Longtime SUNY Sullivan Trustee Phyllis “Penny” Coombe Awarded Trustee Emeritus Status by Board of Trustees

SUNY Sullivan’s Board of Trustees awarded longtime trustee Phyllis “Penny” Coombe Trustee Emeritus status at the Board’s May meeting in gratitude for her distinguished service to the College. Appointed to the Board of Trustees on September 9, 1997 by Governor George Pataki, Coombe served 25 years on the Board and is one of the longest serving trustees in the history of the College. The Board praised Coombe as one of “the biggest supporters of the College” and for her “exceptional dedication and professional commitment to further the goals of College.”

“The Board and the college have long relied on (Coombe’s) wisdom and experience,” states the Board’s resolution. “Trustee Coombe served SUNY Sullivan with dedication, commitment, and distinction for more than 25 years. During her time on the Board, Trustee Coombe was a part of several transformations that occurred within the college such as, the construction of the Residence Halls, the athletics change from Division III to Division II, the creation of new degree programs, increased funding from Sullivan County Government, and many more.”

“I believe that my professional career in secondary education enhanced my Board service,” said Coombe, a retired Tri-Valley Secondary School Family and Consumer Sciences teacher and longtime Grahamsville resident. “I also believe in the power of education to change lives and in the importance of our community college to provide relevant opportunities for all ages. My 25 years of service has been an honor and a privilege and mostly a pleasure! There have been significant challenges, but SUNY Sullivan is positioned for further success.”

Coombe said she was especially pleased to see the development of more opportunities, such as the Sullivan Promise Scholarship, that make courses and programs at the College more accessible and affordable to Sullivan County residents and students.

“I’m excited to watch the Promise Scholarship program develop and thrive and to see increased college-in-high-school programs, as well as new degree and certificate programs to meet the needs of our students and people in the county,” she said. “I’m extremely grateful to have been honored for my Board service, and I look forward to seeing the college move forward and plan to continue supporting the College as much as I can.”

Coombe served in various roles on various committees of the Board including, Chair of the Middle States Accreditation Committee, Policy Governance and Implementation Committee, Academic and Workforce Development Working Group, Strategic Planning Committee, Capital Campaign Committee for the Residence Halls, Chair of the Presidential Search Committee, and many more. She served as the Chair of the Board of Trustees from July 2006 to July 2011. Her awards include a Marvin A. Rapp Award for Distinguished Trustee Service from New York Community College Trustees, in 2005, and a “2012 Women Who Make a Difference” award for Higher Education.

SUNY Sullivan Officer in Charge Ellen Galligan said Coombe “was thoroughly interested in the success of our students and the mission of the college.”

“Besides her focused participation as a member of the Board of Trustees, she served on many College committees, especially during Middle States accreditation self-studies,” said Galligan. “Penny always showed her support to our students by attending campus celebrations: theater events, academic awards, nurses pinning. She was always in attendance to lend her congratulations to students’ accomplishments.”

SUNY Sullivan’s Faculty Council also recognized Coombe for her service to the College.

“Penny Coombe has served with unfailing dedication and commitment as a Trustee on the SUNY Sullivan Board of Trustees for twenty-five years,” the Faculty Council resolution states.

The Sullivan Promise Scholarship provides eligible Sullivan County residents who earn a high school diploma or GED in 2023 the opportunity to receive free tuition and fees at SUNY Sullivan. Learn more at sunysullivan.edu/sullivan-promise-scholarship.

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. sunysullivan.edu.


June 13, 2023

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