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Schiffner named SUNY Canton interim president

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CANTON — When Joseph L. Kennedy steps down as SUNY Canton’s president Aug. 31, he will pass the college’s torch to a familiar face.

At a meeting of the SUNY board of trustees Thursday, Provost Carli C. Schiffner was named interim president effective Sept. 1.

Ms. Schiffner also acts as the campus’s vice president for academic affairs.

“Dr. Schiffner has a commendable history with SUNY and has shown excellent leadership since returning to Canton as provost last year,” said H. Carl McCall, SUNY board chairman. “We are pleased that she has agreed to take on this additional responsibility and most confident that her continued leadership will serve the campus well.”

Ms. Schiffner came to SUNY Canton in 2003 as a professor of history, later becoming Mr. Kennedy’s chief of staff. In 2007, she became dean of arts and science at Yakima Valley Community College in Yakima, Wash.

“I’m honored to accept these new responsibilities, and I look forward to continuing the incredible progress the college has made under the direction of Dr. Kennedy,” Ms. Schiffner said. “It’s an exciting time in the history of SUNY Canton, with record-setting numbers in applications and enrollment as well as new facilities and new majors. I’m looking forward to working with our campus community and SUNY to ensure we continue in the positive direction we’re headed.”

Mr. Kennedy said that Ms. Schiffner’s experience at the college makes her an ideal choice as an interim successor.

“She knows what is going on here and understands the culture,” he said. “I think if you are a new president coming in, it would actually be less important. I would assume that a new president would have some ideas on how to shape the culture.”

Mr. Kennedy has been president of SUNY Canton since 1993. During his tenure, the college has experienced rapid expansion and added 22 four-year bachelor’s degree programs to its extensive offering of two-year associate degrees and certification programs.

“Having students here for a longer period of time, you see a more mature student population. It changes the community on campus,” he said. “That change in brand may be the thing that I am most proud of, and I believe it may be the best accomplishment I could have made in my time here.”

After leaving SUNY Canton, Mr. Kennedy will begin a one-year engagement as a special adviser on shared services to SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher.

“We have talked about a wide range of things,” he said. “One of the areas we discussed is that we have had a huge success with online learning here. The system is looking for ways they can improve the process. I would anticipate being involved with the planning for that, but there are other areas.”

A joint report commissioned by the board of trustees on shared services between SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam is due to the chancellor from the presidents of those campuses by July 15.

SUNY officials declined to comment on the position’s future Thursday, but Mr. Kennedy said the search for a permanent successor will begin.

“The College Council has been assured that they will start a search next year, probably in January, and there should be a new president in place,” he said.

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