State University of New York officials have admonished SUNY Potsdam for refusing to share a chief financial officer with SUNY Canton as a way to cut costs.
"The Canton and Potsdam campuses are uniquely situated to share administrative functions, and a shared Chief Financial Officer is a part of that process,” said David K. Belsky, press officer and director of new media for SUNY.
“ At most of SUNY's other four-year campuses, the CFO oversees single units larger than the combined operations of these two campuses.”
His comments followed an announcement late last week that SUNY Potsdam College Council members maintain they can’t find one chief financial officer for both the Potsdam and Canton campuses and plan to hire a full-time officer for just for SUNY Potsdam.
Both SUNY Potsdam’s Vice-President for Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer Michael Lewis and SUNY Canton’s Vice President for Administrative Services Christine Gray are planning to retire soon.
The effort to appoint one person for the two positions was in response to SUNY Central Administration and Provost David Lavallee’s mandate last year that the two schools “look into sharing administrative functions.”
That followed a compromise in which SUNY Central allowed SUNY Canton Pres. Joseph Kennedy to remain in his post instead of abolishing the position and having the SUNY Potsdam president lead both institutions.
Belsky, in his recent statement, said Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and the Board of Trustees “will consider all of the campus' recommendations for how a joint administration should be carried out as part of the review process outlined by the Board in November, which includes review of a report to be submitted jointly by Potsdam and Canton by July 15, 2012."
Potsdam’s College Council said in its resolution that, as the search committee went about its work, it became clear that, in spite of a pool of talented candidates, no one was thought to be able to do both the jobs at Potsdam and Canton at the same time.
The resolution approved last night said that the job “cannot be adequately and successfully fulfilled by one single individual.” The resolution also said the council “fully recognizes, supports and applauds the efforts and the initiatives of SUNY Chancellor Zimpher, of SUNY Central Administration” to seek out ways to share work and programs between the two colleges, and that SUNY Potsdam would continue to try to find areas where that policy can be implemented.
In response to the SUNY Central mandate, SUNY Potsdam President John Schwaller and SUNY Canton’s Kennedy appointed a joint search committee to fill the one position for both campuses. At the time, Schwaller said candidates were expected to visit the campuses in March so a selection could be made by April.
The two schools began fencing with Chancellor Zimpher and Provost Lavallee last summer when plans emerged that would have had Canton’s Kennedy step down while Potsdam’s Schwaller would assume the leadership of both campuses.