Last Friday, April 8, Edward Bonahue was sworn in as the seventh president of Suffolk County Community College.
During his inaugural address, Bonahue laid out his vision for higher education in Suffolk County and the direction he intends to take the college throughout his term as president.
“It is a career-defining honor to stand with you today and to accept the profound privilege and immense responsibility of serving as the seventh president of Suffolk County Community College,” he said. declared. “For this Long Island boy, the child and also the brother of longtime Suffolk County educators, the opportunity to join all of you in Suffolk County service is a dream come true and an answered prayer. .”
“We honor and commend the work done by generations of caring employees, faculty, and staff who could choose to do anything, who could choose to work anywhere, but chose that work.
A place in history
Bonahue detailed the history of SCCC from its founding in 1959 as a small college of approximately 500 students. At the time, classrooms were to be borrowed from Sachem and Riverhead High Schools. The president compared the population growth of Suffolk County to the development and advancement of the community college.
“These early students came from a growing county with about 600,000 residents,” he said. “Today, Suffolk County has over 1.6 million people, which is a much more diverse population, and our annual college enrollment exceeds 20,000 students. He went on to say, “We honor and commend the work done by generations of caring employees, faculty and staff who could choose to do anything, who could choose to work anywhere, but who have chosen this job, to work here and embrace this mission of fostering student development, promoting a culture of lifelong learning, and ultimately serving the community in which we live.
Reflecting on the resilience of the campus community during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bonahue said the college has found new and innovative ways to continue the educational process through virtual learning. At a time of deep uncertainty and desperation, he said the SCCC has not backed down from its academic mission.
“Especially at the start of the pandemic, many of us worked around the clock just to manage a virtual continuity of operations,” he said. “We all learned that our community college students were often the most likely to have been impacted by the pandemic.” Discussing how students and staff responded, Bonahue added, “We worked with a sense of urgency, but also with pragmatic flexibility, knowing that our students’ progress, sometimes even their well-being, relied on our ability to adapt to constantly changing conditions. »
Respond to community needs
“We recognize that the work of education is complicated, but the college regards it as an essential duty.
During her address, Bonahue explained the important role that SCCC plays within the Suffolk community. He said the institution’s mission is to provide quality and affordable higher education and to promote health and prosperity throughout the county.
“We know that we are an essential part of the formula for supporting our community and changing the lives of students,” Bonahue said. “Specifically, our college’s core mission, the need to provide affordable and inclusive education, to provide a pathway of opportunity, has never been more critical.” He added, “For all of Suffolk County, I have this simple message: Suffolk County Community College is Long Island’s own path to educational and economic success.”
Bonahue considers that an educated population is necessary for the well-being of the community. “We recognize that the work of education is complicated, but the college sees it as an essential duty, because we know that an educated population is an essential good for our society and our nation.”
The president suggests that democracy also requires engaged citizenship. He said one of the college’s priorities is to keep its students informed and involved in the democratic process.
“One of our commitments to students is to foster a sense of citizenship and civic engagement,” he said. “We recognize that teaching the rights of democracy, its many individual freedoms, the privilege of self-determination, must also be accompanied by teaching about the responsibilities of citizenship, including service to the community and at home, the rule of law, an appreciation for the power of diversity and a willingness to speak up and act to defend our freedoms. He emphasized, “This kind of general education for all students is essential because through it, students understand not only the rights and responsibilities of being an American, but also a sense of the world in which they live.”
“The student experience is the reality of the college.—Edward Bonahue
At the service of all students
Bonahue delivered his general vision for the college. He affirmed that the college “will continue its commitment to serve all students, regardless of their background or previous experience in higher education.”
He said the college must continue to promote the inclusion of all students, regardless of their circumstances: “We know that the future of the college means welcoming the part-time student, the working student, the parent student, as well as those who come to us straight out of high school.
Additionally, Bonahue has embraced the unconventional curricula that complement the curriculum offered by the college. “We affirm that as a comprehensive community college, career education, workforce development and economic development are an integral and fundamental part of our mission,” he said, adding, “We are proud of our thousands of students who travel through our arts and sciences each year. programs, graduating from our honors programs and often transferring to highly selective universities. We are also proud of our nurses, welders, bakers, programmers, paramedics, machinists and accountants.
During the speech, Bonahue argued that the student experience is the impetus behind his work: “The student experience is the reality of college, and we will keep that truth central to how we carry out our mission to student success day by day. today, from semester to semester and from year to year.
The president spoke about the many financial challenges that students can face while pursuing higher education. He acknowledged that there were still too many people excluded from the education system due to the cost burden.
“Because the cost of education still too often places it out of reach for deserving students, we affirm our commitment that an education in Suffolk must remain an education that is affordable,” said Bonahue. “Our college foundation’s work as a vehicle to support scholarship and basic student needs empowers each and all of us to invest in our students.”
To access the full speech, Click here.