Dan Dryja ’04 Honored for Outstanding Service

Dan Dryja ’04 Honored for Outstanding Service

12/02/2016 

Although he is demanding of his staff, SUNY Cortland’s head grounds supervisor Daniel Patrick Dryja ’04 never asks them to do anything he isn’t willing to do himself.

“Think for a moment about how tiring it is to shovel snow at your own home for 30 minutes or so,” said Dryja’s supervisor, David Horrocks, assistant director, Buildings and Grounds Services. “Now, consider that beyond the tractors and plow trucks, Dan and his staff will shovel and salt stairwells and walkways continuously, all day, sometimes for more than 12 hours at a time. In these exhausting activities Dan is often seen working right alongside his staff, while simultaneously directing the efforts of a dozen grounds staff all over campus.”

Daniel Dryja '04
Daniel Dryja '04

Dryja’s ability to skillfully balance his time “in the trenches” with administrative duties and leadership has earned him the respect and loyalty of those he supervises in the Grounds department of Facilities Operations and Services.

“He leads by example while always stepping back enough to see and respond to the big picture,” said SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum.

Dryja also commands admiration by the campus community for his outstanding job at overseeing a crew in beautifying the campus, maintaining its grounds and athletic fields to exceptionally high standards, and keeping wintry weather at bay around entrances and walkways.

Dryja was honored with the prestigious 2016 President’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service. Bitterbaum presented the award on Dec. 2 at the 47th annual Service Awards Ceremony. Sponsored by the College’s Human Resources Office, the ceremony was held in the Corey Union Function Room.

The award was created in 2002 to annually recognize one SUNY Cortland full-time classified service employee “for extraordinary achievement and to encourage the continuation of excellence.” Nominees must have at least three years of continuous service. Supervisors, co-workers or other College community members nominate the workers considered for this honor.

A number of Dryja’s coworkers nominated him for the prestigious award.

Just a few months after Dryja became SUNY Cortland’s head grounds supervisor in 2014, one of his staff — commenting on their appreciation of his knowledge, dedication and fairness — said with considerable emotion, “I love the guy. I’d take a bullet for that man.”

In the relatively short time Dryja has been the campus grounds supervisor, he and his intrepid grounds crew have made their mark on the campus landscape, Horrocks said.

“Each summer for the past two years, amidst the daily demands of routine summer grounds maintenance work, Dan has spear-headed extensive refurbishment of multiple campus landscape installations,” Horrocks said. “From initial concept and detailed design, from budgeting to demolition, and selection of new plant matter and final installation, Dan and his hard working staff have made major improvements to the campus landscape.”

This past summer, Dryja and his staff made major overhauls of the tired and dated landscaping in the front of Moffett and Miller and along the newly re-surfaced fire lane between Old Main and Moffett.

“This was particularly challenging as Dan was short about a third of his staff most of the summer,” Horrocks noted.

In the winter months, Dryja lives and breathes the local and regional weather forecasts and skillfully deploys the grounds crew in three shifts from 4 a.m. past midnight, and sometimes into the following morning.

“As Dan’s wife can attest only too well, Dan spends many sleep-interrupted and sleepless nights watching for overnight weather developments that might interrupt the movement of staff and students on campus. His late nights are sometimes spent on the phone with the University Police Department’s dispatcher, and early mornings briefing the associate vice president for facilities management on the readiness of the campus following major snow “events,” according to Horrocks.

Dryja spends much time and thought refining the campus snow and ice removal procedures, from staff assignments to strategic equipment deployment, in order to ensure maximum safety for faculty, staff and students.

“The commitment of Dan and his crew is extraordinary in what can be brutal and demanding work,” Horrocks said.

Dryja first began tending grounds at the College while earning his degree in exercise science. Starting as a temporary employee in 2003, he received permanent appointment as a grounds worker in 2004.

Eager to learn new skills and advance in his new field while working fulltime with Grounds, he earned an associates degree in horticultural and landscape design from Morrisville State College. Dryja also left his department for 10 months to take advantage of an opportunity to work for the New York State Department of Transportation, where he learned about road maintenance and related activities.

For five years, as a general mechanic in the General Maintenance Unit of the College’s Physical Plant, he was the College’s resident expert tasked with maintaining the artificial turf fields at the Stadium Complex as well as a dozen natural grass athletic fields, including the highly groomed baseball and softball game diamonds. In 2014, he accepted the promotion to head grounds supervisor.

During the years of New York Jets Training Camp, Dryja was responsible for grooming and maintaining the quarter-million dollar NFL grade turf fields installed by the New York Jets.

“He won over the very demanding Jets field staff by his diligence and attention to detail,” Horrocks recalled. “Across the years, Dan has raised the bar on the quality of all of our natural grass athletic fields, and visiting coaches and officials frequently note their appreciation for the high quality of our game and practice fields.”

Dryja and his wife, Elizabeth, have two sons, Cayden, 9, and Landon, 4. Dryja is a dedicated dad and an accomplished carpenter and woodworker, having remodeled nearly all of his own home. He enjoys preparing savory treats for others on his barbecue smoker as well as fishing and outdoor sports with his family.

Employees Honored for Years of Service

Also during the ceremony, 44 classified employees were recognized for their years of service. They included:

40 YEARS

Wendy Fairchild
Wendy Fairchild

Wendy Fairchild, Secretary 2, Information Resources

35 YEARS

Mavis Lefever, Secretary 1, Campus Activities and Corey Union Office

Sharon Tucker, Secretary I, Mathematics Department

30 YEARS

Mary Cervoni, Agency Program Aide, Registrar’s Office

Bonnie Eldred-Kress, Office Assistant 2, Athletics Department

Brenda Gorman, Secretary 1, Student Health Services

Theresa Peebles, Administrative Aide, Student Conduct Office

Darleen Richardson, Office Assistant 2, Business Office

Bonnie Eldred-Kress
Bonnie Eldred-Kress

25 YEARS

Leslee Anne Bellardini, Secretary I, Library

Brenda Hammond, Secretary 1, University Police Department

Elaine Lund, Nurse Practitioner, Student Health Services

Steven Phillips, General Mechanic, Maintenance

Ronald Riccardi, Plumber and Steamfitter, Maintenance

Pamela Schroeder, Secretary 2, Academic Affairs

Cheryl St. Peter, Supervising Janitor, Custodial Services

20 YEARS

Brenda Gorman
Brenda Gorman

Doris Albro, Senior Computer Operator, Administrative Computing Services

Franklin Dalton, University Police Officer 1, University Police Department

Kathleen Gauthier, Office Assistant 2, Mail Services/Central Warehouse

15 YEARS

Patricia Alter, Secretary 1, Literacy Department

Dale Argyle, General Mechanic, Maintenance

Renato Brevetti, Mason and Plasterer, Maintenance

Lori Burns, Nurse 1, Student Health Services

Kathy Coggi, Office Assistant 2, Financial Aid Office

Michele Cornelius, Janitor, Custodial Services

Theresa Peebles
Theresa Peebles

Timothy Gowe, Motor Equipment Maintenance Supervisor 1, Motor Pool

Carol Gridley, Secretary 1, Advisement and Transition

David Haggerty, Janitor, Custodial Services

Dawn Harvey, Janitor, Custodial Services

Chad Matijas, Plumber and Steamfitter, Maintenance

Richard Nauseef, Plant Utilities Engineer 1, Heating Plant

Connie Parmiter, Secretary 1, Sport Management

Ruth Partigianoni, Cleaner, Custodial Services

Gregory Peters, Janitor, Custodial Services

Patricia Randolph, Office Assistant 1, Field Experience and School Partnerships

Shirley Randolph, Office Assistant 1, Student Accounts Office

Rosemary Root, Cleaner, Custodial Services

Athena Vunk, Administrative Aide, Extended Learning Office

Nancy White, Janitor, Custodial Services

10 YEARS

Michael Beaumont, Transportation Supervisor 1, Transportation Services

Ronald Benda, Cleaner, Custodial Services

Dana Bush, Laborer, Grounds, Stadium Complex

Roger Cornelius, Janitor, Custodial Services

Daron Foster, Refrigeration Mechanic, Heating Plant

Debora Howe, Janitor, Custodial Services

Sandra Kline, Office Assistant 1, Admissions Office

Melissa Lang, Janitor, Custodial Services

Michele Lella, Secretary I, School of Arts and Sciences

Marcia O’Loughlin, Secretary 2, School of Professional Studies

Edith Pennell, Secretary I, Business Office

Eric Rawson, Janitor, Custodial Services

Carlton Rodman, Janitor, Custodial Services

Donna Sickmon, Office Assistant 2, Accounts Payable

Casey Thomas, Locksmith, Maintenance

Barbara Toomey, Office Assistant 2, Residence Life and Housing Office


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