For Immediate Release
August 9, 2023
Suffolk Trustees Honored for Leadership and Distinguished Service by State Community College Trustee Group
Two Suffolk County Community College Board of Trustees members will be recognized
with prestigious New York Community College Trustees (NYCCT) awards for their service,
leadership and dedication to improving access to education, providing opportunities
for students and helping the college achieve its mission, it was announced by the
NYCCT, a voluntary nonprofit community college trustee’s consortium established to
strengthen trustee’s effectiveness in the development and implementation of public
policy impacting community colleges. NYCCT represents the appointed board members
who govern the 30 community colleges in the State University of New York (SUNY) system.
Two Suffolk County Community College Board of Trustees members will be recognized with prestigious New York Community College Trustees (NYCCT) awards for their service, leadership and dedication to improving access to education, providing opportunities for students and helping the college achieve its mission, it was announced by the NYCCT, a voluntary nonprofit community college trustee’s consortium established to strengthen trustee’s effectiveness in the development and implementation of public policy impacting community colleges. NYCCT represents the appointed board members who govern the 30 community colleges in the State University of New York (SUNY) system.
Belinda Pagdanganan will receive the NYCCT 2023 Donald M. Mawhinney Jr. Trustee Leadership Award and former Trustee Jim Morgo the NYCCT 2023 Marvin A. Rapp Award for Distinguished Trustee Service. Morgo’s term on the board expired on June 30.
“Belinda and Jim are shining examples of what it means to be a community college trustee. Their dedication to improving access to education, providing opportunities for students, and helping the college achieve its mission is truly inspiring. They are well-deserving of this prestigious award," said Suffolk Community College Board Chair E. Christopher Murray.
“Trustees Pagdanganan and Morgo are being recognized for their tireless service, visionary leadership, and unwavering dedication to improving our college. Their commitment to making a difference in the lives of students is an inspiration to us all. It’s important to note that service by our trustees is unpaid. They are all volunteers,” said Suffolk County Community College President Dr. Edward Bonahue.
"Being a Suffolk County Community College Trustee gave me far more than I ever gave. Volunteering for a place that positively changed students’ lives and improved Long Island's quality of life was incredibly rewarding," Morgo said.
Belinda Pagdanganan of Bay Shore will receive the NYCCT 2023 Donald M. Mawhinney Jr. Trustee Leadership Award that celebrates trustees who demonstrate a significant commitment to the community
college mission through exceptional leadership, inspired vision, and outstanding professional
contributions to the goals and accomplishments of their local campus, following in
the tradition of Trustee Mawhinney, one of the longest continuously serving community
college trustees in North America.
Trustee Pagdanganan, a former National Grid manager, worked closely with student leaders from the college’s Environmental Club to secure funding from National Grid’s community outreach program for a solar tree charging station. Environmental Club students requested and were awarded $60,000 for a solar tree for the Ammerman Campus. Pagdanganan then worked with National Grid to leverage that gift with a matching grant from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, doubling the initial amount and enabling the students to acquire a solar bench for another Suffolk campus location. The relationship with National Grid was further stewarded and expanded by Pagdanganan, leading to an endowed scholarship and a naming gift agreement totaling $250,000.
Pagdanganan has been a committed advocate for Suffolk County Community College in addition to a lifelong commitment to public service and has served the citizens of Suffolk County in distinguished roles and leadership positions, including:
- Suffolk Community College Foundation – Director
- Suffolk County Asian American Advisory Board – Board Member
- Suffolk County Asian Jade Police Society – Board Member
- Long Island Regional Economic Development Council
- Legislative Aide – Town of Islip Councilman John Cochrane - Current
- Former Board Member LI Housing Partnership
- Former Board Member YMCA of Long Island
- 25-Year Volunteer Firefighter Brentwood Fire Department
- Ex-Captain – Fire Prevention Company, Brentwood Fire Department
- Former New York State Certified Emergency Medical Technician
- Former Deputy Commissioner – Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue & Emergency Services
- Former Director – Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management
- New York Association for Energy Economics – Member
Jim Morgo of Bayport will receive the NYCCT 2023 Marvin A. Rapp Award for Distinguished Trustee Service that recognizes dedication by trustees with a minimum of five years on their Board. It honors Trustee Rapp, whose extensive work in establishing and leading community colleges is legendary. Because of the geographic reach of his work, this award honors multiple individuals who go above and beyond to contribute time, effort, and/or ideas that offer opportunities to students, faculty, and/or staff at the local community college, or the regional or statewide level.
Trustee Morgo served on the Board of Trustees for nearly 13 years, with a strong commitment to student-centric leadership and community college mission. He previously served a two year stint – 2002 -2004 -- before leaving the board to serve as Suffolk County Commissioner of Economic Development and Workforce Housing. He has attended 86% of board meetings and is a reliable presence at college events. He has fostered collaboration with state and county officials and regional business leaders. Morgo’s term expired on June 30.
Morgo has served in several key leadership roles at Suffolk County Community College, including Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, and Chair of the Facilities Committee. He has also been a vocal advocate for community colleges at the local, state, and national levels.
In his role as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Morgo has helped foster the engagement of students and advance the stature of student appeals for assistance. He has also been a guiding force behind major facilities expansion and infrastructure maintenance efforts.
As Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, Morgo has overseen the college's financial operations and ensured that it has the resources it needs to provide a high-quality education to its students. He has also been a strong advocate for increased funding for community colleges.
As Chair of the Facilities Committee, Morgo has led the construction of several new buildings on the college's campuses, including a Renewable Energy & STEM Center, Learning Resource Center, Life Sciences Building, and Health and Wellness Center. These facilities have been designed to support technology-rich, real-world learning experiences for students.
In addition to his work on the Board of Trustees, Morgo has been an outspoken advocate for community colleges at the local, state, and national levels. He co-authored a letter to the editor in Newsday calling for fair funding for community colleges and led the charge to ensure that New York State policymakers did not tie financial assistance for community colleges to the same set of performance measures that determine success at four-year colleges and universities. He has also engaged students in the Save Student Aid campaign to increase awareness and spur action against congressional threats to curtail federal student aid programs.
Trustee Morgo's leadership and advocacy have made a significant impact on Suffolk County Community College and the community it serves. He is a dedicated champion of community colleges and a tireless advocate for students.
The pair will be feted at the New York Community College Trustees 69th Annual Conference, Friday evening, November 3, at a reception and dinner in Saratoga Springs, NY.