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Edith Pennell honored for service

Edith Pennell honored for service


A colleague of Edith Pennell said that she “counters chaos with organization, delay with timeliness, carelessness with professionalism and confusion with wisdom.”

So it’s fitting that Pennell, an administrative assistant 2 in the Division of Finance and Management, was recognized on Dec. 14 with the prestigious 2020 President’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service.

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 university community members nominate workers considered for this honor.

The President’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service traditionally has been presented at the annual Service Awards Ceremony, a 50-year-old event for classified employees that in recent years has been marked by a holiday luncheon sponsored by the Human Resources Office in Corey Union. Due to the pandemic, this year’s event was cancelled.

Edith Pennell

Nevertheless, SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum on Dec. 15 surprised Pennell during an administrative meeting that she had set up with a plaque to acknowledge her outstanding service to the university.

“As I observe her work with people, whether in her division or across the campus, she is always welcoming and collaborative,” Bitterbaum said. “When you approach Edie, you feel like you can ask any question and that you have a true partner in your work. She also has great humility and shows great concern for people as individuals.”

Pennell joined the university in 2006 as a calculations clerk 1. She was promoted in 2009 to calculations clerk 2 and a year later to secretary 1. In 2017, Pennell was named secretary 2, a title that since then has been renamed administrative assistant 2.

From 1991 until she came to SUNY Cortland, Pennell had managed properties with Novarr-Mackesey Property Management in Ithaca, N.Y. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University.

Pennell currently serves as the administrative assistant to the vice president for finance and management while the role is being handled on an interim basis by Mark Prus, provost and Vice President for academic affairs.

Pennell is the consummate professional: organized, knowledgeable and detail oriented, Prus noted.

“Edie makes sure that I am where I’m supposed to be, have the materials I need, and know what I am supposed to know at all times,” Prus said.

Pennell helps him shift smoothly between his current dual academic and administrative roles.

“Equally important is Edie’s demeanor,” Prus said. “She is always pleasant and upbeat, even when things don’t go well. This has definitely been advantageous during the pandemic, but is an asset even under normal circumstances. I have witnessed firsthand the respect that everyone in her division has for her.”

Carol Van Der Karr, associate provost for academic affairs, noted, “I am a witness to the influence that she has beyond her specific role and the ways that her professionalism and dedication have impact well beyond her own office and division.”

“I am particularly impressed with her communication skills both verbally and written. She understands that not everyone is familiar with the vernacular and jargon of finance and management and makes sure that those outside of the division have a clear understanding of the purpose of meetings, meaning of memos, etc.”

Jody Maroney, director of budget and business operations, described Pennell as “extremely professional and absolutely reliable.”

Pennell consistently goes above and beyond in her responsibilities, Maroney noted.

Edith Pennell, shown second from left in the top row, was honored for her service on Tuesday, Dec. 15, during a surprise meeting with many admirers.

“She makes sound decisions and handles sensitive information confidentially,” Maroney said. “When issues arise, she listens to understand what the needs are and then helps find solutions. She thrives on planning events and perfecting every detail to make it enjoyable for all. We are very fortunate to have Edie. She is an absolute pleasure to work with.”

Pennell has been married to Wayne Pennell for 25 years. They have one son, Joel; a daughter-in-law, Shamsi; and two grandchildren, Kalli and Max. Pennell loves her cats, gardening and walking.

Employees Honored for Years of Service

Also, as is customary this time of year, 33 classified staff and Research Foundation employees who met milestone years of service with SUNY Cortland recently were recognized for their dedication and commitment. As plans for the 2021 ceremony are being made, these recipients will be honored in person at that time as well. The 2020 Service Awards Awardees, including personnel who retired in 2020 as noted with an asterisk, are:


*Julie LaPlant, Kinesiology Department


Betsy Kulis, Migrant Education Tutorial Services (Research Foundation)


*Judah Currie, Maintenance

Mary Murphy, University Police Department

Michael Zhe, Motor Pool


Dawn Bulmer, Payroll Office


Connal Carr, Maintenance

*Bradley Holl, Mail Services/Central Warehouse

Nancy Kuklis, Admissions Office

Kathy McCracken, Custodial Services

Richard Metcalf, Maintenance

Phillip Miller, Service Group

Kerry Mincher, Student Affairs

Anthony Petrella, Custodial Services

Russell Scott, Duplicating Center

Nadia Snell, Student Accounts Office

Joanna Tobias, Administrative Computing

*Debra Whitney, Library  


Karen Diescher, Child Care Center (Research Foundation)

Nancy Hartford, Custodial Services

Greg McCartney, Maintenance

Jeremiah Rawson, Maintenance

Michelle Ryan, Custodial Services

Julie Simser, Geography and Philosophy

Marthajane Warren, Student Health Services

Anna Wilcox, Foundations and Social Advocacy


Marilyn Jones, Advisement and Transition

Stacy Alexander, University Police Department

Christopher Austen, University Police Department

Elizabeth Mokos, Custodial Services

Lisa Walker, Campus Technology Services

Ann Lang, Library

Heidi Johnson, Admissions Office