The more I learned about Judy Calogero’s decision to resign last month from the College of St. Rose board of trustees, the more I drew parallels in my mind to what has happened — and what hasn’t — in the federal government over the past year.
This isn’t an exact parallel, and I doubt Calogero will appreciate me drawing it.
But what she chose to do, in stepping down as the board president rather than continuing on a course with which she disagreed, showed integrity that is in desperately short supply now in Washington.
Calogero has deep ties to St. Rose. Her mother went there, and so did an aunt, a couple of cousins, her sister and her niece. She went there herself.
(In full disclosure, I have ties to St. Rose, too — my daughter, Tam, is a senior there.)
After college, Calogero worked in Albany on housing for people who had been evicted from apartments, then went back to school at RPI to get a master’s degree in planning.
She worked for the state in various important posts — director of the Rural Housing Coalition, commissioner of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, CEO of the N.Y. Housing Conference — and after a short stint with a bank, went into business for herself in Glens Falls as a housing consultant.
She is a community leader here, head of the IDA and a leader of the effort to revitalize downtown.
She joined the St. Rose board of trustees in 2006 and became its president three and a half years ago. She was the co-chair of the selection committee that in 2014 hired Carolyn Stefanco as the college’s president.
Stefanco took steps to make the college’s academic offerings more reflective of students’ desires and eliminated 40 staff and administrative positions, 23 faculty positions and 27 academic programs. Calogero and the rest of the board backed her, despite howls from the faculty.
But Calogero has become disillusioned with Stefanco. The college’s deficit was reduced to about $3.6 million but now is ballooning back up, to more than $10 million.
Stefanco hasn’t been communicating with faculty and staff, Calogero said, and the college’s top administrators have been leaving. Necessary maintenance has been ignored while thousands is spent on unnecessary work. Enrollment is down.
Calogero asked Stefanco to give up some of her outside commitments to focus on St. Rose. Instead, Stefanco tried to undermine Calogero’s position on the board.
The college is in crisis and its leader needs to act accordingly, Calogero said.
Four other trustees have also left the board, including Tim Fenton, the retired chief operating officer of McDonald’s Corp. The trustees who had led the board’s governance and audit committees and the college’s annual fund all left.
Calogero spoke with regret about her deep ties to the college and her hope that it will survive. She was happy to hear from me, a St. Rose parent, that Tam hadn’t even noticed the turmoil and is having an excellent college experience.
Growing up in Utica, Calogero would observe her mother leading meetings in their house of the Utica alumni group.
“If my mother were still alive, she might not be happy with me,” she said. “But I didn’t want to stay if the main focus wasn’t dealing with the crisis.”
Calogero refused to go along with a course she felt was wrong. She refused to pretend things were fine when the opposite was true. If only we had more people in Washington like her.
Will Doolittle is projects editor at The Post-Star. He may be reached at email@example.com and followed on his blog, I think not, and on Twitter at