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College head plans to retire next year

Fredonia State College President Dennis L. Hefner, who has served more time as a college president than almost any administrator in the state, announced his retirement plans on Friday.

Hefner, 65, announced that he intends to retire from his post at the end of the 2011-12 academic year, but added that -- if needed -- he will stay on until a successor is named.

In a statement issued by the school, Hefner gave no reason for retiring but said he will continue working as a part-time professor and a consultant for the state university system after he retires.

Hefner and Fredonia spokespersons could not be reached to comment Friday evening.

Hefner, who has led Fredonia State for the past 15 years, is the second-longest serving president of any four-year institution in the university system, school officials said.

"Dennis Hefner will leave Fredonia, and the SUNY system as a whole, much better than he found it," said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. "Throughout his 15-year tenure, he has transformed the college into an economic powerhouse for the region and an academic jewel for the state."

Hefner announced his plans Friday morning during his annual All-Campus Address, with his wife, Jan, among those in attendance.

"It's been a pleasure and an honor serving as president of this wonderful university," Hefner told his audience.

SUNY officials said Hefner is widely respected throughout the state system, especially for his tireless advocacy for a "rational tuition plan," which was signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week.

During Hefner's 15 years at Fredonia, the college has seen its undergraduate enrollment increase by 25 percent. Its graduate students have doubled, and its international students have tripled, SUNY officials said.

They also credited Hefner for helping to secure $360 million from state and nonstate sources for construction and renovation projects at the school.