Tom Matthews wins prestigious award

Tom Matthews, director of Leadership Education Development and Training at Geneseo, has been honored with the New York State United Teachers Higher Education Member of the Year award.

He was chosen out of 50,000 members of higher education in the SUNY system to receive this important recognition. "It's a nice award," he said. "It's an honor to be selected by your peers."

Matthews began his career at Geneseo in 1967 as the director of Student Activities, during which time he worked with students to restructure student government. He also spent 25 years advising a campus-wide programming board that he created with the help of students.

In addition to his hard work on campus, Matthews has been equally active in the community. He took an eight-year leave from Geneseo in the 1990s to work with New York State United Teachers.

He also worked with United University Professions where he served in two statewide office positions, treasurer and vice president for professionals. During that time, Matthews was chief negotiator for two rounds of collective bargaining with the state of New York. He calls this his proudest achievement during his time at NYSUT and UUP.

"Through our long, drawn-out negotiations, we were able to save much of what you now know as SUNY," he said.

Upon returning to Geneseo in 2000, Matthews developed the Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development program known as GOLD. This program, which works to promote volunteerism, leadership and civic engagement, consists of 3,000 GOLD accounts and 1,000 students who participate in multiple workshops any given year. It has been recognized both nationally and globally, drawing numerous teams from colleges across the country and from Japan, Korea and Canada.

"I was given a challenge to work on a leadership program with students," said Matthews. "I set out to create a program that would give every student a chance to participate."

Matthews also helped develop Livingston CARES, an organization involving members from the college, the county and community agencies who work together to provide assistance with disaster and humanitarian recovery.

Matthews will receive his award tonight at the NYSUT Representative Assembly at the Buffalo Convention Center.