Leading Colleagues From A Distance

Employee Updates
Mathematics Professor David Furney
Professor David Furney spent spring break working in his home office, helping colleagues prepare for the transition to distance learning.

Professor David Furney's home office looks like some sort of "command center." It's fully equipped with two computers, four monitors, and a mini recording studio. During spring break, he spent nearly every waking hour there learning new software applications and creating instructional videos for colleagues. He felt the need to help faculty prepare for the transition to distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. "The timeline of shutting down face-to-face instruction before spring break was a gift. It gave us an entire week to plan and prepare for our distance learning lessons. I knew our Teaching Center and Distance Learning offices would be inundated with questions once class resumed. I wanted to help ease the burden and thought making instructional videos would help."

Furney began teaching math at OCC eight years ago but his connection with the College goes back much further. After graduating from Jordan-Elbridge High School in 2006, David and his twin brother Jason enrolled at OCC. Both earned Engineering degrees, transferred together to SUNY Binghamton, then went to different college for post-graduate work. They reunited at OCC as Mathematics professors and now share an office in Mawhinney Hall. They are known across campus for putting together the annual TEDx Syracuse event which has grown significantly during their four years of leadership.

As spring break was wrapping up and classes were resuming, David Furney contacted the Learning Center and offered his services. He wanted to help students who needed to be tutored in math. "It's difficult to learn on your own. Without practice and guidance students will struggle. I'm available for my students and any others who need help. I've also offered assistance to all of my neighbors whose kids will be trying to navigate the common core curriculum on their own."

Furney's dedication to education has also resulted in him becoming Chair of OCC's Curriculum Committee. He's helping lead the effort to create new majors as the College prepares to educate the students of tomorrow. "It's  a very rewarding experience. I get to be involved in big ideas and initiatives happening throughout the College. With platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom we are continuing the process like everything is normal."

Current events have made 'normal' a word that is rarely used in the Furney household. While David works from his home office, his wife Cate is on the front lines of the health care crisis. She's a doctor on the COVID Response Team for the Department of Internal Medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University. "After a while you get used to the idea that your significant other chose to devote her life to helping sick people. Pandemics like this shine a new light on that commitment. Seeing her step directly in front of this invisible danger is in no small part a contributing factor to me wanting to help wherever and whenever I can."


Onondaga Community College