From left: Joann La Perla-Morales, SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski, and Karen Brown, president of the Oneonta Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Middlesex County College President Joann La Perla-Morales received the 2012 Distinguished Alumna Award from her alma mater, the State University of New York College at Oneonta. Dr. La Perla-Morales, who graduated in 1968, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in education with a concentration in Spanish. She then attended Columbia University for her master’s degree and doctorate.
In her speech accepting the award, Dr. La Perla-Morales spoke on the value of education.
“For many people of my parent’s generation, the dream of a college degree was only realized through their children,” she said. “As one of those children, I am forever indebted to my parents, especially my father, who instilled in me the value of school. I am also indebted to the fine public state university system of New York that welcomed me and provided me with opportunities and possibilities. Like many of our students today, it is through education that otherwise closed doors are opened.”
Dr. La Perla-Morales became the sixth president of Middlesex in January of 2005. She has initiated new academic programs, restructured and increased student services, and developed an honors program for high achieving students. In concert with Raritan Bay Medical Center, Dr. La Perla-Morales developed a new Associate in Science degree in Nursing. During her tenure, enrollment has increased and the campus had added new buildings and facilities, including a LEED Certified classroom/conference center building, Crabiel Hall, which opened in January 2011.
An active member of the civic community, she holds many key positions in state and local organizations. She serves on the boards of the New Jersey State Ethics Commission, the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, the New Jersey Presidents’ Council, the New Jersey Chapter of the American Council on Education – Office of Women in Higher Education, Raritan Bay Medical Center, and the Middlesex County College Foundation. She also serves on the board of New Brunswick Tomorrow and its Education Task Force. She is a board member of the Edison Arts Society, and MIPH (Making It Possible to end Homelessness). She is also a member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education Committee on Substantive Change.
Her writings have been widely published in academic journals and she has been recognized as an outstanding academic by many professional and community associations.
Dr. La Perla-Morales has been honored by the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Edison Arts Society, MIPH, the Executive Women of New Jersey, the Girl Scouts of Delaware/Raritan and Kappa Delta Pi. She received the Contribution to the Community Award from Greater Media in 2010.