In 25 years marked by “changes, challenges and celebrations,” Linda Syrell Tyrrell served three divisions at SUNY Oswego. Whether in Student Affairs, Academic Services or Administration, she was constant in her advocacy for students.
“Responding to students’ demands, we trained our first team of male and female resident assistants and prepared for selected students to live together,” Tyrrell says. “Despite the dire warnings from some community and faculty members, it turned out fine.” By 1976, two other halls welcomed men and women, and the practice was normalized.
After her appointment as assistant dean of student affairs, Tyrrell launched and directed the Oswego Student Advisement Center. A mid-1980’s appointment as assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences required Tyrrell’s mediation skills in matters of academic standards, including student hearings.
“When I was associate dean of Arts and Sciences, Linda and I collaborated on the development of academic advising services,” says Dr. David King, who later served as acting provost and dean of graduate studies. “We were charter members of the National Academic Advising Association. Linda is one of the exceptional people in higher education who was equally effective in student and academic affairs. She had an enormous positive impact on Oswego students.”
Tyrrell retired in 1994 as dean of continuing education, summer sessions and public service, where she helped establish the evening degree program.
“It seems like standard fare now,” Tyrrell says. “But it was unusual for faculty to teach undergraduates in the evening.” Tyrrell wanted to ensure that nontraditional students engaged in rigorous coursework. “I felt strongly that access to higher education for adults was necessary and that classes should be taught by a mix of full-time and adjunct faculty,” she says.
A non-traditional student herself, with the support of her late husband, Robert, and three children, Tyrrell earned an undergraduate degree at Rochester Institute of Technology and a master’s degree at University of Rochester, where she worked as a graduate assistant. “I was raised to be a problem solver, not to make excuses,” she says. “My choice, my challenge.”
Tyrrell, owner of Harbor Towne Gifts and Souvenirs in Oswego for 39 years, is past president of the Oswego Chamber of Commerce and sits on other not-for-profit boards, including Oswego Emeriti Association and Aurora, for which she and her husband, Frank, both volunteer. A loyal advocate of Oswego students, Tyrrell has ensured that her support will continue by establishing a scholarship through a legacy gift in her estate plan.
Reflecting upon her career, Tyrrell, who received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service, says, “Those were exciting times at Oswego. We all worked hard to understand students and provide appropriate services. I’ll always appreciate that I had great people to work with in every position.”
Tyrrell adds, “I hope I gave all those students something valuable for their journeys. I know I treasure the affirmation and wisdom I received from them.”
—Linda Loomis ’90 M’97
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