in climate trends at a White House event.

In addition, she has served the community by being a President’s Club-level donor to SUNY Empire State College; the founder of “H20 Project,” raising $10,000 during Lent to fix broken pipes and wells in Sierra Leone and to build a water pump in Northern Kenya; and coordinator of Helping Hands Project. As the founder of the STREAM (Science Technology Religion Engineering Arts Mathematics) Project, she volunteers to work with schools that cover 10 counties in Florida to locate business partners that will teach professional skills to teachers and work with students to develop proficiencies in STREAM areas.

The Distinguished Leader Award recognizes transformational philanthropy, leadership and service to Empire State College. Susan H. Turben ’72, '05, among the college’s earliest graduates, is founder of Turben Developmental Services. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in developmental psychology/infant development. Her nonprofit organization provides child development and parent education for adults and their young children. Turben and her husband, Jack, gave the lead gift of $1 million during the college’s Learners First Campaign. She has served on many national and local boards, while also providing financial support to the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Sight Center and Institute for Educational Renewal and the National Public Radio Foundation. Turben has been a leader within the college community as well.  She has served on the college’s Foundation board since 2001 and is a former chair. She established the Susan H. Turben Award for Excellence in Scholarship, awarded annually to a faculty member doing groundbreaking research. She received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the college in 2005.

About the Alumni Awards

The true measure of a college’s greatness can be found in the achievements of its alumni. Empire State College is globally known to develop leaders in a variety of fields. A vast number of the college’s alumni have gained unique distinction through success in their professions, service to the college and contributions to their communities.

The purpose of the Alumni Awards Program is to recognize the college’s exemplary alumni who have made a lasting impact on society and on Empire State College through outstanding professional, philanthropic, or volunteer accomplishments.

The Alumni Student Federation Board of Governors established the Alumni Awards Program in 2016, to honor outstanding former students and to illustrate further the great value of the academic programs and pride all alumni, students, faculty and staff have for the college.

About Empire State College

Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates nearly 18,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 30 locations across the state of New York, online, as well as face-to-face and through a blend of both, at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students’ average age is 40.

Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.

Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and coursework on site, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.

The college’s more than 80,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

The college was first established in 1971 by the SUNY Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY system from 1970 to 1977. Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

More information about the college is available at www.esc.edu.