SUNY Potsdam President John Schwaller stepping down

SUNY Potsdam President John H. Schwaller. Photo: SUNY Potsdam

SUNY Potsdam President John Schwaller will step down effective at the end of next July.

In a statement released this morning, Schwaller looked back on his 6-and-a-half years at the college:

Through strategic planning, self-reflection, shared governance, and investment in the student experience, our campus continues to grow, even as it has weathered the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. This is, in a word, remarkable. The contributions of SUNY Potsdam to the North Country over the last six years have been profound. We can all be very, very proud of what we have achieved together.

He goes on to write he dearly loves the campus, which “must continue to capitalize on this success.”

In order to do that, for the College to advance in a changing academic environment, I believe the time is right for me to turn the campus over to new leadership. After much consideration, I have come to the conclusion that it is in the best interest of SUNY Potsdam for me to resign my position as President, effective July 31, 2013.

Schwaller’s unexpected announcement comes in a period of change at the SUNY campuses in neighboring Potsdam and Canton, one touched off last year with a controversial plan to consolidate presidencies at the two schools – with Schwaller presumably at the top.

SUNY leadership in Albany stepped back from the shared presidency after protests from the Canton College community. In the past weeks there have been announcements of shared services, and administration between the two schools.

There’s no additional comment from Schwaller’s office. More later…

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5 Comments on “SUNY Potsdam President John Schwaller stepping down”

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  1. NNYLiving says:

    Between the restructuring of services announced at SUNY Canton earlier this month and this announcement, I hope everyone sees what this really means: one president overseeing both colleges (or campuses – maybe they’ll consolidate further?). SUNY Canton has been trying to start a presidential search since it was announced that Kennedy would ‘resign’ (what a joke) and SUNY has yet to approve one, stating they were waiting until their December board meeting to move forward with anything. What SUNY did is a terrible example of how shared services should transpire and work – they ran away when the Canton community stood behind their college and its president, only to wait it out, let sentiments and emotions die down, and implement their plan slowly and behind closed doors. They are an absolute disgrace to higher education and while the premise behind shared services between neighboring colleges is a good one and finding ways to put more money in the classroom is absolutely worthwhile, they’ve refused to share ideas and processes and have kept both campuses in the dark, and they did all this at the expense of Kennedy and Schwaller. It’s a sad day for public higher education.

  2. LeavingPotsdam says:

    All I can say is that it’s about time. If someone would pressure others in the administration to “resign”, maybe we can hire some people who aren’t so focused on the money that they forget about the students’ welfare.

    And it’s hard to feel sorry for someone who makes more money than entire departments combined when the little guy is losing his job just because the college needs a scapegoat. He will have no problem finding a new college to call the one he loves anyway. Raymond Hall is full of people whose resignations/retirements are long overdue, just like Fritz’s.

  3. anon says:

    No doubt both Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Schwaller were pushed out. They were both resistant to shared services at the outset. SUNY Canton has been vulnerable ever since the mid-1990’s when it was threatened with closure. How ironic to see all the growth, and have it count for very little in the eyes of the bureaucrats. But its a lot easier to do this than to cut a college in a county that only has one SUNY institution.

  4. Inside Scoop says:

    From what I have heard, Schwaller’s departure has more to do with performance. Basically he was in love with the fun parts of being president, but had no real interest in doing the details that define real leadership. I once heard a senior finance person describe SUNY Potsdam’s senior administration as “financially illiterate.” Schwaller basically thought he could let his underlings run things without intervention, and he could spend his time doddling around campus in his little fedora, and pretending to be president.

    Now that SUNY Potsdam has administrative interaction with SUNY Canton, word got back to SUNY Central about how much of a non-entity Schwaller was in terms of leadership. The recent dust up about graduate programs (about 2 million in lost state funding) is totally due to his incompetence. People literally told him and Provost Madden over and over that this was coming, and they chose not to believe it. SUNY Potsdam had over 250 international graduate students a few years ago. Now they have around 50. Any competent administration would respond to a 75% decrease in international graduate enrollment. Schwaller and Madden needed to be explicitly told they would get this signficant budget cut to do anything about it. Lack of understanding of numbers is a strong theme in the upper echelons of Raymond hall.

    A recently department Dean was a pathological liar, when faculty did an evaluation of him, the results were so obviously faked it was identified as faked within minutes. I want other faculty at our regional institutions to guess what happened? Imagine a dean at your school is evaluated by faculty and fakes the numbers in a way that is so blatant it is laughable. What did President Schwaller and Provost Madden do? Nothing. Gave him a ‘do-over’ and later allowed him to retire with an extra-fat bonus. SUNY Potsdam’s adminstration is a wonder combination of incompetent and vindictive.

    Bye Bye Schwaller, nice to see at least somebody in Raymond is head accountable for something for once.

  5. mervel says:

    Looks like a hard place to manage.

    Who was the last President that you guys actually liked?

    I don’t know this guy, I do know about Dr. Kennedy though and he was a great influence on the NC and on SUNY Canton, but I don’t think regional success is what Albany wants for the SUNY system.

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