MimiPfeifferThe Alumni Association sends condolences to the family of Mimi Pfeiffer upon her passing on December 6, 2014, at age 58 in Wilmington, NC. Mimi was the association’s first alumni director, leading it from a fledgling group in 1991 into a well-established organization. By the time she retired in 2002, she had nurtured the  group into an active association membership with a strong annual fund campaign supporting 20 annual student scholarships, and two faculty enrichment awards. She  then worked part-time as a communications design specialist for the Upstate Foundation. In 2005, Mimi moved with her husband, Rick, to North Carolina where she  worked at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Mimi is fondly remembered for being an alumni advocate and dedicated Upstate colleague, as well as for  her personal kindness and many talents. She will be missed!

NIH Funded Study Led by PT Educator
January 2014 -- A four-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health to determine treatment for a common flatfoot disorder is being led by Christopher Neville PT, PhD, associate professor of Physical Therapy at Upstate.  Adults aged 40 and older with flatfoot due to Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD) may be eligible to participate in the Upstate clinical trial. The trial will test various ankle braces used to treat the disorder and findings will determine which brace design is most successful to use clinically and will provide insight for future device development. For more information, contact the Motion Analysis Laboratory at 315-464-9966 or




November 2013 -- The College of Health Professions Alumni Association awarded 12 scholarships for the 2013-2014 academic year to entering students who have demonstrated excellence. Each $1,000 scholarship provides needed financial assistance for recipients who will become qualified health care professionals in our communities. In addition, 15 CHP students received a total of $10,000 in renewed scholarships.

Incoming Class of 2015 recipients are:  Melissa Abbate (MT), Spencer Blackman (DPT), Tania Brice (CP), Anna Brothers (RADT), Kelly Carolan (DPT), Joseph Ciciarelli (MBT), Ethan Curtis (RT), Britteny Hasselmayer (MIS), Irena Henry (MIS), Yiming Liu (CP), Brianna Rossi (RADT) and Alex Tabone (RT). 

Thank you to our alumni for making a real difference in these students’ lives! Support our students using the “ways to give” link at or by calling 315-464-4416.



January 2013 -- Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law on October 22 a bill advanced by Upstate Medical University that will create a pathway for all cardiovascular perfusionists to be licensed by 2016. The signing marks the culmination of almost a decade long campaign to make perfusionists the 51st profession to be licensed by the state Department of Education. In addition to local legislators’ leadership, College of Health Professions Dean Hugh Bonner, PhD, and Cardiovascular Perfusion Department Chair Bruce Searles, CP ‘93, both played strong roles in keeping the issue alive. Overall coordination for the activity was handled by Dan Hurley, director of the Upstate Office of Government and Community Relations.

“The law’s passage is significant for setting a legal scope of practice for perfusionists and maintaining patient safety,” noted Searles, who is president of the NYS Society of Perfusionists. “It sets entry-level criteria that practicing perfusionists must now meet in this state.”

Approximately 20 percent of NYS perfusionists are not certified and have no continuing education requirement. “Licensure of perfusionists in New York will set a minimum bar for initial and continuing education for our profession,” said Searles.

Upstate is home to one of only two perfusionist training programs in the state. It is expected that perfusionists will be able to apply for a NY license beginning in 2015 and if they are practicing in state, will be required to have a NY perfusion license starting in 2016.


White Coat Ceremony Welcomes New Students

August 2013 -- Upstate’s College of Health Professions welcomed 161 new studentsto its academic programs that are at, or near, full capacity, during the annual White Coat Ceremony, held August 28. Each new student was welcomed by Dean Hugh Bonner, PhD, President David R. Smith, MD, and faculty,with the presentation of a new white coat, a gift through the Health Professions Alumni Association. Donning the white coat signifies that health professionals not only treat, but also care for their patients, according to Dr. Bonner, who donned his own tie-dyed lab coat, symbolizing the multidisciplinary nature of patient care. Continuing its tradition, Franciscan Companies sponsored a reception for the students and their guests following the ceremony. Respiratory therapy alumnus Joseph Nicoletti, ‘76, represented Franciscan as an invited speaker, and CHP Alumni Association President Josephine Przepiora, MS, MT(ASCP)SM ’10, an MT instructor, also remarked: “You all now have your own white coat, an outward symbol representing the knowledge you will acquire, the skills you will hone and the compassion I suspect each of you already has, otherwise you would not have chosen to enter such noble professions.”

A group of DPT 2016 students pose in new white coats with educator Carol Recker-Hughes, PT, ’79, PhD, (center), including Joshua Hibbert (3rd from right) and his parents.


Dean Hugh Bonner, PhD, donned his own multi-colored lab coat, symbolizing the multidisciplinary nature of patient care during the fall White Coat Ceremony.

NEWS and STORIES - 2012

DPT student shifts from the football field to the sidelines

Joe Micca (No. 55) during his days as an offensive lineman for John Carroll University, before coming to Upstate as a student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

Upstate Physical Therapy student Joe Micca loves participating in sports, but he’s excited by the prospect of a future on the sidelines — as a physical therapist treating athletes so they can get back onto the field.

“I was an exercise science major as an undergrad,” Joe said. “I have a big passion for sports and I like to help people out.”

Joe played college football for four years at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, after playing lacrosse and other sports growing up in Rochester. He’s had his share of visits to physical therapists.

He’s torn his medial collateral ligament three times (one knee twice), separated his shoulder and had at least one concussion. Those injuries, as painful as they were, serve as valuable reminders as Joe progresses toward his DPT degree next spring.

“I respect athletic training staffs now more than I did back when I played,” he said. “I’ve given every line in the book to stay on the field. You have to know the symptoms. You can’t let your competitive spirit get in the way of a player’s safety.”

Joe will soon return to Cleveland for his next clinical rotation, 10 weeks at the Cleveland Clinic’s sports health center. He’ll follow that with 10 weeks in an acute-care setting at Albany Medical Center.

As he closes in on his DPT degree, Joe is considering pursuing an additional year or more of post-graduate education leading to credentials as an athletic trainer and sports certified specialist.

Earlier this fall, Joe received the New York Physical Therapy Association student participation award for his efforts on behalf of the profession. He was nominated by Upstate’s DPT faculty.

“I’ve gotten to see the business and political side,” Joe said.

He’s passed along what he learned to his fellow students, and enlisted dozens of them to accompany him on a lobbying mission to Albany to push for better health insurance co-pays for physical therapy.

His advice to students pursuing a career in health care is to choose a field you’re willing to dedicate your life to. And once you make that decision, take advantage of every opportunity to make it happen.

As a student at an academic medical center in a city with many sports teams and medical facilities, Joe has had many learning opportunities. On the day of his With Distinction interview, he was in an operating room – not as a patient, but as a future physical therapist — observing a surgical reconstruction of an anterior cruciate ligament in an athlete who had injured her knee.

“Observing procedures in the operating room and analyzing the anatomy can give physical therapists a better understanding of rehabilitation considerations and what to expect during the different recovery stages,” Joe said.

(Posted on With Distinction by Jim McKeever)

Floor Plans are Unveiled for Upstate's Newest Address, Geneva Tower

Geneva Tower will be the new address to have if you’re a student or medical resident at Upstate Medical University this fall.  Formerly known as Townsend Tower, the downtown Syracuse high-rise is getting a complete makeover and will be ready for occupancy in the beginning of August.

The new residence hall for Upstate will boast 139 spacious apartments, including one-bedroom, two-bedroom and four-bedroom units, and amenities of every kind: wireless internet access, air conditioning, laundry facilities, fitness room, free cable television and utilities, and dishwasher.  The building will also feature several conference rooms for group study.

The one- and two-bedroom units have a single private bath room, the four bedroom suite has two private baths and two walk-in storage closets. All units come fully furnished.

A floor plan of a 2-bedroom unit offered at Geneva Tower. The one- and two-bedroom units at Geneva Towers have a single private bath room, the four bedroom suite has two private baths and two walk-in storage closets. All units come fully furnished.

“From the moment this project started, we involved the students by holding focus groups to see what kind of room configurations they preferred and to get their suggestions for furnishings and colors,” said Lindsay Lebowitz, Upstate’s residence director.  “Each unit is decorated with soft muted colors providing students with every opportunity to decorate each unit to represent their own personality.”

Lebowitz said the interest in the new complex among students is very high.  “We’re beginning to book rooms now for students for next fall, and I’m certain interest will only grow once the building nears completion,” she said.

The mild winter has allowed work to continue at a fast pace on the Harrison Street complex.

Lebowitz said students who reserve rooms through Feb. 15 will get six months of free on-site parking.  The parking lot, located on the Adams Street side of the building, will be fenced with access only to residents.

“In real estate, the buzz word is location, location,” said Lebowitz.  “This is a perfect address for students and medical residents.  Everything is just a short walk from your doorstep.”

For more information on Geneva Tower, call Lebowitz at 464-5106, or email

(Story from Upstate OnLine - 2/10/12)


Radiation Therapy student Renee Gardner might also be your Zumba instructor

Upstate’s Renee Gardner, left,  wears many hats—radiation therapy student, Zumba instructor and gymnast.

Renee Gardner, a radiation therapy student in the College of Health Professions at Upstate Medical University, takes on the role of instructor twice a week at Upstate’s Campus Activities Building. Gardner teaches Zumba, a Latin-inspired dance fitness program, Tuesday and Thursday evenings for an hour.

“I started taking Zumba almost three years ago. It was very addicting!” Gardner said. After about six months of classes, Renee went through the training to become a certified instructor and then started teaching.

Gardner was a dancer and a gymnast, and coached a club competitive team and the varsity at her alma mater in Central Square.  She also landed a part in a Wyclef Jean “Historia” video that has yet to hit the air.

Filming was last fall in Newark, N.J., and involved closing off a street while 50 or 60 people got in a serious Zumba workout. “I’m 4-foot-11 so I’m in the front row,” Gardner said.

Renee said she chose to pursue radiation therapy because “as with most of us in the program, cancer has had an effect on our lives.”

Working with the same patients every day appealed to her as well. “It gives you an opportunity to build relationships and maybe even have an impact on their lives,” she said. “Some of them don’t have family, so when they come in for their treatments, it’s something they can look forward to.”

View a video of one of Gardner’s Zumba classes and visit Upstate’s blog, With Distinction,  for more news about Upstate’s outstanding students and faculty.

(Published in Upstate Online - 2/10/12)


Honoring a Career of Caring and Compassion

Dr. Pamela Gramet Scholarship Endowment Launched

Pamela Gramet, PT, PhD, has devoted her notable academic career at Upstate to promoting and developing those values among her students. Recently retired from a 33-year teaching tenure in physical therapy, Gramet has provided leadership, teaching, mentoring and involvement in clinical education to hundreds of graduates. 

In honor of Dr. Gramet, the Department of Physical Therapy Education and its alumni initiated an endowed scholarship fund in her name at the recent American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Sections Meeting held in New Orleans. PT faculty who attended along with students were joined by a number of alumni there for a reunion gathering, an ideal opportunity to launch the endowment. 

“We are so excited to launch the fundraising campaign for the Dr. Pamela Gramet, PT, PhD Endowed Scholarship,” said Susan Miller, program chair. “Dr. Gramet has the longest tenure of any faculty member in our department and the number of lives she has touched throughout her career is amazing! I can think of no better way to honor her than to establish this scholarship that will continue to recognize the values and characteristics she spent her career successfully cultivating in students.” 

Faculty, including Dr. Pamela Gramet (center in red), students and alumni who gathered to connect and launch the Gramet Scholarship Endowment 
while attending the APTA’s Combined Sections Meeting recently held in New Orleans.

“Our students are the future of the physical therapy profession,” commented Gramet, “and I am honored and thrilled with this opportunity to help be a part of raising funds to support their education at Upstate Medical University.”

Funds will be raised to support a scholarship that will acknowledge students who exemplify the qualities of a caring physical therapist to the highest degree in both the clinical and classroom settings. The Health Professions Alumni Association is pleased to sponsor this first named PT scholarship fund. The initial goal is to raise $10,000 to create an endowment that will support an annual student award for a third-year student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

Alumni and friends, help us reach our goal to create this meaningful PT student award!

Checks may be sent payable to Endowment Growth Fund #15050 (writing “Pamela Gramet” in memo line), Upstate Health Professions Alumni Association, 750 Adams Street, CAB 326, Syracuse, NY 13210; or give through our secure website:

$3 Million Awarded to PA Program

The College of Health Professions has taken a lead role in helping to alleviate the expected void in physicians statewide over the next two decades with its Physician Assistant program. The college’s PA master’s degree program was recently awarded $3.1 million from the US Department of Health and Human Services. Believed to be the largest ever received by the college, Dean Hugh Bonner, PhD, said: “The grant awards reflect our college’s support of Upstate’s regional mission to address healthcare needs.” 

Sandra Banas, MST, RPA-C, a medical technology alumna (‘77) and founding director of the Department of PA Studies, said Upstate will use a $2.1 million grant to cover student tuition, fees and stipends over the next five years for 50 students. “This support will ensure a ready supply of well-trained physician assistants who can serve small rural communities at a time when access to healthcare is becoming more problematic. We want to eliminate any hurdles for students who want to pursue this in-demand healthcare career.” 

An $829,000 PA training grant will be used to expand the program’s clinical affiliate training sites for students, adding up to 40 more sites over five years in underserved communities. Another $236,000 grant will purchase simulation equipment—life-sized adult and infant manikins to facilitate training of acute patient care, invasive procedures such as IVs, and birthing procedures. Upstate began its two-year, PA master’s program in 2009. It is the only SUNY-affiliated PA program outside of the New York City area.

Hugh Bonner, PhD, Recognized for Leadership

CHP-News-Hugh Bonner Hugh Bonner, PhD, professor and dean of the College of Health Professions since 1995, received the Darrell Mase Presidential Award – the highest award for leadership in allied health education from the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professionals (ASAHP). A fellow of ASAHP, Bonner accepted the award at its annual conference in last fall held in Charlotte, NC.

PT Students Earn National Fundraising Award

CHP-News-PTKudos  Kudos go to PT students who won a national fundraising honor for the 2010 Annual Marquette Challenge in support of the Foundation for Physical Therapy. At the annual American Physical Therapy Association’s convention in Boston, Upstate participants won Third Place, raising $18,273. They competed with over 60 PT schools across the country. 


New RESP Simulation Technology Benefits Clinical Training
Students in the Respiratory Therapy Education’s distance learning (DL) program in northern New York are benefiting from a significant acquisition for advanced clinical simulations. Through a US Department of Labor grant obtained by Jefferson Community College, a Laerdal SimMan® 3G was purchased for approximately $100,000 (including simulation software) and is being employed at Upstate’s clinical affiliate site, the Samaritan Medical Center (SMC) in Watertown.

BS degree students in respiratory care (BSRC) in Watertown began classes in Fall 2010, and are undertaking clinical experiences at the new $66 million Samaritan hospital. The simulator laboratory is located in a former operating room in the soon-to-be renovated SMC surgery center, according to department chair, Joseph Sorbello (RESP ‘75/’77). 

“We in our department and all those at JCC connected to our distance learning initiative are very happy, both with the purchase of this special piece of equipment and where it will be housed,” said Sorbello.



Upstate distance learning students in Watertown train in realistic simulations for cardiopulmonary assessment and management with the newly acquired Laerdal SimMan® 3G system, housed at Samaritan Medical Center. 

Photo courtesy of Laerdal Medical


The SimMan is a portable and advanced patient simulator for team training, he explained. “It has realistic anatomy and clinical functionality, providing simulation-based education to challenge and test students’ clinical and decision-making skills using computerized patient care scenarios. The technologically interactive manikin allows learners to practice emergency and critical care treatment of patients, particularly in Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support.”

All department faculty are being trained on its use, according to Sorbello, “and they will be using the simulator as an integral part of the curriculum.” He noted that not only RT students, but other nursing students and medical providers/staff will be able to train and practice on the new simulator.

Upstate’s classes are presented in the newly-built distance learning classroom in the Higher Education Center at JCC. “Classroom instruction is accomplished through interactive video conferencing using the web. Some online courses are asynchronous, so the student completes the coursework independently,” Sorbello said. “Students will come to the Upstate campus for a few classes and clinical rotations, depending on course requirements. Neonatal and pediatric critical care clinical rotations, for instance, must be in Syracuse or in Rochester, since North Country hospitals do not offer those experiences.”

“The SMC clinical rotations and lab training for these students are taught by one of our 2005 alums, adjunct instructor, Lindsay (Lawrence) Bickel, RRT, who is a staff respiratory therapist there,” noted Sorbello. “We are very fortunate to have her on the faculty. She is a true asset to our students and entire department (see Bickel profile).”


“We continue to be grateful to the teamwork and cooperation of key faculty and administrators at both JCC and SMC,” Sorbello said. “They are true visionaries and dedicated to improving the health and welfare of the communities they serve.”


RESP Alum Enthusiastic Clinical Instructor

Alumna Lindsay Bickel (4th from left) with her class of
2012 Respiratory Care students in Samaritan’s clinical laboratory.

“I love it!,” registered respiratory therapist, Lindsay Bickel (RESP ’05), says of becoming a  clinical educator for Upstate’s distance learning program in Watertown. A mother of two toddlers and a full-time therapist at Samaritan Medical Center, Bickel takes on new opportunities with enthusiasm.

“It’s wonderful that I can add teaching to my career by sharing my knowledge and helping students to apply it. Upstate gave me a great education and now has offered me this exciting opportunity to teach on-the-job.”

After she earned a nursing degree, Bickel chose to attend the College of Health Professions to work specifically in respiratory patient care. Part of her SMC duties includes performing all the outpatient pulmonary function testing. 

She teaches students on their clinical day each week at the hospital, instructing a four-hour clinical laboratory and shadowing them with patients on different units. “I supervise them as we give treatments to patients together, while reviewing procedures and answering their questions.” “The new ‘SimMan’ equipment for training is absolutely amazing,” Bickel said. “It allows students to apply what they have studied to real life situations on a fully programmed mannequin, instead of a non-functioning one. They are given simulations that are computer-driven to see responses in different situations. Each simulation is simultaneously being recorded and the teacher can stop it at any time to explain something or to review how they did.” 

Prominence in Perfusion
CHP-News-Bruce Searles College faculty and students continue to be busy contributing to conferences and, as usual, excelling at what they do. The Cardiovascular Perfusion (CP) program is no exception with its leader, Bruce Searles, CCP (‘93), associate professor/chair, honored with the 2011 American Society for Extracorporeal Technology (AmSECT) Award for Excellence, presented at its conference in New Orleans. Searles, an international authority in the field, was presented a plaque and monetary award for his career excellence, exemplifying creativity and intellectual honesty. Searles was also an invited speaker to the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiology’s Annual Update on Cardiopulmonary Bypass in March. He spoke on “Safety in Perfusion” at the American Academy of Cardiovascular Perfusion’s (AACP) annual seminar in February, along with Ed Darling, associate professor/clinical coordinator and AACP President, who delivered the Thomas Wharton Memorial Lecture. Class of 2011 student Ashleigh Trew, received the Lawrence Award there for best student presentation for “Perfusionist Fatigue and Performance behind the Pump.” Other 2011 students presenting were Nicole Tomasello, Trevor Smith and Robert Brown. Trew and Smith were also published in the Spring AACP newsletter. CP alumni who presented at AACP were: Richard Gunther, Jr. (’03); Joshua Walker (’07); Craig McRobb (’99) and Karen Jones (’02).



PT's Boyland Retires, Continues to Serve Community

CHP-News-Dave Boyland Alumnus Dave Boyland, PT (’90), DPT, assistant professor emeritus, retired this January, having been a dedicated, motivational teacher since 1995. His legacy includes increasing knowledge in exercise prescription and functional movement assessment and awareness of the patient as a whole person.  A board certified sports PT specialist, Boyland has been in private practice as a licensed athletic trainer/physical therapist with Goldwyn and Boyland Physical Therapy, PC, in Cortland since 1992.  He also is an athletic trainer for the Homer Central and Cortland Enlarged School Districts and was Director of Athletic Training and Rehabilitation for the USA Women’s Handball Team in 2006-2007. He was a member of the athlete’s medical staff for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, and has volunteered as a trainer for the Empire State Games. In addition to his BSPT degree from Upstate, Boyland obtained an MS degree from Eastern Illinois University and the PT doctorate from University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences.

“It’s hard to imagine the department without him,” said chair Sue Miller. “Dr. Boyland brought his outstanding clinical expertise and, of course, ‘Davisms’ to the program. Having team taught for a number of years with him, I know personally of his ability to teach and inspire.  We will miss his positive outlook on life and daily reminder of what is important. Our loss is his patients’ gain as he ‘retires’ to his clinic and other activities.”

“I am enjoying being able to focus more specifically on treating patients and managing my private practice,” said Boyland. “Our practice has diversified to include wellness programs, and injury prevention services to high school athletes. We also will be able to expand our clinical affiliation with Upstate. This spring, I taught the Interventions III course and will continue to teach Contemporary Issues in Sports Physical Therapy in the fall. However, I will miss the ongoing contact with students and faculty in a very dynamic and always growing PT education program.”  

© 2015 The Upstate Foundation, Inc.