Each year, The Colgate Maroon-News chooses a topic to highlight for a Special Edition. This December, our theme is “People of the Year,” modeled after Time Magazine’s annual “Person of the Year” issue. In this special section, we have profiled sixteen individuals who have had made significant—and perhaps lesser-known—impacts on Colgate’s campus this year, be they in the classroom, at the football field or even on the Cruiser. Inside, read about what defines them as worthy of recognition.
Every day of the academic year, Colgate students are welcomed, fed, swiped, and assisted by the friendly workers at the O’Conner Campus Center (Coop). Mary Beth Dunn, a longtime member of the Colgate Dining Services team, is no exception.
Originally from Syracuse, Dunn moved to Hamilton 25 years ago, and she said that her original motivation for working at Colgate was “the beautiful campus.” Despite the idyllic Chenango Valley, though, the setting is also the root of Dunn’s least favorite part of working on campus: the hills.
Even though she is always busy ensuring that all members of the Colgate community are wellfed and getting through the checkout line efficiently, Dunn loves to take the time to ask them about their lives and get to know the students she sees on a daily basis.
“The students are my favorite part of working here. I love to hear where home is and about all their adventures on study trips and vacations,” she said.
When she’s not working hard to make students’ lives easier or connecting with those around her, Dunn loves to relax by fly fishing and spending time with her family and three dogs. Her compassionate attitude towards everyone she encounters doesn’t just extend to humans, as she just adopted a rescue named Gingersnap, who had to be surrendered when her family lost their home during a hurricane in Georgia.
Dunn’s warm and welcoming attitude toward everyone she meets contributes to students’ fondness of the Coop and those who work there.
Dunn says the Coop itself is special because of the small atmosphere.
“It’s cozy and everyone is friendly and works together,” she said.
The most important lesson Dunn has learned from working at Colgate is “to be more patient and understanding when working with people of all backgrounds,” due to the range of people one can encounter on any given day.
Dunn has also learned that Colgate students aren’t always experts, realizing this when working at a soccer game on the night of the 2016 presidential election.
“Everybody started out very excited and confident that Hillary would be our next president…by the end of the soccer game…not so much,” she said. “I remember talking to a student-athlete and her saying ‘Hillary will pull it off, there’s no way Trump will win.’ And I thought to myself, ‘she goes to Colgate, she must know what she’s talking about.’ Well, we all know how that ended.”
Even though she is not a member of the teaching faculty, Dunn wants to remind students and professors to listen.
“Don’t judge so harshly. Smile more, be kind. You never know what’s really going on in anyone’s life,” she said.
Dunn also wants people to know that even though she might appear harsh or stern, she really does care about the students whom she encounters on a daily basis, and she is eager to learn more about them, their interests and their dreams.
Contact Haley Fuller at [email protected]