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Hefner lauds support, calls for new hospital

Farewell letter offers vision

Submitted Photo Dennis and Jan Hefner note the “enduring friendship and support” from the community.

Dennis Hefner, outgoing interim president of the State University of New York at Fredonia, is sending a message of thanks and support to the northern Chautauqua County region.

In a letter to the OBSERVER, Hefner notes the university is beginning a “FREDStrong” campaign in regard to the ongoing global battle with the coronavirus. He notes that signs announcing the use of masks will soon be posted throughout campus.

He also is an advocate of the new Brooks-TLC facility build in Fredonia while noting his gratitude to all the community members who continue to back the institution.

Here is his full letter:

Editor, OBSERVER:

Next week incoming President Stephen Kolison arrives in Fredonia. Before I depart, I want to share four items with your readers.

First, SUNY Fredonia will be reopening shortly, with a very different format than in the past. Many people have been working hard to provide for a safe reopening. A large percentage of our courses will be taught remotely, which has resulted in a sizeable portion of our student body deciding to live at home and take classes remotely. For students coming to Fredonia, we are running a “FREDStrong” campaign to encourage appropriate behaviors and implementing a number of requirements to keep everyone, faculty, staff, students, and the community safe.

One major change that directly impacts the community is the soon-to-be-implemented requirement for facial coverings to be worn on campus. Signs announcing the facial covering requirements will soon be posted.

Second, I want to thank people in the community who are so supportive of this exceptional university. People who have lived here all their lives may not realize what an amazing community you have. People here go out of their way to help and assist one another. For example, without my asking, Kirk Maytum of DFT Commuication offered a zero cost increase in our internet connection to ensure spring remote instruction for students would be clear and crisp.

Also, Dan Reininga of Lake Shore Savings called with the name of a person in Buffalo who might be able to help solve a graduation problem. These types of actions, going above and beyond to help others, happen regularly in this community, and likely are among the reasons Fredonia was selected the Small Business Revolution winner.

Third, during my initial 16-year stint as president, I had the pleasure of serving on the Brooks Hospital board of directors. We talked frequently about the need for a new state-of-the-art facility, located closer to the Thruway off-ramp, to better serve the health needs of Northern Chautauqua County. Upon my return last summer, I was excited to learn the proposed new hospital had been approved for funding by the state. Not only will a new hospital help Brooks to recruit physicians to better serve our region, but will also help attract businesses and employees to our region. I have talked to legislators and written to the State Department of Health asking that this critical project move forward as quickly as possible.

And finally, Jan and I want to thank community members for their enduring friendship and support. We wish you the best as together we navigate these difficult times.

Please stay safe and healthy,

Dennis L. Hefner, Ph.D.

Interim President

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