SUNY Board of Trustees Appoint Dr. Suzanne Smith as SUNY Potsdam’s Next President

February 7, 2023

More Than 25 Years in Higher Education From Faculty Member to Administrator Responsible for Academic Programming and Strategic Planning

Dr. Smith's Photo is Available Here

Albany, NY
– At the recommendation of State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr., the SUNY Board of Trustees has appointed Dr. Suzanne Smith as SUNY Potsdam's next president. The announcement was made by the Board and Chancellor King today and becomes effective on April 17, 2023.

Established in 1816, the Potsdam campus is SUNY's oldest college. The campus is known for its academic excellence as a teaching school, and home to the renowned Crane School of Music. Dr. Smith will be the 18th president following the passing of President Dr. John L. Graham. Officer-in-Charge Philip Neisser will assist with the leadership transition.

"Dr. Smith is a phenomenal leader who is well-known for her expertise in academic programming and strategic planning," said SUNY Chancellor King. "While at Georgia Southwestern University, Dr. Smith led the school's Post-Pandemic Strategic Task Force, which helped guide the university back from the pandemic. She is well poised to build on Potsdam's longstanding history of excellence. I thank Officer-in-Charge Philip Neisser for manning the helm after the passing of Dr. Graham and commend him for an excellent job steering the college through the process of selecting its 18th president."

SUNY Potsdam College Council Chair June O'Neill said, "We are excited that Chancellor King and the SUNY Board of Trustees have recommended and appointed Dr. Smith as the next president of SUNY Potsdam. I am grateful to my fellow search committee members who worked so hard on this successful search. We were impressed by Dr. Smith's dedication to applied learning, and her commitment to making sure every graduate is both competitive in the marketplace and empowered to become their authentic selves. We have every confidence that Dr. Smith is the right person to rally our campus and the broader community to secure SUNY Potsdam's future and continue to build on our strong legacy."

Dr. Smith said, "I am deeply honored to have Chancellor King and the SUNY Board of Trustees charge me with leading the oldest institution in the SUNY system. Potsdam has stood the test of time and educated the next generation of learners for over 200 years. The college in the foothills of the Adirondacks has a lot to be proud of, including the world-renowned Crane School of Music. I am excited to build on the college's longevity and use that as a tool to drive it forward to attract new students while enhancing the already successful programs Potsdam offers."

About Dr. Smith

Dr. Smith has served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) since July 1, 2018. In this position, she is responsible for the academic programming and planning for the university, as well as overseeing the allocation of resources to meet programmatic priorities. During her time with GSW, she has led the academic planning process, resulting in the establishment of several new degree programs designed to meet student and regional workforce needs. She was also crucial in raising over two million dollars for one of those programs by working with community partners and seeking external grants.

Dr. Smith also led the GSW's Post-Pandemic Strategic Task Force, which resulted in the development of their three pillars of excellence: People, Purpose, and Profession.

Prior to GSW, Dr. Smith served at Washington State University Vancouver from 1997-2018, where she had most recently served as the director of academic planning and special assistant to the vice chancellor of academic affairs. During her time at Washington State Vancouver, she transitioned from faculty to administration by serving ten years as an academic director.

Dr. Smith is a tenured professor in GSW's Department of Psychology and Sociology. She has over 25 years of experience teaching sociology and human development at the university level. She has received multiple awards for excellence in teaching and has written numerous journal articles and books, including her latest co-authored textbook, Exploring Family Theories (5th Ed), published in 2021. Dr. Smith is an active member of the National Council of Family Relations and the Family Science Association.

Dr. Smith received her PhD in child and family development from the University of Georgia, her MS in family and child development from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and her BA in behavior science from Erskine College.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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