The State University of New York at Fredonia has announced the pandemic-delayed inauguration of Stephen H. Kolison, Jr., Ph.D. as the university’s 14th president. The ceremony will take place on Friday, September 9 at 1 p.m. at the King Concert Hall.
Kolison began his term as President of SUNY Fredonia on August 17, 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which delayed the traditional inauguration ceremony.
The investiture will be a simpler one-day ceremony instead of a traditional multi-day event. President Kolison forgoes the usual pomp and circumstance to instead focus on SUNY Fredonia and its students as the university nears its bicentennial.
The theme of the event is, “”Improve access and persistence to the well of knowledge, discoveries and successes. A key part of Kolison’s message, as SUNY Fredonia approaches its bicentennial in 2026, will focus on its vision for a bicentennial fund. The purpose of the fund will be to increase the university’s ability to attract and retain students, especially first-generation students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“I believe higher education is one of the most reliable vehicles for success in life, regardless of background,” said President Kolison. “People who earn higher degrees have a better quality of life and are often better able to lay the foundation for their children, family members, or loved ones to improve their socioeconomic status.”
Alongside Acting State University of New York Chancellor Dr. Deborah F. Stanley and other speakers to be announced shortly, Kolison will be joined on stage by student speaker France Souneka Charles, an immigrant first-generation Haitian from Long Island. France is a senior double major in economics and marketing. She will talk about her journey at Fredonia, the challenges she overcame, and the importance of making higher education accessible to everyone.
“It is an honor to have been chosen as the student speaker for such a significant occasion in Fredonia’s history, as we officially install our university’s 14th president,” Charles said. “As a first-generation immigrant, I have witnessed and experienced first-hand the importance of higher education for its future. As a student at SUNY Fredonia, I take the necessary steps to prepare for a prosperous future. As Malcolm X said, “education is the passport to the future”.
Donato J. Tramuto, global health activist and Chautauqua County native, will deliver the keynote address. Tramuto is the founder of the TramutoPorter Foundation and former CEO of Tivity Health®, Inc., and is widely recognized for his commitment to social change and transformational leadership in healthcare innovation. He is the author of “The Double Bottom Line: How Compassionate Leaders Captivate Hearts and Produce Results”, which defines a new model of leadership and examines how to cultivate more compassionate people.
Faculty and campus offices at Fredonia are encouraged to offer programs related to compassion and civility prior to inauguration and throughout the academic year. Student groups on campus are also encouraged to think about organizing activities around compassion and civility during the week and throughout the year.
Kolison invites all students, faculty, staff, friends of the university and stakeholders to attend this event designed to highlight and advance the work of expanding access to Fredonia and ensuring success of its students while respecting the university’s tradition of an investiture for its president. .
Attendance is free, but anyone wishing to attend must register at fredonia.edu/inauguration