Alumni Awards

Nomination Information

The SUNY Cobleskill Alumni Association has established awards in several categories to honor those alumni who bring distinction to themselves and to their alma mater through outstanding personal and professional achievements. These individuals represent just a few of the thousands of SUNY Cobleskill alumni who contribute in countless ways to the College, their communities and their professions. The Alumni Awards ceremony is traditionally held during Homecoming weekend.

Nominate Someone for an Award

Award Categories

- Demonstrates professional achievement
- Exemplifies community involvement
- History of service to SUNY Cobleskill
- Continues to be actively involved with SUNY Cobleskill
- Demonstrates professional achievement
- Possesses expertise in his/her field of study
- Demonstrates community involvement
- Candidate must have graduated a minimum of ten years ago
(two awards representing each academic school)
- Demonstrates professional achievement
- Possesses leadership ability
- History of community involvement
- Continues to be actively involved with SUNY Cobleskill
- Candidate must have graduated no more than ten years ago
- Shows initiative through academic and campus achievements
- Has had a positive impact on SUNY Cobleskill
- Has a GPA of 3.0 or higher

2017 Awardees

Christopher Knight ’73

Christopher Knight earned an associate degree in Science Laboratory Technology from SUNY Cobleskill in 1973 before continuing to Cornell University and eventually earning a Ph.D. in Animal Nutrition from Purdue University.

In his distinguished career, including 10 years with Monsanto Co. and 25 years with Novus International, he led a global research and development organization that conducted proprietary research on three continents as well as collaborative research with more than 50 universities around the world. He developed and patented methods for quantifying availability of ALIMET® Feed Supplement and led the development, USDA-regulatory approval, and commercialization of ADVENT® Coccidiosis Control, a vaccine for broiler chickens.

Knight also developed and implemented a competitive graduate scholarship and internship program to support Ex-US graduate students in animal nutrition and health. From 2006-2015, he provided more than 300 scholarships and approximately 80 eight-week internships at Novus Research Headquarters in St Charles, Missouri for students from universities in China, Thailand, Spain, India, and Bangladesh.

He has published about 40 peer-reviewed publications, meeting proceedings, and patents. He currently advises on agriculture-based innovation and entrepreneurship at The Yield Lab.

Knight serves as a Trustee for the Poultry Science Foundation and the Missouri College Fund as well as being an active member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ladue, Missouri.

Victoria Gerlach Kleinberger ’07

Victoria Gerlach Kleinberger graduated from SUNY Cobleskill with her associate degree in Early Childhood Education in 2007, then earned a bachelor’s degree and finally a master’s degree from the College of St. Rose.

Kleinberger has worked as a Special Education teacher in the Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District for the past four years. She also coaches varsity Track and Field, Modified Girls Soccer, and the school’s Odyssey of the Mind team, as well as coordinating WEB (Where Everybody Belongs) and coaching Running Club. She is also a member of the Educational Support Team, the Athletic Participate Committee, and the Sunshine Club.

Before joining CRCS, Kleinberger worked at Bright Choice Charter Middle School for Boys in Albany where she taught fifth and sixth grade social studies and science, as well as servicing students with special needs.

Donald Humphreys ’66

Donald Humphreys graduated from SUNY Cobleskill in 1966 with an associate degree in Animal Husbandry. After graduation, he returned to the family farm in New Hartford, New York. Over the next 50 years, he rose through the ranks of management, assuming the Vice Presidency in 1985.

At the time of his graduation, the farm consisted of a 50-cow dairy herd and a cash crop operation of beans, seed potatoes, corn, and wheat on about 250 acres of land. Under Humphreys’ visionary leadership, the farm has expanded to a multi-million-dollar enterprise covering more than 2,500 acres of green beans, soybeans, wheat, corn, hay, and barley. The Humphreys Farm received the prestigious Century Farm Award from the New York State Agricultural Society in 2012.

Humphreys has served on the Board of Directors for Oneida County Farm Bureau, including as president from 1991-1994. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Upstate Growers and Packers Association.

A few years after graduating from SUNY Cobleskill, Humphreys married his wife Luana. They have raised three successful children and are the proud grandparents of three grandchildren.

Daniel Dzen ’17

Daniel Dzen graduated with a Bachelor of Technology in Agricultural Business Management degree in spring 2017. He was active with the Agricultural Business Club, serving as President in his senior year.

Following Commencement in May, Dzen began a summer internship to formally complete his degree. He plans to pursue a career as a firefighter to dedicate his life to serving others. He has served as a volunteer firefighter in his hometown since he was 14 years old.

Dzen grew up as a fourth-generation farmer in South Windsor, Connecticut. His family has grown tobacco, potatoes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and more. Today, the family operates a choose-and-cut-your-own Christmas tree farm and raises reindeer, as well as producing summer fruit crops.

While still in high school, Dzen founded his own gourmet, non-GMO popcorn business and began selling his product at farmers’ markets. It took off quickly, and he know wholesales to grocery stores and specialty shops. Today, his popcorn is carried in nearly 50 retail stores throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. It is the largest popcorn grower/processor in Connecticut and one of the top three in New England.

2016 Awardees

Todd Lighthall ‘93 and Shari Lighthall ’92

Todd graduated from SUNY Cobleskill with an AAS and BT in Agricultural Business Management and now operates the Oswegatchie Educational Center. Shari graduated with an AA in Sciences and currently manages the Cornell Agricultural Outreach and Education program.

The couple met in SUNY Cobleskill’s Outing Club, where they learned that they shared a love for outdoor recreation. After graduating, they continued their education at Cornell University and graduated with master’s degrees in Agricultural Education.

Todd, with Shari’s support and organization, took over full-time management of both Oswegatchie and the New York Future Farmers of America Foundation at age 24. Since then, he has built Oswegatchie from a business with one employee to an organization with four full-time employees and 35 part-time employees in the summer, and has managed the construction of five new major structures at the facility. SUNY Cobleskill students are hired each year as summer staff, and Oswegatchie has provided many internships for students in culinary, environmental education, and more.

After working as an agriculture teacher for a year at Hamilton Central School, Shari was hired to work for the newly formed Cornell Agricultural Outreach and Education (AOE) program, which was formed to support Future Farmers of America and provide professional development opportunities for agriculture teachers. For the last 18 years, AOE has developed and matured under Shari’s leadership. Each spring, she organizes the premier professional development conference for agriculture teachers in the Northeast, for which she often hires a SUNY Cobleskill student as an intern.

Shari oversees the Living To Serve grant for New York, providing students the opportunity to begin or expand a supervised work experience. She also serves on a national committee to recruit and prepare more agriculture teachers to address the critical deficit in the state and across the country.

Earl Morrison ’05 and Carolyn Barkley Morrison ‘05

Earl and Carolyn both hold degrees in Agricultural Business and Agricultural Business Management from SUNY Cobleskill. Carolyn now manages Morrison’s Feed Bag, a family-owned and operated pet, farm and garden supply center, and Earl serves as vice-president of Morrison’s Custom Feeds in Vermont.

Earl grew up in the family business, Morrison’s Custom Feeds, with a particular interest in machinery and feed manufacturing. He joined the company full-time in 2005 after graduating from SUNY Cobleskill and now manages the feed mill, working closely with farmers across Vermont.

Carolyn moved to Vermont after graduation to start a career in dairy nutrition and grow a herd of meat goats. She joined Morrison’s Feed Bag as business manager when it opened in 2007, and married Earl a year later. The couple continues to give back to SUNY Cobleskill through annual donations to the College Foundation.

Kyle Tuttle ‘84

Kyle Tuttle holds an AAS in Business Administration from SUNY Cobleskill. Today he is a Senior Vice President for LP Ciminelli, the construction firm that built the College’s new Alumni Commons residential complex.

Kyle fondly recalls his time on the golf team as well as the close friends and challenging and supportive professors he met at SUNY Cobleskill. After graduating, he earned dual degrees in Business Management and Marketing at Appalachian State University.

Thirty years later, Kyle is giving back to SUNY Cobleskill with a planned gift to set up a scholarship for business students. “It’s the time to really think about and look back upon the things that you are passionate about, that helped make you successful,” he said. “SUNY Cobleskill is one of those things.”

Kyle is active in a variety of community organizations, including the Schuyler Hospital Board of Trustees, the Cayuga Health System Board of Trustees, the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, and the Schuyler County United Way Campaign.

Matthew Fagnani ’76

Matthew earned an AAS in Agricultural Engineering, Power & Machinery from SUNY Cobleskill. After graduating, he rose quickly in the ranks at Sperry New Holland before moving back to Schoharie County and taking a position as Territory Service Manager for Kubota Tractor Corporation.

As a field test analyst at Sperry New Holland, Matthew applied the skills and knowledge learned at SUNY Cobleskill to evaluate prototype farm implements throughout the United States and Europe. He was promoted to Senior Test Analyst in the Construction Division, where he managed New Holland’s back-hoe testing program in the U.S. Throughout his career at New Holland, he gave back to SUNY Cobleskill by donating construction equipment to the School of Agriculture.

He moved back to Schoharie County in 2001 and began his career with Kubota Tractor Corporation, where he provides technical support to 64 dealers across Eastern New York and New Jersey as Territory Service Manager. He also teaches at the company’s Technical Service School and serves as company liaison to SUNY Cobleskill. In the community, he donates his time to 4-H, Appalachian Service Project, and the Schoharie Reformed Church, among other causes and organizations.

Easton Murray ‘17

Easton Murray is pursuing her bachelor degree in Agricultural Equipment Technology at SUNY Cobleskill. She is active in the Collegiate Farm Bureau and Agricultural Engineering Club, among other things, as well as playing softball and serving as student ambassador.

Easton has received numerous accolades in her time at SUNY Cobleskill, including the Paul H. Scholten Memorial Scholarship, Future Farmers of America Empire Degree, and District Star Award. She has served as President of the Future Farmers of America chapter, SUNY Cobleskill Student Ambassador, teacher’s assistant and member of several College clubs. She also plays on the SUNY Cobleskill Fighting Tiger’s Softball team and is a tutor for the Agricultural Engineering Department.

Richard Ball, New York State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets

This year’s Honorary Alumnus, named by the Alumni Awards Committee, is New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball. For the past 20 years, Ball has owned and operated Schoharie Valley Farms and the Carrot Barn while serving on a number of agricultural and community boards and organizations both locally and at the state level.

Ball, a New York native, began his career in agriculture at a vegetable farm in Rhode Island at age 18. Twenty years later, he moved back to New York to own and operate Schoharie Valley Farms, which includes 200 acres and produces a wide variety of vegetables, small fruit, and greenhouse crops.

He was appointed Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2014.

2015 Awardees

Chef Robert Fasce `87

Chef Fasce has had a storied culinary career working in some of the most revered restaurants and private clubs in North America. Currently, he is Executive Chef for the Genesee Valley Club, a private country club located in Rochester, New York that boasts a longstanding tradition of excellence in dining and catering. He also recently worked as Executive Chef for the Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta, Georgia, which for more than a decade has been rated the number one private club in America. Chef Fasce was also a finalist in the search for a White House Chef under President George W. Bush.

Bryan Haynes II ’07

Bryan received his Associates of Applied Science from Community College of the Air Force, a Bachelors of Business Administration from Cobleskill in 2007 and a Masters of Public Administration from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University of Albany in 2009. Bryan recently joined the State of Maryland Treasurer’s Office as their Chief Information Officer and Director of Information Technology. Haynes is also an adjunct professor at Rockefeller College, teaching courses in cybersecurity. He most recently served as an associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, a leading provider of management consulting, technology, and engineering services to the U.S. government in defense, intelligence, and civil markets, and to major corporations, institutions, and not-for-profit organizations. Haynes is an active member of the NYANG as a Cyber Operations Officer assigned to the 222nd Command and Control Squadron.

Linda Elligott `75

Linda received her Associates of Applied Science from SUNY Cobleskill in 1975 and went directly into the workforce as a water quality specialist. Mrs. Elligott later earned her Bachelors of Science and Master of Science from Syracuse University while working as Cornell University’s Arnot Forest Field Station as a wildlife biologist and natural resource specialist. Linda went on to work in Florida for many years and retired from the South Florida Water Management District in 2006.

Scott Kelley `85

Scott received his Associates of Applied Science in Animal Science. He and his family own and operate Kelley’s Farm and Garden Center located adjacent to the College. Scott is a great friend of his alma mater and has helped facilitate many agricultural events on our campus including the Annual Coby Classic Cattle Sale, the Spring Livestock Judging Clinic and Ag Week. Scott and his family have been actively engaged in 4-H, FFA and the New York Junior Beef Producers Association; he is truly a superb alumni ambassador for the College. We recognize Scott for his longstanding support of not only the College but our students.

Michael Kaphan `15

Graduating this past spring with his Bachelors of Science in Agricultural Business Management, Michael excelled academically, maintaining a 3.75 GPA while owning and managing one of the most celebrated restaurants in the lower Hudson Valley. Michael came to SUNY Cobleskill in 2010 as a non-traditional student and during his first three semesters worked full-time as a chef and seafood buyer in NYC. From day one, he brought incredible insight and valuable background to classroom discussion.

In 2012, Michael had the opportunity to become a managing partner in a new restaurant in Westchester County (Purdy’s Farmer and the Fish) and took time off from school to build the business from scratch. Today, the restaurant is a beacon for the farm-to-table movement in NY State. Michael has received glowing reviews from the NY Times, has been featured in Esquire Magazine and the restaurant was recently named by Bloomberg Business Week as one of the top ten farm-to-table restaurants in the United States.