New York Community College Trustees Issue Marvin A. Rapp Award for Distinguished Trustee Service

PHOTO: Gert MokotoffMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- In recognition of her 16 years as a SUNY Orange Trustee and her contributions to the College in various capacities over more than five decades, Gertrude F. Mokotoff was presented with the New York Community College Trustees’ Marvin A. Rapp Award for Distinguished Trustee Service on Friday night (Sept. 18) at the NYCCT annual conference in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Mokotoff this summer concluded her 16th year as an Orange County Community College Trustee, a tenure that includes terms from 1992 through 2001 and again from 2008 to the present. However, her association with the College spans more than five decades. Mokotoff joined the College’s faculty ranks in February 1965, spending 27 years as a professor and department chair of the Medical Laboratory Technology Department.

In that time, she guided the College’s development of the nation’s first two-year associate degree program in electron microscopy. Upon her retirement in December 1991, she was granted Faculty Emeritus status.

A dedicated proponent of lifelong learning, Mokotoff was a founding member of the College’s Encore program (for senior learners ages 50 and above) in 1997 and served as president of the organization’s Steering Committee until recently.

“I can think of no one who embodies the community college spirit more than Gert, who at age 96 is still actively engaged in community events and causes,” said Helen G. Ullrich, chair of the SUNY Orange Board of Trustees. “Gert has truly been a lifelong learner, but more than that, she has been a lifelong teacher. Throughout 27 years as an innovative laboratory technology professor at the College, 16 years as a Trustee and 12 years as a locally elected official, Gert has been among the most dedicated and effective advocates for our College.

“As a former Mayor of the City of Middletown, she is uniquely qualified to promote the economic and social benefits of a community college. She also realizes that education, workforce development and other programs provided by the College truly enhance and uplift our entire region,” Ullrich added. “Gert uses her experiences and understanding to keep the Board and College administrators focused on the College’s mission.”

The Marvin A. Rapp Award was established by the NYCCT in 1986, and renamed in honor of Rapp in 1999, to recognize longstanding and exemplary trustee service. Trustees who receive the award must have provided significant leadership on their boards, participated in state and national activities benefiting community colleges, and demonstrated a commitment to innovation in community college programs. Recipients typically have a longstanding commitment to a variety of other community activities as well.

PHOTO: Group pose with Gert MokotoffA former Finger Lakes Community College Trustee, Rapp was an educator by profession, and a staunch advocate of community colleges. He assisted in the establishment of 13 of the 30 community colleges in New York State.

An innovator, Mokotoff has broken many barriers previously believed to be unattainable for women. She has injected that same tenacity into her role as a trustee. She has pushed the College to become more sustainable, encouraged the adoption of technology and supported growth in the health professions programs, all with an eye toward supporting student success.

She understands that as SUNY Orange students attain their degrees, they often remain in Orange County to work and raise their families, or return to the county after securing advanced degrees. Their success academically leads to greater economic prosperity for the county and improved conditions for all residents.

Mokotoff has also done her part to improve her community and the lives of her neighbors. She served 12 years as an elected official within the City of Middletown, including one term as mayor (1990-93). She spent four years as City Council president and four years as Second Ward alderman.

She has served on countless boards and committees in the area over the years, including Middletown Thrall Library, League of Women Voters and Temple Sinai. She also volunteers her time to numerous groups, including Jewish Services and the Thrall Library. She is a certified mediator by the Dispute Resolution Center in Goshen.

Mokotoff earned her bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College in 1938 and her master’s degree from Columbia University in 1964.

Photo caption (L-R): Helen Ullrich, chair, SUNY Orange Board of Trustees; Alvin Mann; Gertrude Mokotoff; Fred Watson, SUNY Orange trustee; and Dr. Kristine Young, president, SUNY Orange, celebrate Mokotoff's award.

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940