Cayuga Professor Joins Prestigious SUNY Distinguished Academy

Cayuga Community College Professor Eric Zizza will join the elite SUNY Distinguished Academy this summer, the highest possible honor for faculty in the State University of New York.

In recognition of his years of service at Cayuga and in the regional and statewide communities, Professor Zizza has been awarded the rank of SUNY Distinguished Service Professor. Since 1963, SUNY has only awarded 358 Distinguished Service Professorships.

Professor Zizza will be formally inducted into the academy in June, and will be recognized for his achievement at Cayuga’s Commencement on May 18 at Falcon Park.

“Induction into SUNY’s Distinguished Academy is a prestigious honor that’s only awarded to a select few across the State University of New York. Throughout his tenure at Cayuga, Professor Zizza has demonstrated that he deserves such recognition,” said Cayuga President Dr. Brian Durant. “He is a strong leader who is always focused on developing new opportunities for our students and supporting his colleagues. We’ve seen his devotion to our communities time and again through his leadership on committees and boards of education, plus his advocacy on the state level.”

Professor Zizza said he was honored to be named to SUNY’s Distinguished Academy, noting that the academy is filled with prominent members whose academic and leadership contributions are widespread.

“This is extremely humbling. When you look at others who have been inducted into the SUNY Distinguished Academy, you see Nobel Prize nominees and people doing groundbreaking research,” he said. “To be included in that group is a tremendous honor, one that I didn’t anticipate ever receiving.”

Professor Zizza joined Cayuga in 2003 as an Adjunct Counselor before being named the College’s Transfer Counselor in 2004. He served in that capacity for 14 years before being named the Division Chair of the College’s Division of Business, Behavioral/Social Science, Criminal Justice, Teacher Education, and Health and Physical Education in 2018.

He is only the second Cayuga faculty member to join the SUNY Distinguished Academy, following Professor Steve Keeler’s induction in 2012. Professor Keeler submitted a letter of support for Professor Zizza’s nomination, saying his contributions far exceeded normal professional responsibilities.

“Eric is a very deserving candidate based on his exemplary and consistent service to our college, and our greater regional community for many years,” said Professor Keeler. “In reviewing his record at Cayuga, one really becomes impressed by the number of important professional contributions he has made in many areas.”

In his 20 years at Cayuga, Professor Zizza has amassed a comprehensive service record. He was a leading voice in the development of Cayuga’s emerging Human Services program, has served as the President of the College Faculty Association for the past decade, and has served on committees dedicated to enrollment, health and wellness, and accreditation.

His service record is not limited to the College. Since 2012 he served as the Chair for the Cayuga County Health Consortium Board of Directors, which governs the health insurance programs for several regional agencies and municipalities, including the City of Auburn and Cayuga County. Professor Zizza was twice elected to the Board of Education for the Weedsport Central School District, where he served as President and Vice President.

Professor Zizza said he adopts the same approach to service, whether it’s at Cayuga or in the community.

“If there’s something I’m proud of, it’s being committed to helping to find answers and making sure people who are a part of each process are heard and that we do justice to all concerned. I’ve always thought that’s the best way to ensure we end up in a better place than where we started, no matter what problem or issue we’re trying to solve,” he said.

For more information about the SUNY Distinguished Academy, please visit