Patricia Storer PAT (Professional, Administrative, and Technical Staff) Award
Director of Residential Life and Dining Services
Boredom is not in Frank Cocchiarella’s vocabulary. “I just can’t comprehend boredom,” he says. “There’s always something to do.”
That’s certainly the case when you are PSU’s director of Residential Life and Dining Services, as Cocchiarella has been since 2000. As director, he is responsible for PSU’s residential campus, which comprises eight traditional residence halls, a 136-unit student apartment complex, and a 30-unit non-traditional student apartment complex. He also has oversight of the 2500-student dining hall and four smaller dining facilities across campus. While Cocchiarella enjoys the many facets of his job, including managing the operating budgets, developing and helping to achieve departmental goals, and, above all, ensuring that students have a safe home away from home, he says that the best aspect of his job is the people with whom—and for whom—he works. “They are competent and compassionate,” he says. “They make working here a joy.”
Cocchiarella’s work keeps him busy, but it doesn’t prevent him from immersing himself in other areas of the University. Shortly after joining PSU in 1987, Cocchiarella was elected to the PAT senate, which represents the University’s professional, administrative, and technical staff, and he has twice served as speaker. He has also served on scores of committees, been an advisor for various student groups and intramural sports teams, and for years was actively involved in PSC (Pride and Service to the Community) Day, an annual event in which Plymouth State faculty, staff, and students would dedicate a day to a volunteer project of their own choosing. “There are so many ways to be involved at PSU, and that’s definitely one of the reasons I’ve been here for 22 years,” he says.
Equally important to Cocchiarella is serving the community in which he lives and works. His first foray into community service work was coaching for the Plymouth Area Little League. For Cocchiarella, an avid exerciser and sportsman, it was the perfect blend of personal interest and service to the community. A few years into coaching, he was asked to be commissioner, and was later honored as Plymouth Area Little League Volunteer of the Year. He also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, which led to a position on the local chapter’s executive board. And in recent years, the Campton resident has been active in the Waterville Valley Region Chamber of Commerce and is currently on the executive board. “For just about every organization I get involved with, I tend to take on more and more responsibilities,” Cocchiarella notes. “I like to learn and then do.”
It may seem that, between work and his myriad service endeavors, Cocchiarella would have little time for anything else, but for him, family—which includes his wife, Tamara (who also works for PSU), and two children, Jillian and Nevan—comes first. And just as Cocchiarella was raised to serve his community, he says, “we are teaching our kids about service and getting involved.” As a family, the Cocchiarellas have organized neighborhood get-togethers, campaigned for a 2008 presidential candidate, and helped out at the kids’ school. “We believe in trying to be good neighbors, giving something back to our community, and being good representatives of the University,” he says, adding, “It’s part of our everyday lives.”