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April 16, 2008

Higher Education Members of the Year: Bob Cermele and Steve Mezik

Source: NYSUT Constituency Awards 2008

Bob Cermele

Professional Staff Congress

Bob CermeleBob Cermele is a committed unionist and a math professor and department chair at the New York City College of Technology, part of the City University of New York system.

A member of the Professional Staff Congress, NYSUT's affiliate representing CUNY employees, Cermele has been an active union member since joining CUNY in 1972. He served as chapter chair for the American Association of University Professors, before that chapter merged with PSC in 1980.

Cermele has taken a leadership role in both campus and union affairs. He led a governance reform effort on the City Tech campus during the 1990s, and became a chapter leader of the campus' 1,000 PSC members in 2001.

Cermele, as treasurer of the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund, played a lead role in restoring the fund's financial health.

On the City Tech campus, Cermele has won acclaim from union leaders for his unique ability to develop the leadership skills of his members. His outreach efforts have led to increased participation in union activities by chapter members.

During his tenure as chapter leader, Cermele also developed a labor/management committee to deal with campus safety and other pressing issues, and led a charge to institute more reasonable teaching loads for college faculty.

Steve Mezik

Herkimer Community College Faculty Association

Steve MezikBorn in Utica and raised in West Winfield, Steve Mezik received his bachelors from Hartwick College in Oneonta, and his Master of Science in biology from Texas Tech University.

His dedication to quality education has been evidenced by his daily interaction with students, both inside and outside the classroom, his publications, his professional affiliations and his field work. However, other factors contribute to Mezik's ability to be an outstanding educator: his community involvement, his initiative in making a difference and his dedication to making the world a better place through active, focused projects.

He started teaching at Herkimer County Community College in 2000 and became an assistant professor in 2001. Since then, he has instructed students in courses such as ecology, genetics, biological science, nutrition and human reproduction.

However Mezik's commitment to students extends beyond just inside the classroom; Mezik is also actively involved in the college, including serving on the SUNY Center for Brownfield Board of Directors, serving as chair for the Haz-Tox Management Committee, serving as chair for the Laboratory Animal Advisory Committee, and serving on various other committees, including the Education Advisors Committee, the Perkins Grant Smart Classroom Committee and the Energy Committee.

Nothing better exemplifies Mezik's dedication to quality education and making the world a better place than Project Niño. Mezik founded Project Niño, a foundation to help disadvantaged children in Latin America. Mezik, through Project Niño, is committed to supporting local initiatives in Latin America that provide sustainable, consistent educational opportunities for children disenfranchised from the educational process.