Edward Bonahue to be named SCCC President

Suffolk County Community College will officially inaugurate Edward Bonahue as its seventh president on Friday, 10 months after taking office.

More than 500 local officials, university presidents, business and community leaders and members of the school community will attend the ceremony in the arena at the Brentwood campus.

A Setauket native and graduate of Ward Melville High School, Bonahue, 56, has previously been involved in strategic planning for the largest community college in the SUNY system. Its tenure must contend with a steady and steep decline in enrollment and two years of operation in the midst of a pandemic.

Bonahue, a Ph.D. in English literature and former provost and vice president for academic affairs at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., said he’s leading “a call for conversation” across the university…. engage all college staff in a process of strategic planning of priorities for action.

In its first few months, it said it had discussions with local four-year universities to streamline the process by which community college students can transfer to earn a bachelor’s degree. And he said he was engaging with local business groups to strengthen workforce training programs and regional employer advisory committees.

“We cannot successfully prepare students for careers without the guidance and support of the business community,” said Bonahue, who was appointed to the Hauppauge Industrial Association-Long Island board of directors.

He replaced interim president Louis Petrizzo last June after being named president last April. Petrizzo, previously a college attorney, took the job after the school’s board of trustees terminated former president Shaun McKay’s contract 15 months before his contract expired.

So far, Bonahue has earned praise from the teachers’ association, which represents more than 1,500 teachers, 410 of whom are full-time teachers and the rest adjuncts.

“He currently has what we think is an excellent draft vision for the institution which will put Suffolk Community College in a good place for the future,” said Dante Morelli, union president and professor of communication studies, noting that this would fix the issues. student enrollment and retention “to ensure that students can stay and complete their courses”.

Student enrollment at the college’s Brentwood, Selden and Riverhead campuses continued to decline this 2021-2022 academic year, when 20,570 students enrolled in the fall semester and 14,021 in the spring. In 2020-21, registrations increased from 22,579 in the fall to 15,717 in the spring, while pre-COVID 2018-2019 registrations increased from 26,089 in the fall to 19,730 in the spring.

Morelli said Bonahue solicited comment and was visible and engaged. “Dr. Bonahue spent a lot of time getting to know the students and faculty on all three campuses,” he said.

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