By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special To www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – With two standing ovations, a few tears shed and the unveiling of her official portrait, retired college president Dr. Nancy Kleniewski said goodbye to SUNY Oneonta during a reception held this evening at the college.
“After working for 37 years, it’s going to be a little weird,” she said. “I looked at my July calendar and for the first time, there’s nothing on it.”
Kleniewski teared up as she talked about the 10 years she spent at the college. “This is a day of mixed emotion,” she said. “I’m proud of what we’ve done together and how we’ve made this campus better and more welcoming. And I’m sad to be leaving. The people here really care about the students.”
Elected leaders, including Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig, Town of Oneonta Supervisor Bob Wood and Common Council Member Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward, who also works as the manager of Human Resources at the college, were also present to laud the college leader.
“Every year, Dr. Kleniewski would host a luncheon for the state legislators,” said Seward. “And those were expensive lunches! There was always a request for a new building or to rehab an old one. She was a great advocate for the campus and has been so positive in the community.”
In addition to the college, Kleniewski served on the planning commission for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and the board of Fox Hospital.
“I truly appreciate your collaborations with us,” she said. “I was able to work with everyone, and it was very gratifying.”
Her executive portrait was also unveiled during the celebration. “She made it clear that we couldn’t keep her here,” said Hal Legg, director of communications. “But this way, she’s always with us.”
The new president, Dr. Barbara Jean Morris, formerly the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Fort Lewis College, in Durango, Colo. takes the helm in July.
Nancy and her husband, Bill Davis, will move to Rhode Island and plan to travel. “We’re going to Australia and New Zealand, then to Alaska, and to visit some friends,” she said. “And, of course, return trips to Oneonta.”