Former dean continues tradition of delivering holiday cheer

Santa hands a wrapped present to a little boy.

Spreading holiday cheer

Joe Woods, dean of the School of Health Sciences from 1988 to 2005, carries on his annual tradition of helping Santa as he hands a gift to 2-year-old Dominic Gargiulo during holiday festivities with faculty and staff and the Cheshire Transition Collaborative earlier this month in the Center for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences on our North Haven Campus.

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or more than half a century, Joe Woods has worn a whimsical red suit and framed his face with a snowy beard.

Just the other day, with the calendar chasing Christmas, Woods delivered this year’s assortment of gifts to children at the Center for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences on our North Haven Campus — as one of Santa's favorite helpers.

“It’s just something I love doing,” he said. “I love their faces.”

Woods has served the Quinnipiac community for nearly as long as he’s helped Santa. Over the last 48 years, Woods has taught biology, anatomy and physiology, research methods and other classes. He also was dean of the School of Health Sciences from 1988 to 2005.

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“I’ve grown up with a whole series of faculty and administrators who have embodied all of the characteristics of family,” Woods said. “It’s something that’s carried forward here.”

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Joe Woods holds a present at Quinnipiac.

Continuing a tradition

Joe Woods has been helping Santa spread holiday cheer for decades.

Woods and his wife, Gerry, have collaborated to give back to the Hamden area — and beyond — for many years. Gerry Woods is co-president of the Connecticut chapter of the Pajama Program. This year, she helped collect more than 60 pairs of pajamas and a generous stack of storybooks for underserved children.

The recent festivities in North Haven began with about a dozen students from Cheshire High School’s Secondary Transition Collaborative singing holiday songs.

BS/Master of Occupational Therapy

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The program, which is led by Kim Hartmann, director of the Center for Interprofessional Health Care Education, helps Cheshire’s special needs students from ages 18 to 21. These students work with Quinnipiac’s students, faculty and staff to learn job skills, polish their socialization techniques and build a deeper sense of independence.

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Hiram Aidoo sings holiday songs at the celebration.

Spreading smiles

Hiram Aidoo, a student in the Cheshire Transition Collaborative, sings holiday songs at the celebration.

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For Woods, it was one more reason to celebrate the season with children and grandchildren of faculty and staff.

The little girls in dresses and the little boys in lumberjack shirts danced without any inhibition during the Christmas carols. They spoke to Santa in the same, unfettered way. 

School of Health Sciences
Bill Kohlhepp, dean of the School of Health Sciences, holds his 17-month-old grandson, Connor, as he is greeted by Santa during the holiday festivities.

Ringing in the holidays

Bill Kohlhepp, dean of the School of Health Sciences, holds his 17-month-old grandson, Connor, as he is greeted by Santa during the holiday festivities.

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“I really enjoy having conversations with the children,” Woods said. “Their ideas and Santa’s ideas almost become like one.”