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SUNY Canton College Council repeats its presidential search request

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CANTON — They won’t take “not yet” as an answer.

After representatives of SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said it might be more than a year before SUNY Canton could search for its own president, the SUNY Canton College Council repeated its request to begin a presidential search.

Since Joseph L. Kennedy stepped down as president in August, SUNY Canton has been under the interim leadership of Carli S. Schiffner.

The resolution claims that the campus has made strides to share services with nearby SUNY Potsdam, meeting benchmarks established by the SUNY board of trustees.

“The original benchmarks were met,” SUNY Canton College Council Chairman Ronald M. O’Neill said.

However, SUNY officials disagree. In November 2011, the board of trustees passed its own resolution, requiring SUNY Canton either to show a 10 percentage point increase in spending devoted to instruction or to show that more than 52 percent of its total budget goes directly to instructional spending, and fully align its administrative staff with that of SUNY Potsdam before a presidential search could begin.

Those benchmarks still have not been met, said David D. Doyle, SUNY spokesman.

“In December, the campuses had asked for more time to initiate shared services, and SUNY is in support of these efforts,” he said. “SUNY system administration has made it clear that there is not going to be a presidential search for at least a year.”

The board of trustees set benchmarks for shared administration in areas “including but not limited to institutional research, human resources, finance, accounting, purchasing, billing, budget and facilities,” and required the schools to plan for shared computing services — all areas where work remains, Mr. Doyle said.

“There is more work to do. The campuses want to do more work. The IT integration is not complete, and these are the things that were called for in the resolution,” he said.

In November, SUNY Potsdam President John F. Schwaller announced his resignation, renewing concerns that SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam might share a president. The chancellor’s office said in December that a unique interim replacement would be named for Mr. Schwaller, but the SUNY board of trustees did not take any action at its January meeting.

Despite the delay, SUNY Potsdam will have its own interim president, Mr. Doyle said.

“SUNY Potsdam is getting an interim president,” he said. “It is going to happen.”

In the meantime, Mr. O’Neill’s resolution says the lack of a permanent president harms SUNY Canton’s ability to raise funds, hire staff and recruit faculty.

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