ALBANY - For only the ninth time in its nearly 100-year history, The College of Saint Rose has inaugurated a president.
A Dunkirk native, Dr. David Szczerbacki was formally invested in the Office of the President Saturday in a ceremony at the Empire State Plaza in Albany. The ceremony was witnessed by nearly 1,000 Saint Rose faculty, staff, students, alumni, dignitaries, and Szczerbacki's family and longtime friends.
A 1969 graduate of the former Cardinal Mindszenty High School in Dunkirk, Szczerbacki has served as president of the College since July 1, succeeding Dr. R. Mark Sullivan.
Dr. David Szczerbacki, a native of Dunkirk and Cardinal Mindszenty High School graduate, was inaugurated Saturday as the ninth president of The College of St. Rose in Albany.
In his inauguration address, Szczerbacki defined the challenges that Saint Rose faces and his vision for tackling them. He pointed to what he called the "false dichotomy" about the value of higher education today and implored the audience not to lose faith in the power of education to provide the next generation with the skills and knowledge needed to survive in an increasingly complex world.
"To abandon this robust view of higher education now abandons our common future as global citizens and shortchanges our students. My vision here is simple: We should be a beacon of the intrinsic power of a liberal arts-based education to effect positive change in a global society," Szczerbacki said.
Given today's realities of competition and change, Szczerbacki laid out the three priorities of his administration: diversifying the mix of degree programs and majors, especially at the graduate level; diversifying enrollment to increase the mix of students coming from out-of-state and abroad, with a goal of quadrupling within three years the number of international students; and developing and expanding alternative learning options.
Addressing the issue of college affordability and accessibility, Szczerbacki called for development of a comprehensive fundraising campaign that aggressively builds scholarship capacity to support the cost of attending Saint Rose. As part of his inaugural year as president, Szczerbacki announced a scholarship initiative "Students First" designed to help secure the future of the next generation of Saint Rose students.
"This priority has an urgency to it and I cannot overstate its importance," he declared.
Szczerbacki reaffirmed the College's widely praised mission as a campus engaged with the community, the nation and the world.
"The heritage of this College is one of service a direct embodiment of the 'dear neighbor' philosophy of our Founders," he stated. "We will continue to work with our neighbors and the city of Albany to help anchor the Pine Hills neighborhood. Our faculty and staff will continue to develop productive partnerships across the region to offer service trips to Washington, Florida, Louisiana, Honduras and the like. We will look to engage our alumni on a platform of community service, thus reinforcing our shared ethic of the 'dear neighbor.' Our ethic of social responsibility includes a continuing commitment to achieve best practices as a sustainable, carbon-neutral campus."
Szczerbacki also took time out to pay tribute to his family, especially his parents and his wife, Susie, and daughter, Kate. He noted that his mother, seated in the audience, was always there for her five children, including four rather active boys going to ball games and dance recitals, cooking late meals, driving them everywhere and managing the household, all while working as a nurse and caring for her own mother. Szczerbacki expressed his gratitude with a simple "Thank you, Ma."
Past presidents attending the inauguration were Dr. Louis Vaccaro, who served from 1983 until 1996, and Dr. R. Mark Sullivan, who led Saint Rose from 1996 until 2012.
Szczerbacki came to Saint Rose in 2004 from Alfred University in Alfred, where he served as provost and vice president of academic and statutory affairs. At Alfred, Szczerbacki was responsible for overseeing the quality and operation of all academic programs, managing the budget for all academic programs and services, and establishing new academic programs. In addition, Szczerbacki served as chief executive officer at the State University of New York College of Ceramics, which is located at Alfred. He also held positions as dean of Alfred's School of Business and acting dean of the College of Engineering and Professional Studies. Szczerbacki joined the Alfred faculty in 1981 as an instructor of management and twice received the university's outstanding teaching awards.
Szczerbacki earned his doctoral degree in policy studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and he holds a master's degree in urban systems and a bachelor's degree in political science from Gannon University in Erie, Pa. In addition to his academic career as an educator and administrator, his professional work has focused on the fields of urban and regional planning, economic development, leadership training, environmental management, strategic management and organization development. He evaluates other colleges and universities as a member of the Periodic Review Report Committee of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the federally designated accrediting agency.
The College of Saint Rose (www.strose.edu) is a private, independent, coeducational, liberal arts college in the heart of New York's capital city. Founded in 1920 by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet, the College offers 70 undergraduate and 75 graduate programs and serves more than 5,000 students. Through a strong liberal education curriculum and progressive academic programs, a Saint Rose education provides students with the passion, knowledge and purpose not only to do great things but extraordinary things.