UAlbany has new leader

A top administrator in the University of Minnesota system has been tapped as the new president of th

A top administrator in the University of Minnesota system has been tapped as the new president of the University at Albany.

The SUNY Board of Trustees on Wednesday voted to appoint Robert J. Jones as the 19th president of the university.

Jones has served as senior vice president for academic administration in the University of Minnesota system for the past eight years.

“Dr. Jones comes to SUNY with intricate knowledge and critical experience as a leader within a system of higher education, something that will serve our own system and our great state very well,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher in a statement.

Before his current position, Jones served more than 15 years in key administrative leadership positions at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, including vice president and executive vice provost for faculty and academic programs, vice president for campus life, vice provost for faculty and academic personnel, and interim vice president for student development.

Jones’ appointment is effective Jan. 2. He will receive an annual salary of $385,000 with a supplement of $110,000 from the campus’ allocation of research funds through the Research Foundation. He will also receive a $60,000 housing allowance and have access to a campus vehicle.

“The University at Albany is a world-class institution of higher education with an innovative research portfolio that serves our nation’s highest needs and ensures that New York state is at the forefront of today’s technological advances,” Jones said in a news release.

A native of Dawson, Ga., Jones has a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Fort Valley State College, a master of science degree in crop physiology from the University of Georgia and a doctorate in crop physiology from the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Jones will succeed George M. Philip, whom Zimpher praised for his “impeccable service.” He served as interim president of the campus from November 2007 to June 2009 before taking the job on a permanent basis.

It has been a tumultuous time for the university, hit with millions of dollars in cuts because of the state’s fiscal crisis.

Because of declining funding and enrollment, UAlbany in 2010 dropped French, Russian, Italian, classics and theater programs.

The university also suffered a black eye with the “kegs and eggs” riot of St. Patrick’s Day 2011. Nearly 50 people, many of them UAlbany students, jumped on and vandalized cars and tossed bottles. College officials changed the school schedule for 2012 so that St. Patrick’s Day would occur during spring break.

The student advocacy group Save Our SUNY issued a statement calling on Jones to restore the programs that had been cut.

Member Sean Collins said outgoing president Philip had a somewhat rocky time at the helm.

“It seems like his tenure in office left the university lacking in vision moving forward, with Nanotech going its own way and really depleting the rest of university of resources — monetary and otherwise,” he said.

Collins hoped Jones would push for the repeal of the SUNY 2020 legislation, which set a five-year tuition schedule. Tuition will be going up by more than 30 percent under that program. Save Our SUNY wants a tuition freeze and restoration of state funding to SUNY that has decreased by more than $1 billion during the past five years.

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