Retirees awarded, honored

By Stephanie Ball

As staff and faculty filed into the Ellison Miles Geotechnical Institute building at Brookhaven College, they were greeted with pats on the back and ice cream sundaes Jan. 31.

Ten Brookhaven College faculty and staff members were honored at a retirement ice cream social and celebration. The length of employment at Brookhaven ranged from 11 to 35 years.

Dr. Thom Chesney, Brookhaven president, said, “Welcome to our retiree gig.” He thanked Carrie Schweitzer, assistant to the president, for hosting the event.

Among those honored were Karen Belgard, Lauri Collins, Marion Douglas, Janice Groeneman, Tricia Harrison, Naomi Horton, Dwain Moore, Charlie Perry, Jim Renfroe and Mary Smith.

One by one, supervisors were invited to share a message or story on behalf of the person they were honoring at the event. Kendra Vaglienti, dean of communications, laughed and said it was easier to discuss the things she would not miss about Belgard.

“One of her favorite songs would come on the radio and all of a sudden it is a ‘Dance Party USA,’” Vaglienti said. “I adore you,” she said to Belgard.

Belgard was an administrative assistant to Vaglienti and has been at Brookhaven since October 1998. “I don’t say goodbye, I say I’ll see you again,” Belgard said.

Marion Douglas was introduced by his supervisor, George Herring, vice president of business services, who said he would always be remembered for his salsa. “No one can out-funny [Douglas],” Herring said.

Groeneman, Harrison and Horton have worked at Brookhaven since 1983. Harrison was introduced by Brenda Dalton, executive dean of student and enrollment services, who said their offices were separated by a thin wall, which allowed her to hear interactions with students and faculty. “She cares about everything she says and this was always the case with students and co-workers,” Dalton said.

Tommy Gallegos, director of facilities, introduced Perry, Renfroe and Moore, who all worked together in the “Hole,” part of Brookhaven’s facilities and services department. The men are responsible for heating and cooling the campus.Gallegos said the men were dependable and joked that if someone called down to the “Hole,” Perry would say, “You tell that person to get a sweater if they are cold.”

As the laughter died down, Chesney invited the guests to breathe in and out and to recognize more than 200 years of experience combined in the room. “In the midst of great talent and tools, I say congratulations, retirees,” Chesney said. “You must and shall come back.”