Celebrating the Careers and Service of Three Retiring Staff Members

For Thomas Gebhardt, John Murphy, and Geoffrey Williams, public engagement has been a career-long priority. Their contributions to diverse communities, both on- and off-campus, have been immeasurable. As they prepare to depart UAlbany, we have asked their colleagues to share a bit about each of these hard-working and dedicated staff members in thanks and tribute for their years of service.

Thomas Gebhardt, Director, Office of Personal Safety & Off-Campus Affairs
Tom has been a tireless force in improving town-gown relations and promoting dialogue between the University and the neighborhood associations throughout the City of Albany. At his last meeting with the Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations (CANA), Tom was presented with the following poem, reflecting the Association's high regard for Tom and his long-standing efforts.

As Office of Personal Safety & Off-Campus Affairs Director,
Tom Gebhardt has acted at SUNY students' and Albany's protector.
He's retiring after 36 years, and nobody we know is offering cheers.

Although a Delmar home he fills, his work was largely in Pine Hills.
At most CANA meetings he was a fast talker,
And with the police he was a neighborhood walker
While serving as SUNY Albany's liaison,
And looking out for kids as though they were his own.
He was diligent in performing his labors,
Keeping students from disturbing their neighbors.
He visited bars and he handed out fliers,
Was highly respected for putting out fires.
We're very sorry Tom to lose, for nobody can fill his shoes.

We now return him to his wife; for 32 years she's shared his life.
They have a daughter and a son, and here is what Tom does for fun:
Skiing, tennis, golfing, biking; for gardening he has a liking.
Jogging, fishing, and canoeing are some of what he'll be doing.
Here's what Tom is moving towards: joining not-for-profit boards.
With Senior Services he may work, 'cause there's no chance this guy will shirk.
While you catch up on your to-do list - Tom, please know you'll be greatly missed!
(Written by Bettina Stoller, Member, Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations)

John Murphy, Vice President for Student Success
After 41 years, Associate Vice President for Student Success John "Murph" Murphy is retiring at the end of July. If you ask any number of individuals Murph has mentored, counseled and worked with over the course of his career, what they value most about John Murphy, and what his greatest strength as a Student Affairs professional is, their responses resonate as much today as they did 41 years ago. Murph has always put people first.

In everything he did at UAlbany and beyond, Murph emphasized the art of relationship-building. He created relationships with faculty and staff and cultivated those relationships; he mentored hundreds of students, year in and year out; he created opportunities for them; he advocated for them and championed them at every opportunity. Throughout his tireless efforts, for 41 years, students have been at the center of what Murph did each and every day. Indeed, Murph volunteered his services and time to support ROTC and veteran students and requested that instead of a retirement gift, colleagues make donations to the UAlbany Foundation account in support of veteran students.

Beyond UAlbany, Murph has been active in his own community of Stillwater, NY, having served as Deputy Mayor, a member of the School Board and Health Board for many years. Murph has been honored with the Presidents and Chancellors Awards in Excellence in Professional Service, countless community-based awards, and numerous recognitions from the UAlbany Student Association who have counted on Murph for his wise advice and counsel through the years. He continues to be a resource for colleagues nation-wide who regularly call on Murph for his expertise in the areas of student conduct and legal issues in student affairs.

We can all learn from Murph's examples and do our best to emulate his compassion, his patience, his ability to calm the most sensitive or volatile of situations, and his willingness to give without hesitation what, for most of us, is our most precious commodity, his time.
(Written by Michael Christakis, Assistant Vice President for Student Success)

Geoffrey Williams, University Archivist

Geoffrey William's accomplishments reflect a long career of outreach to the University at Albany students, faculty, and alumni, as well as helping community organizations in the Capital District preserve their history. Since coming to the University in 1987, Geoff consistently dazzles students and alumni with his factual knowledge of 170 years of University history and traditions.

As the institutional memory, he serves as a major source of historical information for administrative and academic offices throughout campus, including the President's Office and Office of Communications & Marketing, as well as students and faculty. He shares his knowledge by writing a regular column, "Ask Geoff," for the UAlbany Magazine, and conducts bus tours, walking tours, and programs for alumni, student, and community groups.

Geoff has worked with community members to collect and preserve the historical records of African Americans in the six-county greater Capital District of New York. As co-chair of the Capital District Black History Project, he was responsible for the preservation of records of area African-American organizations at the archives of UAlbany. Among his hundreds of talks and presentations to the community are lectures to the Washington Park Neighborhood Association and many others. Geoff works to improve his profession by serving on the New York State Historical Records Advisory Board, New York State Local Government Records Advisory Board, and Documentary Heritage Program Advisory Committee.

We are sorry to lose such a great historian and friend, but thank him for his years of service and wish him well in his future endeavors.
(Written by Brian Keough, Head of Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries)