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2015 SUNY Distinguished Service Professorship


Maire Liberace

Maire Liberace, a Rockland Community College faculty member since 1982 and current Professor of Speech and Philosophy, has earned a Distinguished Service Professorship designation from the SUNY Board of Trustees. Professor Liberace is one of 11 faculty members at SUNY schools throughout the state to be so recognized this year.

Honorees must have demonstrated substantial distinguished service not only at the campus and the state university levels, but also at the community, regional and state levels. Professor Liberace has developed and taught courses, both graduate and undergraduate, in speech, philosophy, life skills and Irish studies. She has held various administrative positions at the College, including Cluster Chair of Health Sciences, Assistant Dean of Instructional and Community Services, and Coordinator of Educational Planning and Advancement, and served on numerous campus committees and task forces.

A recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2005, Professor Liberace is a certified bioethicist as well as a registered nurse and a state-certified midwife. She has written procedural manuals for business and industry and is the author of The Ethics of Organizations: A Mandate for Management,” and editor of the “Life, Career, Educational Planning Manual” textbook.

Professor Liberace has deep ties in the Rockland community, particularly with health care, theatrical and cultural organizations, and has contributed to cultural and community organizations on the state, national and international levels. She has been a longstanding member of the Good Samaritan Hospital and Bon Secours Health System boards, among other leadership roles.

Internationally, she has been a contributing member of the American Conference for Irish Studies; has sung for two popes with the New York Archdiocesan Festival Chorale, in concert with the Sistine Chapel Choir; and assisted Mother Teresa of Calcutta in religion-based mission work.

“My life of service started with my parents. I learned from them that when you give, you get back a tremendous amount,” said Liberace, a native of Ireland who resides in Pomona, NY. “At RCC, I found that you have to commit yourself totally. The environment at RCC has encouraged that approach, through the creativity and caring it promotes, and going beyond to help students. Within and outside the campus, I’m proud that my knowledge and skills could contribute to others’ knowledge and skills.”

Professor Liberace holds a graduate degree in philosophy from Manhattanville College and a BS in Health Sciences from Empire State College.

“The SUNY distinguished faculty bring our students the best SUNY has to offer – quality teaching and instruction, innovative research opportunities, and engaging community service,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “We are proud to recognize the leadership and academic excellence of our distinguished faculty and the positive impact they have on students and campuses as well as communities here in New York and around the globe.”

All distinguished faculty in active service within SUNY are also members of the SUNY Distinguished Academy. Since the program’s inception in 1963, SUNY has appointed 1,005 faculty to distinguished ranks, including 298 Distinguished Service Professorships.

2015 SUNY Chancellor's Award Faculty Winners

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching

RCC educators Sherrill Wilson, PhD, and Patricia Coyne are among 48 honorees statewide to receive the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching.


Sherrill WilsonDr. Wilson has taught Social Science at RCC for the past six years. She brings more than 25 years of wide-ranging professional experience to the classroom, including roles as lecturer at colleges in New York and New Jersey, historical researcher, author, editor, poet, and urban anthropologist who served as a director at the African Burial Ground, a world-renowned anthropological site in NYC.

Dr. Wilson helped re-design the Pluralism and Diversity curriculum, creating valuable student learning materials and instructional guides for instructors. Courses she has taught include Pluralism and Diversity in America, African American History, Cultural Anthropology, Marriage & Family, and Sociology.

Dr. Wilson also serves as writing consultant for the College’s Reading and Writing Center and academic advisor.

“We live in an age when education and teaching are complex on many levels,” said Dr. Wilson. “College educators face particularly difficult challenges, especially adjunct faculty. To be recognized as one of the many who endeavor to contribute to educating the minds of those in whose hands the future lies is both an honor and a blessing.”

Dr. Wilson earned both her PhD and MA in Anthropology from the New School for Social Research and a BA in Religion from Hunter College, CUNY.


Patricia CoynePatricia Coyne has taught Nursing at RCC since 2002 and has more than 30 years of nursing experience. She has been hailed for teaching techniques that integrate multiple learning methods, including “real world” clinical experiences, pre- and post-clinical conferences, team-building and other cooperative group activities, and use of emerging technologies.

Sensitivity to all forms of diversity is a core pillar of her teaching philosophy. She has striven to increase male enrollment in the traditionally female-dominated nursing field. At Dutchess Community College, where she is an Assistant Professor of Nursing, Coyne obtained a SUNY Improvement of Instruction Grant to develop simulations in order to facilitate learning among male students on maternity wards. She plans to present the findings of her work at both SUNY and national conferences.“

It is an honor and a privilege to be part of such a prestigious institution as SUNY, working in a conducive, supportive learning environment at RCC, where I can work with a diverse student body, right in my own community,” she said.

Coyne served for two years as RCC’s Coordinator of Continuing Education for Health Professionals. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Nursing at Rutgers University. She holds an MS in Nursing Education from Mercy College, an MPA in Health Care from Pace University, and a BS in Nursing from Lehman College,CUNY.


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