Bulletin News

Three students earn SUNY Chancellor’s Awards


Three SUNY Cortland seniors will receive the SUNY Chancellor’s Award — the highest student honor presented by New York’s public university system — at a ceremony to be held April 11 in Albany, N.Y.

The university’s recipients of the 2024 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence are:

  • Kaitlyn Hoitt, an archaeology major from Fairport, N.Y.

  • Abbey Hunt, a criminology major from Baldwinsville, N.Y.

  • Annabella Nilon, a biomedical sciences major from Horseheads, N.Y.

The Chancellor’s Awards are given each year to students from SUNY’s 64 campuses who have demonstrated academic excellence while balancing leadership roles, campus involvement, community service and achievements in the arts, athletics or career-related pursuits.

Each year, SUNY campus presidents establish a committee to review and select outstanding graduating seniors. Nominees are reviewed by the Chancellor’s Office and winners are selected. Each honoree receives a framed certificate and medallion to wear at Commencement in May. This year, nearly 200 students from across the SUNY system will be recognized.

Including this year’s honorees, 109 SUNY Cortland students have earned the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence since the program began in 1997.

More information about each 2024 SUNY Cortland recipient is included below:

Kaitlyn Hoitt
Fairport, N.Y.


A member of the U.S. Navy Reserves, Kaitlyn Hoitt’s commitment to service is matched by her leadership and academic achievement. She founded the university’s Student Veterans and Military Club, a student organization that honors and supports veterans in their post-service lives, while earning consistent recognition on the President’s or Dean’s lists for high grades.

Professors credit Hoitt for performing at a graduate level in her undergraduate classes. The archaeology major’s research on phytoliths, the mineral particles formed inside plants, has offered insight about the foods that people ate in the past. This work led Hoitt to a three-semester internship in the university’s Archaeology Lab, which spurred a presentation at Transformations, SUNY Cortland’s annual student research event. Faculty members also credit Hoitt’s exceptional work ethic and global worldview.

Her service, both to the campus and the greater good, stands out equally.

As a petty officer in the U.S. Navy and member of the New York State Naval Militia, Hoitt devotes weekends to military service and remains on standby for emergencies across the state. In addition to serving as president of the Student Veterans and Military Club, she has helped rebuild homes and lead a women’s Bible study as a member of Cru, a Christian student group on campus. She also holds a unique distinction as the first young woman from the greater Rochester area to achieve Eagle Scout rank, an honor that she earned prior to her time at SUNY Cortland, along with a Girl Scouts Gold Award.

Abbey Hunt
Baldwinsville, N.Y.


Abbey Hunt is on track to graduate in May at just 19 years old, having earned several honors for high academic achievement. According to her advisor, Elizabeth Bittel, assistant professor of sociology/anthropology, Hunt stands out in one of the university’s largest academic majors thanks to a strong work ethic, critical thinking skills and a willingness to examine systems of inequality.

Hunt has made the Dean’s or President’s lists every semester, achieving a 3.86 cumulative GPA. That success led to meaningful work outside of the classroom, where she contributed as an undergraduate research assistant to Bittel’s long-term study of disaster recovery and civil war in Sri Lanka. The COVID-19 pandemic twice canceled Hunt’s travel plans after she was accepted into the Rotary Youth Exchange Program as a student ambassador in high school. Still, she plans to draw on her training and the organization’s commitment to service.

After graduation, Hunt will travel to Spain to attend Spanish language school and volunteer, before pursuing a career in law enforcement. Her eventual goal is to work for the FBI.

Her talent in fiber arts also led Hunt to establish the Cortland Crochet Club, a student organization that promotes sustainable fashion and community art. The club’s clothing and blankets have been distributed across campus and Central New York, even to local veterans groups in Hunt’s hometown — an effort that aims to promote goodwill and understanding on and off campus.

In addition to high grades, Hunt is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and she will be inducted into the Alpha Phi Sigma National Honor Society for criminology. She also has earned the Paul E. and Ethel McCloy Smiley ’31 Scholarship for leadership and community service.

Annabella Nilon
Biomedical Sciences
Horseheads, N.Y.


Annabella Nilon has defined excellence in the sciences during her time at SUNY Cortland through undergraduate research, community involvement and superior achievement in her courses.

Nilon’s achievements go beyond an impressive 3.98 cumulative GPA. An aspiring physician, she already has co-authored a published manuscript and presented this research nationally, a “monumental accomplishment,” according to Theresa Curtis, professor of biological sciences.

Their work together has attempted to create a model for detecting odors using bioreceptors, the cells used by living things to identify smells. This project earned Nilon summer funding from the university’s Undergraduate Research Council and support from the U.S. Department of Defense, which hopes that it may lead to a device capable of detecting dangerous airborne threats. The multi-year research effort also led Nilon to present twice at the university’s Transformations student research conference in addition to being selected as one of only two student speakers at SUNY Cortland’s Michael J. Bond ’75 M.D. Alumni and Undergraduate Science Symposium.

An Honors Program member who earned SUNY Cortland’s Merit Scholarship, Nilon shares her motivation through her leadership and service. She is president of the university’s Biology and Pre-Medical Clubs; a volunteer emergency medical technician; diversity, an equity and inclusion peer mentor in biological sciences; a supplemental instruction leader and a resident assistant.

In the larger community, she has worked in multiple hospitals and healthcare systems as a medical assistant, patient transport aide and emergency department volunteer to help further her planned career in medicine.