SCCC’s Newest President, Dr. Edward Bonahue


Tristan Brown-DeVirgilio, Contributing Writer

Dr. Edward T. Bonahue is the seventh president of Suffolk County Community College. He was appointed to the college in April of 2021 and he joined on June 28 of the same year. He was officially inaugurated on April 8th of 2022.

Bonahue grew up in Suffolk County. He is a graduate of Ward Melville High School and the Three Village Central School District.
Bonahue studied English Literature at Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He later graduated with a M.A. and then a PhD., both from the University of North Carolina.

In 2009, Dr. Bonahue was a Fulbright Scholar with the U.S. International Education Administrators Program in Germany. Also, in 2016-2017, he was an Aspen Institute College Excellence Program Presidential Fellow. With over 20 years of experience in community college education, Bonahue has served as a tenured faculty member and a senior executive, among other roles. Before moving to Long Island and joining SCCC, Bonahue served as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida.

Before Bonahue joined the college, there was a period of time during which SCCC lacked a tenured president. Former president Dr. Shaun L. McKay had retired in 2019, and soon after, Louis J. Petrizzo stepped in as the Interim President, until a new president could be found. Petrizzo served from 2020 until 2021.

SCCC was founded in December of 1959. It officially opened to students October 3rd, 1960. The college initially utilized facilities at Sachem Junior-Senior High School in Ronkonkoma and at Riverhead High School in Riverhead. Dr. Albert M. Ammerman – after whom the Ammerman building and Ammerman campus were named – served as the first president of the college. His tenure lasted from 1959 until his retirement in 1983.

Six presidents of SCCC served before Dr. Bonahue. After founding President Dr. Ammerman’s retirement in 1983, Robert T. Kreiling filled the role, and he served until 1991. Like Ammerman, and one of only two SCCC presidents to be given this honor, a campus building was named after Kreiling (the Kreiling Hall, on the Ammerman campus). Dr. John F. Cooper served next, until 1997, before Salvatore J. La Lima occupied the position from 1997 to 2003. The first woman and first Black president, Dr. Shirley Robinson-Pippins, served from 2005 to 2009. Notably, during Dr. Pippins’ tenure, Suffolk received an anonymous donation in the amount of $5 million. Finally, Dr. Shaun L. McKay served from 2010 to 2019, after which time Louis Petrizzo took over as Interim President, until Dr. Bonahue was appointed to the position.

Dr. Bonahue’s goals for the college revolve around the students. In his words, “The students’ experience is the reality of the college.” He emphasized the need to “meet students where they are,” in consideration of their educational and familial backgrounds. Further, and not unrelated to this, he described the importance of affording students equal opportunities for academic success, and he envisions an increased sense of citizenship, engagement, and ultimately, belonging among students.

In a welcome message posted on the college’s website, Bonahue stated, “In the weeks and months ahead, you will. . . see me engaging with the college community through an open-door policy, and I’ll be spending time on all of our campuses.” Accordingly, Bonahue has met with staff, faculty, students, administrators, and college partners, at various meetings, events, and greetings across the college.

For example, near the beginning of his time as president, Dr. Bonahue stopped in at the Ammerman campus and met students and staff at registration and enrollment days. He has done many other such meetings.

Dr. Bonahue encourages students, and the SCCC community at large, to stay in touch. He can be reached at his college e-mail address [email protected]. Dr. Bonahue’s office – The Office of the President – is located on the Ammerman campus, on the second floor of the Norman F. Lechtrecker Building.