Former GCC student remembers Cliff Scutella, late director of student activities
By Khilna Samat
As an international student from Tanzania, Africa, attending Genesee Community College, I remember vividly how Cliff Scutella, the Director of Student Activities, constantly integrated international and domestic student populations to enhance mutual understanding and awareness.
Cliff’s office was in the Student Union. It was where people from different walks of life amalgamated so seamlessly because that was the environment that Cliff envisioned and created. He was naturally an affable person and as such, he taught us that nothing was impossible when we unified. It was the essence of the Student Union. Cliff was the epitome of hard work and fun! One day he was dressed in his professional attire and on another, he was wearing a tiara. Cliff often said he never worked a day in his life because being the student activities director allowed him to be a kid still and have fun coupled with his strong leadership capabilities.
Cliff’s leadership skills were contagious as made evident by Lorraine Briggs, “Cliff Scutella was the man who inspired generations of college students. During my time at GCC, Cliff was the head of Student Activities. Before I joined the Campus Activities Board (CAB) and Student Government, I knew Cliff as the funny guy who dressed up for events and loved his hot dogs. He was a family man, too. He was open-minded and welcoming. Most appropriately, he was a simple man that loved his students. After several years of working side by side with Cliff, many trips to APCA, and lots of hours dedicated to event plans I interviewed for a position within the Student Activities Office. For another five years, I got to know Cliff even more. He inspired me to take on leadership roles and to JUST GO FOR IT. He taught me so much in the 10 years I was on the GCC grounds. I will always be grateful to have had the honor to work with Cliff. The world is a more inspiring place because of him.”
Cliff never spoke to anyone in a demeaning manner. He offered infinite kindness and was always positive with a “you can do it” attitude. His altruistic character and selflessness confirmed that it was all about the students and he immensely cared for them. It’s a sentiment that Molly Cole, Class of 2010, can relate to very well. “When I first met Cliff, I was a new student at GCC. His energy and joy reminded me of my dad, and he made me feel right at home. His joy was contagious! Cliff always went above and beyond for all his students, and I’ll never forget what he did for me. While I was a student at GCC, I suddenly lost a family member. I was devastated and lost. I could hardly function because I was heartbroken. Cliff saw that and made an extended effort to be there with me as I grieved. He checked in with me every day for almost two months. He even enlisted the whole office to support me during that time. That was the man he was. He was mine and so many others ‘Campus Dad’. My life has been forever changed by him. His life will be celebrated, and he will be truly missed.”
Cliff openly exhibited to all students how much we meant to him and encouraged us to take chances - that to make a mistake was not the end of the world, and he gave us confidence that we were valued as human beings. I graduated from GCC in May 2011, and I never saw Cliff again but never forgot him. I learned Cliff retired from GCC in the summer of 2019 and prematurely went to see his creator on Sunday, July 17, 2022. I hope that everyone, when such people cross their paths, never takes people like Cliff for granted. we certainly never did, and never will.