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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Staff Appreciation Picnic Serves up Food, Fun

Inaugural event salutes 'backbone of College'

June 6, 2019, by Diana Napolitano

Associate Dean Alan Middleton (back row) with a few croquet players.
Associate Dean Alan Middleton (back row) with a few croquet players.

“I’m always up for something new,” smiled Kathleen Kenny, approaching a small croquet course on the lawn of the Shaw Quardangle. “Better to try and fail than never to try at all.”

Who better than the dean’s executive assistant to sum up the liberal arts ethos? And where better than at the College of Arts and Sciences' first annual Staff Appreciation Picnic? 

Alan Middleton, associate dean of research and scholarship, opened the festivities. During his remarks, he welcomed Jessica Allman, the dean's new administrative specialist, who succeeds graduate school-bound Ryan Bince G'15.

Middleton evoked the memory of his "warm welcome" 25 years ago, upon joining the physics faculty. "Since then, I have worked with our staff on many significant projects. I am continually impressed by their openness, dedication and skill, across the College," he told the 100-person crowd.

A&S Dean Karin Ruhlandt envisioned the picnic as a way to thank her more than 250 employees, spread out among 24 buildings on campus. “Our staff is the backbone of the College. They go the extra mile to ensure a positive student experience,” she noted a few days later.

Members of the Undergraduate Advising Program in front of Hendricks Chapel.

Event co-chairs Andrea Persin and Matt Kennedy worked together to plan an event reflecting the dean's appreciation. Included were drawings for gift cards and other giveaways, generously donated by area businesses:

“We are so grateful for our sponsors’ support,” said Kennedy, who randomly selected names throughout the picnic. “Our winners received really nice gifts, making the day extra special."

For some, the chance to unwind was just what they needed. Therapists from Crouse Health offered complimentary deep-tissue chair massages. Nearby, a martial artist introduced a small group to Qigong, an ancient Chinese system of slow-movement exercise.

Sharif Bey '96 (second from right) teaching the ancient system of Qigong.
Sharif Bey '96 (second from right) teaching the ancient system of Qigong.

Then there were the occasional cutthroat games of Bocce and croquet. Kayla Bosco, the College’s digital and social media strategist, said she “left it all on the field.” “I love working in A&S because there is lots of variety. You never know what to expect,” she added, balancing a Bocce ball in one hand and a camera in the other.

Kelly Condon, purchasing and grants coordinator for the Department of Biology, echoed these sentiments. “I have the best co-workers, especially everyone in the Dean’s Office,” said the 25-year veteran of the College.

Noted Erika Dwyer, officer coordinator of the Department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric and Composition, “It’s great how we support and encourage one another. I can’t wait to do this again.”