Dennis Hefner named interim president at SUNY Potsdam

The State University of New York Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Dennis L. Hefner as Interim President of SUNY Potsdam.

Hefner was previously the college president at SUNY Fredonia until he retired in June. He will receive a $225,000 annual salary.

“I am pleased to be asked to serve as Interim President at SUNY Potsdam. I look forward to arriving June 1, and to working with faculty, staff, students, and community members in the Potsdam area,” Hefner said in a news release posted on SUNY Potsdam’s website.

SUNY Potsdam President Dr. John F. Schwaller announced in November that he would step down from his position following the 2012-13 academic year. Dr. Schwaller’s career in higher education spans more than 30 years. He has served as President of SUNY Potsdam since March 2006.

“It has been one of the great joys of my life to serve as President of SUNY Potsdam. I truly believe that the College is prepared for its third century and will continue to be a leader in the region, the state and beyond,” said College President Dr. John F. Schwaller, in a statement. “I look forward to meeting with Dr. Hefner to discuss SUNY Potsdam’s long history and bright future.”

“Dr. Hefner comes to SUNY Potsdam following a highly successful 16-year tenure as president of one of its peer campuses within our system,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “His intricate knowledge of and experience with SUNY and his proven leadership ability make Dr. Hefner an ideal fit for the Potsdam campus. I thank him for agreeing to serve as interim president and I commend the Board for appointing him to this post.”

Current SUNY Fredonia President Virginia Horvath applauded the move.

“Dr. Hefner’s selection to serve as Interim President of SUNY Potsdam is an excellent choice, and not at all surprising to those of us who worked with him for so many years here at SUNY Fredonia,” she said. “Chancellor Zimpher and the board have recognized the knowledge and leadership he would bring to any campus, and we are pleased to see him still contributing to the overall success of the State University of New York, even in his retirement from Fredonia. His passion for excellence in public higher education will always be strong, and he will no doubt serve northern New York well during their leadership transition.”

Hefner served as president of SUNY Fredonia between 1996 and 2012. He served as vice chancellor for academic affairs at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, since 1994. Prior to that, he was vice president for academic affairs and professor of Economics at California State University, San Bernardino, from 1990-94, and was transition team leader at CSU, Monterey Bay, in 1994. Dr. Hefner also held a number of administrative and faculty positions at CSU, Chico, from 1976-90, the University of Maryland from 1970-72, and Washington State University from 1967-69. In addition, he was director of research PAID Prescriptions, Inc. in California and an economist and social research analyst for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Dr. Hefner received a B.A., Economics, in 1967 from California State, Chico and an M.A., Economics, in 1969, and Ph.D., Economic, in 1971, from Washington State University.

Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training and leadership in the performing and visual arts.