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Patty Thayer retires after 22 years at Cornell

July 31, 2018

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By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

portrait of Patty Thayer

Patty Thayer

Administrative Assistant Patricia “Patty” Thayer retired this summer after 14 years of working to support staff, programs and students in the Family Life Development Center (FLDC) and later in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR).

Thayer juggled many responsibilities including supporting former directors John Eckenrode and Karl Pillemer, assisting during the transition of the FLDC into the BCTR and organizing important programs including the Talks at Twelve series and the Iscol Family Program for Leadership Development in Public Service, which was created to inspire students to tackle societal problems such as poverty, hunger, ignorance, homelessness and violence.

“Beyond formal responsibilities, Patty gave the ‘human touch’ to the BCTR,” Director Karl Pillemer said. “Her first priority was to make sure the BCTR was a welcoming place for everyone, from attendees at our events, to undergraduate and graduate research assistants, to visiting scholars. Patty has been an ambassador for the BCTR and helped make it more than just a workplace.”

Research Assistant Elliott Smith said Thayer acted as the “connective tissue” of the center, helping to join researchers to focus on the BCTR’s larger goals.

“In a center like ours where projects have different funding sources, diverse objectives, and separate deliverables, the demands of the everyday push us into our silos,” he said. “It is easy to forget that all of us at the BCTR have common values and a shared commitment to improve the well-being of people throughout the life course, but Patty wouldn't let us forget. Through her relationships, hard work, and good humor, she encouraged us to forge a collective identity that extends beyond our individual projects.”

Before joining the Family Life Development Center, Thayer worked first as administrative assistant to the director, and then as extension specialist with Cornell University Cooperative Extension in New York City. She delivered trainings on parenting, HIV/AIDS, employment for at-risk young adults and personal finance. She also served as a liaison and parent educator for the superintendent of Manhattan High Schools.

“I have been extremely privileged and honored to be part of the FLDC and BCTR, cutting edge centers whose programs are changing the world for the better,” Thayer said. “All of the BCTR staff and our valued students have been an inspiration to me.  My warmest thanks to everyone who has given me this opportunity; I shall miss each one.”

In retirement, Thayer will serve on the board of directors for a local public service radio station to develop a series focused on senior citizens. She will also volunteer at the local hospice and public library. Her spare time will be devoted to getting to know her neighbors and their dogs and trying to save her tomato plants from the local deer. Meanwhile, BCTR staff will miss her presence.

“My experience with Patty is one I will never forget; she gave me such support in the office, whether it was from a work standpoint, or just a personal one,” said Debra Mojica, an administrative assistant with the Residential Child Care Project. “Thank you for always being there to help me out, Patty, and I hope you get to do everything you wish in your retirement!”


July 31, 2018

Thank you for this lovely gift of affirmation.

August 01, 2018

Thank you for always being so welcoming to us when we attended the lunch/lectures. I will always remember your kindness.

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