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Hudson Valley's Hammett to Retire; College Names Coplin as Interim Vice President for Student Services

CONTACT: Janine Kava (518) 629-8071 or (518) 629-8085
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Friday, November 21, 2003

Willie HammettWillie A. Hammett, who has served as Hudson Valley Community College's vice president for student services for more than two decades, will retire at the end of the year.

Hammett, 59, made his announcement on Thursday at the monthly meeting of the college's Board of Trustees. The college's director of student life, Louis B. Coplin II, will serve as Hammett's interim replacement beginning Jan. 1, 2004.

"Because of Willie Hammett's leadership, Hudson Valley Community College is a place where all students can have a rich, well-rounded college experience," President John L. Buono said. "His commitment to students and dedication to Hudson Valley has been tremendous, and he will be greatly missed."

Reflecting on his tenure, Hammett said he considers the establishment of the college's Disability Resource Center, the Viking Day Care Center, the Collegiate Academic Support Program, and the development of a strong staff to administer the college's wide variety of student programs as his biggest accomplishments - and every graduation day a favorite time of the year.

"Community college students are so diverse, and many of them have faced many challenges in life. I appreciate all they've been through and applaud all that they've achieved here," Hammett said. "Seeing them walk across the stage is one of the most enjoyable times for me."

Hammett has left a mark on the community beyond Hudson Valley as well through his involvement with many civic organizations and businesses, including Troy Savings Bank, the Troy Boys and Girls Club and St. Anne's Institute in Albany.
Read Mr. Hammett's Community Involvement/Honors

A 1966 graduate of the college, Hammett began his career at Hudson Valley in 1971, when he was hired as a counselor and part-time instructor. He also served as director of the Educational Opportunity Program and assistant to the vice president for student affairs prior to being named vice president in 1982.

Hammett oversees 14 different departments at the college, including admissions, registration, financial aid, intercollegiate athletics, disabled student services and the Center for Careers and Employment. Hammett also serves as president of the board of the college's Faculty Student Association.

"Being here has been a way of life," he added. "I've been happy that I've been able to do it for so long."

In addition to a degree in business administration from Hudson Valley, Hammett has a bachelor's degree in business administration from West Virginia State College, and a master's degree in counseling and guidance and a university certificate of specialist in counseling and student personnel services, both from the University at Albany. Hammett, who grew up in Troy, lives in Rensselaer with his wife, Marian.

Louis CoplinCoplin will serve as interim vice president for student services until the college completes its search for a permanent successor to Buono, who also is stepping down at the end of the year. The new president will appoint Hammett's successor, who also must be approved by the Board of Trustees. Coplin has expressed interest in the job permanently.

"It's a brilliant opportunity," Coplin said of the job, "but I'll have to lose a very important person in my life - a good boss, the best boss I've ever had - a very good mentor, and a very good friend."

Coplin, 43, has been at Hudson Valley since 1987, when he was hired as assistant director of community relations. He became coordinator of the college's Educational Opportunity Program in 1988, and was appointed director of student life in 2000. As director of student life, he oversees the college's Educational Opportunity Program, International Student Affairs, the Student Activities Office and Student Housing.
Read Mr. Coplin's Community Involvement/Honors

"Louis Coplin has such a positive impact on student life at Hudson Valley Community College," Buono said. "His wealth of experience - including his strong track record of creating retention strategies that help students make the transition to college life - makes him a natural choice for the position."

Coplin has a bachelor's degree in communications and political science from the State University of New York at Fredonia and a master's degree in social policy from Empire State College. He and his wife, Jennifer, live in Glenmont and have three children: Daniele, 14; Joiele, 11; and Louis III, 8.

Founded in 1953, Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 50 degree and certification programs in four academic divisions: Liberal Arts and Sciences; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Business; as well as programs run through the Educational Opportunity Center offering certification programs in workforce and academic preparation.