2021 Robert T. Sherman Distinguished Service Award — Debbie Zinz

With 33 years of experience at Allegheny College, Associate Registrar Debbie Zinz has devoted her time and expertise to crucial work that no one would likely notice unless it goes wrong. But time and again, Debbie has ensured that these important operations are carried out not only accurately but also efficiently. With a wealth of institutional knowledge often rivaling user manuals and historical records, she has proven to be a tremendous asset to the College throughout her career. 

“I do not know how large areas of the College would run without Debbie, and not just the Registrar’s Office,” says Ian Binnington, dean for student success and professor of history and Black studies. “She knows the interior workings of our systems and processes as well as anyone on campus and is constantly being asked to help troubleshoot problems in departments in which she does not work. If you bring her a problem, I would bet you money that she will find a solution — one that is sensible and sustainable.”

Through the detailed and careful execution of her daily work in the Registrar’s Office, Debbie has supported growth and creativity in the exceptional academic programs that the College offers. COVID-19 presented plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong in 2020 and 2021, but by and large, they did not — and much of that success is due to Debbie’s tireless energy and work ethic in the face of many challenges. 

No student would graduate from Allegheny without Debbie, quite literally. Every year, she goes through individual degree audits by hand and diligently assists hundreds of students to ensure they complete their degrees on time. She is therefore an advisor to every student who passes through Allegheny’s doors. Debbie’s familiarity with the curriculum also allows her to advise faculty and departments on their offerings and programs. 

In addition to her exemplary service in the Registrar’s Office, Debbie has also found time to go above and beyond her position. For example, she has volunteered at COVID-19 testing sites and assisted with Move-in, where she has greeted families and carried student belongings to their rooms. 

“Her accomplishments won’t make the news, and if she does her job right, most people won’t have to remember that she is there at all,” adds Binnington. “But she is. Keeping the institution alive, making sure that students graduate on time, that their records are accurate, and that they know she cares about them. This is what makes Allegheny great. This is what makes the College such a special place to learn and work.”