George Peter Award for Dedicated Service

George Peter revolutionized the status of Cornell employees and served as a tireless ambassador for the university. Throughout his 40-year career, Peter was an active member of the campus community. He led the effort to broaden Cornell employees' participation in shared governance, advocating for staff representation in university decision-making and creating opportunities for official recognition of employee achievements.

Overview
The George Peter Award for Dedicated Service is given annually by the Employee Assembly to staff who consistently demonstrate excellence in the performance of their duties, and who prove their willingness to extend themselves to help others and go above and beyond the normal expectations of their job responsibilities. 
 
The recipient(s) are announced at a celebration event hosted by the recipient's department or unit. This honor is the longest running and most prestigious university-wide peer-nominated award. Since its inception in 1980, the award has been bestowed on over 190 Cornell employees. (See Past Recipients)
 
Eligibility
All full-time Cornell staff members with five or more years of service are eligible for consideration for this award. 
 
Selection Criteria
Nominees must demonstrate:
  • Excellence in the performance of their assigned duties.
  • Dedication to their job and work group that goes above and beyond expectations.
  • Respect for the contributions of staff at all levels.
  • Commitment to lifelong learning.
  • Having positive impact on the university.
Please review the scoring rubric for details and examples.
 
Nominations
This is a peer-nominated award. Nominations may only be submitted by Cornell staff members. Any staff member wishing to nominate a colleague should have direct experience with the nominee and must submit a completed nomination packet. The nomination packet is a single PDF document consisting of:
  • Cover sheet
  • Nomination letter explaining why the nominee deserves the award, citing relevant examples wherever possible. This can be co-signed by multiple staff members.
  • Letter of support from nominee's direct supervisor
  • Up to three brief letters of support from other members of the Cornell community (staff, faculty, students, administrators, alumni)

The selection committee is accepting nominations through April 16, 2021. Note: previously declined nominations can be resubmitted, with updates as appropriate.

  • Download the cover sheet (see above for downloadable/fillable PDF)
  • Submit your nomination online

If you have any questions about the award and the process for nominations, please contact the chair of the Employee Assembly Communications, Outreach & Recognition Committee at employee-awards@cornell.edu or, for technical difficulties, contact the Office of the Assemblies at assembly@cornell.edu or (607) 255-3715.


Meet George Peter

October 21, 1921 - August 10, 2008

Just mention his name and you’ll get instant recognition; he’s a household word in the Cornell Community.


George Peter

An Ithaca native, George Peter graduated from Ithaca High School in 1940, and within a couple of years was in the Army Air Corps, where he completed training courses and served as an instructor. He came to Cornell in 1947, as an electronics technician, and over the years took on increasingly more responsibility while auditing courses leading to the equivalent of a BS in electrical engineering.

When he retired, George was director of laboratory operations for the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center in the Department of Astronomy. One of George’s major work efforts was his on-site participation in the development and construction of the world’s largest radio/radar telescope at Aricebo, Puerto Rico, from 1960–62.

Upon his return to Ithaca in 1963, he established and directed a research and development laboratory for specialized, low-noise radio astronomy receiver and antenna systems. George also developed and taught courses in advanced electronics (for students including technicians, junior engineers, and grad students), wrote technical articles and training materials, and did guest lecturing. On the side, he was the owner/operator of a local TV and appliance sales and service business from 1952–1960 and from 1962–1968.

George was very active in Cornell University self-governance for an extended period. He served on the Cornell Senate Executive Committee from 1970–74, chaired the University as an Employer Committee (1975), and has served as the Employee-elected Trustee on the Cornell University Board of Trustees for a total of five terms since 1975. While a trustee, George received assignments on several trustee and community committees and commissions on the Executive Committee of the board from 1984–1996. He even had the distinction of being on two Cornell presidential search committees.

Back in 1980, George was a founder of and served on the editorial board of Cornell’s employee newspaper PawPrint (currently "Staff News"). Throughout, he contributed to the newspaper a bylined column known as “Leadership Leads.” His columns have been collected and recently published in a book of the same name. In fact, George was honored at a reception hosted by Cornell Vice President Mary Opperman and the Office of Human Resources to celebrate the completion of his book. Other Cornell accomplishments in which George took pride included his role in helping to start the Cornell Recreation Club (now Cornell Recreation Connection) and the annual Employee Day events.

On the civic scene, George had a long, continuing record of involvement and leadership in several areas of interest. An active Freemason on the local and state levels, he was Past Master of Ithaca’s Hobasco Lodge and the Scipio Lodge near his home in Aurora. Further, he held several offices in district and conference level Masonic organizations. He has been Grand Historian for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York since 1993 - a natural one might conclude, from his aptitude and desire for writing-“for recreation” he says. George has written a number of articles for Masonic publications, including reviews, leadership and training guides, historical accounts, and public relations materials.

George held several responsibilities in the First Baptist Church of Ithaca, organized and chaired the “Aurora Fest” celebration (1974–76), chaired the Aurora Village Planning Board, and served as a trustee of the Southern Cayuga Scholarship Foundation. One of his most rewarding accomplishments was the completion of the Morgan Opera House restoration project, a hands-on labor of love for a small, but dedicated, group of Aurora villagers.