SUNY Canton Employees Receive Prestigious College Council Awards


The SUNY Canton College Council has recognized three employees for outstanding service and dedication.

Distinguished Faculty Award

The council selected Lecturer Darien B. Cain as the recipient of the 2024 Distinguished Faculty Award, which was presented at the college’s Frederick W. Saburro Honors Convocation.

The award recognizes effectiveness in teaching, scholarly ability, mastery of subject matter, university service and continued growth.

Darien Cain is presented with the 2024 Distinguished Faculty Award from Vice President Lenore VanderZee.

“Darien’s valuable contributions to her field, her community and the college are most deserving of recognition,” said College Council Chair Ronald M. O’Neill. “The entire College Council offers their congratulations on this achievement.”

Cain, a SUNY Canton alumna, is a licensed funeral director for Cleveland Funeral Home in Watertown and has been a lecturer for SUNY Canton’s Funeral Services Administration Program since 2020. She is noted for her compassion and professionalism in both of her careers.

In her role as an educator, Cain has been instrumental in designing and updating courses, integrating new textbooks, and employing adult learning theories to enhance student engagement. She bases her teaching philosophy on the importance of cultivating leadership in her students.

Her extensive community service includes her volunteer work with the “Operation Hands with a Heart” initiative, which helped alleviate strain on New York City-area funeral homes during the pandemic.


Excellence in College Service Award

The council selected Senior Director of Donor Stewardship and Advancement Services Elizabeth F. Gravlin as the recipient of the 2024 Excellence in College Service Award, which was presented at the college’s Recognition Day event in May.

This award is given to a member of the non-teaching professional staff in recognition of excellence in performance, ability, university service, continued growth, as well as a mastery of specialization.

Beth Gravlin with Chairman Ronald O'Neill and President Szafran.

“Beth is held in high regard by colleagues, alumni and friends,” O’Neill said. “Her pride in SUNY Canton shines through in every connection she makes, which is why the council is pleased to recognize her with this award.”

Gravlin holds three degrees from SUNY Canton and has worked in several positions within the Canton College Foundation for the past 22 years.

Throughout that time, she has consistently sought out opportunities to further her education to improve the foundation’s fundraising and event-planning operations. Gravlin also spearheads the foundation’s scholarship awarding operations, which distributes more than $700,000 in awards to new and returning students.

Highlights of her extensive committee service include the Commencement Committee, the 2006 Centennial Gala Committee and the Women in Engineering Day Committee.


Employee Recognition Award

The council selected University Police Lt. Brian E. Kurish as the recipient of the 2024 Employee Recognition Award.

The award is given to a member of the college’s classified staff in recognition of exceptional service through performance, participation and continued growth.

Brian Kurish is presented with a giant mock-parking ticket from master of ceremonies Randy Sieminski.

“Brian has dedicated his life to public service, and we hope this award adequately conveys our gratitude for his contributions to making SUNY Canton a welcoming, safe community,” O’Neill said.

Kurish was hired as a university police officer in 1999 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2002. Colleagues applauded his wealth of knowledge about the campus and procedures. He has consistently sought out opportunities to further his skillset by becoming a certified CPR/AED first aid instructor and a general topics instructor. He was essential to the college’s COVID testing operations, personally transporting testing kits to Syracuse on a weekly basis. His contributions to this effort helped keep the campus safe. He is retiring from the college this summer.

About SUNY Canton

Discover SUNY Canton, where innovation meets opportunity. The college’s career-focused educational programs emphasize hands-on and applied learning opportunities in digital design, engineering technology, health, information technology, management, public service, and veterinary technology. Faculty members bring real-world experience and exceptional academic expertise to the classroom. As a leader in online education, SUNY Canton offers unmatched flexibility with hundreds of courses and 23 comprehensive degree programs offered completely online. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos compete at the NCAA Division III level and will be transitioning to the SUNYAC in Fall 2024. In addition to its 15 traditional teams, SUNY Canton offers coed varsity esports and cheerleading.