Perfect Attendance and Community Vigilance Highlight Public Safety 15th Annual Awards Ceremony

February 27, 2019

Public Safety held its 15th annual Promotion, Awards, and Recognition ceremony on Thursday, February 21. After an invocation led by University Chaplain Jewelnel Davis, Vice President James McShane and Executive Director Al Becker recognized 29 members of Public Safety for perfect attendance. Of the awardees, five – Laurie Edwards, Delano Steele, Patrick Oakley, Jaime Rodriguez, and Michael Layne – have not taken a sick day in more than ten years. Rodriquez and Layne have kept perfect attendance for an incredible 15 and 18 years, respectively.

 “Each of these honorees, through his or her steady performance, has displayed a deep commitment to our values of pride, professionalism and service,” said Becker.

Twenty employees who earned promotions over the past year were also recognized, demonstrating the ability to forge a successful career path within Public Safety. Four members of the Columbia community were also recognized for exceptional service: Hazel Clark-Garcia, Sebastian DiPalma, Erin James, and Monica Kuth.

A Manager for Columbia Dining, Clark-Garcia’s watchful eye helped Public Safety and the NYPD  identify and arrest a subject wanted for theft. DiPalma, Head Locksmith for Facilities and Operations, performed two heroic acts: after witnessing a fellow employee pass out from dizziness while on duty, DiPalma alerted Public Safety and waited with her until help arrived. On a separate occasion, DiPalma witnessed a student’s gold chain being ripped from her neck. He quickly called Public Safety and followed the suspect, providing a description that led to a successful arrest by the NYPD.

As the Director of Strategic Communications for Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) Facilities, James was awarded for her dependability in communicating daily operations, as well as emergency notifications, between Public Safety and the CUIMC community. Kuth, Director of Leasing Services for Facilities and Operations, was recognized for her tireless efforts in helping students and other community members in times of distress.

For the first time, the Ricardo Morales Crime Prevention Award was given to a team of individuals: Oscar Farina, Osman Ebanks, Kwame Henderson, Luis Matos, Jeong Huang, Keith Cardona, Mario Silveria, Peter Baez, and Bryan Reyes of the Public Safety Technology Team. The Technology Team upgraded all cameras from analog to digital over the past year and a half, making the campus surveillance system entirely digital.

“These camera upgrades, along with additional new cameras installed at the request of the Investigations Team, have been in instrumental in making our campuses safe, said Ricky Morales, Assistant Director of Crime Prevention Programs. “As is evident by the quality of the photos in our crime alerts, our cameras are best in their class and our tech team does a great job of maintaining them. The Investigations Team relies on the tireless work of these technicians to ensure that our campuses are safe.”

The event, held in the Low Memorial Library Faculty Room, included a full house of spectators and guests from across the University. A special NYPD guest, Captain Aneudy Castillo, commanding officer of the 26th Precinct, also joined in recognition of the police department’s partnership with Public Safety.

McShane closed the ceremony with gratitude to the Columbia community and to the honorees. “I thank each of you for all of your support in the past and I ask for your support in the days ahead, as we continue our efforts to maintain a safe and open community,” he said.