Schenectady County

Sage Colleges president announces retirement

Dr. Jeanne H. Neff, president of The Sage Colleges, announced on Wednesday that she plans to retire

Dr. Jeanne H. Neff, president of The Sage Colleges, announced on Wednesday that she plans to retire in June when she completes her 13th year as president.

“It has been an honor for me — personally and professionally — to lead this important and innovative institution. Through the dedicated work of talented faculty and staff, we have accomplished a great deal and positioned Sage well for the future,” Neff said in a prepared statement.

In a letter to the college community, Neff said she plans to expand her national activities in higher education, where she has recently been elected chair of the board of the Council of Independent Colleges. She also intends to devote time to writing and spending time with family and friends.

“Jeanne Neff, as Sage’s eighth president, has had a lasting and positive impact on the colleges during her tenure, and her contributions are greatly appreciated by the Sage community and the greater Capital Region,” said Michele Vennard, chair of the board of trustees of The Sage Colleges. “There has never been a time during her 13 years that Jeanne has not placed Sage first in her priorities. Her commitment to Sage’s growth, strength and academic reputation and her efforts in the community have been exemplary.

“In her time as president, she has been a great ambassador for Sage, and she has agreed to continue to work with us in fundraising through December 2008. She will always remain a part of the Sage community,” said Vennard, a Sage graduate.

The board of trustees will identify an interim president to begin work in July to guide The Sage Colleges through the transition period, and a new president is expected to be appointed to take office in the academic year 2009, said Vennard.

Kevin Stoner, associate professor of communications, who recently became dean of Sage College of Albany, said Neff has been a major force in moving academic programs at The Sage Colleges toward the next level.

Neff became president of The Sage Colleges in July 1995.

During her tenure, she developed a strategic plan for The Sage Colleges — the Agenda for Excellence — which emphasized a higher level of degree programs at each college, including the change from a junior college to the four-year Sage College of Albany and the introduction of doctoral programs at Sage Graduate School.

In 1998, she announced Project Jumpstart, a multi-year capital fundraising initiative propelling Sage down a path of rejuvenation and restoration. Since then, Sage has invested more than $40 million in new and renovated buildings, expanded technology resources and improved infrastructure and accessibility on the Sage campuses in Troy and Albany.

Project Jumpstart included the construction of the acclaimed Opalka Gallery on the Albany campus and the Buchman Pavilion in Troy.

Neff is well-known to public radio audiences as the co-host of “51%: The Program About Women,” produced at WAMC. In 2007, she was one of the first recipients of the Trailblazer Award, given by the Women’s Fund of the Capital Region.

In 2000, she helped launch the inaugural Summit in Tech Valley and supported the development of the innovative Tech Valley High School, a new public school that focuses on mathematics, science and the emerging technologies of the region.

Neff has served since 1996 as a member and recently chairwoman of the board of directors of the University Heights Association, linking Sage with Albany Law School, the Albany College of Pharmacy and Albany Medical Center through a common campus contiguous to all four.

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings said her leadership in the group has been invaluable.

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