YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: After nine years of serving as the first female leader of Kingsborough Community College, Dr. Regina Peruggi will retire at the end of the summer.
Peruggi, 65, announced her retirement in an April 5 letter to the school’s staff and faculty, in which she reflected on her time at the Manhattan Beach-based institution.
“These past nine years have been extraordinary ones for me. They have been challenging, creative, exciting, productive, and a great deal of fun,” Peruggi wrote in the letter. “I have met incredible individuals who have taught me a great deal and whose memory will be with me for years to come. Kingsborough faculty, staff, and students are the best in the country, and it has been a true privilege to work with each of you.”
Peruggi is expected to hand over the reigns to the school in August, although the school’s press office could not provide an exact date. The school’s spokespeople declined to comment on Peruggi’s retirement, as there has not yet been a public announcement.
Peruggi was appointed as president of the school in 2004, becoming the first woman to helm Kingsborough in its 40-year history. She had previously served as president of Marymount Manhattan College for 11 years and as the second president of the Central Park Conservancy, where she made great strides in fundraising. She started her career as a drug abuse counselor in a state jail and was married to her childhood friend, former mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was also her second cousin once removed and the two divorced in the 1980s.
At Kingsborough, Peruggi oversaw some of the school’s most tremendous years of growth, including hitting record high enrollment numbers and, most recently, being named as one of the top four community colleges in the country by the prestigious Aspen Institute.
“She’s been absolutely fabulous. The college has grown so much, and prospered so much under her leadership, that to me it’s a sad day that we’re going to lose the opportunity to have her at the top of the college,” said Michael Sokolow, a history and political science professor at the school who has worked closely with Peruggi on the school’s College Council. “[The latest recognition from the Aspen Institute is] the kind of thing that she’s helped propel us to. She’s helped make us nationally recognized. She let CUNY as a whole and the nation see how we do our job.”
Sokolow has worked at the school since 1992 and has seen several presidents come and go. He said Peruggi’s leadership was marked by a deeply personal style that distinguished her from her predecessors.
“She sends out individualized birthday cards to members of the staff, and really brought a personal touch to what it means to lead Kingsborough,” he said. “We’re happy for her, we’re glad she’s going to get that chance to relax. But we’ll miss her.”
Peruggi is known to stop by various department offices regularly to greet faculty and hear out concerns, in addition to throwing memorable holiday parties that Sokolow said some staffers regard as the best part of the job.
“It’s hard for a college president to find the time to do it, but she makes a point of doing it,” Sokolow said.
Peruggi has been honored as a 2006 New York State Senate Woman of Distinction, and serves on a number of boards of directors and advisory boards for non-profits oriented towards economic development, education and women.
It is not yet clear who will replace Peruggi. After the departure of previous presidents, the CUNY chancellor has appointed an acting president and a search committee, responsible for identifying nominees. The chancellor will determine the next step in the process, Sokolow noted.
Coincidentally, days after Peruggi’s letter to staff, CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein publicly announced he is also stepping down.
Peruggi’s farewell letter to faculty and staff: