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GCC Dean Bozzuto [MEd '97] retires after 25 year career

Vicki Bozzuto
Vicki Bozzuto [MEd '97] Dean of Workforce Development & Continuing Education at Gateway Community College, recently retired.

Breezing through her packed workdays, Dean Vicki Bozzuto could make running GCC's GREAT Center appear effortless.

While Bozzuto seems to have mastered the art of making challenging tasks look easy, a typical day was rarely predictable. With courses running throughout the calendar year, rather than on a semester basis along with summer and winter intersessions, busy periods in the GREAT Center fall on any given day. Walk-in visitors and callers receive information, advising and sign up for programs in everything from healthcare to business. The GREAT Center also encompasses English and Math Boot Camps, the Step Forward program, Today's Youth, Tomorrow's Careers (TYTC), and the SNAP program.

Building a close-knit team within the GREAT Center, she streamlined operations, strengthened and expanded program offerings, and increased GCC's visibility in the community through partnerships with Workforce Alliance, New Haven Works, the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, businesses, and regional municipalities. She identified and prioritized emerging employment needs and trends to effectively align Gateway's curriculum and programs to regional workforce skills.

Between meetings with administrators, faculty, staff and students, Bozzuto, who managed the additional role of Acting Dean of Academics for weeks last year, rarely had a quiet moment in the office and seemed to relish the pace. A year ago, she began traveling to Hartford most workdays while serving as a Manager of Guided Pathways for the Connecticut Board of Regents while also overseeing the GREAT Center.

After 10 years as Dean of Workforce Development & Continuing Education and 25 years at GCC, Bozzuto retired on April 1. She will resume working a part-time schedule beginning in May, splitting her time between GCC and the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System Office. She explained that her energy derives from knowing that her work is helping students meet their education and career goals.

Bozzuto could not have predicted her career path at GCC when she enrolled in the Radiation Therapy program at the College's predecessor, South Central Community College after high school, learning about cancer treatment and the healthcare field while she volunteered as a candy striper in high school. Her clinical training was at the Hospital of St. Raphael and Yale-New Haven Hospital. She described the associate degree program as rigorous and patient-centered, noting that at the time, she was able to live in a dormitory at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

She worked as a radiation therapist for years before deciding to continue her education, earning a bachelor's degree in Education from Southern Connecticut State University to become certified to teach kindergarten through eighth grade. Graduating during a bleak job market for teaching positions, Bozzuto briefly returned to her work in the hospital and was soon offered a radiation therapy teaching position. A hiring freeze delayed her move to GCC, but Bozzuto was eventually brought on as an assistant professor. She soon came to become the clinical coordinator.

After earning her master's degree in education from Cambridge College in 1997, she was appointed Director of GCC's Allied Health Division, which encompassed Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Dietetic Technology, Exercise Science, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Radiation Therapy, Radiography, and Respiratory Therapy programs. Additionally, she worked collaboratively with Norwalk Community College to develop GCC's highly competitive nursing program.

Bozzuto credits former supervisors, including retired Professor Emerita-Radiography Julie Mangini, Dean Emerita of Research & Development Margaret Bauer, former GCC President Dorsey Kendrick and President Paul Broadie II for always making her feel encouraged and supported. According to Bozzuto, the best part of working at GCC has been "helping those students who didn't believe that they could be successful" and watching families prosper. She particularly appreciated being able to see students move into positions and salaries that propelled them out of "very dire situations." While overseeing non-credit programs, she got to further witness students moving with their education into degree programs and along the trajectory to success.

Open to change and eager to help others, Bozzuto found many opportunities to impact students over the years. Finding purpose in helping students to find their own path to an enriching career, she noticed a similarity applied to both the healthcare environment and higher education. Patient-centric cancer care is individualized and evidence-based and assures better results. In education, she noted, a student-centered approach addresses distinct learning needs, interests, aspirations and cultural backgrounds of individual students and provides the best results in the classroom.

Former student Angela Richter, Assistant to the Dean of Academics, first trained under Bozzuto in the Radiation Therapy unit of the Hospital of St. Raphael.

"She taught me not only what professionalism is in a health care facility but, more importantly, what sincere compassion and understanding meant to those at their most vulnerable times," Richter said. "Once Vicki transitioned to the Radiation Therapy program at Gateway, she became my mentor in the classroom. Once again, Vicki demonstrated the same professionalism in her job at Gateway that she had on the floor at St. Raphael's. Bringing her sense of compassion, understanding, and the need to help others, Vicki made our class of twelve feel like a family for the two years we were together."

Richter added that having Bozzuto as her colleague, mentor and friend has enriched her life both personally and professionally over the 26 years she has known her. Bozzuto's other visible role at GCC has been ensuring the College's continued compliance with the New England Association of Schools and College's (NEASC) Standards. NEASC, now known as the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), is a regional accrediting association that establishes standards for all levels of education, from kindergarten to doctoral degrees. At GCC, she led a team of more than 90 administrators, staff, faculty and students as they prepared Gateway's successful 2016 Self-Study Report for NEASC reaccreditation.

Kim Sorrentino, Associate Professor and Clinical Coordinator of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, has worked closely on accreditation with Bozzuto over the last four years and said that she came away from the experience grateful for learning about the meaning of mentorship.

"I didn't understand the true significance of a mentor until Vicki became my mentor. She is so encouraging, and she continually teaches me to challenge assumptions, stay on task, and
focus on what's most important," Sorrentino said.