Fenton Hall

Office of the President

Dr. Dennis Hefner
Dr. Dennis L. Hefner, Interim President, State University of New York at Fredonia.

Dr. Dennis L. Hefner was appointed Interim President at the State University of New York at Fredonia effective July 1, 2019 by the State University of New York Board of Trustees. 

Dr. Hefner has a distinguished record of service at SUNY, including as former President of Fredonia and Interim President at SUNY Potsdam. Under his leadership, Fredonia expanded enrollment by 20 percent, improved SAT scores by nearly 90 points, successfully completed two capital campaigns, brought external grant funding to an all-time high, and implemented New York’s first four-year graduation guarantee program.

Dr.  Hefner was appointed President of Fredonia in late 1996 by the SUNY Board of Trustees, assuming office in mid-January 1997, and serving until 2012. He was the longest serving president in the history of the modern Fredonia’s campus.

Prior to coming to Fredonia, Dr. Hefner served as Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. He spent almost two decades as an educator and administrator in the California State University system. At California State University at Chico, his undergraduate alma mater, Dr. Hefner rose steadily through the ranks of academic and administrative leadership, and eventually was named Dean of the College of Agricultural and Human Environmental Sciences. In 1990, he was selected by the CSU San Bernardino campus as its Vice President for Academic Affairs, which included five months of leave to establish the new CSU campus at Monterey Bay.

Dr. Hefner earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from CSU at Chico. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Washington State University. Before entering academia in 1972, he was an economist and research analyst for the drug studies branch of the former U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Hefner directed a period of tremendous growth at Fredonia, highlighted by undergraduate enrollment growth; a doubling of its graduate students; a tripling of its international students; and a 600 percent increase in the diversity of its student body.

Additionally, he in aggregate secured $360 million, from both state and non-state sources, for capital construction and renovation projects, including the campus’ Natatorium, University Commons, Juliet J. Rosch Recital Hall, University Stadium, Campus and Community Children’s Center, Business Technology Incubator, and the Robert and Marilyn Maytum Music Rehearsal Halls, as well as the $60 million Science Center. Notable renovations include the campus’ iconic Maytum Hall, Williams Center and the $40 million expansion of the Michael C. Rockefeller Arts Center.

Dr. Hefner’s tenure also included the creation of Fredonia’s College of Education, School of Business and Center for Multicultural Affairs. He also oversaw the completion of two major capital campaigns, which helped grow the endowment value of the Fredonia College Foundation by more than 400 percent.

President Hefner is well-respected across the state and in the SUNY Central offices in Albany. In particular, he was recognized as one of the SUNY system’s most tireless leaders in the advocacy for a rational tuition plan.

Upon his retirement as Fredonia's President, Dr. Hefner was appointed SUNY President Emeritus and a University Professor, working as a part-time, special consultant on various assignments for the SUNY System.