Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy joined the Brookdale Board of Trustees on June 21 in recognizing three former board members for their contributions to the college community.
Outgoing graduate trustee Paul Geissler, 2014-15 graduate trustee James McConnell and former board member David Flaherty received some well deserved praise from the trustees and board chair Carl Guzzo Jr., who took time out from the board’s monthly public meeting to thank his former colleagues.
Flaherty, who served on the board from 2012 to 2016, was lauded for his work with the board’s finance and facilities committee, where he was earned a reputation as determined, no-nonsense advocate for the college community.
“He was a great trustee,” said Guzzo, adding that Flaherty – who was unable to attend the meeting in person – was instrumental in improving the board’s public bidding process and other financial operations. “He was honest. He told you exactly what he thought at all times, and he stuck to it. He was always full of good ideas and always ready to help the school. We are very sad to see him go.”
Next the board recognized former graduate trustee McConnell, who served a one-year term after graduating from Brookdale in 2014, but was unable to return for his customary, year-end recognition ceremony due to his ongoing studies at Columbia University.
“Jim did a fantastic job as graduate trustee through the most difficult of circumstances,” said Guzzo. “He was there for a lot of the most difficult votes and the most difficult times. He spoke his mind, he spoke truth to authority, and he won changes which were good for the school and good for the students. He was a great representative and a great student trustee and he has made us all proud. He really is the best of Brookdale.”
McConnell, who is now an honor student at Columbia and a new member of the Brookdale Alumni Association board, said he did not deserve praise for serving the college that gave him his start.
“I feel that it was kind of obligatory for me to come back and serve the school,” he said. “My experience here, my involvement here and what has happened since, I owe Brookdale my thanks for that… When you have such a long list of people to thank that you can’t even begin naming people, I think that speaks volumes about this place. I’ll never be far away, and I’m happy to come back any time.”
The recognition ceremony concluded with a tribute to outgoing graduate trustee Geissler, who joined the board in August 2015.
As a member of the the board’s finance and facilities committee and the ad-hoc human resources committee, Geissler served as a valuable and passionate advocate for Brookdale students, Murphy said. He also created and chaired a subcommittee of Brookdale alumni to research area colleges, gather opinions and help improve the way Brookdale communicates tuition and fee rates to students.
“He made some recommendations about changes that we could make, and they were great,” said Murphy. “We implemented it and all it cost us was some pizza [for the committee members]. We couldn’t have done the level of digging that that team did, and I thank Paul for leading it.”
Geissler, who is now attending the Rutgers University School of Business and will be joining the Alumni Association board this year, said he was grateful for the opportunity to serve the school he loves.
“This has been an absolutely amazing experience for me,” he said. “I’ve learned a great deal from my fellow trustees and all the people I’ve met at Brookdale. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the term, and I hope my voice was able to help out the college.
“Brookdale is a beautiful thing,” he added. “There is just something about this place. Success really does start at Brookdale, and you have a few examples of that here tonight. Even though this is my last meeting as graduate trustee, I’m not very sad because I will always somehow be involved with Brookdale… It was an absolutely amazing experience and I look forward to years and years of involvement.”
Geissler will be replaced by incoming graduate trustee Kevin Przystawski, who will join the board in July.
(Photo caption: Paul Geissler, Dr. Maureen Murphy, Dr. Carl Guzzo Jr., and James McConnell stand together at the June 21 Board of Trustees meeting)
View more photos from the recognition ceremony here.