Tom Matthews, the Higher Education Member of the Year, knows how to build bridges - and how to swing a sledgehammer.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Matthews found himself in a flood-ruined home in Biloxi, Miss., sledgehammer in hand, as he helped in a rebuilding project. That trip was one of many Matthews would help organize through a community-based coalition known as "Livingston County CARES (Community Action Relief Efforts).
Matthews is a founding member of United University Professions, which now represents more than 35,000 academic and professional faculty at the State University of New York.
"Leadership is no longer the province of the few, the privileged or the merely ambitious," Matthews told the assembly. "It belongs to all of us, and it is our collective responsibility to use it wisely for the greater good."
At UUP, he has been a statewide treasurer and vice president for professionals; the chief negotiator for two contracts, and a chapter president.
At SUNY Geneseo, where he has worked for 41 years, Matthews is the director of leadership, education, development and training for the Center for Community.