Two distinguished alumni of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Gary B. Bettman ’74 and Michael F. Nozzolio ’73, were presented last week with awards in recognition of their success. The April 1 ceremony was held in New York City.
Bettman was honored with the Judge William B. Groat Alumni Award, an award given annually to “a graduate who has demonstrated exceptional professional accomplishment in the field of industrial and labor relations,” according to the award’s description. Nozzolio received the Jerome Alpern Distinguished Alumni Award, an award given periodically to someone “whose career accomplishments have been primarily outside the field of industrial and labor relations,” states its description.
Bettman has been the Commissioner of the National Hockey League since February 1993. Before his foray into hockey, he worked in a New York law firm and was senior vice president and general counsel of the National Basketball Association.
A press statement from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations stated that Bettman is “one of ILR’s most dedicated leaders [and] an outstanding ambassador for the school.” He serves on many committees affiliated with the school, including the Cornell University Council, the Cornell Alumni Association of New York City and the Athletics Advisory Council.
In his speech, Bettman discussed the role Cornell has had in his personal and professional life.
“In large measure, everything that is in my life now can be traced back to Cornell,” he said while accepting his award.
Differentiating between just going to class and getting a real education, Bettman explained that “the ILR school teaches you how to function in a complicated world, in the workplace, and the confidence to do anything you want to do. ILR is about anything you want to do and everything you want to be.”
Bettman also said that his passion for hockey began at Cornell, when he attended games at Lynah Rink.
The Groat Award is recognized as one of the top honors given to ILR alumni for their professional achievements. Judge William B. Groat helped found the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and assisted in drafting its original charter.
Past winners of the Groat Alumni Award include lawyers, members of the AFL-CIO and professors. Last year’s recipient was Elizabeth D. Moore ’75, a partner at Nixon Peabody LLP. In a letter to Alpern ’49, a business and financial consultant, Dean Edward J. Lawler wrote that the award created in his name in 1997 would honor his “contributions of outstanding service and support of the ILR school, its students and its alumni, combined with his professional accomplishments outside the field of industrial and labor relations.”
Nozzolio, who fulfills the criteria of success in a field other than industrial and labor relations, has been involved in politics for more than 20 years, first in the New York State Assembly and, since 1992, in the New York State Senate. After receiving his undergraduate degree from ILR, Nozzolio stayed at Cornell to obtain a master’s degree in public administration and agricultural economics. He later received a J.D. from Syracuse University.
Particularly active in legislative issues regarding victims rights and criminal activity, Nozzolio is chair of the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee. In this position, he has passed legislation legalizing the death penalty, new sentencing guidelines for violent criminals and Megan’s Law.
Nozzolio is also active in the ILR school. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Martin P. Catherwood Library and on the Catherwood Library Advisory Council. In a press statement, Nozzolio acknowledged the influence Catherwood, the first Dean of the ILR School, had on him during his time at Cornell.
According to the press statement, he “credits his two years of research internship experience with M.P. Catherwood as having inspired him to pursue a career in public service.”
Nozzolio, when accepting his award, said that Catherwood and other “proud and patient administrators helped all of us focus on our paths in life made the ILR school great then and today.”
Nozzolio also discussed how important the formation of the ILR School was to the history of New York State, as well as how much it is still admired in Albany.
Nozzolio said that ILR is “one of the greatest institutions of our time.”
Previous recipients of the Alpern Distinguished Alumni Award include business and political leaders such Harold O. Levy ’74, former chancellor of the New York City Board of Education, who received the award in 2001.
Dean Lawler praised the evening’s success, saying that it was “a very special event honoring two highly distinguished ILR alums. It was a wonderful experience for all who were there.”
Archived article by Melissa Korn
Sun Senior Writer