Interim President Hunter Rawlings praised State Sen. Michael Nozzolio ’73 (R-NY) Thursday, saying the Republican has been a “tremendous intermediary” between Cornell and New York during his more than 36 years in the New York State Legislature.
At the Board of Trustees Committee on University Relations Meeting, Rawlings said Nozzolio worked in the State Assembly and later the State Senate to help the University acquire funding for various projects — specifically relating to Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., which is in Nozzolio’s district.
Nozzolio secured more than $3 million in state funding to begin expanding the station in 2014 and $1 million in September to buy equipment for food safety research.
“I think most Americans are disappointed, or worse, with their political process, disappointed with their political leaders for a number of reasons you all well know,” Rawlings said. “Part of that is because those leaders are not focused on public service — serving the public. Mike understands what it means to serve the public.”
Nozzolio, who graduated from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations in 1973 and earned a Master of Science Degree from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1977, said he was “honored” by the president’s praise. He recalled a moment years ago, when Rawlings visited his office in Albany and told him the Geneva station might not survive without additional funding.
“That sent a chill up my spine,” Nozzolio said. “If that prophecy came true, the over 250 wineries that are here as a result of research done at the ag station might not be here.”
He added that the station is instrumental to the state’s apple industry, which he said is “thriving” despite overregulation by the state and costs of production.
Nozzolio has also helped other legislators — as well as the public — understand the role Cornell plays in upstate New York, according to Rawlings.
“I remember going to Albany and remember everybody immediately like the president of Cornell because Cornell had an influence on their county,” Rawlings said.
After the committee meeting, Nozzolio said he had “too many great memories” from Cornell to list them all, but said working with M.P. Catherwood, the ILR school’s former dean, was especially inspiring.
Nozzolio — who will retire from the legislature after December, when his current term ends — received Cornell’s Outstanding Alumni award in 2015. He said Thursday that his time at Cornell was one of the main reasons he was able to serve the state successfully.
“I would never have been a legislator — I know I would not have been — if it were not for the great education I received at Cornell University, and that education went far beyond the classroom,” Nozzolio said.
Kathryn Boor, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said it was a “bittersweet day” for her and the Cornell community because of Nozzolio’s impending retirement, adding that the senator “has been a true, steadfast friend and steadfast supporter” of the University throughout his career.
Nozzolio will join the CALS Advisory Council after he retires, Boor said, “so his involvement with the college will continue into the future.”