Blumin Helps Graduate Students Thrive

Marlene Blumin, who earned a minor in organizational behavior at ILR and a doctorate in education at Cornell, has dedicated her life to students.
Marlene Blumin, CALS Ph.D. ’88 sitting on a park bench
Thursday, March 5, 2020

In a classroom and educational administration career spanning nearly 50 years, Marlene Blumin, CALS Ph.D. ’88 has noticed the profound changes internships make on students. “They develop incredible professional and social skills,” she said. “But, internships can be unpaid. And, they often come with additional transportation or housing costs, which not everyone can afford.” 
 
To remove financial concerns from the experience, she created the Marlene F. Blumin ’88 Graduate Internship Support Fund. 
 
This is not her first foray into philanthropy. Since the 1990s, Marlene has endowed five scholarships and one internship – honoring her mother, father, brother and sister – at a variety of institutions. Each has a different purpose. 
 
“I wanted something permanent for them, because they were very much behind who I am,” said Marlene, who “was raised to give back – either with time or resources.” 
 
“There are just so many toys you can buy,” she said. “They don’t give me the pleasure I get from knowing a student will benefit. Whenever I get a thank you note from a student, it makes me feel fantastic.” 

Before earning her doctorate, she was a Head Start teacher in East Harlem, a reading consultant in the East Syracuse Minoa School District, a consultant at Tompkins-Seneca BOCES and taught at Tompkins-Cortland Community College. Sensing that “something was missing” in the skills she would need as an administrator, she started taking graduate-level courses at Cornell. Soon, she was persuaded to continue on for her doctorate. 

What was missing was an understanding of an environmental and organizational context, which she gained through her studies at ILR. “I wanted to see organizational behavior in the context in which I was working – school districts, then community colleges, then universities.” 

“The ILR classes I took sharpened my skills and made me much more confident in where I wanted to go creatively.” 

After earning her doctorate, Marlene joined Syracuse University’s School of Education, where she taught for 30 years. There, she developed “College Learning Strategies,” a course that “teaches students how to be students. Students learn how to understand the curriculum of their courses, as well as acquire the executive skills that will carry them through college, career and life.” 

Since receiving emerita status in 2017, she continues to teach the course through Syracuse University Project Advance, which offers SU courses in high schools. And, she is working on revisions to the eighth, and final, edition of “It’s All About Choices: Recipes for Academic Success,” the textbook she developed for the course. 

In 2018, SU honored her with the Tolley Medal for scholarship and leadership in lifelong learning. 

Marlene said her greatest reward for a career in teaching “is hearing from former students and learning about their successes. I am always honored, years after graduation, that they continue to share their achievements with me.”