UL Alumnus Named President of State University of New York at Fredonia

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An alumnus of the University of Liberia, Dr. Stephen H. Kolison, Jr., has been named as the new president of the State University of New York at Fredonia.

Dr. Kolison, the school’s 14th president, was announced officially by the SUNY Board of Trustees on June 29, 2020. His appointment takes effect on August 17, 2020.

A native of Liberia, Dr. Kolison joins the university with a successful track record in several different academic settings, including his current occupation as Executive Vice President and Provost at the University of Indianapolis, which he joined on April 1, 2017.

In his current job, Dr. Kolison has a wide range of responsibilities, which includes providing leadership for achieving the academic mission of the University. During this period, he was instrumental in the planning of 10 new degree programs as well as securing overwhelming faculty support to establish three new types of faculty tracks in response to the needs of faculty across the university.

Dr. Kolison also planned, launched, and completed the development of an intellectual life vision and an academic master plan for the university. Throughout his career in higher education, Dr. Kolison has been the principal investigator on grants totaling millions of dollars.

“It is as important as ever to support our campuses with talented and dedicated leaders that will guide our students on a path to a world-class higher education. Dr. Kolison has proven just that during his impressive career and we welcome him as SUNY Fredonia’s new president,” said SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman, Dr. Merryl H. Tisch.

“SUNY Fredonia led a stellar, rigorous search with system administration, and it is my pleasure to join the campus in celebrating Dr. Kolison as the 14th president,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson. “As the campus prepares to welcome Dr. Kolison in August, I also want to thank Interim President Dennis Hefner for his service. He graciously came back last July, and he is to be commended for his leadership during this transition, as well as steering the campus during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Before immigrating to the US, Dr. Kolison graduated from the University of Liberia with Bachelor of Science in general forestry and later Master of Science and doctorate degrees in forest economics from Iowa State University.

Dr. Kolison, who is a graduate of the American Academic Leadership Institute and holds four postdoctoral certificates from Harvard University, began his teaching career at Tuskegee University in Alabama as an assistant professor and coordinator of the Forest Resources Program. That was in 1990.

Frank Pagano, chair of the Fredonia College Council and chair of the Presidential Search Committee said, “Dr. Kolison brings a wealth of experience to this position and is well prepared for this role. I look forward to working with Dr. Kolison as we begin a new chapter in Fredonia’s history.”

“Thank you for this tremendous opportunity and confidence,” Dr. Kolison said. “To the students at Fredonia, I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to be of service to you all.  Regardless of your background, the State University of New York at Fredonia is your university. You belong! So, embrace it, love it, and take full advantage of all that it has to offer. I will work hard each day to ensure that you are successful in your endeavours.”

“I am pleased that Dr. Kolison will soon be leading this exceptional university,” said Interim President Dennis Hefner. “His experience with public and private universities, his extensive grant record, his intimate knowledge of higher education systems, and his strong academic background give him the knowledge and experience necessary to assume this important leadership position during these very challenging times.”

In 1826, Fredonia residents established a form of higher education beyond the “common school” when they created the Fredonia Academy. In 1948, Fredonia became one of the four-year colleges in the newly-established State University of New York (SUNY) system.

Since then, the university has seen highs and lows as an institution. From 1996 to 2012, tremendous growth took place at State University of New York at Fredonia that included the construction of new buildings and an expansion of enrollment by 25 percent, or 1,000 undergraduates. Graduate enrollment doubled, minority students quadrupled, and international students increased by a magnitude of 10. A major capital campaign raised nearly $17 million in private funds to support State University of New York at Fredonia.

State University of New York at Fredonia currently has a total enrollment of 4226 undergraduate students and 237 graduate students.

1 COMMENT

  1. David Yates,

    Thank you for a story that makes all Liberians proud with Dr. Kolison’s achievement. It is great to learn that he is a graduate of our own University of Liberia. From experience, entering as a student at LU, for a very long time, the nation’s only public institution of higher learning, and going through the rigors of academics while facing the day-to-day challenges of life in Monrovia, has been a daunting task for most students at that institution. Many a student, will be crushed, not necessarily by academics, but by the difficult living condition in Monrovia before achieving their dreams.

    I say this to say that the story of Dr. Kolison is grossly incomplete. If you do not throw some light on his humble beginnings that today’s young people in the streets of Monrovia will relate to, you are doing an injustice to this man’s full stellar accomplishment. All these “big universities” in America that he attended and mentioned by you make a great story, but also mentioning his humble beginnings and rise to the top, makes a greater story that our young people of today could emulate.

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