College of Staten Island President Tomás D. Morales, an alumnus of the State University of New York at New Paltz, will be New Paltz's 2012 Undergraduate Commencement speaker. He will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the Undergraduate Ceremony on Sunday, May 20.
For more than 36 years, Dr. Morales has been an educator and leader in higher education administration. In 2007, he became the third president of the College of Staten Island (CSI), one of the largest colleges in the City University of New York (CUNY) system with about 14,000 students and programs leading to associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees. He is one of only a few individuals to have held senior administrative positions at the three largest public university systems in the country: the California State University system, The State University of New York (SUNY), and CUNY.
Dr. Morales, who attended New York City public schools and received all of his degrees from SUNY institutions, has committed his professional life to advancing public higher education. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in the South Bronx, Morales came as a student to SUNY New Paltz through its Educational Opportunity Program, graduating cum laude in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts in History (Secondary Education). He earned his master's degree and Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Policy Studies from the University at Albany (State University of New York).
Prior to becoming president at the College of Staten Island, Dr. Morales served in various executive roles throughout his career. At California State Polytechnic University, Dr. Morales held various positions from 2001-2007, including Vice President for Student Affairs, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Professor of Education and principal deputy to the president.
At CUNY, he served as Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students at The City College of New York from 1994 to 2001. At SUNY New Paltz, he was Assistant Dean, School of Education, and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, from 1991 to 1994. He served as Director of the Office of Special Admissions and the Educational Opportunity Program at SUNY New Paltz from 1981-1994 and prior to that was a counselor in the Educational Opportunity Program at New Paltz from 1977 to 1979.
Dr. Morales's belief in the transformative capacity of education comes from his personal experience and the benefits of being the first in his family to become a college graduate. It has informed his professional career where he has made learning the central focus of numerous policies, programs and initiatives.
Dr. Morales serves on the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Board, the American Council on Education's Commission on Racial and Ethnic Equity, the Governing Board and as Secretary to the Board of the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, and has also served on the National Information and Communication Technology Literacy Policy Council. He has been appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the New York City Panel on Education Policy, a member of the Board of Directors of the Staten Island Foundation, SINY Inc., and A Vision for Staten Island, as well as an Ambassador with the Immigrant Entrepreneur Program of the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation.
His life-long dedication to improving access to and the quality of public higher education has recently been recognized with the Latino Trendsetter Award at the United Nations; the IMAGEN Certificate Award from U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services; the Professional Achievement Award from Boricua College; the Hispanic Leadership Award from the Boy Scouts of America; and the Outstanding Leadership in the Service of Youth award by the National Honor Society at Susan E. Wagner High School. He completed the Wharton Executive Education Program at the Institute for Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania and was a fellow in the Kellogg/HACU Leadership Fellows Program.
An honorary doctorate is the highest honor that the State University of New York can bestow upon an individual and is authorized by the SUNY Board of Trustees. To secure Board approval, a College must prepare an in-depth nomination narrative and justification for the proposed candidate, including a demonstration of the candidate’s close involvement with the campus.
"Conferring an honorary degree on Dr. Morales is especially fitting, not only because he is an alumnus with an impressive record in public higher education administration, but because of his service in various professional leadership positions at New Paltz for more than 15 years," said President Donald P. Christian. "Like New Paltz, Dr. Morales values the highest standards in recruitment, retention, instruction and pedagogy, and embraces a vision for diversity, acceptance and equal access to excellence in public education.”