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Buffalo State president stepping down

SUNY Buffalo State

Buffalo State College President Aaron Podolefsky is stepping down. Podolefsky has been on sick leave since May as he undergoes treatment for prostate cancer. On Monday, he announced that he will step down as president July 31.

Podolefsky has served as president for the past three years.

"In what has been a personally challenging and arduous journey, I've given long, thoughtful consideration to the next step on this life path and have concluded that my overall well-being and quality of life must be my first priority," Podolefsky said in an e-mail message to Buffalo State faculty, staff and students.

Podolefsky also notified SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher of his decision to step down.

"Aaron Podolefsky provided outstanding leadership in his three years of service as president of SUNY Buffalo State and I join the students, faculty, staff and alumni of the campus as well as his colleagues across SUNY in wishing him the very best as he steps down to focus on his health," Zimpher said.

College Council Chair Howard Zemsky says it's sad news for the Buffalo State Community and for the region.

"Aaron represented all the ideals of Buffalo State College. He shared our values, personally and professionally, and he represented the institution with great success," Zemsky says.

Zemsky says a search for a new president will get underway in September.  

"We're very sorry, of course, for the circumstance that's leading us to have to do another search. It would be our preference not to be in that circumstance. The whole Buffalo State community wishes Aaron Podolefsky all the best and our gratitude for the tremendous service that he gave the institution," he says.

Howard Cohen, chancellor emeritus of Purdue University Calumet, will serve as interim president during the 2013-2014 academic year.

Here is the e-mail message Podolefsky sent to faculty, staff and students:

Dear Colleagues,

Since I made the announcement in June regarding my sick leave, I’ve been immensely comforted and strengthened by the overwhelming support, good wishes and prayers from so many in our caring Buffalo State community. I’m profoundly appreciative of the outpouring of concern and kindness.

In what has been a personally challenging and arduous journey, I’ve given long, thoughtful consideration to the next step on this life path and have concluded that my overall well-being and quality of life must be my first priority. Therefore, I share with you the news that I’ve notified SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher that I will be stepping down as president of Buffalo State, effective July 31. Moving ahead, the search process for the next president is expected to get underway in early fall.

Please know this was an extremely difficult decision but necessary as I move forward with making a full commitment to my health. Reflecting on this, it was made with genuine pride, gratitude and confidence in the future of this distinguished institution.

Serving as Buffalo State’s president has been one of the greatest privileges in my professional life in public higher education. It’s been an honor to work with such dedicated, talented and remarkable faculty and staff. From the first time I set foot on campus, I have felt at home and welcomed by this community. Ronnie and I will always be grateful for our time in the Buffalo State family.

I’ve been tremendously rewarded and enriched in countless ways by my connections with all of you. Together, we have advanced Buffalo State, fostered impressive change, and embraced an ambitious vision blended with a campus culture that will bring even more institutional achievements and student success. I’m extremely thankful to have been a part of Buffalo State’s incredible history.

As I leave my presidency at Buffalo State, I do so with optimism, hope and belief in the vitality of this institution and that it will continue to thrive in fulfilling its educational mission. Thank you for the opportunity to have served as your president.  I will forever have Buffalo State with me. I wish each of you much happiness, good health and success.

With warmest regards,

Aaron Podolefsky