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SUNY Chancellor recommends Zvi Szafran for next SUNY Canton president

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CANTON — SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher has announced her recommendation of Zvi Szafran as SUNY Canton’s next president.

The SUNY board of trustees will hold a special meeting April 3 to consider appointing Mr. Szafran, who is vice president for academic affairs at Southern Polytechnic State University in Georgia.

The final approval step is expected to be a mere formality, and Mr. Szafran is SUNY Canton’s likely next president, according to Ronald M. O’Neill, chairman of the College Council.

“I don’t see any problem at all there whatsoever,” Mr. O’Neill said. “I think they’re probably aware of the candidate, and I’m sure that the candidate has already been interviewed by the board, so it’s just a formality of presenting him to the full board.”

Ms. Zimpher stated in a news release: “Having served for nearly a decade as a member of the leadership team at a technology college within a state system of higher education, Dr. Szafran’s experience and vision align well with SUNY Canton’s mission as well as SUNY’s strategic priorities.”

“I’m very excited about SUNY Canton’s future,” Mr. Szafran said in the release. “Their career-driven, hands-on mission is critical to America’s and New York’s growth, and they have an excellent strategic plan. I look forward to helping them to achieve the success they deserve.”

Mr. Szafran could not be reached for comment Friday.

Mr. Szafran holds a Ph.D degree in physical inorganic chemistry from the University of South Carolina and a B.S. in chemistry from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, according to a biographical comment on Southern Polytechnic State University’s website.

Prior to joining Southern Polytechnic, Mr. Szafran served as vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at New England College, Henniker, N.H. He is widely published in fields related to the environment and chemistry, and publishes a blog about academic matters and personal observations titled “The Weekly Blab.”

SUNY Canton’s acting president, Joseph C. Hoffman, will return to his previous position as a distinguished teaching professor at SUNY Maritime College. He said Mr. Szafran will be a good fit for SUNY Canton.

“I’m thrilled,” he said. “We were very impressed when we met him.”

He said he hopes Mr. Szafran focuses on creating an enrollment management plan to help guide the growth of the college.

Mr. Hoffman said he considered pursuing the permanent president position, but elected to move back downstate to be closer to family.

“We loved it up here. It was a tough decision to make,” he said.

Mr. O’Neill described Mr. Szafran as a reserved, intelligent man with plenty of ideas on how to lead the college.

“He’s just very impressive after you speak to him for a few minutes,” he said. “He’s just such a good fit; it’s like he was meant to be there.”

Mr. O’Neill thanked Ms. Zimpher and the SUNY board of trustees for acting to wrap up the lengthy search.

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