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SUNY Board of Trustees names interim leaders for Canton, Potsdam campuses

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POTSDAM - The SUNY Board of Trustees named acting and interim presidents for two north country campuses Tuesday afternoon.

Former SUNY Fredonia President Dennis L. Hefner was named interim president at SUNY Potsdam, Mr. Hefner will receive a $225,000 annual salary.

“Dr. Hefner comes to SUNY Potsdam following a highly successful 16-year tenure as president of one of its peer campuses within our system,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher.

“His intricate knowledge of and experience with SUNY and his proven leadership ability make Dr. Hefner an ideal fit for the Potsdam campus. I thank him for agreeing to serve as interim president, and I commend the board for appointing him to this post.”

The board appointed Jeremy D. Brown acting president at SUNY Canton. Mr. Brown, the school’s provost from 2003 to 2007, will receive a $185,000 annual salary and a $4,000 monthly housing allowance.

“Dr. Brown is well respected as a leader in higher education,” Ms. Zimpher said. “We know his experience will benefit Canton.”

Both appointments are effective June 1.

By SUNY rules, an interim president cannot be considered for the permanent presidency at the campus they are serving, but an acting president could potentially continue on as a permanent hire.

The board interviewed both men during an executive session Monday evening.

Mr. Hefner will replace John F. Schwaller, who will resign in July after more than seven years leading SUNY Potsdam. Mr. Schwaller has not announced his plans.

“I am pleased to be asked to serve as interim president at SUNY Potsdam. I look forward to arriving June 1 and to working with faculty, staff, students, and community members in the Potsdam area,” he said.

Mr. Hefner, president emeritus at SUNY Fredonia, spent 16 years as the campus’s president. During that time the campus grew enrollment by 25 percent, expanded its graduate programs and improved its diversity.

“I would say Fredonia is probably more like Potsdam than any other campus in the SUNY system, practically any ohter campus in the nation,” said Margaret E. Madden, SUNY Potsdam provost.

“His experience is going to be very useful to us. He has a long history at SUNY. He understands us and he understands the kind of curriculum that we have at the college. All of that will make him a good fit for us. I am excited for the possibility for us to work with him.”

Mr. Brown will replace Carli S. Schiffner, who has served as SUNY Canton’s interim president since longtime President Joseph L. Kennedy stepped down last year. Ms. Schiffner will take over as vice president of instruction at Wenatchee Valley College, Wenatchee, Wash.

“SUNY Canton will continue to strive to provide an education of the highest quality to the residents of the North Country, citizens of the great State of New York, and beyond,” Mr. Brown said. “As Dr. Schiffner transitions to the West Coast, I would like to express my appreciation for her hard work and loyalty that leaves SUNY Canton in such a strong position moving forward.”

After leaving SUNY Canton, Mr. Brown became president of Edinboro University, Pennsylvania, but has kept a home in the town of Canton. Until recently, he was president at Dowling College, Long Island.

“He will bring energy and enthusiasm to help continue moving the campus in a very positive direction,” Ms. Schiffner said. “He has a deep knowledge of the college that will allow for a seamless transition.”

The colleges await permission from Ms. Zimpher to begin the search for their permanent presidents.

Leaders at both schools have said permission could come later this year.

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