By Amanda Loviza
LOCH SHELDRAKE — After a dramatic transition, SUNY Sullivan officials have named longtime athletic director Chris DePew the college’s new permanent Dean of Student Development Services.
Mr. DePew, who has worked at SUNY for 19 years, was named the interim dean last February as the college began its search to replace former dean Sara Thompson Tweedy. He enjoyed the new challenge, but at the time thought he should remain with the athletic department. He did not pursue the permanent dean position, and Sullivan hired John Agnelli to be the new dean of students.
Mr. Agnelli had almost two decades of experience working at New York educational institutions, but he only lasted two months at SUNY Sullivan. Mr. Agnelli was issued a college credit card, and within weeks it was discovered that he had used the card for personal purchases, SUNY Sullivan Interim President Jay Quaintance said. At the time, Mr. Agnelli called the situation an accident and paid the money back, but allegedly continued to use the card for personal use. He racked up more than $9,000 in charges on the college’s account, according to New York State Police, who were called in to handle the investigation. Mr. Agnelli was arrested March 3, and was terminated later in the month when he did not show up for a meeting to review the results of SUNY’s internal investigation. Mr. Quaintance said the college is now reviewing its hiring process and its credit card policy.
“We’re just very, very happy that we dealt with it quickly and effectively and we were able to protect the college’s assets,” Mr. Quaintance said.
SUNY Sullivan is “a little bit exhausted by this whole search process,” Mr. Quaintance said, but he is pleased that Mr. DePew decided this time around to accept the permanent dean of student development services position.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever worked with anybody who so believes in what he’s doing,” Mr. Quaintance said.
Mr. Quaintance called Mr. DePew “amazing,” and said that although Mr. Agnelli’s arrest was a shock to the campus, Mr. DePew has a lot of support and the college is happy to turn over a new leaf.
“It’s been quite a ride,” Mr. DePew said of his 19 years at SUNY Sullivan. He began as a coordinator of athletic facilities, and worked his way up to athletic director in less than five years. He has coached several sports at the college, but he is most known for his 8-year tenure as head coach of the men’s basketball team.
“I’m just really excited about what the future brings,” he said.
Mr. DePew has been at SUNY Sullivan long enough to watch it thrive, and then decline, and now strive to reclaim its former glory. He believes the college has turned a corner, he said, and it’s now headed in the direction it needs to go.
As dean of student development services, Mr. DePew said he wants to keep the college student-centered, and he is excited about the college’s efforts to connect students more with the surrounding community. SUNY Sullivan wants to develop some of its 400-acre campus to include a public park and basketball courts, and it is working with The Center for Discovery to develop a bike path from the campus into Hurleyville to tie students into that community.
“I’m on the ground floor now of this new vision of growing our institution,” Mr. DePew said.
Mr. DePew isn’t quite ready to relinquish his ties to the athletic department, looking only for an assistant athletic director to help him rather than someone to completely replace his involvement in the department, but he said he is looking forward to his new role helping SUNY Sullivan become the best junior college it can be.