More than 30,000 students have graduated since Alan B. Donovan became president at the State University College at Oneonta in 1988.
Millions of dollars have been contributed to the college's endowment in the past two decades, and for several years, administrators have boasted of attracting better students.
Donovan, 70, announced his retirement in September and leaves office officially today. He has steered the college through change, some turmoil as well as physical and programmatic improvements at the campus.
``Alan Donovan has been a visionary for the college,'' said David Brenner, retired SUCO administrator and former Oneonta mayor. He attributed Donovan's success to identifying goals and finding funding and people to support the projects.
Donovan earns $202,000 annually. On Monday, Nancy Kleniewski, most recently provost and vice president for academic affairs at Bridgewater State in Massachusetts, will start her term as SUCO's seventh president at a salary of $205,000.
SUCO is a public liberal arts college that enrolls about 5,800 undergraduate and graduate students. The college has about 250 full-time and 190 part-time faculty, according to its website.
Donovan said notable changes in 20 years have been advancements in technology, including access to the Internet; a more-competitive admissions process; and more reliance by the state on tuition to fund higher education.
During Donovan's tenure, the college also has expanded multicultural programs, responded to times of student violence in downtown Oneonta and racial tensions on campus.
SUCO also has reached into the greater Oneonta area and surrounding communities through the Center for Economic and Community Development and the Center for Social Responsibility and Community and been host to cultural programs in its theaters, Hunt College Union and Alumni Field House.
At commencement ceremonies in May, Carl T. Hayden, chairman of the State University Board of Trustees, described Donovan's tenure as transformational.
Paul J. Adamo, vice president for college advancement and executive director of the College at Oneonta Foundation, said he has gone to hundreds of appointments with Donovan to speak with alumni and organizations to seek financial support for SUCO.