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Change is not always pleasant

Newsmaker of the month: Horvath announces retirement

On March 29, 2012, faculty and staff cheered as the State University of New York at Fredonia officially announced Dr. Virginia Schaefer Horvath as its new president. It was a celebration of sorts as the university had its first female president in its history.

“As you can see, the chancellor knew what we knew all along. Ginny was the best choice,” said Frank Pagano, College Council and Presidential Search Committee chairman at the time. “She is absolutely the best candidate.”

After commencement in less than three weeks, however, Horvath’s reign will have ended as she has announced her retirement. A new president will be named — though not right away.

Horvath, pictured below, has plenty of successes in her seven years at the helm. Besides a number of initiatives at the university, she has been tremendously involved in community affairs. That deserves applause.

But things at SUNY — and New York state — have not changed much during Horvath’s tenure. Though costs to the university continue to climb, Albany continues to short-change its higher-education institutions. State funding remains flat, which means revenues will continue to be a problem as enrollments decline.

In recent months, Horvath’s relationship with the faculty also seemed to be worsening publicly. When a plan was announced to reduce the number of majors, protests were held in the fall. That plan was nixed. But since then, some on campus say morale at the institution is at some of the lowest levels in recent memory.

Horvath, whose background was in English, often did not want to make tough decisions though she brought on some talented individuals in recent years on the administrative side.

Which brings us to the future. With SUNY in such dire condition — and many other campuses are borrowing to stay afloat — will the situation become any better?

Horvath’s successor may take a much closer and harsher look at the bottom line. If that’s the case, a change at the top may bring some additional uncomfort for a number of university staff members.

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