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NYCCT Honors Joan Wolfe, Rich Rowley with Awards

SUNY Orange Trustee Joan Wolfe and Rich Rowley, the most recent past chairman of the SUNY Orange Foundation Board of Directors, were presented with awards for trustee leadership and philanthropy, respectively, on Friday evening (Oct. 21) during the annual New York Community College Trustees awards dinner at the Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Wolfe received the Donald M. Mawhinney Jr. Trustee Leadership Award, presented to a trustee who has demonstrated a significant commitment to the community college mission through exceptional leadership, inspired vision and outstanding professional contributions in support of the goals and accomplishments of his or her local campus. Rowley, meanwhile, accepted the NYCCT’s Benefactor Vision of Tomorrow Award, the highest award that the NYCCT can make to a local benefactor for his or her commitment to their local community college.

Wolfe joined the SUNY Orange Board of Trustees in March 2002 and served as the Board chair for a total of seven years (2005-10 and 2011-14). During her tenure as Board chair, she reorganized the Board committee structure, stabilized meeting and reporting functions, and re-energized the effectiveness and efficiency of those committees.

She oversaw the College’s review and assessment process when it developed its Strategic Plan 2009-2014 and has been involved in three College-wide strategic planning processes since joining the Board. Her work in those areas has greatly enhanced the efficiency of the Board, as well as its committees, and has allowed the Trustees to channel their efforts toward charting the future for the College. She also chaired the College’s 2014-15 Presidential Search Committee as the College sought to hire a new president.

Under her guidance, the College focused its attention on building strong collaborative partnerships with local businesses as well as other community colleges in the region. She has actively lobbied state and national legislators on behalf of the College and has personally traveled to Washington, D.C., and Albany, N.Y., to meet with legislators to discuss education issues, trends and policies.

A lifelong resident of Orange County, Wolfe has carved a life devoted to education and local government. During her more than 35 years as a teacher in elementary education, she impacted countless young students in a positive fashion. Outside of her teaching role, she’s been involved heavily in local and governmental agencies.

Rowley has held a variety of roles in service to the College. Currently, he serves as the Major Gifts Coordinator for the SUNY Orange Foundation. He served as Foundation Board chair from 2012-2016. He chaired the College’s highly successful Defining Moments capital campaign from 2010-13 and also served as the Lead Gift chair during the early stages of the capital campaign. The Defining Moments campaign generated $25.1 million, including more than $14 million in capital support.

Rowley embodies his family’s tradition of service to the College, heritage of selflessness and legacy of giving. Even before joining the Foundation, he began enhancing that legacy by endowing a scholarship in memory of his parents. When he agreed to chair the Defining Moments capital campaign, he demonstrated his leadership and commitment as he and his wife Marianne pledged the second largest gift in College history: $1 million. That led to the College naming the newest building on its original Middletown campus as the Rowley Center for Science and Engineering.

Relying upon his experience as a business entrepreneur, Rowley has helped the Foundation grow stronger by creating its first strategic plan and re-invigorating membership. He’s worked to align the Foundation’s strategic priorities and goals with the Strategic Plan of the College. He also has sought and developed partnerships with local businesses and organizations that have advanced the College’s academic programs.

Mike Albright