QUEENSBURY — The community is mourning the death of Mary LaPann, a dedicated SUNY Adirondack business professor and a Crandall Public Library trustee.
LaPann died Monday morning from cancer.
John Arpey, head of the college’s Business Division, said LaPann was one of the most devoted faculty members, one who was thinking about the college right up until the end.
“She was texting me from her hospital bed, the day before she passed, making sure everything was just right for the students,” he said.
LaPann was well-respected in the college and in the community and very committed to the college, according to Arpey.
“Whenever I would come to college at odd hours, which was often, it was not uncommon to see one light on in one office at Eisenhart Hall,” he said.
Arpey said LaPann served as a sounding board for both faculty and students because she would give people the unvarnished truth. She was easy to talk to and had a high intellect, but was down to earth.
LaPann also helped place business students with local internships.
College officials are still discussing how to honor LaPann.
Arpey said coincidentally there were two events at the college the day that she died. It was the 25th High School Business Day, which brought students and business teachers to the college to participate in business and information technology competitions. In the afternoon, there was an employee recognition ceremony in which LaPann would have been honored for her 15 years of service.
LaPann had a diverse background before coming to the college in 2003. She had worked for 16 years in the public accounting field and had her own CPA firm, according to Diane Wildey, dean for academic initiatives and academic affairs.
LaPann also worked in health care management, investment, insurance and mortgage financing. She also had been a registered nurse.
Wildey said among initiatives that LaPann helped spearhead is embracing entrepreneurialism, which led to the creation of the college’s Business Central and the college’s Early College Career Academy in Business and Entrepreneurship.
She also started a student Toastmaster’s Club to promote public speaking and co-led trips to Saga City, Japan, and other international destinations, and she interacted with the Adirondack Business Educators group to maintain professional linkage to area high school business programs.
“She leaves behind a legacy of professionalism, dedication and tireless efforts toward a profession she loved,” Wildey said in an email. “No words can accurately represent all that she gave to this college, and most importantly to the students for whom she cared deeply and consistently went out of her way, to go the extra mile, for their success.”
Wendy Johnston, assistant professor of political science, said LaPann was a “dynamic, dedicated and inspiring teacher and colleague” who provided support for both faculty and staff.
LaPann wore a lot of hats including student academic adviser, club adviser, international education faculty member and serving as a representative for the faculty union, according to Johnston. She said LaPann did not let an illness slow her down.
“As is typical of Mary, even while battling the cancer that ultimately took her life, she remained actively involved coordinating curriculum proposals, providing association updates, and teaching online, just to name a few,” Johnston said in an email.
“Mary was more than a colleague, she was a caring friend to many. She never hesitated to provide help and encouragement for a friend or colleague. She never failed to recognize the work of others, but, in her modest way, never wanted accolades for her work and dedication,” Johnston added.
SUNY Adirondack President Kristine Duffy also commented on LaPann’s death.
“Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the passing of Mary LaPann, a dedicated SUNY Adirondack faculty member from our Business Division, who was widely respected and loved by her colleagues and students. We will miss her greatly,” Duffy said.
Crandall Public Library Executive Director Kathy Naftaly said LaPann was on the library board since 2014 and served as its treasurer since 2017.
“The loss of Mary’s sharp intellect, her attention to detail and her natural curiosity is a great loss to the library community and to all of us who cared about her and loved her,” she said.
As of Tuesday, funeral services were still being arranged.