Presidential search narrows to five finalists; first to visit campus Monday

University at Albany provost first of five to visit


Bruce Fox/Instructional Resources

Interim President Howard Cohen speaks to Buffalo State for the first time in September. He has filled in as president this year as the school searches for its ninth president after Aaron Podolefsky passed away in August.

SUNY Buffalo State will introduce to campus five finalists of its presidential search gradually over the course of the next month, Presidential Search Advisory Committee chair Howard Zemsky announced Friday.

The first, Susan D. Phillips, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University at Albany, will arrive Monday to present to the campus community.

The search committee will withhold the names of the remaining four candidates until one day prior to their visits, which will run through May 13, in the interest of maintaining confidentiality.

The remaining four candidates will visit April 28-30, April 30-May 2, May 7-9 and May 12-13.

“I’m extremely proud of the collaborative and constructive work of your Presidential Search Advisory Committee,” Zemsky said in an email to students. “We’ve enjoyed a robust response from prospective candidates who are interested in serving as the next president of SUNY Buffalo State. We have completed our initial interviews and candidate evaluations, and have invited five outstanding finalists to campus in the coming days and weeks.”

Phillips will begin her tour of Buffalo State Monday morning with breakfast followed by an open forum from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., when she is scheduled to present from the Burchfield Penney Art Center’s Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium.

Also included in Phillips’ itinerary are open forums for staff (3:30 to 4:15 p.m.) and undergraduate and graduate students (4:30 to 5:15 p.m.), a driving tour of Buffalo and a “community reception” in Larkin Square (6:30 to 8 p.m.).

She will be on campus through Tuesday, when she will reconvene with the search committee.

“We encourage all members of the Buffalo State community to participate in as much of the process as possible to help us select the candidate best suited to lead our college,” Zemsky said. “We will collect your input using a series of individualized surveys that will follow the introduction of each candidate.”

Since 2008, Phillips has been provost at the University at Albany, where she started as an assistant professor in 1979 and worked her way through the ranks, serving as chair of the Department of Counseling Psychology the and dean of the School of Education.

Phillips received her bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford University. She then went on to Columbia University, where she earned a master’s in psychology and a doctorate in counseling psychology.

Students and staff can keep up with updates on the presidential search and visits by the finalists online at

Email: [email protected]

View the full campus interview schedule here:

Interview Schedule