Center for Excellence Honoree: Robert Poppendieck

Robert PoppendieckOne of the best aspects of Robert "Bob" Poppendieck's job is that no two days are exactly the same.

When he responded to a report of a student experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction, the security officer administered first aid. After, he figured out that the tiny canister of fish food she'd been using to feed her roommate's pet had triggered her shellfish allergy.

Another day, just prior to finals, he was assigned to investigate the theft of medical reference books, worth about $800. "The student was very upset-she was a mess," he recalled. "Her family didn't have a lot of money, and she wasn't going to be able to replace those books."

Within two hours, Poppendieck had the books back, and with the help of the bookstore, had identified the thief who had traded them in.

Since he learned he was getting the award, Poppendieck has been ecstatic. "My feet haven't touched the ground," he said.

The officer, who has been on the force for 13 years, characterized Quinnipiac as a great place to work. "I just love the students and having a rapport with them."

In his letter of nomination, David Barger, assistant chief of security, described Poppendieck's work as exemplary. "There are so many instances in which he has gone above and beyond what one would expect of a security officer," Barger wrote.

When a fire broke out in the Athletic and Recreation Center, Poppendieck got everyone out and then re-entered the smoky building to contain the fire. "He chose to risk his safety so that others could be evacuated from the building and then suppressed the fire to protect property," Barger said.

Poppendieck attended Southern Connecticut State University for three years. When his father died, he left school to take a full-time job at a supermarket. In 1994, the chain left Connecticut, and Poppendieck saw an ad for a job at Quinnipiac. Although he had never done security work before, the University was willing to train him.

Poppendieck lives in West Haven with his wife, Donna, and his Boston terrier, Gizmo. His mother, sisters, five nieces and three nephews live nearby. He plans to take his nieces and nephews to Quinnipiac ice hockey games this winter. His hobbies include weight lifting and watching football (he played for West Haven High for four years).

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