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President Aaron Podolefsky to Step Down

President Aaron Podolefsky to Step Down

Posted: July 22, 2013

SUNY Buffalo State President Aaron Podolefsky announced Monday that he will step down as the college’s eighth president, effective July 31, to focus on his health and continue treatment for prostate cancer. Podolefsky, who has been on sick leave since May, informed the campus community of the difficult decision this morning.

“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. “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.”

Podolefsky added, “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. (My wife) Ronnie and I will always be grateful for our time in the Buffalo State family.”

Podolefsky’s three-year tenure at Buffalo State is best defined by his steadfast commitment to the college’s mission, vision, and people. 

That commitment to fulfilling The Promise of Buffalo State—the theme of Podolefsky’s inaugural address in 2010—can be seen across the 125-acre campus in the new facilities that have transformed the landscape of Buffalo State. In three significantly productive years, Podolefsky and the college have celebrated the opening of a new Student Apartment Complex ($45 million); phase one of the Science and Mathematics Complex ($52.3 million); the renovation of Rockwell Hall’s third floor ($9.5 million); the renovation of the Campbell Student Union ($6.3 million); and most recently, the Technology Building ($36.5 million), which will host classes this fall.   

Other highlights and accomplishments include:

  • A staunch advocate of the accessibility and value of public higher education, Podolefsky introduced Buffalo State’s first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign, Transforming Lives: A Campaign for Buffalo State, in 2012 to ensure that the college will continue to provide an affordable, high-quality education. Less than a year since the public launch of the four-year campaign, more than $16.5 million of the $20-million goal has been raised to enhance the student experience through new scholarships and learning spaces.
  • The Middle States Commission on Higher Education recently reaffirmed the accreditation of Buffalo State after successfully hosting the Middle States evaluation team in March 2013. The decennial accreditation review confirmed that all 14 Middle States standards are satisfied.
  • At his most recent State of the College address in September 2012, Podolefsky announced plans to add a net of 30 new full-time faculty members by 2014-2015.
  • In fall 2011, the college extended its reach into the community with the opening of the Community Academic Center. The center, located off campus at 214 Grant Street, serves as a hub for cradle-to-career educational support programming for youth and families on Buffalo’s West Side.
  • Buffalo State was named a “Great College to Work For” by the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2011 and 2012, both times earning recognition for the college’s commitment to shared governance.
  • Sensing a need to celebrate during a time of state budget challenges in 2011, Podolefsky declared the 2011-2012 academic year the Year of the Arts. What followed was an eclectic line-up of hundreds of thought-provoking performances and events that highlighted the college’s diverse and creative environment to the greater Western New York community. Podolefsky went on to declare 2012-2013 the Year of the City and 2013-2014 the Year of the Teacher.
  • Podolefsky introduced a new college crest in January 2013, revealing a bold mark that embodies the institution’s academic mission and dedication to excellence. In addition to the new crest, Podolefsky led efforts to shift the college’s official short name from “Buffalo State College” to “SUNY Buffalo State” to better align campus identity efforts.


Added Podolefsky in his message to the campus Monday, “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.”

Buffalo State Council Chair Howard Zemsky, who chaired the search committee that brought Podolefsky to Buffalo State in 2010, offered the following praise and support: “President Podolefsky has distinguished himself as a dedicated leader of Buffalo State whose remarkable vision, boundless enthusiasm and steadfast belief in the institution and its mission has been inspiring to the entire college community. With great wisdom and in a collaborative spirit, he has positioned Buffalo State as an institution of excellence in public higher education and established a strategic direction that’s advanced the college while creating a momentum for future success.”

Zemksy continued, “It’s truly been an honor working with such an exemplary leader who has had such a positive impact on the campus community and throughout Western New York. I join all of President Podolefsky’s colleagues and friends at Buffalo State in sharing deepest thanks for his exceptional contributions, and extend heartfelt good wishes, prayers, and support as he puts all his attention to addressing his health issues.”

Added SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, “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.”

A search for Buffalo State’s ninth president will begin this fall. Howard Cohen, chancellor emeritus of Purdue University Calumet, will serve as Buffalo State’s interim president during the 2013-2014 academic year.

About SUNY Buffalo State
Buffalo State, a State University of New York (SUNY) campus located in Buffalo’s Elmwood Village, offers degrees in the arts, education, the sciences and professional studies. Each year, more than 11,000 students choose Buffalo State for its broad array of high-quality and distinctive academic programs, diverse and creative environment, hands-on learning opportunities, affordable SUNY tuition and location in the heart of Buffalo’s cultural corridor.

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