SUNY Canton Employees Receive Prestigious College Council Awards


The SUNY Canton College Council has recognized a faculty member and two professional staff members for outstanding service and dedication to the college.

Distinguished Faculty Award

The Council selected Associate Professor Ronald J. Tavernier, Ph.D., as the recipient of the 2023 Distinguished Faculty Award, which was presented at the college’s Paula Bouchard Jacques Honors Convocation April 26.

The award recognizes effectiveness in teaching, scholarly ability, mastery of subject matter, university service, and continued growth.

Ron Tavernier

“Dr. Tavernier’s contributions to his field, active involvement in retention efforts, and dedication to helping students reach their full potential both personally and academically perfectly align with the college’s mission and institutional values,” said College Council Chair Ronald M. O’Neill. “We thank him for his service and are pleased to recognize him with this award.”

Tavernier has taught courses in biology and anatomy and physiology at the college since 2007. As a strong supporter of student success initiatives, he is a longtime member of and current chair of the college’s Retention Committee, as well as an instructor for the First Year Experience Course, which helps students acclimate to college life. He is credited with being a driving force behind the implementation of the student retention program – an online system that identifies those who need additional academic support.

An accomplished scholar, Tavernier has co-authored numerous studies, edited several chapters in leading biology and anatomy and physiology textbooks, and presented at many professional conferences, including the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting.


Excellence in College Service Award

The Council selected Assistant to the Vice President for Administration and Travel Coordinator Amanda D. Rowley as the recipient of the 2023 Excellence in College Service Award, which was presented at the college’s Recognition Day event May 19.

This award is given to a member of the non-teaching professional staff in recognition of excellence in performance, ability, university service, continued growth, as well as a mastery of specialization.

Amanda Rowley holds her Excellence in College Service Award outside Halford Hall.

“Amanda’s efficiency, wealth of knowledge and dedication to SUNY Canton make her a most deserving recipient of this award,” O’Neill said. “She cares deeply about our college, and we are fortunate to have her as a colleague.”

Rowley celebrated 15 years of service to SUNY Canton in December 2022. Her first role was an administrative assistant in the Canton College Foundation Office from 2007-2011. She then transitioned to gift steward in the same office for approximately a year before being appointed to her current position.

In addition to outstanding performance as the assistant to the vice president for administration and travel coordinator, Rowley was nominated for going above and beyond her normal responsibilities to serve as the volunteer coordinator for the campus’ COVID testing operations, ensuring testing sites were staffed appropriately to minimize wait times.

Colleagues also noted her contributions as a former college Title IX coordinator and affirmative action officer. She is credited with handling these responsibilities with a high level of professionalism and compassion.

Highlights of her extensive committee work include chair of the Employee Recognition Award Committee and secretary of the Sustainability and Space committees. She also volunteers at signature campus events, such as Honors Convocation, Commencement and Scholarship Luncheon.


Employee Recognition Award

The Council selected Administrative Assistant 1 Melissa A. Mussen to receive the 2023 Employee Recognition Award, which was presented at the college’s Recognition Day event May 19.

The award is given to a member of the college’s classified staff in recognition of exceptional service through performance, participation and continued growth.

President Szafran, Melissa Mussen and College Council Chair Ronald O'Neill

“Melissa has worked incredibly hard to advance her career, including taking classes part-time at the college to earn an associate degree in Business Administration,” O’Neill said. “We are delighted to recognize her with this award.”

She began working for the College Association in 2012 as a maintenance staff member and has  been a food service employee and a cleaner for the Physical Plant. She transitioned to a provisional office assistant position in the “One Hop Shop” Student Service Center in 2016, earning permanent status and a promotion within the following year. In 2020, she received another promotion to administrative assistant 1 within the same office.

Her colleagues noted her ability to quickly master complex billing and financial aid processes and procedures to assist students and parents in making informed decisions. Her superior customer-service skills have been invaluable to the One Hop Shop, and she serves as a mentor for junior and new staff members.

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, management, and healthcare fields. It is home to the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.