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SUNY Potsdam presidential search drawing to a close

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POTSDAM — SUNY Potsdam has nearly finished its role in the search for its next college president.

All five candidates have visited the campus, and the College Council and search committee will meet today to pick three finalists.

This discussion will be closed to the public, and the top three candidates will not be announced.

The council’s recommendations will be sent to SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher, who in turn will recommend a final candidate to the SUNY board of trustees.

The search has gone well, according to SUNY Potsdam College Council Chairwoman June F. O’Neill.

“We’ve been very pleased, and we’ve been getting good feedback,” she said.

The college hopes to know the name of its next president as soon as possible, but after today the task will be out of SUNY Potsdam’s hands, Ms. O’Neill said.

“Once we submit the name to the chancellor, the chancellor has to interview the candidates. Then it’s kind of their time frame,” she said.

The SUNY Board of Trustees will hold its next meeting March 19. Ms. O’Neill said she does not know whether the chancellor will make her recommendation in time for the trustees to appoint a candidate at that meeting.

“It depends on what else is going on at the system level, but we will be submitting the names tomorrow,” she said Tuesday.

SUNY Canton is also in the midst of a presidential search, and the trustees are expected to pick the college’s next leader at the March 19 meeting.

The trustees will not meet again until May. No matter what, SUNY Potsdam expects to have a new president by this summer, in order to prepare for the upcoming semester.

The college’s last president, John F. Schwaller, resigned last year after seven years of leading the campus. He was replaced by interim President Dennis C. Hefner, who plans to re-enter retirement once someone else has been chosen to fill the position.

The final five candidates are:

n Lorrie Clemo, provost and vice president for academic affairs at SUNY Oswego

n Kristin G. Esterberg, provost and academic vice president at Salem State University, Massachusetts

n James M. Klein, provost and vice president for academic and student affairs at Southern Oregon University

n Michael R. Laliberte, vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

n Beth Rushing, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at St. Mary’s College, St. Mary’s City, Md.

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