Distinguished Alumni and Hall of Fame Inductees Honored

Jefferson Community College (JCC) recognized distinguished alumni and athletic hall of fame inductees on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at a ceremony held at the Elks Lodge in Watertown.

Three distinguished alumni recognized for their professional achievement, leadership abilities, promise for continued success and exemplary commitment to their community and JCC are Dr. G. Nicholas Verne, Class of 1983, recipient of the Professional Achievement Award; Dr. Marie A. Hess, Class of 1974, recipient of the Jeffersonian Award; and Nathaniel J. Chapin, Class of 2003, recipient of the Rising Star Award.

Dr. G. Nicholas Verne, Class of 1983–Professional Achievement Award

Dr. G. Nicholas Verne, Galveston, Texas, is currently a professor and associate chairman of medicine and division director of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He holds the Blanton Distinguished Chair of Internal Medicine. Internationally recognized in neurogastroenterology and motility, Verne has authored or co-authored over 75 peer-reviewed articles. A high honors graduate of Jefferson’s liberal arts mathematics and science program, Verne graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Le Moyne College and received his M.D. with high honors from SUNY Health Science Center. In 2011, Dr. Verne was one of eight gastroenterologists worldwide to receive the American Gastrointestinal Association Master’s Award for outstanding achievement in basic and clinical digestive sciences.

Dr. Marie A. Hess, Class of 1974 – Jeffersonian Award

Dr. Marie A. Hess, Sackets Harbor, has over 40 years of service as a health care practitioner and educator at JCC, making her leadership in the field extraordinary. Among many college and community honors, Hess is the recipient of the 1996 State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service, the New York State (NYS) Nurse of Distinction Award, and is a member of the SUNY Alumni Honor Roll. Her most recent accomplishments include successfully coordinating a Department of Labor Weekend Scholars Nursing Program. Hess demonstrates her civic duty through volunteerism with Jefferson County Public Health, Samaritan Medical Center, Carthage Area Hospital, Lewis County General Hospital, St. Elizabeth Seton Church, NYS Zoo at Thompson Park, Hospice, SPCA and Girl Scouts.

Nathaniel J. Chapin, Class of 2003 – Rising Star Award

Nathaniel J. Chapin, Mountain View, California, started his college career at Jefferson at the tender age of 13.  He holds an associate’s degree from Jefferson and a bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). In 2007, Chapin was recruited by Google, Inc. and received two promotions over the course of five years with the most recent to senior software engineer. In 2011, Nate published an article in the online Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence based on his master’s thesis work.

New members inducted into the Class of 2012 Cannoneer Hall of Fame are Kenneth Puffer, Scott K. Wilson and Amy Jo Sipher.  

Kenneth R. Puffer, JCC Coach and Athletic Director, 1967-1990

Kenneth R. Puffer, of Valdosta, Georgia, joined the JCC faculty in 1967 as a physical education instructor, intramural director, and varsity baseball coach. In 1969, he became the director of physical education and athletics. Ken expanded the athletic program during his tenure by adding Cross Country, Men’s Lacrosse, Bowling, Skiing, Men’s Soccer, Tennis, Women’s Basketball, Volleyball, Softball, and Women’s Soccer to the lineup. He also coached Baseball, Cross Country, Golf, Women’s Basketball, and Volleyball. In 1986 he stepped down as Director to focus on teaching. In May 1990, Ken retired from 23 years of service at Jefferson. 

Scott K. Wilson, Basketball Player, 1982-1984

Scott K. Wilson, of Chaumont, brought a remarkable Frontier League record and New York’s all-time leading scorer accolades with him when he came to JCC in the fall of 1982 from Lyme Central School. He continued to rack up records during two seasons at JCC, becoming the all-time leading scorer with 1,249 points, and amassing a 38-game, double-figure scoring streak. His talent on the court followed him to Ithaca College, where he averaged 15.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, earning him 1st team honors in the Independent College Athletic Conference. Scott was named as one of the Watertown Daily Times North Country top 100 greatest all-time athletes in 2009.  He continues to teach the game he loves as an assistant coach at Lyme Central. 


Amy Jo Sipher, Basketball Player, Class of 1992

Amy Jo Sipher, of Queensbury, was a member of the 1990-1991 and 1991-1992 Jefferson Women’s Basketball teams. As a point guard, she helped lead the 1991-1992 team to its first ever Region III Division III championship title. They finished 3rd in the NJCAA National Tournament and were ranked 2nd nationally in defense and 3rd nationally in offense. Sipher received NJCAA Women’s Basketball Player of the Year and 2nd Team All-American honors. She continued her basketball career at SUNY Potsdam where she was named to the All-Conference Selection team and served on the Potsdam Recreation Board. In addition to an associate’s degree from Jefferson, Sipher holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from SUNY Potsdam and a master’s degree in counseling from St. Lawrence University. In 2007, Amy Jo was inducted into the SUNY Potsdam Athletic Hall of Fame, and the Gouverneur High School Athletic Hall of Fame. 

The Distinguished Alumni and Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is sponsored by Liberty Mutual, Victory Promotions and Watertown Savings Bank.