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SUNY Canton president asked to resign or be fired

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CANTON — SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy was given an ultimatum by SUNY Central officials: resign or be fired, a source close to the situation said Monday.

As part of a possible merger between SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam, Mr. Kennedy was told SUNY wanted to have one president oversee both colleges, according to the source, who asked not to be identified.

In mid-July Mr. Kennedy submitted his resignation letter, effective Sept. 1.

The resignation came after two SUNY Central officials traveled here from Albany on July 7 to meet with Mr. Kennedy on campus.

Mr. Kennedy, 65, did not plan to retire for another three years from the presidency, a job that pays $185,000 a year.

Morgan W. Hook, a spokesman for SUNY Central, would not confirm Mr. Kennedy’s resignation.

“I don’t have a copy of that,” Mr. Hook said.

He would not discuss reports that as part of his severance package, Mr. Kennedy will be serving as a consultant to Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher after his resignation as president.

“We are not going to comment on personnel matters as a matter of policy,” he said.

Meanwhile, public support continues for Mr. Kennedy, the longest-serving president in the SUNY system. Since taking the helm in 1993, Mr. Kennedy has revitalized the college with new facilities, including the new $40 million athletic center and the $29 million townhouse project expected to open this fall.

During his tenure, student enrollment has nearly doubled and numerous four-year degree programs have been established. Most recently, the college added degrees in sports management, civil and environmental technology and electrical technology.

Meanwhile, supporters continue to rally behind Mr. Kennedy. A task force has been created by the town council and village board to fight any attempt to merge SUNY Canton with SUNY Potsdam.

A website has been created in support of the president: http://supportpresidentkennedy.com as well as a Twitter feed: http//twitter.com/#!/SupportPrezK.

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