Viticulture and Enology Staff Spotlight: Cynthia Wood
(December 21, 2021) - The Jordan College would like to sincerely thank retiring viticulture and enology program specialist Cynthia Wood, who has served as a vital link for students, faculty, staff, alumni and industry supporters with 40 years of service.
She was hired in 1981 by Dr. Vincent E. Petrucci, the program founder and then-director of the Viticulture and Enology Research Center, and has handled administrative, outreach and event coordinator needs for one of the nation’s leading viticulture and enology programs.
She has played equally important roles in fundraising for the department library that is named in Petrucci's honor. She has also organized a host of events like its Grape Day, a biyearly event that showcases faculty research with industry partners, alumni and students.
In 2016-17, she received the Jordan College’s Distinguished Service Award for her exceptional service and commitment to the college.
Born in Fresno and raised in Easton, she graduated from Fresno State with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies in 1988, and is proud that several family members also work in the grape and wine industry.
Learn more about her background in this recent interview.
Q: Talk about your position at Fresno State and how it has evolved?
Wood: "I was hired August 31, 1981 to work as an assistant for the late Dr. Vincent E. Petrucci, professor of viticulture, and at the time, director of the Viticulture Research Center. I have worked within the same program and college ever since. The program has evolved over the years, and I have been a part of lots of growth and organizational changes."
Q: Talk about some of your primary responsibilities, and what led you to apply at Fresno State initially?
Wood: "Working on a university campus appealed to me. I applied for a job in the student union but was #2 on the list. They called me back for an interview for the position for Vincent Petrucci."
Wood: "Today's world and office environment is very different from what it was in 1981! (Chuckle) For example, back then I got the job done with a typewriter, carbon paper, a dictating machine, and rolodex. Needless to say, my initial position as a secretary and assistant to our very busy director and subsequent leaders evolved as our program grew. So did my role and responsibilities. I feel fortunate to have been able to contribute to this program by supporting our academic and research program goals, including fundraising, expansion, and outreach projects."
Q: What have been some of your favorite parts of your job?
Wood: "Making a difference and contributing to a program that positively impacts others. Working with good people. Learning and being a part of a team. Making life-long friendships. I have enjoyed a lot of wonderful aspects in my career."
Q: Talk about any noteworthy department and program transitions you were involved with.
Wood: "I assisted Dr. Petrucci through several fundraising campaigns (building, endowments), and also assisted with the transition to our official status as the "Viticulture and Enology Research Center" in 1984-85 when California Agricultural Technology Institute (CATI) and our Viticulture and Enology Industry Advisory Board were established. I was also a part of the administrative team that brought the newly established Department of Viticulture and Enology (2000) together with the research center. I am also proud to have worked closely with our alumni organization to support the viticulture and enology library for our students and public."
Q: Have you been involved with any key events/programs/projects that you're extra proud of?
Wood: "Forty years is a long time to just pick a few, but I am very proud to have been a part of the team that started the "A Celebration of Wine" fundraiser with the Viticulture and Enology Alumni in the early 1980's. While I am also grateful to have worked with our faculty and many industry colleagues to host many symposiums, conferences, and field days, I'm very proud of the success of the two "International Wine Microbiology Symposiums," the ten-year plus series of "Viticulture and Enology Central Coast Issues Conferences," and the ten-year plus run of "Winemaster's Weekend" events at the Tenaya Lodge."
Q: Any other fond memories?
Wood: "Being the social person that I am, I genuinely love keeping in touch with our alumni and hearing what they are up to in their lives and careers. Once a year I have enjoyed seeing so many alums and industry friends during the ASEV meetings and/or Unified Wine & Grape Symposiums that were held throughout California, Oregon and Washington. I will miss our reunions, but hope to keep up with everyone on social media!"
Q: Have you been involved with any campus or student organizations, committees, etc?
Wood: "From day one I have had the privilege of working closely with and providing support to our viticulture and enology students and student organizations, i.e. the Viticulture Club and Enology Society."
Q: Who have been some of your most influential mentors on campus?
Wood: "Professor Petrucci for his vision and 'can do' attitude to make his dreams for our program a reality. Dr. Robert Wample, and Dr. Jim Kennedy for their integrity and true leadership qualities. I will be forever grateful to have worked with them during my career."
Q: Is there anybody else you would like to thank?
Wood: "My family for their support, especially through the long hours and times when I traveled away from home! I also can't forget to mention so many of my friends and colleagues who have been a part of this journey with me. Thank you."
Q: Did you graduate from Fresno State?
Wood: "Yes, I received a B.A. in Liberal Studies in 1988. I did it the hard way and finished my degree while I was working full time! (which took many night classes and lunch hours for awhile!). My co-worker and friend encouraged me to finish my education, especially since I was already working at Fresno State."
Q: Where are you from originally?
Wood: "I was born in Fresno and raised in the rural community of Easton. I grew up surrounded by agriculture, and I'm proud to say that several of my family members are still a part of the grape and wine industry. When I began to work at Fresno State, I immediately felt at home with the students, alumni, and industry that we serve."
Q: Are there any campus retirement events planned that we can share details about?
Wood: "I hear that there may be a retirement event in the springtime of 2022. I look forward to it!"
Q: Do you have any retirement plans that you would like to share?
Wood: "In the future I hope to do some traveling to see friends who live in other areas. Maybe I'll even be able to visit some of our alumni around the state and country!"