Colleagues at SUNY Cortland and from other campuses have described Rhonda McLaughlin, office assistant II in the Purchasing Office, as someone who carries out her responsibilities with service that is far above what is considered part of her basic obligations.
That is why co-workers across campus trained a spotlight on McLaughlin on Dec. 7, when they joined her to celebrate her selection for the prestigious 2018 President’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service.
“Rhonda is an outstanding representative of what SUNY Cortland is all about,” said SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum, who presented McLaughlin with the award. “She is one of the most patient, flexible and accommodating people you could ever work with. The College is very lucky to have such a dedicated employee as Rhonda.”
Sponsored by the College’s Human Resources Office, the 49th annual Service Awards 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 workers considered for this honor.
McLaughlin joined SUNY Cortland in 2007 as a calculations clerk in the Student Accounts Office. She was promoted in 2010 to clerk II in the Purchasing Office. Her title was changed to office assistant II in 2015.
The College’s Business Office, which oversees her area, has presented McLaughlin with five service awards in the last nine years, including the 2009 Going the Extra Mile Award, the 2015 Business Office Annual Award of Excellence, and the Customer Service Excellence Award for 2010, 2012 and 2016.
Purchasing Director Melissa Fox noted that McLaughlin is a completely self-motivated person.
“She wants to excel at her job and it shows,” Fox said. “She does not complain when the many duties she handles seem to pile up, especially at the end of a fiscal year. She works hard to get the job done, and she usually has a smile on her face while doing it.”
“Whenever someone has a problem, whether it is personal or professional, they know they can count on Rhonda,” said Jody Maroney, SUNY Cortland director of budget and business operations. “She has a way of listening that shows she cares and you know she will help in any way she can.”
McLaughlin has been touted for her excellent communication skills. That’s a good thing, as she’s been described by several nominators as a one-person “help desk,” whether it’s a cry for assistance from a campus office or department operating without a fulltime secretary or a work study student in need of a little direction.
Her knowledge of her work is first-rate, Maroney said.
“She has learned and is a major user of multiple systems … and has cross-trained with every position in her office,” Maroney said. “This enables her to fill in when someone is out and answer every purchasing question she receives.”
McLaughlin is well versed in state procurement laws and keeps up on new initiatives from SUNY Central Administration in Albany as well as on changes to state contracts.
Currently, she also is considered by coworkers, faculty and staff as the go-to person for the Red Dragon Depot, the College’s new online purchase requisitions system.
“To say Rhonda is an office assistant is a vast understatement of her role on campus,” said Juanita Larrabee, assistant director, administration, of facilities planning, design and construction, an office that collaborates closely with Purchasing on many campus construction projects. “She is not only responsible for processing procurement requests, but she carries out her responsibilities with service that is far above what is considered part of her basic obligations.”
Dan Wilson, director of campus services at SUNY Potsdam, said McLaughlin’s cooperative efforts are fostering success for Potsdam’s shared services arrangement for central printing on behalf of 14 different SUNY campuses.
“She addresses every task with a positive attitude and a high degree of professionalism,” Wilson said. “This makes our relationship for printing a pleasure to deal with on a daily basis.”
Before she started working at SUNY Cortland, McLaughlin joined the New York state workforce in 2000 at the Department of Corrections. Previously, she had been a clerk/assistant at the Cortland Glass Company since 1997. A graduate of Homer High School, she began her career in 1986 as a salesperson at R.H. Osborne’s World of Floorcovering in Cortland.
McLaughlin and her husband, Dan, live in Locke, N.Y. They have a son, Joshua, who is head grounds supervisor at SUNY Cortland. McLaughlin enjoys arts and crafts.
Employees Honored for Years of Service
Also, during the ceremony, 46 classified employees were recognized for their years of service. They included:
Lori Crandall, Childhood/Early Childhood Education Department
Claire Payne, Psychology Department
Barbara Conrad, Childhood/Early Childhood Education Department
Kathleen Gross, Liberty Partnerships Program (Research Foundation)
*Christopher Amedeo, Maintenance
Jennifer Baker, Student Health Services
Darwin Bartholomew, Custodial Services
April Calale, Financial Aid
George Cole, Custodial Services
*Benjamin Finton, Central Warehouse/Mail Services
*Deborah Lewis, Residence Life and Housing
Valerie McConnell, Custodial Services
*Denise Morse, Custodial Services
Debra O’Mara, Custodial Services
Laura Slater, Memorial Library
Kathleen Stockton, Custodial Services
Colleen Trinkle, Custodial Services
*Robin Wheeler, Alumni Engagement (Research Foundation)
Joyce Willis, University Police
Gary Withers, Custodial Services
Stacey Buckley, Modern Languages Department
*Kathleen Card, Custodial Services
David Coakley, University Police Department
Judy Daniels, Custodial Services
Carol Freeman, Custodial Services
Katherine Gustafson, Institutional Research and Analysis
Nabila Khazzaka, Alumni (Research Foundation)
*Gary Lansdowne, Maintenance
Kevin Markowski, Maintenance
Anne McLorn, Art and Art History Department
Tracey Messinger, Migrant Education Tutorial and Support (Research Foundation)
Steven Rolfe, University Police
Scott Chierchio, Maintenance
Patty Fisk, Custodial Services
Burton Fritts, Custodial Services
Lisa Hand, Registrar’s Office
Corrina Harvey, History Department
Andrew Keegan, Maintenance
Linda Nelson, Custodial Services
Marie Nelson, Human Resources
Julie Randall, Athletics
Sheryl Robertson, Custodial Services
Jamie Scott, Facilities Operations and Services
Lawrence Smith, Transportation
Oscar Walters, Grounds
Haley Zurell, Geology and Physics departments
(an asterisk * denotes “retired in 2018”)