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Morrisville State College Professor Receives Distinguished Faculty Award

MORRISVILLE— On many occasions, Morrisville State College professor Fred Bach can be found after hours in the college’s tractor overhaul lab amid an assemblage of tractors and engines awaiting repair and students toiling over class projects. Once, he stayed until 2 a.m. helping students paint a tractor—and assisted them another time past midnight preparing a special project for a student’s ill grandfather.

It’s the endless hours he’s spent going above and beyond—the tireless dedication that defines him as a teacher, faculty and students say—and it’s among the reasons he was chosen to receive the college’s Distinguished Faculty Award.

The Morrisville State College Distinguished Faculty Award is presented to a faculty member who has displayed professional growth, personal and professional achievement, and has provided outstanding service to the college.

Bach, of Morrisville, will receive the award during the college’s 96th commencement on May 19 and will serve as grand marshal of the ceremony which begins at 1 p.m. on Drake Field.

Bach, professor of agricultural engineering technology/diesel technology, has devoted himself to Morrisville State College for 26 years.

“Fred has been an active member of the faculty in both a campus-wide and departmental capacity,” Dr. Christopher Nyberg, dean of the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said. “He continually makes very positive and noticeable contributions to the campus, his students and his industry.”

Bach got his roots in the agricultural engineering field growing up on a dairy farm in Canastota, N.Y.

“I remember that I was always tinkering with things,” he said. “I was inquisitive, fascinated with how things worked and liked to take things apart and put them back together.”

It was no surprise when he enrolled at Morrisville State College, earning an associate degree in agricultural engineering some 30 years ago.

A lot has changed since Bach was a student—namely the growth in the facilities, addition of diesel technology degrees and the latest technology in the field, all which have enhanced his own teaching experience.

As a teacher, Bach is fueled by his students’ energy.

“I like to see their hard work, interest and desire within,” Bach said. “It’s rewarding to see their confidence when they successfully complete a project.”

His genuine interest in students and the material he teaches have led him to spend extra hours in the classroom and in labs assisting students with complicated, labor-intensive projects.

“He gives so much to the program and is dedicated to his students,” Sarah Pyndus, a diesel technology student, said. “He spends countless hours, often working until midnight, on tractor overhaul class, advanced hydraulics, or giving his time in some way.”

“He assists unhesitatingly, working with students so they can complete projects which require repeated evenings of work from 6 p.m. until midnight or later,” Paul Crovella, professor of agricultural engineering technology, said. “I have witnessed a number of students who have blossomed wonderfully due to Fred’s individual tutelage and mentoring in this setting.”

Bach takes pride in advising and guiding his students.

“He is a mentor to his students and is an instructor who teaches character in addition to the fundamentals of the field,” Robert Cross, assistant professor of agricultural engineering technology/diesel technology, said.

Teaching them about life is a valuable part of Bach’s lessons.

“A faculty member is in a special position to stimulate, motivate and encourage his students,” he said. “I try to instill important things in them—like how to be honest, on time and resourceful—things they will need in the working world.”

Bach’s devotion is not only visible in the classroom, but also through the time he spends as advisor of the college’s Agricultural Engineering Club, a position he’s hailed for 26 years. He’s made significant contributions to academics through his work in developing new programs and classes, internships and instituting scholarship programs.

An accomplished pianist, Bach has also brought his musical talent to students and the Morrisville State College campus.

He provides musical accompaniment at the college’s annual Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society induction ceremony and other events. In the community, he plays the piano and organ for numerous churches, doing solo and duet work.

Part of Bach’s success in the classroom is attributed to his own skills in the agricultural engineering field.

“Not only is Fred an educator, but he is a student, a visionary, a mentor, a friend and a master mechanic in the highest form,” Cross said.

A factory-certified instructor for Cummins Engine Company and Milton Cat, Bach continually seeks opportunities for professional growth, attending workshops and schools.

While some of the material he teaches is complex, Bach tries to find ways to make his students understand.

“When it comes to a complex principle, I tell students to relate it to something they like and are interested in so it will become more meaningful,” he said.

He also adds humor to the classroom and labs—comical quips that have become known as “Bachisms.”

Throughout his tenure, Bach has been integral in expanding opportunities for Morrisville students through his involvement with industry. His relationship with Milton Cat (Caterpillar dealer) has generated training opportunities for faculty, has led to receiving technologically advanced diagnostic software, engines, equipment and support in student recruiting and guest lecturers for classes, and has led to employment opportunities for students after they graduate.

“One of the notable successes is how industry treats us and has accepted Morrisville State College as one of them,” Bach said.

“He actively involves industry and real-life situations into the academic curriculum he teaches,” Andrew Nethercott, service operations manager at Milton Cat in Syracuse, said. “His tireless efforts to ensure this industry pathway is why his students are successful and why the program is so successful.”

Among Bach’s most memorable moments as a teacher are when alumni come back to the campus to visit or thank him.

He remains an enthusiastic part of graduates’ lives, some still utilizing his guidance long after they graduate.

“He continues to be an extremely positive influence in my life even though I graduated from Morrisville 22 years ago,” Doug Long, store manager of Lakeland Equipment in Avon, N.Y., said. “The subject matter he taught has stayed with me throughout the years and many times I find myself recalling the exact words he used to explain a concept when I have come up against technical problems in my daily life.”

A member of the National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA), Association of Teachers of Agriculture of New York (ATANY) and the New York State Council of Vocational Education (COVE), Bach has received several awards for teaching including the NACTA/John Deere Teaching Award and the Champion of Vocational Education COVE Award.

He has been actively involved in several community voluntary groups including Cornell Cooperative extension, 4-H, FFA, VICA (Skills USA), Grange, an organization that supports rural agricultural life, and his church.

Bach earned an associate’s degree in agricultural engineering from Morrisville State College, a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering and a master’s degree in agricultural education, both from Cornell University.

Morrisville State College offers more than 70 bachelor and associate degrees and options. Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine.

The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers programs in business, computer technology, office administration, liberal arts/education transfer, nursing and early childhood to Chenango County area residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the main campus.


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