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Presidents appointed for SUNY Canton, SUNY Potsdam

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SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton both have new presidents after a special meeting of the SUNY board of trustees Thursday in New York City.

The board appointed Kristin G. Esterberg to lead SUNY Potsdam and Zvi Szafran to head SUNY Canton. Both start July 1.

Ms. Esterberg is provost and academic vice president at Salem State University, Salem, Mass.

“I’m very delighted to be joining this really rich community of students, faculty and staff who have really created quite a vibrant life up in the north country,” she told the board.

Ms. Esterberg holds a doctoral degree and a master’s degree in sociology from Cornell University, Ithaca. She earned her bachelor’s degree in philosophy and political science at Boston University.

She will make $215,000 a year at Potsdam.

“We are absolutely convinced Dr. Esterberg is the right person to lead us into our third century of excellence at SUNY Potsdam,” SUNY Potsdam College Council Chairwoman June F. O’Neill said.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher praised Ms. Esterberg’s ability to develop academic programs.

“We particularly like Dr. Esterberg’s grasp for programmatic opportunities at SUNY Potsdam with and beyond the Crane School,” she said.

SUNY Potsdam interim President Dennis C. Hefner said he is pleased by his replacement.

“She brings considerable skill to the position, and has the type of expertise needed to lead the campus into the future,” he said.

Ms. Esterberg will need to balance her priorities between enrollment, finances and academics, while looking to create new programs that fit within the school’s mission, Mr. Hefner said.

“I think SUNY Potsdam needs to look at degree programs that draw large numbers of students, degree programs that build on the college’s existing strengths,” he said.

Ms. O’Neill said Ms. Esterberg has been impressive throughout the interview process.

“What we’re really looking for is moving the college forward,” Ms. O’Neill said.

Mr. Szafran’s appointment did not come as a surprise, as his recommendation for the position has been public knowledge for several weeks.

“I’m very much looking forward to the opportunities afforded by working at SUNY Canton,” he told the board. “It’s a wonderful institution.”

Mr. Szafran is a Syracuse native working as vice president for academic affairs Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Ga.

He holds a doctoral degree in physical inorganic chemistry from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Worcester (Mass.) Polytechnic Institute.

He will make $195,000 a year.

Ms. Zimpher also stressed the continued need for a close partnership between SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam, lauding SUNY Canton’s acting President Joseph C. Hoffman and Mr. Hefner for the work they have done during the search.

“The precedent-setting relationship that Dr. Hefner and Dr. Hoffman have exhibited is a model for the relationship we know will be held going forward,” she said.

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