By Alex Robinson
Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology inaugurated its first female president in its 82-year history last week.
The East Elmhurst school, at 8601 23rd Ave, anointed Dr. Sharon DeVivo as the institution’s seventh president.
“Her help, her knowledge and her vision of what Vaughn should be is what helped bring us to the point we’re at today,” faculty senate President Thomas Broschart said at DeVivo’s installation ceremony.
DeVivo had been the acting president since July, after she was selected to lead the school in April.
“I know that she will continue to work tirelessly and I hope, and indeed I pray for the institution, that she stays with us as president for many years to come,” Broschart said.
DeVivo has worked in various capacities at the school, most recently as a senior vice president, for almost 20 years.
The school was founded in 1932 and provides instruction to more than 1,700 students in technology, engineering, management and aviation programs.
DeVivo graduated from SUNY Albany before receiving her master’s in public communications from Fordham University and her doctorate of education from the University of Pennsylvania.
She began her career as director of public relations at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University and then worked at Fordham University as director of communications before joining Vaughn College.
DeVivo said what makes the small school special is its sense of community. She was immediately struck by a feeling of belonging when she came for her second job interview and people remembered her name.
“I worked at two really large institutions before this and I was lucky if people even knew I worked there,” she said at the ceremony. “I didn’t even have a job here yet. So I remembered being very impressed and that sense of community really continues to this day.”
She first started working at the college in 1996 as a communications director and became a vice president in 1999.
The college also unveiled a $41 million renovation of the school at its first fund-raising gala last week. Under the leadership of Devivo’s predecessor, Dr. John Fitzpatrick, the school redeveloped its main campus and research facilities, adding new flight simulators and engine maintenance rooms.
During Fitzpatrick’s 17-year stint, the college also built a new residence for students and expanded its programs, things DeVivo hopes to build upon.
“There are so many on this campus who have had a vision for this institution,” she said. “Big dreams are what we are going to need if we’re going to offer students the best possible undergraduate and graduate education.”
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.