Former NYS Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy Receives Highest Community Service Honor from Clarkson University

Duffy Receives Bertrand H. Snell Award

Related Media

Left to right: Former NYS Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy , Clarkson University President Tony Collins, and the late Bertrand H. Snell (in painting).

POTSDAM, NY (05/08/2015)(readMedia)-- Clarkson University's highest community service honor, the Bertrand H. Snell Award, was bestowed upon former New York State Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy at a dinner hosted by Clarkson President Tony Collins and University trustees on campus last night.

Currently serving as the Rochester Business Alliance president and chief executive officer, the Rochester native served as lieutenant governor in Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration from 2011 to 2014.

The Bertrand H. Snell Award was created by the Clarkson board of trustees in 1981 to recognize individuals of outstanding merit and to honor Snell's significant contributions to the University, the North Country, and the nation. Snell, the congressman who introduced the original St. Lawrence Seaway legislation in 1917, was a Clarkson trustee for 47 years.

The award recognizes a new generation of leaders who share Bert Snell's commitment to the North Country and greater community. Recipients are chosen for their professional, business or educational accomplishments, combined with demonstrated integrity and concern for the community. This is only the 13th time in nearly 35 years that Clarkson has presented the award.

"Clarkson University, the North Country and, indeed, all of New York State have been lucky to have an advocate like Bob Duffy," said Clarkson University President Tony Collins. "Over the past four years, Bob has worked tirelessly to rebuild the economy for our state's citizens and the next generation. Tonight we salute Bob and try to recognize in a small way his dedication.

As lieutenant governor, Duffy chaired the Regional Economic Development Councils aimed at rebuilding New York's economy and positioning the Empire State to be a global economic leader. He also served as chair of the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission, where he oversaw an effort to make New York's government more modern, accountable, and efficient.

Duffy was an ardent supporter and champion of the North Country's initiatives and diligent about ensuring that state agency staff and personnel visited and included North Country representatives in their decisions.

Duffy served as mayor of Rochester from 2006 to 2011 and as police chief from 1998 to 2005, when he resigned his post to run for mayor. He joined the Rochester Police Department in 1976.

During his tenure as mayor, Duffy was widely recognized for navigating the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression by reducing the cost of government, improving services, lowering tax rates, and attracting millions of dollars in private-sector investments.

He also played an instrumental role on the governor's Mandate Relief Council by chairing a series of statewide mandate relief hearings, which sought input from local government officials and constituents on the statutory and regulatory burdens faced by local governments and school districts.

In 2012, the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations awarded Duffy the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, recognizing notable American citizens who demonstrate a life committed to community service.

Duffy holds two degrees from Monroe Community College, a bachelor of science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology, and master of arts degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Bertrand H. Snell was one of the North Country's most highly regarded political leaders and entrepreneurs. Born in Colton, N.Y., he founded the Raquette River Paper Company in Potsdam and the Snell Power Company at Higley Falls. In 1914, Snell won his first race for elected office, a seat in the House of Representatives. Later, despite the endorsement of his opponent by President Herbert Hoover, Snell won the House Minority Leader's position, which he held for eight years until his retirement in 1938.

One of his most enduring contributions to the North Country during his 24-year career in Washington was his sponsorship of the original St. Lawrence Seaway legislation. Snell died just months before the Seaway opened in 1958.

In his 47 years as a Clarkson trustee, including 25 as chairman of the board, Snell and his family generously supported projects like Snell Hall, the Sara M. Snell Auditorium, and the Snell Athletic Field. Snell's late daughter, Helen Snell Cheel, was also a generous benefactor of the University who helped make possible the construction of both the Cheel Campus Center and Bertrand H. Snell Hall. His son-in-law, William E. Petersen, and his grandson, W. Hollis Petersen, continued the family tradition of support of the North Country and Clarkson University, serving as trustees.

The Bertrand H. Snell Award assures the remembrance of Clarkson's patron, while it recognizes and honors a new generation of leaders who embrace the institution's mission and its role in the North Country regional economy. Past recipients of the award include former New York State Senator Jim Wright, now executive director of the Development Authority of the North Country; former Congressman John McHugh, now secretary of the Army; former Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities President Abraham Lackman; former Executive Director of NYSTAR of the New York Foundation for Science, Technology, and Innovation Edward Reinfurt; and Dr. Francis Trudeau, founding president of the Trudeau Institute.

The award itself is a five-inch, cast-bronze medallion, revolving in a bronze ring and set on a polished block of Potsdam Sandstone. A likeness of Bertrand Snell is cast on the obverse side with the words "achievement, integrity and community concern" displayed on the reverse.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.