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Kennedy may step down from the SUNY Canton presidency next spring.
Kennedy may step down from the SUNY Canton presidency next spring.

SUNY Provost threatens to rescind Kennedy job offer

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In a letter to SUNY Canton president Joe Kennedy obtained by the Watertown Daily Times, SUNY Provost David Lavallee has said he is considering rescinding the agreement that allows Kennedy to stay on in that position until the end of the academic year.

Under that deal, Kennedy would move after this year to a new position as special advisor to the chancellor. He'd work with Chancellor Nancy Zimpher on the Campus alliance networks initiative, figuring out ways to share administrative functions among SUNY campuses.

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Nora Flaherty
Digital Editor, News

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In the letter, Lavallee criticized Kennedy’s public comments on both the terms of his departure, and on Campus Alliance networks.

He said Kennedy had, quote, “substantially undermined” his ability to work on the initiative. He asked that Kennedy confirm in writing, by Monday, that he still wants the job with Zimpher.

We spoke with Joe Kennedy Friday.  He didn’t want to do recorded interview, but says while he has been concerned about the future of SUNY Canton, he was never unhappy with his agreement with SUNY Central…and he’d like to keep it if he can.

Morgan Hook is a SUNY spokesman—he says, in one capacity or another, Joe Kennedy has a future at the university if he wants one:

Joe Kennedy is the president at canton right now, and we know he’s long advocated for sharing services at Canton and Potsdam, there are agreements and sharing of services that are already taking place up there that we believe are a model for the rest of the system, and that we believe could be an advocate for some of those things.

The letter does offer the option to Kennedy of staying on as SUNY Canton’s president without a specific term or end date, at the discretion of the university.

Those terms are standard for SUNY presidents—but some have expressed concern about the insecurity of Kennedy’s position given the events of the last couple months. Addie Russell issued a statement earlier today saying she’d asked SUNY to give Kennedy a three-year contract:

I thought it would be prudent to see if I could get a little more security for the president, so this wasn’t looked at as a ploy to get him released from the contract and then, perhaps in the very near future, to release him as president. Because when you’re in an at-will situation that’s certainly something that can happen at any time.

Russell says she’s not sure whether Kennedy would accept such an offer. SUNY spokesman Hook says that offer would be “an extraordinarily unusual step”. Kennedy said Friday he’d likely respond to the letter by the end of the day.

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