The SUNY Sullivan community mourns the passing of Dr. Richard K. Greenfield, founding president of Sullivan County Community College. The College was recently made aware that Dr. Greenfield passed away on August 7 this summer in Boulder, Colorado.
Dr. Greenfield was president of Sullivan County Community College from its opening 1963, in the former South Fallsburg High School, until 1966, when he left to become president of Mercy County Community College New Jersey. According to a 2006 interview with Dr. Greenfield, the College grew from 78 full-time students, eight full-time faculty and a skeleton administrative staff when it opened in September 1963 to 740 full-time students, 27 full-time faculty, 10 adjunct faculty, and six administrative and support staff members by the time he left.
“The founding of a college is no small accomplishment. All these years later, the SUNY Sullivan community and our county still benefit from the work that pioneers of the community college movement did with great vision,” said SUNY Sullivan President Jay Quaintance. “We thank Dr. Greenfield and those trustees and original faculty for laying a strong foundation and are proud to continue in their footsteps. We extend our condolences to his family and friends.”
In addition to his leadership in opening the College and overseeing its early growth, including the development of its hotel management program, Dr. Greenfield led efforts to develop a program of academic requirements and curriculums for a permanent campus for the College and secured support from the Board of Trustees to appoint the famous architect Edward Durell Stone to design what is now the College’s campus in Loch Sheldrake.
At the time of his resignation in 1966 to become president of Mercy County Community College, members of Sullivan County Community College’s Board of Trustees “expressed their keen appreciation for the tremendous work that Dr. Greenfield had performed in the organization and early development stages of the college’s history.”
In his 2006 interview, Dr. Greenfield discussed the challenges of opening the College, including creating a sufficient critical mass students to allow for the development of an adequate range of course and curricular offerings, as well as readying the College to open just a few months after he was appointed.
“I remember our initial concern was to make the most out of the limited facility that we had, a vacant school building in South Fallsburg, which had to be renovated and renewed to make it ready within three months, because our first students were going to come in September 1963,” he said. “Even now, I marvel over how we managed to spruce up the building, get furniture and equipment and have everything ready in such a short time.”
In the same interview, Dr. Greenfield recalled the strong early support from the community for the College’s varsity basketball team. He also paid tribute to the founding members of the Board of Trustees, in particular his good friend and founding board member Harold Gold, whom he called “an invaluable member of the board and a key member in the Sullivan County community.”
According to Dr. Greenfield’s obituary, in addition to his years at Sullivan County Community College, Dr. Greenfield was a professor and dean of faculty in history and social science at the New York City Community College in Brooklyn; founding president of Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, New Jersey; chancellor for St. Louis County Community College District; and executive director for the College Consortium of International Studies in New York City. He earned his undergraduate degree in American history from Cornell University and a Master’s degree in American history and Ph.D. in Education, specializing in administration of community colleges, both from Columbia University. Dr. Greenfield was a World War II veteran, serving as a 2nd lieutenant in U.S. Army in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater.
Photos from Sullivan County Community College’s 1966 Gemini yearbook.
About SUNY Sullivan
SUNY Sullivan is the leader of innovative higher education and a catalyst for workforce development throughout the Sullivan Catskills and beyond. Our diverse community cultivates personal growth and professional advancement, preparing students for success in a sustainable and interconnected world. A forward-looking, top-tier community college in New York, SUNY Sullivan offers over 40 degree programs, certificates, and micro-credentials for learners at all levels of their educational goals. We value critical inquiry and creativity while supporting our students in a culture of inclusion and respect. For more information, visit sunysullivan.edu.
September 30, 2022.