dagati.jpgJohn D'Agati

Director, Higher Education Committee, New York State Senate Senator Kenneth P. LaValle Chair
Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Food Service Administration, 1983

John D’Agati’s initial sense of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) was as a place “where faculty and students truly value hard work, intelligence, and the pursuit of knowledge... and that knowledge and understanding could provide an opportunity to change one’s own life and perhaps other lives as well, for the better.”

As a long-time member of Senator Kenneth P. LaValle’s staff and now Director of the Senate Higher Education Committee, Mr. D’Agati has helped to change the lives of many New Yorkers. “John has a thorough knowledge of the legislative process and an understanding of the needs of the higher education community,” explained Senator LaValle, who is chair of the Higher Education Committee. “He treats college presidents and college students with equal respect and works hard to ensure that everyone’s views are heard in the Legislature.”

Mr. D’Agati’s empathic approach may have much to do with his own experience of what it requires — financially and otherwise — to earn a college degree. Because of his family’s financial situation, he did not begin college until he was 22 years old. Fortunately, he received a TAP award, which made college feasible. “My family had very little income and virtually no assets. I had to take the maximum in student loans, and I also received federal grants. The state’s Tuition Assistance Program allowed me to attend first a community college and then RIT.”

Because of the assistance he received through TAP, Mr. D’Agati earned his four-year degree from RIT, making the Dean’s list in all six quarters of his attendance and graduating with Highest Honors.

After five years in the food services industry, Mr. D’Agati became a legislative aide in 1988 and has worked in state government since that time, simultaneously receiving a master’s in public administration and working on his doctorate.

In his current position, he assists in the development of policies critical to higher education and programs that explore the link between higher education and economic development, including the Gen*NY*sis legislation. He also played a significant role in the expansion of TAP, which provided substantial increases in award levels and expanded income eligibility, so that thousands more New York students and their families can realize the benefits of a college education. TAP worked for Mr. D’Agati, just as it continues to work to educate another generation of New Yorkers.