Peers honor diagnostic-lab fix-it wiz with prestigious service award
Cornell runs on the collective effort of hundreds of dedicated employees, but the special efforts of those who go above and beyond can make a great mark. Ray Coolbaugh, equipment technician at the Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC), is known across the laboratory as the go-to guy for debilitating equipment problems, which he approaches with positive warmth, calm tenacity, and clever solutions.
On May 30, his exemplary contributions were recognized with the University’s longest running and most prestigious peer-nominated award. The George Peter Award for Dedicated Service, formerly known as the Dedicated Service Award, is given to staff members selected from across Cornell University who consistently demonstrate a high degree of excellence in their duties and extend themselves to help others, going above the expectations of their job responsibilities.
Since its inception in 1980, the award has been conferred to more than 160 Cornell employees, presented quarterly through the Staff Recognition and Awards Committee of the Employee Assembly.
“Ray fixes everything that we don’t have a service contract on,” said Kim Ramm, director of business operations at the AHDC and Coolbaugh’s direct supervisor. “He has saved us tons of money and hassle by fixing things most folks would just throw away in frustration. Most recently, he uncovered a wiring issue in the AHDC’s new building that was causing multiple false alarms on the freezers. He painstakingly researched and corrected each and every alarm circuit—a tall task for this high-tech facility.”
Linda Benson, the AHDC’s supervisor in Virology, headed up the nomination process and solicited letters from Denise Archer in Quality Assurance, Bacteriology Supervisor Rebecca Franklin, and Ramm. Coolbaugh received the award during the AHDC’s annual employee- recognition barbeque, cheered on by dozens of his peers.
The group presenting him the award included representatives from Cornell’s Employee Assembly, the University’s Vice President for Human Resources Mary Opperman, AHDC Director Dr. Bruce Akey, as well as College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Michael Kotlikoff and Assistant Dean of Human Resources Mary Beth Jordan.
“One of the reasons he is such a great employee is because he is totally self-motivated,” said Ramm. “He even acquired certified calibration technician status so that he could calibrate much of the equipment we use in the lab to help us meet accreditation requirements. He is worth his weight in gold!”
A Vietnam War veteran, Coolbaugh flies helicopters and model airplanes in his spare time. He is retiring at the end of July to spend more time with his wife, Wendy.
“This award means so much to me knowing it came from people I really enjoy knowing and working with,” said Coolbaugh. “I cannot think of a better job or better folks to work with.”