Presidential Search

Finalist Biographies

SUNY Ulster Campus in Springtime

Meet the Finalists

Dr. Alison Buckley, Ed.D. 

Dr. Joel Frater, Ed.D.

Dr. Matthew Reed, Ph.D.

Dr. Jennifer L.H. Zellet, Ph.D.

Dr. Alison Buckley , Ed.D.

Dr. Alison Buckley, Ed.D portrait

Alison Buckley currently serves as the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs for Connecticut State Community Colleges. In this role, she is responsible for establishing the strategic enrollment management direction for the state’s community colleges. She also leads the reform efforts for student affairs to ensure all community college students, regardless of location, have the support and resources needed to be successful.  

Prior to joining CSCU, Dr. Buckley served for seven years as the associate vice president of enrollment management at Howard Community College (HCC) in Columbia, Maryland. During her tenure, HCC was consistently recognized for best practices in the field of enrollment management and had the strongest enrollment among Maryland’s community colleges. Dr. Buckley also served as the executive director of the offices of admission at the University of Baltimore. She was the managing director of graduate recruitment at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park as well as the director of business development for the executive education division. Prior to moving to Maryland, she worked at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  She has taught at the American College, Dublin, the Community College of Philadelphia, Delaware County Community College, and Howard Community College. 

Dr. Buckley has presented nationally on matters related to enrollment management and performance improvement. She currently serves on the American Association of Community Colleges Commission on Institutional Infrastructure and Transformation. In Maryland she served on the Lieutenant Governor’s task force on two generation poverty and the Governor’s task force for students with disabilities. Dr. Buckley currently serves as a trustee of Randolph College.  

Dr. Buckley received her bachelor’s degree from Randolph College, a master’s degree in history and a postgraduate certificate in museum studies from the University of Delaware, an M.Phil. in women’s studies from the University of Dublin, Trinity College, an M.B.A from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park and a doctorate in organizational leadership studies from Northeastern University.

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Dr. Joel Frater Ed.D

Dr. Joel Frater, Ed.D portrait


In addition to more than 20 years as a faculty member, Dr. Joel Frater brings substantive leadership and managerial experience as a college administrator; currently serving as Dean of Student Services for Rochester Regional Health System’s College of Health Careers (RGCOHC). In this capacity, he leads a portfolio that includes student counseling, registration and records, title IX, ADA, financial aid, admissions, and IT applications. He collaborates with other administrators to develop new academic and student support programs, including Respiratory Therapy partnership with a Medical University, College Readiness program for nursing students, and a feasibility study in preparation for the launch of a Dental Assisting program.

From 2015-2020, Dr. Frater served Monroe Community College (NY) as Executive Dean of the Downtown Campus leading the strategic visioning and daily operations that included academic services (degree and certificate programs, pre-collegiate partnerships), student services (Enrollment and Financial Services, Advisement, Counseling, Community Engagement and Development, Campus Life, Wellness Promotion), facilities and finance. He led the Transition Team that oversaw the process of constructing a new $78 million campus and presided over its grand opening following two years of construction. He facilitated the development of a marketing plan and strategic operational plan that addressed staffing needs, academic program growth opportunities and student engagement initiatives. Under his leadership, several student success initiatives including drop-in childcare, family friendly study lounge, food pantry, and multicultural center were implemented. 

Also, Dr. Frater served State University of New York, College at Brockport in several capacities, including Assistant Provost for Diversity, Director of the Institute for Engaged Learning, Middle State Accreditation Liaison Officer, Department Chair, and Associate Professor of Tourism Management. Also, he was American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow at Rochester Institute of Technology from 2013-2014. 

Dr. Frater is an equity-minded, student-success-oriented, collaborative, innovative, engaged, and passionate leader who enjoys building teams and supporting individuals to grow and reach their potential. He chaired the Student Recruitment and Retention Sub-committee of the SUNY Diversity Taskforce that resulted in the System-wide Diversity Policy. Dr. Frater values the role of higher education institutions in the community and models community engagement as a strategic priority. In Greater Rochester, NY, he serves as Immediate Past Chair and Executive Committee member of the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation, Vice Chair of the board of the Center for Government Research, Nomination Committee Chair and Finance Committee member of the PathStone Development Corporation board, and Trustee and Finance and Education Committee member of the Strong National Museum of Play. 

Dr. Frater began his career as an Elementary school teacher in his native Jamaica. He earned a Doctor of Education in Sport and Recreation Administration and a Master of Education in Therapeutic Recreation from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA; and a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Management from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania in Cheyney, PA. In 2010 he completed the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education (MLE) at Harvard University, and in 2011-12 the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Becoming a Provost Academy. His research interests are the socio-cultural, ecologic, and economic impact of tourism, particularly in the Caribbean Region, quality customer service, and the development of culturally responsive training modules for employees in the tourism and hospitality industry.

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Dr. Matthew Reed Ph.D.

Dr. Matthew Reed,  Ph.D portrait


Dr. Matthew Reed is an experienced senior academic leader with a long track record of improving student success through a consistent focus on equity. Hehas been the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Brookdale Community College, in New Jersey, since 2015. In that role, he is the chief academic officer for a college of approximately 9,000 students and 180 full-time faculty, and he manages an instructional budget of over $30 million.

At Brookdale he developed the first Academic Master Plan since 2008. Its single focus is the reduction or elimination of student equity gaps across lines of race, ethnicity, income, and gender. Dr. Reed also established, and chairs, the Academic Management Operations Committee (AMOC), which brings together the leadership of academic affairs, student affairs, and continuing education to improve internal communication across silos.

When COVID hit, Dr. Reed headed up the Proactive Pandemic Planning Committee, served as Incident Response Commander, and established a series of open Zoom meetings called “Mondays with Matt” to maintain open communication. He has maintained an active community presence, volunteering with the Jersey Shore Debate League and serving on the Board of the Monmouth Museum. He is also past chair of the Academic Affairs Affinity Group, comprised of the chief academic officers of all 18 New Jersey community colleges.

His community college experience started in 2003, with an appointment as the Division Dean of Liberal Arts at the County College of Morris. In 2008 he accepted the role of Vice President for Academic Affairs at Holyoke Community College At Holyoke he presided over six consecutive years of improved course completion rates, and helped establish the Faculty Council to improve internal communication. He has almost two decades of management experience in community colleges with tenure systems and collective bargaining. At both Holyoke and Brookdale, Dr.Reed successfully increased the diversity of the ranks of the faculty through a deliberate focus on equitable and fair hiring practices.

Dr. Reed has long been an active presence in the national conversation around community colleges and public policy. His 2013 book, Confessions of a Community College Administrator, has been taught in graduate classes in higher education leadership programs. His Inside Higher Ed column, “Confessions of a Community College Dean,” is widely read throughout the industry. He has been an invited speaker in graduate classes at Ball State, NJCU, Memphis State, the University of Maryland Global Campus, and Harvard. He has been a keynote speaker at statewide community college conferences in Arkansas, Michigan, New Hampshire, and New Jersey, as well as at the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), ACAD, and the Chairs Academy. He even gave a well-received TEDx talk, “Education When Information is Free,” in 2015. His national presence in the community college world was behind his selection to the inaugural class of Aspen Presidential Fellows in 2016.

Dr. Reed received his B.A. in political science from Williams College, and his Ph.D. in political science from Rutgers University. He has taught at DeVry, Rutgers, and Kean Universities, as well as the County College of Morris. He is married with two children.

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Jennifer L.H. Zellet, Ph.D.

Dr. Jennifer Zellet, Ph.D portrait


Dr. Zellet received her B.S from Cascade College in Portland, Oregon, majoring in Liberal studies with an emphasis on Education and a minor in Music. She earned her Master of Letters (MLitt) in Scottish and Irish Studies and her Ph.D. in English at the University of Aberdeen in Aberdeen, Scotland. Throughout her graduate programs, she was affiliated with the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies. She served as faculty at both Rochester University in Rochester Hills, MI and Modesto Junior College in Modesto, California where she taught undergraduate and community college students. Her work experiences span research, instruction, creative and academic writing as well as presenting on Leadership and Team Building. Dr. Zellet has served at various levels of administration in both 2- and 4-year institutions at the Dean and Vice President levels.

In addition to her publications and presentations, Dr. Zellet is serving as President-Elect of the California Community College Chief Instructional Officers Organization, participating on multiple statewide committees concerned with implementation of legislation, newly approved Bachelor Degree Programs in the Community Colleges, and serving the California Community College Athletic Association on the Management Council. Dr. Zellet has also been an active member of the Association for California Community College Administrators for 8 years, serving the Great Deans Program, ADMIN001 content development team, presenter for Management Essentials, and as an ACCCA Mentor. On campus, Dr. Zellet is a mentor in the LGBTQ Advocates program.

Dr. Zellet is actively involved in the Community as a member of Modesto Rotary (MORO). She serves as co-chair of the MORO International Service Committee, serves on the board of the SCOE Leadership Academy, and as a member of the SBDC Business Development Committee.  She participates in volunteer work, and serves on the County Voter Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Dr. Zellet’s purpose and drive spring from her heritage. She draws on generational strength from strong women and men, bringing all her conviction and integrity to her calling. Dr. Zellet has been recognized for her commitment to excellence. In 1999, she received the peer awarded Faculty of the Year at Rochester College; in 2011, she received a Special Tribute from the State of Michigan for excellence in teaching; in 2021 she was honored with the Purdy Award for Academic Excellence; and in April 2022 was honored with the DIVA (Diversity, Inclusion, Vision, and Advocacy) Award from the LGBTQ Advocates at Modesto Junior College.

Currently, Dr. Zellet serves as Vice President of Instruction at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, California.

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