Mental Health Association Honors Genesee Professor

Ruth Andes, professor of sociology and human services at Genesee Community College, has spent countless hours speaking on behalf of those wrestling with the effects of mental illness in their lives. She also has been a driving force in vital areas relating to the College's accreditation and mission, opening the door to dialogue with the chancellor and other executives of the State University of New York.

Andes, in her 36th year at Genesee, was at a loss for words, however, when she found out that she was this year's recipient of the Constance E. Miller Commitment to Excellence Award from the Genesee County Mental Health Association. The award is presented annually to someone who has made contributions to mental health awareness and service in Genesee County."One of the members of the Genesee County Mental Health Association board, a former student of mine, told me that I had won, and I didn't know what to say," said Andes, speaking of a phone call from Michelle Williams-Moscicki. "Michelle said, 'I have never known you to be speechless.' Finally, I said, 'Are we talking about the Connie Miller award? I can't believe that.' It left me speechless."

Andes received the award at the agency's recent annual banquet at Terry Hills Restaurant in Batavia, NY. "It's quite an honor to receive something associated with Connie Miller," Andes said. "I have served with her on the Community Services board (a function of the Genesee County Legislature). She was the person responsible for starting the Mental Health Association in Genesee County."

Millie Tomidy, GCMHA executive director, said Andes is "most deserving."

"Ruth mirrors and emulates Connie Miller's drive," Tomidy said. "She has that same kind of commitment to seeing mental health services shaped and changed to provide individuals with the best services possible. I've known Ruth for 25 years and continue to be impressed by her integrity, dedication and passion. Most of what she does is on a volunteer basis…because she believes in it."

Andes, 59, has served on the Genesee County Trauma Task Force since its inception in 1997 and has been a member of the mental health subcommittee of the Community Services board since the mid-1990's. She has been the chairperson of that committee for the past four years and is the current first vice president of the Community Services board.

She is a leader among professors at Genesee, having won the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1973 and the SUNY Chancellor's Award in Faculty Service in 2004. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii at Manoa after earning her bachelor's and master's degrees from SUNY Buffalo and Southern Illinois University, respectively."Ruth is highly respected among her peers and colleagues throughout the state and she's received just about every award (as a result)," said Larene Hoelcle, vice president for human resources and planning and affirmative action officer at Genesee. "She is just outstanding."

In addition to her teaching and contributions to the mental health community, Andes serves as the College's assistant dean for assessment and special projects and she is leading the College's mission review and accreditation process with Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

"She is spearheading our initiative to measure what students learn - there's a whole new world that says grades aren't enough," Hoelcle said. "She is leading very successfully in a difficult area."

Additionally, Andes chairs Genesee's equity and diversity committee, and she is a member of "GUSTO," an acronym for "Genesee Unites to Support Team Opportunities" which seeks training and team building opportunities for the College's staff and faculty.

Andes grew up in Utica and lived in Orleans County for several years before moving to Elba in 1993.

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Editor's Note: A photograph of Dr. Andes holding her Constance E. Miller Commitment to Excellence Award is available at the following Internet address: