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Torchbearer Ceremony 2014

Herkimer County Community College honored Dr. Robert Campo of Ilion, NY; David Champoux of Bluffton, SC; and Thomas LaPuma of Frankfort, NY with the 2014 Torchbearer Award at a ceremony on Friday, October 10 in the Robert McLaughlin College Center. The three honorees joined 19 previous Torchbearer Award recipients who have made substantial contributions to the College’s development, particularly those made during the first 20 years of the College’s history.

The common theme in the honorees’ acceptance speeches was one of humility and gratitude to their colleagues. “To those of you who worked so hard to make our students successful, it could not have been done without you,” said Dean Emeritus Robert Campo who retired in 1990 after 21 years of service as the dean of students. Campo was responsible for developing and overseeing all student services, including personal, career and transfer counseling, admissions, financial aid, the office of the registrar, student activities, veterans’ services, and testing/orientation.

Associate Dean Emeritus David Champoux had a story about each of the faculty and staff whom he served with and was especially grateful to Dr. H. David Trautlein for hiring him and giving him a chance to establish the Radio/TV Broadcasting program at Herkimer College. Champoux was an innovative leader, teacher and mentor at Herkimer College for over 30 years and served as an associate dean of academic affairs and division chair for several academic divisions and departments. “I am profoundly humbled by this award, and I thank you very much,” said Champoux.

Professor Emeritus Thomas LaPuma was employed at Herkimer College from 1970 to 2003, during which time he served as director of Athletics for 16 years. During his tenure, LaPuma was instrumental in establishing the intercollegiate and intramural athletics programs and developing the Physical Education curriculum. He also coached no fewer than nine team sports and played a key role in the creation of the Fitness Center. “When asked how I became successful…well that’s easy…surround yourself with successful people,” said LaPuma who named many of the coaches whom he worked with including Paul Wehrum and Jeanne Galvin.
Interim President Nicholas F. Laino said, “These individuals helped create a culture and tradition of excellence and opportunity for their students, colleagues and the community--a culture fostered by those who follow in their footsteps--a culture that continues to thrive.”

Award recipients are recognized with individual plaques on the Torchbearer's Wall in the Robert McLaughlin College Center lobby. The center plaque bears the following text: “We recognize those who have given themselves to light the way for future generations. Through their vision and commitment, our Torchbearers have built this community college and maintained its tradition of opportunity and excellence.” For more information, visit