State University of New York trustees have appointed a top SUNY official to oversee Alfred University's College of Ceramics and have expressed their frustration that Alfred officials hadn't picked a suitable candidate for the job.
The trustees named Elizabeth D. Capaldi, a former University at Buffalo provost, to the position and directed her to report back to them within 30 days on the operations and finances of the College of Ceramics.
"I'm hoping this is a very short-lived assignment and we work out a [permanent] unit head acceptable to Alfred and our SUNY board of trustees," Capaldi, now a SUNY vice chancellor, said after Tuesday's meeting.
Alfred officials, who say they didn't learn about the resolution until receiving a faxed copy after the meeting, argue the SUNY board overreacted in making the appointment.
"We believe the state university board of trustees has acted precipitously and without a clear understanding of the situation," Michael Hyde, Alfred's vice president for university relations, said in a statement.
The SUNY board resolution comes after 18 months of often-contentious negotiations between SUNY and Alfred officials over the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred.
The college, which is divided into a School of Art and Design and a School of Engineering, has a national reputation.
What complicates the situation is the fact that the college is a statutory college within a private university.
SUNY contributes to the college's budget -- $9.2 million in support in the current school year -- SUNY trustees approve the head of the college, and they must be consulted on the amount of tuition charged.
The dispute at its heart comes down to a question of control of the college and its budget.
Faculty and staff at the college have complained about how university officials operate the college and have asked SUNY officials to intervene.
SUNY officials were concerned enough to send a team to the Alfred campus to delve into the finances of the college, former SUNY Chancellor Robert L. King said at a meeting of the SUNY Faculty Senate in April.
Faculty senators at that meeting passed a "sense of the senate" motion asking SUNY administrators to intervene and to clarify who is responsible for what at the college.
Ryan, the Alfred vice president, said the university has sent the names of three potential candidates to the SUNY board and has been working with State Sen. Catharine M. Young, R-Olean, to find a solution to the stalemate.
However, the resolution passed Tuesday states that Alfred continues to refuse to appoint someone to run the college who is acceptable to the SUNY board.