August 24, 2021
To the Campus Community:
It is with profound sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of Mr. John
Dzinanka, Director of Physical Plant, on Friday, August 20, 2021. It may not be possible
for me to describe the impact John had on our campus over his 40-year career. The
evidence of his work can be found across campus and reflects his lifetime of dedication
and his legacy.
John began his career at Farmingdale State College in 1977 as an electrician. In 1981
he joined the professional staff, and by January 1987 he was appointed Director of
Physical Plant. His knowledge of the inner-most details of a wide assortment of aging
infrastructure was astounding. He oversaw some $500 million in construction, renovation,
and rehabilitation projects over the course of his career. He also responded to multiple
crises and incidents including fires, gas leaks, hurricanes, blizzards, power failures,
water-main breaks, motor vehicle accidents, an array of crimes, and even a plane crash.
Whatever the incident, John was here to ensure the campus made it through unscathed.
Members of the physical plant staff fondly recall the marathon snow-removal sessions
after which John would personally cook breakfast for the entire crew. There are countless
stories of John risking his own life to repair an electrical issue because he wouldn’t
put anyone else in harm’s way. At commencement, he would perch alongside the stage,
watching with a critical eye to be sure everything unfolded in just the right way.
He held himself and his staff to the highest standard, but he also knew how to have
fun and take time to express his gratitude and appreciation for their efforts.
When COVID struck in March 2020, John was forced to watch from the sidelines. He often
spoke of his frustration at being unable to confront the ultimate crisis of his long
career as he fell ill. He wanted nothing more than to get better, come back, and help
the campus he loved work through the challenge.
An accomplished musician, John spent four decades sharing his gift as a member of
the community orchestra and the jazz ensemble in Northport. His biting wit and cynical
perspective on the world around us reflected his stunning intellect and often masked
the truth of the man underneath. John was an incredibly kind, generous, and warm human
being. He dedicated his life in service to something greater than himself. We have
all felt the impact of his work, and his tireless efforts have made Farmingdale State
College a better place. The legacy of his commitment to the College will endure.
In the coming weeks, members of the campus community will be planning a remembrance
for John that befits his legacy. I offer my condolences to the entire campus community—especially
the physical plant staff, as I know the void left in John’s absence.