NEW YORK , April 12, 2008 — Steven Mezik, assistant professor of biology at Herkimer County Community College, today received one of New York State United Teachers' most prestigious statewide awards, "Higher Education Member of the Year," at the statewide union's annual convention.
Mezik was honored for his professional excellence as an educator, his commitment to fostering a strong community on his campus and his passion for a foundation he began, "Project Nino," which raises money so orphans in Ecuador can attend school.
A resident of West Winfield in central New York, Mezik is vice president of the Herkimer County Community College Professional Association, a NYSUT affiliate.
"Steven Mezik embodies all the best qualities of an education union leader: professionalism, advocacy and compassion," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "He helps students understand that education goes hand-in-hand with making the world a better place for all people."
On campus, Mezik is a consensus builder in his role as the union's chair of the Personnel Policies Committee and on the contract negotiations team. Academically, Mezik's work has brought grants from the National Science Foundation to HCCC and he has been nominated for the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence for Professional Service.
Mezik plays a similar role off-campus. He meets often with the Herkimer County Teachers Council to discuss college – K-12 collaboration. He also advocates in Albany with other NYSUT educators on budget issues.
Mezik travels to Ecuador each year to oversee the administration of "Project Nino" to facilitate the continuing care of the young people in the program.
NYSUT represents more than 585,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.