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Szczerbacki will take over the top job at Saint Rose on July 1, when Mark Sullivan steps down after 16 years, a time of expansion for the school. He beat out the other finalist for the job, Daniel May, currently vice president for academic affairs at the University of Findlay in Ohio. Szczerbacki said he'll continue the momentum of Sullivan while exploring new options for growth.
"We're not starting from scratch," he said. "There is a lot to build on."
He said he'll focus on growing the number of international students enrolled at Saint Rose and will increase its diversity. He said the 5,000-student school will continue to explore programmatic and academic changes, including the possibility of adding a doctoral program, as long as it can preserve the core mission of serving undergraduate students.
Szczerbacki, 60, holds a doctoral degree in policy studies from the University at Buffalo, as well as a master's degree in urban systems and a bachelor's degree in political science from Gannon University in Erie, Penn. He said he'll use his urban planning background to help Saint Rose fit better in to the community.
He said the school will work with neighborhood groups to become a better neighbor and hopes to begin new revitalization talks for the areas surrounding the so-called "student ghetto." Szczerbacki said Saint Rose will work with University at Albany and the city to bring in private and public money to improve the area near the colleges.
In 2004, Szczerbacki came to Saint Rose from Alfred University in Allegany County, where he served as provost and vice president of academic and statutory affairs. He joined the Alfred faculty in 1981 as an instructor of management and rose to become the school's vice president and provost.
As Saint Rose prepares to make way for a new leader, Maria is losing a president that quadrupled its enrollment.
Fitzgerald first came to the school in 1973 and served first as the vice president and academic dean before becoming president. In the 34 years of her presidency, Fitzgerald grew the school in scope and academics. She expanded the school's two-year degree and certificate programs. In May, the school will award its first bachelor's of science degree. Maria will offer four more bachelor's degrees in the fall. Enrollment jumped to 1,000 students, up from 250.
The national search for a new president is already under way and Fitzgerald will step down when her replacement is found, which should take about six months, she said. She credits the staff and students for making every day at work an enjoyable, and productive, one.
"It was not an easy decision, it was time," she said. "The college is in very good shape, we're going in the right direction. We're on the right track and it's time to get some young blood in the institution."