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SUNY Canton’s likely next president shares plans for college

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CANTON — SUNY Canton is an “excellent foundation to build from,” according to the man who likely will be its next president.

The SUNY board of trustees will meet April 3 to decide whether to appoint Zvi Szafran to the position. Mr. Szafran was recommended by SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher last week.

Mr. Szafran is not a complete stranger to the region. He grew up in Syracuse, although he has not lived there for many years.

He started his career as a professor at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, working his way up to become a dean. From 1999 to 2005, he served as vice president for academic affairs at New England College in New Hampshire before taking the same position at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Ga.

He praised SUNY Canton for its focus on careers and ties to industry and for providing its students with the hands-on experience they need to become valuable employees immediately after graduation.

“I think they provide excellent opportunities for their students in today’s and tomorrow’s economies,” he said.

He plans to expand from that base. All of the college’s degrees, even those based in the liberal arts, should have a focus on technology and science to fit the college’s mission, he said. Similarly, science and technology students should be instructed in the liberal arts to help them adapt to the changing world.

“The fusion of the arts and the technology is what colleges like SUNY Canton should be all about,” he said.

Mr. Szafran said the college has been successful so far and has a good plan for the future.

“They have a strong strategic plan, and they have a mission that I very much believe in,” he said.

If appointed, he plans to meet with members of the college community, other SUNY presidents, local leaders and major employers of SUNY Canton graduates to learn more about how to run the school effectively.

“Obviously the most important thing I can do when I get up there is to listen,” he said. “We can’t assume you can just transplant an idea from one place to another.”

Mr. Szafran also addressed the ongoing efforts for SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam to share more costs and services. In Georgia he served on a statewide shared services committee and helped to oversee the upcoming merger between Southern Polytechnic State University and Kennesaw State University.

While no such major merger is in the cards for St. Lawrence County’s SUNY schools, Mr. Szafran said the colleges have done well by creating a memorandum of understanding outlining the plans for shared services in the future.

“By creating a memorandum of understanding and laying out how all services are going to be shared, you have the best possibility of having a good outcome,” he said.

Mr. Szafran said his wife, Jill, and his son, Mark, will join him in the north country if he gets the job.

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