Meet Pat Cornely

Pat Cornely

Pat Cornely came to De Anza College as a result of a huge layoff at Amdahl in 1993. “I had no idea what I wanted to do for the remainder of my working career because I had planned on working at Amdahl until retirement. In the midst of my career crisis, I received the De Anza College Schedule of Classes,” says Cornely. She opened it to a page with an ad for Environmental Studies and Environmental Compliance informational meetings.

“I thought it might be a perfect way to update my degree in biochemistry and immediately called Julie Phillips to reserve my seat at the meeting. I brought a friend and together we completed our Environmental Compliance certificates and degrees,” she says. She became a student mentor and stayed on as a TEA working with Phillips on California Energy Commission contracts. Then, in 1999, she noticed a job announcement for a classified position in A&R.

“It was exciting to be in A&R working on the Degree Audit program. The ES Building Project (later the Kirsch Center) was also starting to become a reality. It was a very busy and exciting time! But that seems to be the way it is – our work here is ongoing and always busy,” says Cornely.

Cornely was instrumental in leading the efforts in making the Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies a reality. “Pat spent many hours outside her normal work load to work with sub-contractors, designers, college facilities, staff, faculty and students to get the Kirsch Center built,” says Phillips, nominator and Morgan Family Chair in Environmental Studies. “The Kirsch Center was the first community college building in the nation to receive a LEED Platinum designation. In addition, Pat has been instrumental in working with our students to achieve their academic goals in Environmental Studies and Environmental Science programs.”

Bill Roeder, a co-instructor in environmental studies, says Cornely is a great teacher, too. “Pat always keeps the students’ best interests at heart. She always makes time to answer their questions or offer guidance even if she is busy. She often comments that she needs to adhere to her posted office hours, but without hesitation, stops what she is doing to help a student in need.” Roeder has been co-teaching with Cornely for about two and one-half years now, and says it’s inspirational to watch her in action.

“Pat has ‘adopted’ many students who were in trouble or tied up in gang activity to help them find their way and contribute to society in a positive way. She schedules weekly appointments with them to make sure they stay on track and are keeping up with their studies. She also takes money out of her own pocket to make sure they have a warm meal when they need it,” Roeder says.

Phillips says Cornely has represented the department, division and college at several conferences, presenting the process used to create the special place of learning that is the Kirsch Center. “We are truly honored to have Pat Cornely as a colleague in the ES Department!”

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