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Spotlight Logo - Issue 1 - 2022

New Study Reveals College's Brand is Strong

A picture of a dial being turned all the way up to "quality."

The college recently partnered with a national market research firm to assess how its brand is perceived by external audiences. Among other things, the study captured perceptions about the college and the effectiveness of its marketing from more than 400 potential students and parents of potential students residing within Suffolk and Nassau counties, ages 16 to 54, who self-identified that they were considering enrollment in a degree or certificate program from an institution of higher education within the next two years (or have a family member considering enrollment). Individuals participated on panels, with data collected in mid-April 2022.

The 48-page final report offered valuable data and many positive takeaways. For instance, Suffolk County Community College is top of mind when it comes to unaided name awareness of any college or university within our region – even higher than Stony Brook University. When the participants were shown samples of our recent advertisements, the effectiveness ratings were uniformly high. Respondents indicated that the biggest motivating factors for enrolling in a degree or certificate program were to “get a better job” (44%), “to educate myself” (43%), “personal achievement” (39%), and to “earn a degree” (38%). The study shows that parents are still very significant influencers in the decision-making process. Affordability and transfer of credits ranked highest on their list of what they are seeking.Photo of Drew Fawcett winning the SUNY CUAD Award for excellence in marketing. Opinions of Suffolk are highly favorable and consistent among all age groups on the panels. In addition, panelists cited affordability, convenience, and quality as all positive. We are consistently identified as being familiar, reputable and affordable. Our reputation in the marketplace is strong. The opportunity for us all is to leverage and convert our positive reputation into outreach strategies that will boost enrollment and retention.

In related news, the college was recently recognized for Excellence in Marketing by the State University of New York (SUNY) Council for University Advancement (CUAD), winning both Best in Category and Judges’ Citation for print advertising and total marketing campaign, respectively.

Brightspace is Ready to Shine

Brightspace Graphic

In an effort to create greater consistency within all SUNY learning environments, the entire SUNY system is transitioning to Brightspace learning platforms. Here at Suffolk, Brightspace already replaced Blackboard for a select number of summer 2022 classes, and it will fully replace Blackboard, college-wide, this semester.

For several months, Suffolk’s team has been training faculty in Brightspace and the feedback has been virtually universal in its praise. Specifically, users find it much more intuitive, and it offers great communication options for working with students, even if the instructor is not teaching in an online environment. What’s more, instructors who teach across different SUNY institutions now only need to know one learning management system. In addition, students who continue their education within the SUNY environment can remain with a system they are well-versed in and have gained comfort in using.

Fall classes have already been uploaded into the Brightspace system and faculty are encouraged to begin using it now. Training and resources – including short video tutorials – are available at Suffolk’s team also welcomes feedback, questions, or comments at

The benefits of using Brightspace are also being promoted to our students through a multi-platform communications plan using texting, social media, hands-on learning via peer instructors, videos, portal messaging and other student-directed strategies.

A New Strategic Plan

Photo of Dr. Edward Bonahue

Setting the Stage for Suffolk’s Future

This past June, the Board of Trustees reviewed and supported the college’s new 2022-2027 Strategic Plan. While it is, in many ways, a beginning for the college, this plan also marks the culmination of a tremendous amount of intentional work during the past year. Our outreach efforts were guided by the Strategic Planning Council and included collecting valuable feedback through online surveys and conducting reflective, internal conversations at each of our campuses, led by President Bonahue. Ultimately, our community considered the input gathered through these activities as we finalized the development of the college’s new strategic plan.

Why is a strategic plan necessary?

The strategic plan provides direction for making institutional decisions that fall within a range of priority categories that can be annual or long-term, and makes sure that decisions and operations are strategic actions align with the college’s mission, vision and values. In essence, the strategic plan becomes the college’s roadmap and helps clarify the effective distribution of resources so that we can effectively support student success, maximize the college’s potential, and better serve our valued communities.

What’s next? 

As we move into the new semester, college leadership will begin to implement the substance and spirit of the strategic plan through operational plans that will allow us to be more effective in how we impact students and move the college forward. A portion of the upcoming Professional Development Day will be dedicated to keeping this conversation alive and additional events and/or initiatives throughout the year will be employed to ensure that we are constantly assessing our progress and maintaining an inclusive dialogue with the full college community. Through this approach, our college has an opportunity to work as a community as we reach for the extraordinary.

Data Dashboards

The availability and effective use of data will be integral to making informed decisions that positively impact upon student success. As the college moves toward the implementation of the 2022-2027 Strategic Plan, and in an effort to increase the availability and transparency of institutional data, the Office of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness (OPIE) is proud to present the first of several public-facing dashboards available to the college community. To facilitate this effort, the Office of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness (OPIE) has launched several data dashboards. The first of these dashboards, the Historical Student Enrollment Dashboard, was released this past summer and shares historical collegewide and campus-based enrollment data from fall 2011 to the present. It’s interactive, easy-to-use, and allows the college community to disaggregate data by race, gender, student type, program, campus, geographical location, and more. Look for additional dashboards in the near future.

SUNY Suffolk Receives NSF I-Success Grant to Support STEM Students

NSF logo

The National Science Foundation’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S-STEM) program recently awarded Suffolk County Community College faculty members Sean Tvelia, Richa Rawat Prakash, and Joseph Napolitano a new $1,499,296 grant. The award, entitled Improved Support for Undergraduates in Community College Engaged in STEM Studies (I-SUCCESS), will increase the number of low-income, academically talented STEM students who graduate, transfer to a four-year STEM program, or directly enter the STEM workforce by scaling and enhancing existing resources, developing new student support and cohort-building opportunities, and better addressing unmet student financial needs.

Since the 2016-2017 academic year, unmet financial need among undergraduates pursuing STEM degrees at Suffolk has increased by approximately 38%. The I-SUCCESS project includes scholarships totaling $900,900 over 6 years plus $13,800 to support student summer research travel expenses. The program will support 18 new and 16 continuing students each year, with 90 unique participants over the six-year project. The total scholarship support to each student should average $10,010 from program entry to graduation. 

The project will: 1) increase the scholarship award, 2) introduce an intrusive faculty mentor program, with Co-PI faculty positioned strategically across campuses and within STEM disciplines to serve as role models and advisors, 3) increase opportunities for engagement and cohort building through remote and in-person activities, 4) make more accessible, discipline-specific faculty tutoring to augment existing support, and 5) provide internship and job coaching to supplement existing career services for STEM careers in the regional workforce. High-impact practices proven effective at promoting retention and transfer, including authentic research experiences and publication and presentation opportunities, will be augmented with opportunities for workforce internships.  

The project begins October 1, 2022. Students interested in applying for the program should contact Professor Sean Tvelia at or (631) 451-4303.

Focus On...The Entrepreneurial Assistance Center

Daphne Gordon

Starting a business isn’t easy. Running a newly-created firm is just as difficult. Both require individuals to make decisions that put the company on the line. That is why SUNY Suffolk’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Center (EAC) helps business owners in nearly every aspect of setting up and running a business. The EAC is also focused on increasing business ownership among minorities, women, dislocated workers, and disabled individuals by providing an intensive program of classroom training, technical assistance and ongoing business support during enterprise formation, operation, and expansion.

Suffolk’s EAC has been an important part of the College's overall mission and integral to the economic development of Suffolk County since its inception in 1995. With an operational focus on servicing English- and Spanish-speaking business owners, the EAC also exposes youth to entrepreneurship and financial literacy, assists current and future business owners with technical assistance, and helps them secure MWBE (Minority or Women-owned Businesses) certification and government contracts. The college is proud to note that two EAC clients were awarded New York State Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019 and 2021.

Managed by Dr. Daphne Gordon since 1998, the EAC has had award-winning results, having been designated New York State’s top EAC in 2012, 2018 and 2019. Dr. Gordon also created the college’s Youth Entrepreneurial & Financial Literacy Summer Camp for students aged 13-17 to inspire them toward business ownership.

The EAC has secured and implemented grants from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the US Small Business Administration, NYS Senate and Assembly, Empire State Development Corporation, Dime Savings Bank, Suffolk Federal Credit Union, and Citi Foundation, among others. Entrepreneurship is important to the economy for a number of reasons, including creating jobs and promoting social change. For more information about the EAC, contact Dr. Daphne Gordon at or (631) 851-6206.

National Grid's Philanthropic Efforts Help Improve SUNY Suffolk

National Grid Solar Panel

Over the summer, College Board of Trustee Member Belinda Pagdanganan, was the honoree for the Foundation’s annual golf outing. Ms. Pagdanganan recently retired from her position as Director of Government Relations at National Grid but, before she left, she connected the college with National Grid’s philanthropic leaders, resulting in more than $300,000 in direct support for SUNY Suffolk.

Initially, Ms. Pagdanganan worked closely with the student leaders of the college’s Environmental Club to secure funding for our region’s first solar tree—a device that harnesses the sun’s energy and converts it to usable electricity. National Grid agreed to provide critical financial support for acquiring this first solar tree within the SUNY system. Eventually, the tree will be installed on the Ammerman Campus. 

Ms. Pagdanganan also advanced the concept of partnering with the college to name the symposium space that is under construction in the Renewable Energy/STEM Center on the Michael J. Grant Campus. This space will serve as a destination for students and energy thought leaders, intent on advancing innovative energy ideas.

The college looks forward to advancing its partnership with National Grid in its effort to to support generations of students who find their pathway to success begins at Suffolk County Community College.

Coming to You Live and in Person…Professional Development Day!

SUNY Suffolk’s Professional Development Day will take place at the Suffolk Federal Credit Union Arena Field House on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 starting with coffee and conversation at 8:30 a.m. The program “Putting the Pieces Together - Let’s Reconnect,” will begin at 9:00 a.m. Registration will begin on September 1 through the MySCCC portal.

Suffolk Selected by Northwell Health for Community Scholars Program

Northwell Community Scholars Graphic

Northwell Health, Suffolk County Community College, and the Suffolk Community College Foundation have entered into an agreement to implement the Northwell Community Scholars program. The same agreement is being put into place with Nassau Community College. The purpose of this program is to promote educational advancement and career exploration by awarding scholarships to a cohort of graduating high school seniors from the communities of Bay Shore, Brentwood, Freeport and Hempstead.

Through scholarships that cover tuition and fees, as well as funds to cover costs associated with wrap-around services for items such as books, supplies, transportation, and food, 100 recent high school graduates are now enrolled at either Nassau or Suffolk County Community College through this program.

In all, 53 students from Brentwood and Bay Shore have been selected by Northwell and admitted into Suffolk County Community College for the fall 2022 semester.

Scholarship recipients will have access to a Northwell Success Coach, who will work collaboratively with college staff and the scholars by monitoring academic progress, helping to ensure that all necessary steps are completed for ongoing participation in the program, and addressing issues or obstacles that may impact academic success. To view all of the scholarships offered through the Suffolk Community College Foundation, visit the scholarship website.

New STEM Center on Track to Be Net Zero

National Grid Solar Panel

Nearing construction completion on the Michael J. Grant Campus, the Renewable Energy/STEM Center should open to students for the spring 2023 semester. The state-of-the-art facility houses laboratories and classrooms for instruction on the installation, maintenance and repair of solar, photovoltaic, wind, geothermal and other green power technologies, as well as cybersecurity, biology and workforce programs.

Living up to the word “renewable” in its name, the facility will be a “net zero” building. Net zero buildings combine energy efficiency and renewable energy generation to consume only as much energy as can be produced on-site through renewable resources. Within the Renewable Energy/STEM Center, there will be a myriad of technologies that make this possible. Of note, is the use of an advanced Geo-Exchange heat pump. This pump allows the building to consume the least amount of energy possible. Among other attributes, it has the capability to move heat from the ground to the building for heating, and to move heat from the building to the ground for cooling. Unlike most buildings, this new facility will have no boilers or chillers. The building is one hundred percent electric. It also utilizes smart, mechanized fabric shades that roll up on all the glazed openings, as well as horizontal sunshades integrated into the south-facing walls that allow the windows to block the direct sun, while still providing light.

Achieving zero energy is an ambitious but worthwhile goal. With gratitude to all the college employees who have been working on this project, we look forward to attaining this goal and to having the Renewable Energy/STEM Center serve as a valuable teaching resource for our students and a sustainable example of progress for the college.

Congratulations to Our 2021-2022 SUNY Chancellor Award Winners!

The following exceptional colleagues, who are an integral part of our institution, have been recognized by SUNY’s Chancellor with a system-level award that is presented to honor their efforts to excel in their work.

Joanne M. DiNovis

Adjunct Associate Professor of Chemistry, Michael J. Grant Campus

Recognized for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching

Kymberly M. Harvell, DNP, ANP-C, RNFA

Adjunct Professor of Nursing, Michael J. Grant Campus

Recognized for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching

Douglas Howard, Ph.D.

Professor of English and Academic Chair, Ammerman Campus

Recognized for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities

Jaclyn Labozzetta-Scanlon

Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Michael J. Grant Campus

Recognized for Excellence in Teaching

Nebojsa S. Marinkovic, Ph.D.

Adjunct Associate Professor of Chemistry, Eastern Campus

Recognized for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching

Karen Timlin

Principal Clerk, Student Affairs

Michael J. Grant Campus

Recognized for Excellence in Classified Service

The College Honors our Professor Emeritus Recipients 2021-2022

These meritorious faculty members have had a profound impact on the college community and are deserving of the designation Professor Emeritus.

Sister Mary Borrello - Social Sciences

Darlene Hochman - Early Childhood Education

Kevin Peterman - Library Services

Jane-Marie Wright - Mathematics

Program Re-Accreditation News

The college is pleased to announce that the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education’s Board of Directors recently voted to award continuing accreditation to Suffolk’s Health Information Management program. Upon completion of the program, students are eligible to apply to take the national qualifying examination for certification as a Registered Health Information Technician.

The American Bar Association’s virtual site visit concluded with an extremely positive exit meeting. The reviewers announced that they would recommend the Paralegal program for re-approval. They also shared feedback that they heard consistently that the "biggest strength of the program is faculty." Below are a few of the comments they shared from students:

"I have found my place" in the paralegal program.
This program is a "pipeline to employment."
"Because of the small class sizes, I have a voice."

They were particularly impressed with the number of alumni who participated in the visit and their overwhelming support of the college and the program.

The College Welcomes Dr. Liesl Jones as Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Liesl Jones

Dr. Liesl Jones joined the college on August 1, as Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Jones earned her Bachelor of Science in biology from Fordham University and her doctorate in Neuroscience from Allegheny University. After a postdoc at Mount Sinai Medical College, Dr. Jones joined the faculty at Lehman College/CUNY, where she earned tenure, rose through the ranks to become full professor, and also served as chair of both the biology and chemistry departments. 

Dr. Jones then joined Union County College in New Jersey, where she served as Dean of STEM and managed the institution’s office of grants and sponsored programs. Since 2019, Dr. Jones was the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Baltimore City Community College.

COVID Guidance for Fall 2022

SUNY logo

As a reminder, please review the following guidance if you need to report a positive COVID test, report a potential exposure, or need direction concerning quarantine/isolation:

  1. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home, arrange to get tested (only rapid and PCR tests taken at a medical facility, pharmacy or testing center will be accepted in order to receive COVID pay), and do not come to work.
    1. Report your absence to your immediate supervisor.
    2. If your rapid or PCR test is positive, follow the Positive COVID-19 Test: Employee Self-Isolation Protocol presented in #2 below.
    3. Send your positive test results to the Office of Human Resources. All positive test results should be uploaded to Human Resources at:
    4. Staff in Human Resources will assist employees by advising them regarding eligibility for COVID pay. 
    Employees who test positive for COVID-19 are to:
    • Isolate for five (5) days, starting from the day you first develop symptoms or from the day you tested positive for COVID if you remain asymptomatic.
    • In order to count the correct number of days, Day Zero (0) is the day you first develop symptoms, or the day you tested positive if you are asymptomatic. The next day becomes your Day One (1) of the five-day isolation.
  3. Employees may return to work after 5 days of isolation provided that they:
    • have not had a fever for at least 24 hours;
    • no longer have symptoms or are improving;
    • wear a well-fitting mask while around others for an additional 5 days.
  4. Please note that the telephone hotline number that had been in place since last spring, is no longer operational.
  5. Exposure to COVID-19: If you come in close contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19, including members in your household, you do not need to quarantine, and may report to work. However, you must wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days from the date of your last close contact. Further, it is strongly suggested that you get tested at least 5 days after your last close contact (per CDC 8-11-22).
  6. If you have COVID symptoms, home test kits are available from campus Health Services offices and the Office of Human Resources, however, as noted above, only rapid and PCR tests taken at a medical facility, pharmacy or testing center will be accepted to receive COVID pay without charging your leave accruals. Results from a home test kit will not be accepted.
  7. The college no longer offers COVID-19 testing on its campuses.