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Newsmaker of the month: Kolison has council thinking big

OBSERVER File Photo SUNY Fredonia President Stephen Kolison outlined a multi-year plan to raise enrollment and eliminate a spending deficit by the 2024-25 school year.

When it comes to enrollment, the State University of New York at Fredonia is dealing with the same problem many other institutions are facing. After decades of growing numbers, a decline has begun.

And it’s not stopping.

President Stephen Kolison, who was hired in the midst of a global pandemic, has certainly faced a number of challenges since his arrival last August. That being said, he appears to be a pillar of stability in some uncertain times.

During the College Council meeting held earlier this month, Kolison kept it positive while talking about the university’s challenges. “We need to address the situation, then reverse it,” he said, introducing an outline of his four-year plan to do so. “We think 6,000 students is the optimal number that we need in order to also have a good financial standing.”

There is definitely room at the campus. If there has been one thing over the last decade to 15 years the institution has done, it is increase its footprint in tremendous fashion. There’s been upgrades to its dining facilities, athletic complexes as well as dormitory and housing complexes.

Kolison said Fredonia is expected to have 4,296 students during the 2021-22 school year. He wants that number up to 4,710 for the 2022-23 school year; 5,195 for 2023-24; and 6,003 for 2024-25.

Simply put, the demand has not kept up with supply. Hearing Kolison’s hopes, however, is something refreshing at a campus that has faced financial struggles.

“This is going to be a lot of heavy lifting … but it is necessary,” he said. “We cannot continue to have a deficit year after year.”

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