Corey Union is always a hum of activity when school is in session. At the heart of that well-oiled process sits, patiently and kindly, Mavis Lefever.
When a Cortaca Jug football game ticket or Cortaca fan bus ticket is sold, Lefever, the office manager of Campus Activities and Corey Union, is usually the one selling it, even on game day.
When scheduling a major, multi-speaker event like the annual Diversity Conference, who does everyone call? Mavis Lefever. She lines up rooms and timeslots and handles grant documentation.
When entertainers are brought to campus, Lefever plays an important role, having been Involved in bringing some 186 big name bands, musical performers and celebrities to SUNY Cortland, as documented by SUNY Cortland’s Musical Legacy Committee.
These are just a few examples, as Lefever manages many other core Student Affairs program administrative tasks.
“Mavis has a heart of gold and is the glue that keeps the Campus Activities program together,” said SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum. “She consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty.”
So it’s fitting that Lefever was recognized on Dec. 2 with the prestigious 2022 President’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service.
Additionally, Bitterbaum honored Edith Pennell, an administrative assistant 2 in the Division of Finance and Management, for receiving the honor in 2020. Pennell had accepted the award and plaque on Dec. 14, 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary to cancel an in-person award presentation.
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 is presented at the annual Service Awards Ceremony, a 52-year-old event for classified employees with a holiday luncheon sponsored by the Human Resources Office in Corey Union.
At this year’s event, Bitterbaum will present Lefever with a plaque to acknowledge her outstanding service to the university.
Lefever joined SUNY Cortland in 1981 and has remained in the same office in Corey Union for 41 years and five months. Mavis has worked here through seven different United States presidents; four department name changes; and has worked for five different directors.
A lifelong resident of Cortland County, she graduated from Homer High School in 1979 and then earned a degree in secretarial science at Tompkins Cortland Community College.
“She is always there for the student leaders and they all love her,” said Kevin Pristash, Lefever’s supervisor and director of Campus Activities and Corey Union, in a letter filled with endorsements by nine other professionals and staff whose work Lefever diligently supports.
“She is a font of knowledge about the campus and has a plethora of information, which she is always willing to share,” said Pristash about the more than 40-year Division of Student Affairs employee.
“She often knows what I need and has it ready before I even ask,” said Mary Kate Morris, associate director of Leadership and Community Development. “She thinks ahead and ensures that we are all set up for success. It makes our jobs much easier and makes SUNY Cortland a better place for our students. She clearly cares about her job and the people she serves.”
Lefever is punctual, dedicated and an asset to the SUNY Cortland community, wrote colleague Katrina Hodge, assistant director of Multicultural Life and Diversity. When Lefever is not supporting inclusion programming for students, she has helped students involved with the Voice Office coordinate their room assignments for the semester.
“All of this is done with a positive attitude,” Hodge wrote. “Mavis is a role model of what I strive to be.”
“I don’t know where we would be without her,” wrote Sandra Wohlleber, associate director of Campus Activities and Greek Affairs. She cited Lefever’s handling of the perennial avalanche of room reservation requests; the myriad administrative matters that arise, especially related to visiting performers through the Campus Artists and Lecture Series; and her general handling of questions as a consummate customer service professional.
“During the last Family Weekend, Lefever’s name came up in the conversation,” Wohlleber said. “A student’s mom had nothing but positive things to say, admitting she had been calling at least once for several days in a row with multiple questions. She thought Mavis should receive ‘sainthood’ for her patience.”
“She has held the office work together, largely by herself, since Fall 2017,” Pristash wrote. “Mavis has seen it all, so she is adept at being able to assist our community as needed.”
Employees Honored for Years of Service
As is customary this time of year, 28 classified staff and Research Foundation employees who met milestone years of service with SUNY Cortland were recognized for their dedication and commitment. The 2022 Service Awards Awardees, including personnel who retired in 2022 as noted with an asterisk, are:
Deborah Dintino, Political Science
Melony Warwick, Institutional Advancement
Penny Bushaw, Stores/Mail/Physical Education
Daphne Guy, Custodial Services
Suzanne Pettitt, School of Arts and Sciences
Thomas Hingher, Central Heating Plant
Tamara Magee, Custodial Services
Ryan Caughey, Custodial Services
Barbara Field, Custodial Services
Joan Root, Custodial Services
Elizabeth Scott, Parking Department
Meghan Van Deuson, School of Arts and Sciences
*Linda Crompton, Purchasing Office
Maryalice Griffin, Communication and Media Studies
Douglas Hyde, University Police Department
Rhonda McLaughlin, Budget Office
Steven Mize, Maintenance
Debra Powers, Library
Lynn Stevens, Maintenance
Kelley Wooldridge, Child Care Center (Research Foundation)
Michael Amsden, Facilities Operations and Services
Chelsea Bledsoe, President’s Office
Jason Gleason, Maintenance
Abigail Jenney, Child Care Center (Research Foundation)
Christopher MacNabb, Facilities
Courtney Mantey, School of Education
Derek Noffey, Heating Plant
Jessica Park, Facilities
Diane Purvis, Facilities