SUNY Announces Winners of Educational Opportunity Program’s 1st Norman R. McConney, Jr. Awards of Excellence

October 17, 2019

Among 42 Students Across the State Lauded for Academic Achievement

New York City – The State University of New York today announced that 42 students in SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) will receive the inaugural Norman R. McConney, Jr. Award for Student Excellence. The award, which recognizes outstanding EOP students for their academic achievements, is named for Norman R. McConney, Jr. (1946-2016), a graduate of the University at Albany and former assistant dean for special programs at SUNY, who helped draft the legislation that established the EOP as a statewide program. The award ceremony takes place this evening at SUNY Global Center in Manhattan.

SUNY Vice Chairman Cesar Perales, who will deliver welcoming remarks at the ceremony said, “We owe the students of New York a high quality education, and through the Educational Opportunity Program thousands from our most underserved communities have been afforded the chance to gain a college degree, putting each of them on a path to achieve success. I am honored to be a part of the ceremony tonight and applaud each of the award recipients on their hard work, commitment to education, and inspiring us all.”

“Through the EOP, SUNY has changed the course of so many lives and has given so many students the chance to excel and pursue their dreams,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson, who is also be speaking at the event. “We are enormously proud of the students receiving these awards today. Many of them have overcome enormous obstacles to fulfill goals that once may have seemed unattainable. I applaud every one of them for demonstrating perseverance and determination.”

‎"Unequal opportunity in our underserved communities leads to injustice and poverty," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. ‎"SUNY's Educational Opportunity Program provides a new pathway for students to overcome obstacles, get a good education, and pursue their dreams. The students receiving these awards demonstrate what can happen when we level the playing field and give them the support they need to succeed. Congratulations to all our award recipients who serve as role models to their peers.”

The Honorable Carl E. Heastie, the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, is delivering the keynote address. “Congratulations to all the students who are being recognized tonight - your hard work and dedication is inspiring,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. “Education is the key to a successful future, that’s why when I became Speaker, one of my top priorities was supporting opportunity programs for higher education. And every year since we have continued to fight to fund the EOP program, so students from every walk of life have shot at a college education and a bright future.”

The student speaker is Latishe Thorpe, a mother of five who lives in Poughkeepsie. Ms. Thorpe has a 4.0 grade point average and will receive her associate degree in human services from Dutchess Community College next May. She plans to become a social worker.

Since its inception in 1967, the EOP has provided access, academic support, and supplemental financial assistance to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of them the first in their families to attend college. In its 52-year history, the EOP has served more than 75,000 students and evolved into one of the country’s most successful college access programs.

In the current academic year, SUNY has more than 11,000 EOP students on 48 SUNY campuses. EOP students often outperform their peers, with 73 percent of them graduating with a baccalaureate degree within six years.

The EOP was founded by Arthur O. Eve, a former Deputy Speaker of the New York State Assembly. The Buffalo representative devoted his 36 years in the Assembly to advancing the needs of New York’s underserved populations and serving as a champion of educational, economic and social equality.

As Assemblyman Eve’s chief of staff, Mr. McConney drafted the legislation that established the EOP. Mr. McConney’s legacy of public service included several statewide initiatives to benefit underrepresented New Yorkers, including programs to prepare minority high school students for careers in the sciences and medicine, and scholarships for students underrepresented in the licensed professions.

Mr. McConney is also credited with helping to found the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus, which later became the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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