SUNY Canton Selects Thomas Coakley as 2016 Distinguished Citizen

Thomas CoakleyA longtime benefactor and advisor to SUNY Canton has received SUNY Canton’s Distinguished Citizen Award.

Thomas F. Coakley was chosen for his 35 years of service on the Canton College Foundation Board of Directors, where he served as chair from 1988 to 1996 and treasurer from 2013 to 2016. During that time, he and his family have been generous donors to SUNY Canton and most recently made a substantial gift to the Roos House Convocation, Athletic and Recreation Center.

“Not only has Tom been an ardent supporter and advocate for SUNY Canton, he has also shared his leadership skills and financial knowledge with a number of other community organizations, including Canton-Potsdam Hospital and the boards of both Canton and St. Lawrence County chambers of commerce,” said President Zvi Szafran. “His longstanding dedication to the well-being of the North Country has earned the respect of our entire community.”

A Canton native, Coakley earned his bachelor’s degree from Brown University and subsequently served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. After being wounded in battle, he returned to earn his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

College Council Chair Ronald M. O'Neill presents Thomas Coakley with the Distinguished Citizen Award

College Council Chair Ronald M. O’Neill presents Thomas F. Coakley with the SUNY Canton Distinguished Citizen Award

He joined St. Lawrence University in 1982 as a visiting lecturer in economics and rose to the rank of vice president for administrative operations where he oversaw major campus enhancements and became a leader in improving town-gown relationships. In honor of his contributions, St. Lawrence University established the Thomas F. Coakley Distinguished Service Award for employees who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the university.

He and his wife, Nellie, a former Army nurse who also served in Vietnam, advocate on behalf of the physically disabled through their work with the Amputee Coalition and the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics and Pedorthics.

Coakley is a previous recipient of the Canton College Foundation’s Community Leadership Award and was inducted into the SUNY Canton Hall of Fame in 2013.


About SUNY Canton

SUNY Canton is Northern New York’s premier college for career-driven bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs. The college delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, health, management and public service and recently received number one rankings in library resources, library services and tutoring services in the SUNY Student Opinion Survey. The college’s faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as ten exclusively online bachelor’s degrees. The college’s 15 athletic teams compete as members of the NCAA Division III.

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