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February 2015

 

In memoriam: Ray McCartney
John Malskis, Professor Emeritus (Mathematics)

 

Suffolk County Community College and the Faculty Association lost one of their pillars on Christmas day. And, many of us lost a precious, trusted and devoted friend when Ray McCartney passed away. Gifted with an agile and intelligent mind, for close to forty years he lent his expertise to the college, the FA, his students and above all to his beloved mathematics department.

Ray headed that area when I first arrived on campus in 1964. His leadership qualities were immediately apparent. Priding himself on his mathematical ability, he demanded not presentable but rather excellent skills as a starting point. His hires are a testament to this. Further, he fully subscribed to Dr. Ammerman’s invocation that foremost we should be good teachers. Under his direction we totally revamped our course offerings. We argued among ourselves. We won some battles and lost others. But, at every skirmish, Ray made sure that cliques were not formed, we respected each other and we took pride in being a member of the department.

In his lifetime Ray wore many hats: devoted husband to Ellen and father to Lynn and Mark, school board member, coach, union negotiator and president, department head, mathematician, teacher, author, counselor and friend. He taught us to be good teachers—he often told me his goal was for everyone in the department to believe that all of their colleagues were superior teachers but that they personally were the best! Further, he showed us how to become good leaders as is evidenced by the fact that among his protégés were five deans, three division chairmen and four department chairs. He hired the first four women, seamlessly integrating them into the department.

Ray was a founder of the FA and one of its first presidents. His gentle but firm hand bridged the gap between the radicals and conservatives that enabled the FA to garner the widespread support it now enjoys. As one who was a chief negotiator of the first contract, I can attest that Ray’s wisdom and assistance was indispensable. He was the architect of the salary step system that I believe in slightly altered form exists to this day. He devoted many hours studying the pay system then in effect and then worked up a plan that enabled me to sell the step system to the county.

As FA president he successfully engineered the affiliation with NYSUT. With all sides spoiling for a fight, he peacefully brought home the second contract. The present strength of our college and our FA was the work of many individuals. Ray McCartney’s energy, skill and foresight place him among the best.

Goodbye, dear friend. Those of us who had the pleasure of knowing you will never forget you. ‘Til we meet again, I and many, many others will sorely miss you!