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Four Finalists Chosen for ESF Presidency


SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A national search for a new president to lead the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) has resulted in the selection of four finalists who will visit the campus beginning in January.

The candidates are:

  • William G. Cale Jr., executive vice president for academic affairs at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.
  • Stephen B. Jones, director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
  • Cornelius B. Murphy Jr., chairman of the board of O'Brien & Gere Limited in Syracuse.
  • Larry A. Nielsen, director and professor in the School of Forest Resources at The Pennsylvania State University.

The new president will replace Dr. Ross S. Whaley, who announced his intention to leave the presidency after 15 years. He will continue to serve SUNY as a University Professor.

Curtis Bauer, who chairs both the ESF Board of Trustees and the 15-member search committee, said the finalists were chosen after an exhaustive search. The process of seeking and selecting a new president was established by the SUNY Board of Trustees and is set forth in a detailed set of guidelines.

"The committee is pleased to present these four highly qualified candidates to the community," Bauer said. "Each member of the committee was dedicated to conducting a search that would result in the finest pool of candidates available, and I think we have reached that end. Each member contributed a great deal of hard work to the result."

In addition to accepting resumes from more than 40 applicants who responded to announcements about the position, Bauer said, committee members pursued other prospective candidates who were suggested by members of the ESF community.

A systems ecologist, Cale has held progressively responsible teaching and administrative positions at the University of Texas at Dallas, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Lamar. At Lamar, Cale has created a number of degree programs, two lecture series and a university writing center. He also spearheaded the university's high-tech, Internet and distance-learning programs.

Jones received both his baccalaureate and doctoral degrees from ESF. He is a tenured professor at Auburn University's School of Forestry and Wildlife Science and an adjunct professor at Alabama A&M. The cooperative extension system he leads is a comprehensive education network with offices in all of Alabama's 67 counties.

Murphy, who joined the firm in 1970, holds several other leadership positions at O'Brien & Gere affiliates. He has been the driving force in establishing the company as a dominant player throughout the region in hazardous waste management and remediation.

In addition to administrative roles, Nielsen is a respected scholar in sustainable resource management, community-based management and ecosystems management issues. At Penn State, he raised some $12 million in private funding for the school, received authorization for a new building, and created several new academic programs.

Following the campus interviews and constituent feedback process, the search committee will make recommendations to the ESF Board of Trustees, which will present its recommendation to the chancellor of the State University of New York. The chancellor then makes his recommendation to the SUNY Board of Trustees, which will make the presidential appointment.

The search committee comprises four ESF trustees, six representatives of the college faculty, and one representative each for college professional and support staff, faculty chairs, students, alumni, and the college foundation. Assistant vice chancellor Marianna O'Dwyer was an ex officio representative on the committee for the SUNY chancellor.

The committee was aided by executive search firm Isaacson Miller of Boston.