Registrar star Lisa M. Clark wins George Peter Award

For her heroic efforts to get students enrolled virtually during the fall 2020 pandemic semester – and after 26 1/2 years at Cornell – Lisa M. Clark, the inaugural deputy university registrar in the Office of the University Registrar (OUR), has won the 2022 George Peter Award for Dedicated Service.

“I’m blown away,” Clark said, fighting back tears while accepting the surprise award, given by Cornell’s Employee Assembly and presented by Mary Opperman, vice president and chief human resources officer.

“All I can say is thank you,” Clark told a gathering of about 50 people in the Biotechnology Building on July 12. “And, yes, this has my name on it, but it’s about OUR. It’s about campus, it’s about community and the work that we do here, so, thank you.”

Clark is the 194th recipient of the prestigious award, given annually to staff members 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.

In 1999, the award was renamed for the late George Peter, a longtime Cornell employee who revolutionized the status of his fellow Cornell staff and served as a tireless ambassador for the university.

Clark joined the university in 1995, starting in the agriculture and biological engineering departments. She has since held various roles with increasing responsibility in the College of Veterinary Medicine, including college registrar. She joined the OUR in 2007 and served as the interim university registrar before settling into her current position.

While Clark is credited with making enrollment possible during the pandemic, she also has a host of non-COVID responsibilities, including re-engineering and redesigning registrar processes to integrate new technology, implementing software for student records, serving as the lead liaison with the Office of Enrollment Compliance and Design – and running a team.

“I often think of Lisa as a Lego block, a bridge builder,” said Rhonda Kitch, university registrar and Clark’s supervisor. “She connects people, systems, policies and processes throughout the campus community. She’s incredibly humble and lifts up her team and the department as the change-makers.”

Speakers at the event – including Jon Burdick, vice provost for enrollment, who appeared via Zoom – highlighted Clark’s level of expertise and willingness to help at all times. Opperman noted that George Peter, a personal friend of hers, would have loved to see her selected for this award.

“As I was listening to everything and reading everything, all I could think of is, if he were here, he would be bursting with pride,” Opperman said. “Because you represent the Cornell that he cared so, so much about.”

Mark Miszewski, who reports to Clark, oversaw the accumulation of nomination letters from Clark’s coworkers around the university – of which there were far more than the award application required. He submitted them all anyway because it demonstrated what he already knew: she deserved the award.

“I was a consultant for many years and got to work for many companies and universities,” Miszewski said. “It really is the people that make the difference. And Lisa, you are one of those people that truly make the difference at Cornell.”