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Saying Goodbye to Karen Gualtieri

Karen Gualtieri

Intelligent, conscientious, detailed, smart, loyal and driven: these are all adjectives used by colleagues to describe Karen Gualtieri, Vice President of Student Services, who leaves RCC on August 31st after 16 years at the college. During those 16 years, efficient and tough Karen has served as Registrar, Dean of Enrollment Management, and since 2010 as Vice President of Student Services.

Her colleagues’ responses to the question “If I had to describe the Queen of FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), I would say the following about her as RCC’s Chief Student Affairs Officer”:

College administrators in commencement robes

  • “Well-known for finding ways to move our institution forward in order to serve our students, faculty and staff”
  • “Recognized for her ability to conceptualize and to turn ideas into realities”
  • “Respected as a team player who brings knowledge, skill, commitment and realistic expectations to any project”
The above statements clearly describe an administrator who is detailed, conscientious, and smart, and one who does sometimes control. They also clearly describe an efficient administrator who is serious and grounded and one who also demonstrates integrity in representing the institution.

Karen Gualtieri

But Karen is also quirky, and there is definitely a softer side. This is confirmed by her “Tag Team Partner,” Vice President Dr. Susan Deer, who says, “Karen’s tough, but she has an underlying sensitivity…and is a tough softie.” Then, Robin Conklin, Registrar, who probably knows Karen best as they carpool together from Orange County almost every day, uses the word friend.  Robin says “Karen is a really good and caring friend.” Further, Assistant Registrar Allegrah Abrahams, who has been “mentored” by Karen, says Karen is intelligent and concerned. But Allegrah adds that when Karen “asks me to come over to see her, I ask myself, ‘Am I in trouble?’” But, yes, there is a quirky side to Karen, who from November to December wears Christmas bells and snow bells, and nobody loves this holiday period more than Karen. When she hosts her Annual Holiday Bake, she always wears deer antlers and one of her many lovely and festive sweaters. Karen is a gourmet cook who bakes dozens of delicious desserts for her colleagues and friends. And she spends every Christmas Eve in NYC and is always first in line at Macy’s on Christmas morning to see Santa.

Tag Team Partners For Life

Karen grew up in West Virginia, and her mother passed away when Karen was a young girl. After high school, with suit case in hand, Karen put herself on a bus and went to Ohio State University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She also earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Ohio State. Intelligent? That she is, but as one friend says, “She is also caring,” and that is not more evident than when she talks about her husband, Tony, who recently retired as a very effective high school Automotive Teacher and was much-beloved by his students.

Karen and Tony

Indeed, Karen loves herself some Tony Gualtieri. Karen first saw him at a gas station. It was several gallons before he asked her out, but they very quickly fell in love. That is evident in their early pictures together. Ever partnering together, Karen and Tony have spent the last several summers building their dream home in Colorado, where they will be come September.

I, personally, and our college will miss Karen and her incredible hard work enormously, but I have to smile as I view the pictures below. Karen has been very special to me. She is loyal, dependable, has keen analytical skills, and I have treasured her candor and honesty. Karen has never been afraid to tell me what I did not want to hear—but what I needed to hear.

Thank you so much, Karen.

Karen and Tony

And as I say goodbye to Karen, our special friend and colleague, ringing in my ears is the voice of John Denver:

Karen and Tony

“And the Colorado Rocky Mountain high
I’ve seen it rain fire in the sky.
You can talk to God and listen
to the casual reply.
Rocky Mountain high…Colorado.”

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