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SUNY appoints Cohen interim president

Week-long search indentifies interim replacement for President Podolefsky

By Brandon Schlager
On June 11, 2013

A swift search by the State University of New York Board of Trustees has identified an interim replacement for SUNY Buffalo State President Aaron Podolefsky.

Dr. Howard Cohen, chancellor emeritus at Purdue University Calumet, on Tuesday was appointed interim president of Buffalo State. Cohen will assume all presidential duties beginning Aug. 1 and throughout the duration of Podolefsky's sick leave.

SUNY's decision, aided by the Buffalo State Council, comes eight days after Podolefsky announced he would be going on an indefinite sick leave to concentrate on the treatment of his prostate cancer.

"I am privileged and honored to have been selected as Buffalo State's interim president," said Cohen, who was also a professor of philosophy at Purdue Calumet, an undergraduate university in Hammond, Ill. "I look forward to building on the success of this exceptional institution of academic excellence."

Cohen brings more than 40 years of experience in higher education to Buffalo State and shares in Podolefsky's innovative vision for public institutions and economic growth.

Throughout his 10-year tenure at Purdue Calumet, Cohen was responsible for record enrollment at the university and other initiatives to boost learning and outreach efforts.

Prior to Purdue Calumet, Cohen was provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay between 1995 and 2001. He has also held positions at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

Cohen received an undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of Minnesota and master's and doctoral degrees in philosophy from Harvard University.

He will earn an annual salary of $225,000.

"Buffalo State has a mission that is important to me, and I am inspired by the exceptionally dedicated faculty and staff I have already had the pleasure of meeting," Cohen said.

A timeframe for Podolefsky's eventual return to his duties as president is unclear. He was absent from this year's commencement ceremonies because he is taking part in a clinical trial for the treatment of his cancer.

"We are confident Dr. Cohen's distinguished record of experience, success, and commitment to public higher education will provide the strong leadership and continuity needed at Buffalo State during this interim transition," Howard Zemsky, chair of the Buffalo State Council, said in a statement. "The college is fortunate to have someone of this caliber step into this vital role."

Brandon Schlager can be reached by email at 

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