SUNY Chancellor Award winner Darlene Levy-Birnbaum

Definition of SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence:  “A system-level honor conferred to acknowledge and provide system-wide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and to encourage the ongoing pursuit of excellence.”

Definition of 2015 SUNY Chancellor Award Winner for Excellence in Classified Service at Fashion Institute of Technology: 

Darlene Levy-Birnbaum!

Dr. Joyce Brown with Darlene Levy-Birnbaum after receiving the SUNY Chancellor’s Award in Classified Service

At the FIT staff luncheon on April 29,  College President Joyce Brown introduced Ms. Levy-Birnbaum as the recipient of the 2015 SUNY Chancellor Award for Classified Service.  An alumna of FIT, Ms. Levy-Birnbaum serves as assistant to the dean of the School of Art and Design. She has worked at the college since 1982.

In her introduction, President Brown spoke of Ms. Levy-Birnbaum’s extensive knowledge of the college, its history, management, policies, budget, procedures and of each of the 17 School of Art and Design programs. “And that’s the short list!” she said.

Dean Joanne Arbuckle and Darlene Levy-Birnbaum
Dean Joanne Arbuckle and Darlene Levy-Birnbaum holding the SUNY Chancellor’s Award medal.

Ms. Levy Birnbaum was recognized for the exemplary service she provides to the dean, associate dean, department chairs, faculty and students.  Her habit of never saying “no,” has led to her wearing a second hat as School event coordinator. She is “the point-person who, with always a smile on her face, assures that all the loose ends are neatly tied up,” said Dr. Brown.

Art and Design department chairs piled on much exuberant praise:

“We chairs are responsible for our own ‘corners of the world’ at FIT,” said Suzanne Anoushian, Chair of Communication Design. “Darlene is aware of all of them. And what she does for me she does for every other chair of the School. She knows all our stories, all our department nuances and budget idiosyncrasies…Darlene keeps track of everything!”

“Darlene is a rare employee who goes beyond what people ask for and pro-actively assess the needs and issues of the departments,” said Craig Berger, Chair of Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design.

The Chancellor Award winner was celebrated on the anniversary of FIT's 70th birthday
The Chancellor Award winner was celebrated on the anniversary of FIT’s 70th birthday

The celebration coincided with the college’s 70th birthday, which meant plenty of cake and a lot to reflect on.

“I must attribute, to a very great extent, my success and the success of our department to the time spent under Darlene’s tutelage,” said former Chair of Jewelry Design Michael Coan.

Said the President “She performs all of her tasks not only efficiently, but graciously, making everyone, from student, to faculty to visiting VIP, feel well-served and welcome,” said Dr. Brown.

And don’t we know it!

“Darlene makes everything look so easy and effortless,” said Dean Joanne Arbuckle. “I am well aware that it is all part of the ‘magic” Darlene performs each day!”


Photos: Rachel Ellner

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