Remembering Marco Silvestri, Interim President and long-time Hudson Valley advocate

Tyler McNeil

Managing Editor

Staff and faculty at the college are remembering the legacy of former President Marco Silvestri, who died last month at the age of 71.

“He was iconic. He had the best interests of Hudson Valley Community College in mind all of the time,” said Louis Coplin, director of student life, who started as a temporary services employee for the college 29 years ago. At that time, Silvestri was Vice President of Administration.

Coplin said that his interaction with Silvestri was limited until he became Interim Vice President for Student Services, the same year Silvestri become Interim President of the college. “[He was] passionate about higher education and passionate about Hudson Valley Community College being the best and making the place the best it could possibly be without being satisfied with any of it,” said Coplin.

The college reached an enrollment of 12,000 students for the first time in history during Silvestri’s time as Interim President, which lasted from Jan. 1, 2004, until Apr. 18, 2005, when current President Drew Matonak took office.

During Silvestri’s time as Interim President, Hudson Valley also started using its own cogeneration plant and received reaffirmation of its accreditation from the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association. “I am extremely grateful for his long-time commitment to the college and recognize that he positioned the college very well for the future,” said Matonak in a statement.

Along with being Vice President of Administration, Silvestri worked on the Faculty Student Association Board of Directors and served as a liaison to Rensselaer County until he assumed the role of Interim President.

“He just had extremely high standards but also recognized when people did their jobs and did their jobs well,” said FSA Executive Director Ann Carrozza. “He’s probably the person that I’ve learned the most from.”

After graduating with a doctorate from the University of Buffalo, Silvestri worked at Niagara County Community College as the dean for Academic Affairs and, later, the vice president for Academic Administration.

After working for Niagara, Silvestri arrived at Hudson Valley in 1984 as Vice President of Administration. In his tenure at the college, Silvestri worked under Presidents Joseph Bulmer, Stephen Curtis and John Buono.

Silvestri rejected multiple offers for higher-paying administrative positions at other community colleges during his time as Vice President for Administration. According to Vice President of Administration James Lagatta, when outgoing President John Buono asked for Silvestri to be his replacement, despite unanimous support from colleagues, Silvestri did not believe he was a worthy candidate to stay in the presidency. “I don’t believe his confidence equaled his ability,” he said.

Lagatta, a close friend of Silvestri, visited the former Interim President during his last days. “I’ve been here for 47 years. I know a good person when I see one. He was good for the school and he was a good man. At the end of the day, all you want to be remembered for is being a good man,” he said.

The Silvestri name lives on at the college with Silvestri’s son Jacob Silvestri, an assistant professor in the health, physical education and exercise studies department, and with the Marco J. Silvestri Award, given to Academic Senate members who demonstrate exceptional leadership and service. “Unquestionably, I am the person that I am today because of my father. I am so proud of my dad that it makes me proud of me,” said Jacob.

 

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