Two SUNY Oswego Staff Earn Chancellor’s Awards

OSWEGO — The man who led the transformation of SUNY Oswego’s career services activities and the secretary who anchors the School of Education’s administration have earned statewide Chancellor’s Awards for their years of dedication and expertise.

Robert Casper, director of career services, will receive the Chancellor’s Award for Professional Service. Deborah J. Trionfero, secretary 2 in the School of Education dean’s office, will receive the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service.

Expanding opportunity

 Robert Casper, director of career services
Robert Casper, director of career services

In Casper’s 34 years leading Oswego’s Career Services Office, he has taken its operation from a basic placement office to an advanced model using outreach, academic partnerships, networking and outcomes-based planning. Colleagues applaud his ability to infuse technology, helpful faculty and cross-campus partnerships into a learner-centered and forward-looking student success service with ever-expanding opportunities.

Casper’s willingness to try new ideas to solve challenges impressed Howard Gordon, Oswego’s executive assistant to the president, who recalled campus efforts to launch a graduate seminar for underrepresented students more than two decades ago. Gordon wrote he was “impressed by Bob’s genuine interest in finding new ways to reach students of color early in their undergraduate careers and with his strategy of utilizing our program as a student retention activity that eventually might be more broadly applied across campus.”

Kathy Evans, associate dean of students at SUNY Oswego, cited Casper as a leader in developing the Compass, merging academic and student services functions supporting students from orientation through post-graduate life. “Bob was instrumental in the long-term planning and evolution of this innovative program which was recently nationally featured in ‘The Handbook of Career Advising’ as an ‘exemplary practice’ recognizing integrated academic and career advising centers,” Evans said.

Colleagues also applauded Casper’s service to the campus and community. Casper is a longtime co-chair of the college’s annual United Way/State Employees Federated Appeal campaign, which has expanded in success and outreach. Casper also has chaired 13 search committees in the past 15 years and has served on such key campus groups as the Public Ceremonies Committee, Campus Technology Advisory Board, McNair Scholarship Board and Campus Diversity Committee.

Beyond campus, nominators termed Casper a leader in the field, shown by his election to many pivotal posts, including president and various chairmanships, in the statewide SUNY Career Development Organization. His strong relationship with other institutions supports Casper’s role as program coordinator of the annual regional Teacher Recruitment Days that now attracts more than 200 school districts from across the country to interview over 800 teacher candidates.

Casper earned both his master’s degree in college and agency counseling and his bachelor’s in biology from SUNY Plattsburgh.

Exceptional employee

Deborah J. Trionfero, secretary 2 in the School of Education dean's office
Deborah J. Trionfero, secretary 2 in the School of Education dean's office

For the classified service award, a new honor starting last year, Trionfero received staunch support from Dean of Education Linda Rae Markert.

“As I reviewed my annual performance evaluations for Deb, it almost appeared I had run out of words to adequately express my praise about and appreciation of her exceptional work. This employee (who I have come to view as my colleague) is exemplary in every way!” Markert wrote in nominating Trionfero.

Skill in dealing with ever-constricting budgets and the dean’s office being uprooted multiple times during construction and renovation earned praise for Trionfero. “When it comes to all aspects of the SOE’s budget, Deb’s work, expertise and dedication to accuracy is brilliant,” Markert wrote, noting the secretary has gone “way beyond the call of duty” to keep the office running through both disruptions and busy day-to-day operations.

The tireless work, such as organizing many meetings, participants and other details as the school gained National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education accreditation around a decade ago, was among Trionfero’s many outstanding accomplishments, Markert noted. “Her oversight made it possible for all calendars/schedules in the office to be kept up to date at all times — both site visits were therefore highly successful,” the dean wrote.

Trionfero worked for the college’s Office of Residence Life and Housing from 1981 until 1999, when she moved to her current position.