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Reinfurt awarded Clarkson’s highest community service honor

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POTSDAM - Clarkson University’s highest community service honor, the Bertrand H. Snell Award, was bestowed upon Edward Reinfurt at a dinner hosted by Clarkson President Tony Collins and University trustees on campus Thursday night.

Reinfurt is the former executive director of NYSTAR of the New York Foundation for Science, Technology, and Innovation from 2007 until its reorganization in 2011 into the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD), New York state’s primary economic development agency. He served as director of ESD’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation until his retirement in February.

The Bertrand H. Snell Award was created by the Clarkson board of trustees in 1981 to recognize individuals of outstanding merit and to honor Snell’s significant contributions to the University, the North Country, and the nation. Snell, the congressman who introduced the original St. Lawrence Seaway legislation in 1917, was a Clarkson trustee for 47 years.

The award recognizes a new generation of leaders who share Bert Snell’s commitment to the North Country and greater community. Recipients are chosen for their professional, business or educational accomplishments, combined with demonstrated integrity and concern for the community. This is only the 12th time that Clarkson has presented the award.

In receiving the Snell Award from Clarkson President Tony Collins, Reinfurt said, “I am deeply humbled and honored to accept this award… The institution that Bertrand Snell believed in and dedicated so much of his life to continues to excel in its mission…”

Reinfurt explained that on a state and regional level, there was a recognition that the single most important step that could be taken to strengthen New York state was to create a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

“I want to salute Tony Collins and Clarkson University for its leadership and for how it has embraced this cause of creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship,” Reinfurt said. “I salute Professor Babu and what he has done with CAMP to create partnerships with industry that are driving innovation from lab to market. I salute Clarkson’s investment in entrepreneurship with the dedication of your new schools and the hiring of new professors. I salute Clarkson’s students, who have demonstrated their own entrepreneurial spirit and strengths and inspired us, perhaps most of all, that we are on the right track.”

Reinfurt worked to expand NYSTAR’s outreach to companies of all sizes throughout the state. He championed partnerships between corporations and colleges and universities, and raised the visibility and importance of the state’s technology assets within the three gubernatorial administrations he served.

NYSTAR is responsible for the oversight and administration of the state’s 10 Centers of Excellence, including Clarkson’s Center for Advanced Materials Processing (CAMP); 15 Centers for Advanced Technology; and 10 Regional Technology Development Corporations (RTDCs).

Uniting the missions and capabilities of NYSTAR and ESD in 2011 was a recognition that innovation and technology are an economic imperative for growth in the 21st Century.

Prior to his appointment at NYSTAR, Reinfurt served as vice president of the Business Council of New York State Inc., from 1980-2007. The Business Council represented more than 3,000 member businesses, chambers of commerce and professional and trade associations. Reinfurt was responsible for the development of the Business Council’s first major policy initiative encouraging the State’s investments in its research universities as part of its overall economic development strategy.

Reinfurt is a 1975 graduate of the University at Albany of the State University of New York. He has served on numerous government, community and non-profit organizations. He currently serves as a member of the board and chairman of Pioneer Bank, headquartered in Troy.

Bertrand H. Snell was one of the north country’s most highly regarded political leaders and entrepreneurs. Born in Colton, he founded the Raquette River Paper Company in Potsdam and the Snell Power Company at Higley Falls. In 1914, Snell won his first race for elected office, a seat in the House of Representatives. Later, despite the endorsement of his opponent by President Herbert Hoover, Snell won the House Minority Leader’s position, which he held for eight years until his retirement in 1938.

One of his most enduring contributions to the north country during his 24-year career in Washington was his sponsorship of the original St. Lawrence Seaway legislation. Snell died just months before the Seaway opened in 1958.

In his 47 years as a Clarkson trustee, including 25 as chairman of the board, Snell and his family generously supported projects like Snell Hall, the Sara M. Snell Auditorium, and the Snell Athletic Field. Snell’s late daughter, Helen Snell Cheel, was also a generous benefactor of the University who helped make possible the construction of both the Cheel Campus Center and Bertrand H. Snell Hall. His son-in-law, William E. Petersen, and his grandson, W. Hollis Petersen, continued the family tradition of support of the north country and Clarkson University, serving as trustees.

The Bertrand H. Snell Award assures the remembrance of Clarkson’s patron, while it recognizes and honors a new generation of leaders who embrace the institution’s mission and its role in the north country regional economy. Past recipients of the award include former New York State Senator Jim Wright, now executive director of the Development Authority of the North Country; former Congressman John McHugh, now secretary of the Army; former Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities President Abraham Lackman; and Dr. Francis Trudeau, founding president of the Trudeau Institute.

The award itself is a five-inch, cast-bronze medallion, revolving in a bronze ring and set on a polished block of Potsdam Sandstone. A likeness of Bertrand Snell is cast on the obverse side with the words “achievement, integrity and community concern” displayed on the reverse.

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