New presidents announced for SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton
Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 2:35 pm

Updated at 6:09 p.m. April 3

New presidents have been appointed at both SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton, according to an announcement this afternoon.

Dr. Kristin G. Esterberg, now provost and academic vice president at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts will be SUNY Potsdam’s 16th president and the first woman to lead the college beginning around July 1.

And Dr. Zvi Szafran, vice president for academic affairs and chemistry professor at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia since 2005, has been appointed president of SUNY Canton. His appointment is also effective around July 1, according to the announcement from the State University of New York in Albany.

The appointments resolve leadership questions at the two neighboring North Country colleges, which have been trying, under pressure from Albany, to find ways to share services, facilities and personnel in order to cut SUNY costs.

The policy ran into resistance when SUNY decided that the two colleges would share one president, but strong and sustained opposition from many quarters, including faculty, students and college councils at both schools, forced SUNY Central to back down.

“Not only do Dr. Esterberg and Dr. Szafran each bring unique experience and an impressive history of leadership to SUNY; their appointments also pave the way for continued system-wide efficiency to be achieved through shared services,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. “I look forward to working with Dr. Esterberg and Dr. Szafran, and commend the Board for recognizing their talent.”

“With new presidents at SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton, the students, faculty, and staff at both campuses will have excellent leadership in place as they continue their impeccable service to New York’s North Country communities,” said SUNY Board Chairman H. Carl McCall.

Dr. Esterberg said, "SUNY Potsdam creates a rich and vibrant cultural life in the North Country, serving not only its students but the entire region. I am honored to be joining this talented community of students, faculty, and staff, and leading SUNY Potsdam into its bicentennial year and beyond."

Dr. Szafran said, “I’m very excited about SUNY Canton’s future. Their career-driven, hands-on mission is critical to America’s and New York’s growth, and they have an excellent strategic plan. I look forward to helping them achieve the success they deserve.”

Esterberg replaces SUNY Potsdam Interim President Dr. Dennis L. Hefner, who came to the campus in June 2013 after John F. Schwaller announced in November 2012 that he would step down from the presidency following a seven-year tenure.

Szafran will assume the office that has been held by SUNY Canton’s Acting President Dr. Joseph Hoffman, who last year replaced Interim President Dr. Carli C. Schiffner, who stepped down to become Vice President of Instruction at Wenatchee Valley College in Washington State.

“On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Dr. Hefner and Dr. Hoffman for their interim leadership, and the presidential search committees at both campuses for bringing us this highly promising next generation,” said McCall.

Esterberg and her spouse, Sue Bergmeier, have two daughters. Katie is a first-year student at neighboring St. Lawrence University in Canton, and Qiong Qiong will attend Potsdam Central High School. Esterberg’s salary is set at $215,000.

Szafran’s annual salary is set at $195,000. He and his wife, Jill, have one son, Mark.

Dr. Szafran also served as the vice president for academic affairs at New England College in New Hampshire from 1998-2005. Previously, he held several positions at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, including dean of science and engineering, chairman of the chemistry department, assistant to the dean of arts and sciences, and professor. Szafran earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor's degree, also in chemistry, from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

June O'Neill, the chair of both the SUNY Potsdam College Council and the Presidential Search Committee, said, "We are excited that the Chancellor and the SUNY Board of Trustees have recommended and appointed Dr. Esterberg as the next president of SUNY Potsdam. We believe she is exactly the right person to lead SUNY Potsdam into its third century of excellence."

Ronald M. O'Neill, SUNY Canton College Council chair and chair of the Presidential Search Committee, said, "Dr. Szafran's background, experience and leadership are perfectly suited to our campus. All of us at the College look forward to his arrival and to working together with him."