Californian chosen SUNY Cobleskill’s new leader

Those involved say it’s pure coincidence, but there seems to be a maritime theme to the presidency o

Those involved say it’s pure coincidence, but there seems to be a maritime theme to the presidency of the State University of New York at Cobleskill.

Donald P. Zingale, currently vice president for academic affairs at The California Maritime Academy, was nominated Wednesday by SUNY Interim Chancellor John B. Clark to head SUNY-Cobleskill.

Assuming the SUNY Board of Trustees confirms his nomination at its Jan. 15 meeting, Zingale would succeed Thomas Haas, a retired Coast Guard captain who spent much of his career at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut.

Zingale noted during a Wednesday telephone interview that he’s met Haas, as well as former SUNY Chancellor John Ryan, a Navy admiral who formerly headed SUNY’s Maritime College and the U.S. Naval Academy.

“Other than [my] being a sailor, there’s no connection,” Zingale said.

For Paul Berard, chairman of the 18-member presidential search committee at SUNY-Cobleskill, Clark’s selection of Zingale is a welcome relief after a more than 12-month search for a new president following Haas’ departure in August 2006 to head Grand Valley University in Michigan.

“I’m very glad it’s over,” Berard said. “It’s been a long pull.”

The search was extended in the spring after an initial three finalists either were not selected or took other jobs.

Zingale, 61, was chosen from among three finalists submitted to Clark by Berard’s committee in October. About 30 potential candidates were initially considered by a national consulting firm that assisted with the initial search, according to Berard.

Berard stressed his admiration Wednesday for interim officer-in-charge and SUNY-Cobleskill Provost Anne Myers. “She did a bang-up job as interim president,” Berard said. “I would like to thank her for keeping the ship afloat.”

Zingale is expected to meet with faculty and campus officials in Cobleskill in March, according to SUNY-Cobleskill spokeswoman Holly Cargill-Cramer.

“Dr. Myers is very pleased that the search has been concluded successfully and is already setting up meetings to help with the transition,” Cargill-Cramer said.

Zingale said he hopes “to be up and running” at Cobleskill by May.

His salary has not been set, pending the SUNY trustees’ confirmation, according to officials. Haas was earning $160,000 per year as president when he left in 2006.

After more than 30 years at various California State University positions, Zingale, a Brooklyn native, said returning to New York state will be a homecoming. “I learned to ski in the Catskills.”

During a campus visit last fall, Zingale said, he and his wife, California native Lydia Cruz, “fell in love with the area.”

Zingale acknowledged his background, which is largely in health and human services, physical education and administration, does not include agricultural programs that are a major component of SUNY-Cobleskill. But he said his technical and administrative expertise suit the college’s goals that include a mixture of degree and vocational programs.

“Every 15 or 20 years, there’s a major shift in higher education,” Zingale said. “The next thing … is pipeline, or ladder, education, where students can pick from a menu of opportunities.”

Cobleskill’s college of Agriculture and Technology is ahead of the curve in offering such a mixture of associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in one location, compared to California and much of the country, according to Zingale.

“The other allure [of SUNY-Cobleskill] is that my entire experience has been professional and technical education,” Zingale said.

“I’m new to agriculture, but I’m not new to the challenges of teaching technical or professional education,” he added.

Zingale holds a doctorate in physical education from Ohio State University, as well as a master’s degree in social work from California State University, a master’s degree in physical education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Brooklyn College.

Before becoming a vice president at The California Maritime Academy in 2004, Zingale was founding dean of the College of Health and Human Services at San Francisco State University.

The academy, which is part of California State University, has about 850 students, according to academy spokesman Doug Webster, compared to about 2,600 at SUNY-Cobleskill.

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