UB Today Alumni Magazine Online - Winter 2000
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Two Social Workers

Bernard Tolbert


I remember Cornelia Allen. She’s a legend around UB; Allen Hall is named after her. While she was never a professor of mine, I knew her because she was the director of Cradle Beach Camp years ago. I did a placement at Cradle Beach one year, and she was my faculty advisor.

Cornelia Allen was a true social worker. I think she was what the idea of social work was. If you were to look up “social work” in the dictionary, it would have a picture of her, because she was the ideal social worker: She was influential.

Frank Noyes, he wasn’t like a typical social worker. In fact, he didn’t look like a social worker—he looked like a mad professor. I probably enjoyed him more than any other professor I had. He was a guy who really, really got involved with you. You couldn’t just give him a standard pat answer. If I said, “It’s cloudy outside” and he said, “It’s clear,” boy, he was ready to argue with me. I can remember one of his favorite expressions—something I had never heard before: “His belly button has fuzz in it”—meaning his ability to understand what you were saying or feeling was a little fuzzy.

We had some real go-rounds. He was a fighter. He would challenge you, and I think he probably did that just to make you think, to make you fight for your position. Because if you believed in something, then he wanted to see you stand up for it.

Bernard Tolbert received his B.S. in 1971 and his M.S.W. in 1973 from UB. Currently, he is special agent in charge of the Buffalo F.B.I. office.

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