In memoriam: Cindy Koziol, longtime undergraduate advisor for the Department of Psychology
Cynthia “Cindy” Koziol, who worked for Virginia Tech for 35 years, the majority of them as an undergraduate student advisor in the Department of Psychology, died Jan. 28, 2020. She was 68.
Koziol joined the Department of Psychology — then part of the Virginia Tech College of Art and Sciences — in 1984, first working as secretary for the clinical psychology program and the Child Study Center until 2001, when she moved to the role of undergraduate advisor. She remained in the latter position until her retirement in 2019. During her tenure, she also served as co-advisor for the Psi Chi and Psychology Club.
In 2007, she was one of five Virginia Tech employees to win the Virginia Tech President’s Award for Excellence. In a 2017 profile post to the Humans of Virginia Tech Facebook page, Koziol spoke of her favorite career moments as staying in touch with students who would drop out of college for various hardships — alcoholism, an arrest — only to later return and earn their degree. “Success stories like these stick with me, and I stick with those people. These stories make me proud of my job," she said in the post.
“She was an invaluable resource to me who, along with her family, became good friends over the years,” said Tom Ollendick, a University Distinguished Professor in clinical psychology and director of the Child Study Center, both within the College of Science. “She and her husband, Fred, attended the weddings of our two daughters, and we relished in each other’s accomplishments and milestones. She was friendly, approachable, helpful, and reaffirming.”
Ollendick said Koziol worked with more than 100 doctoral students and kept in touch with many of them through the years. He and Koziol also shared the bond of being native Nebraskans. Koziol earned a bachelor of arts in teacher education from the University of Nebraska Lincoln in 1973. “I recall vividly when the Huskers won back-to-back national football championships in 1994 and 1995 and then again in 1997,” he added. “She was delighted, but over time became a true Hokie fan.”
Kurt Hoffman, a senior instructor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Psychology, said Koziol, as the only full-time department academic advisor, would work at any given time with 800 undergraduate majors. “Cindy was a hard-working, organized, and dedicated advisor. For a large group of our majors, she was the person to talk to, particularly when things weren’t going so well. She was their sounding board, their cheerleader, and their advocate,” he said.
Ollendick, Hoffman, and others spoke of Koziol’s consistent and dedicated work as a volunteer, ushering at Virginia Tech football games, and selling tickets, ushering, and more at the Lyric Theatre in Downtown Blacksburg. Koziol volunteered for the nonprofit movie theatre and performance hall for 14 years, winning a Volunteer of the Year Award in 2013.
“What made Cindy special was her warmth and kindness,” said Susan McDonald Mattingly, executive director of the Lyric. “She made everyone feel like they mattered and gave new meaning to the concept of ‘service with a smile.’ No task was too trivial, we could always count on her to chip in when she was needed. I truly appreciate the privilege of getting to work with her.”
Added Betty Anderson, volunteer coordinator with the theatre and also a fellow Virginia Tech employee, “She was full of positive energy, and it was always delightful to work with her.” Koziol spearheaded the Lyric’s first appearance in the Blacksburg Holiday Parade, according to Anderson.
Her dedication to Virginia Tech sports was well known, Hoffman said. “Cindy was a Hokie through and through. She probably had enough maroon and orange shirts to last for three weeks. She was enormously supportive of our athletes and attended all kinds of campus events.”
According to her obituary, Koziol is survived by her husband, Fred; two children: a daughter, Ericka Kriegisch (husband, Chuck Kriegisch) and son, Brian Koziol; three grandsons, Aiden, Dylan, and Jonah. She also leaves behind a German shepard/lab mix, Sal, and her beloved cat, Cole.
A memorial service was scheduled for Feb. 3 at Blue Ridge Church in Christiansburg.