New semester starts with the first Black president to lead the Oswego campus
By Stefan Yablonski
Peter Nwosu was named the 11th president of SUNY Oswego this summer. He is the college’s first Black president and his appointment was effective Aug. 15.
He came to the United States as an immigrant from Nigeria to attend school. Then he embarked on a career in post-secondary education.
Nwosu is a graduate of the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education and received his Ph.D. in communication studies from Howard University, master in liberal studies with a concentration in communication and instructional technology from Towson University and a baccalaureate in mass communication and journalism from the Institute of Management and Technology (Enugu, Nigeria).
He is a passionate advocate for access to high quality education for the university’s increasingly diverse student body. He is an American Council on Education Fellow and Fulbright Scholar.
A nationally recognized teacher-scholar of intercultural and international communications, Nwosu has served as a journal editor, presented at regional, national and international conferences, and authored or co-authored more than 100 scholarly writings, including three books, refereed journal papers, book chapters and training manuals.
Nwosu served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs and student success at Herbert H. Lehman College, one of 25 campuses of the City University of New York.
“It is with a mixture of sadness and joy that we say goodbye to Provost Nwosu,” Lehman College President Fernando Delgado said this summer. “His academic stewardship of the college over the past few years was a source of stability and growth, particularly as we all grappled with the COVID pandemic. We know the SUNY Oswego community will benefit greatly from Peter’s depth of experience.”
Nwosu — who was not available to be interviewed for this story — began his career in higher education as a faculty member at California State University in Sacramento. He rose through the ranks to become a tenured full professor of communication studies. He joined Lehman in the spring of 2019.
He has also served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia, a private residential historically Black college and university, and Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution; associate vice president for academic programs and accreditation liaison officer at California State University, Fullerton, a Hispanic serving institution and one of the 23 campuses of the California State University System; and associate vice president for academic affairs, planning and assessment and special assistant to the president for institutional planning at Tennessee State University, Nashville, one of the then 27 campuses of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the nation’s sixth largest public higher education system.
His career has been and will continue to focus on student success, Nwosu said in a press release.
He has served on numerous national boards, including as chairman of the board of directors of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Higher Education Policy, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization committed to promoting access and success in higher education for all students; a member of, American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ advisory board on Academic Innovation and Transformation, and the Sacramento-based California Urban Partnership.
What struck him about SUNY Oswego was the energy around campus to create opportunities, he said in a press release.
Of his appointment, Nwosu said: “With this appointment, you have entrusted in me the leadership of this great institution. You have asked me to lead SUNY Oswego with character, with capacity, with competence and with compassion.”
He believes strongly that “we all have a moral responsibility to ensure that [students] complete their education and to proceed to leave meaningful lives, embracing the challenges of our time.”
Nwosu’s deep-rooted record in higher education, combined with his commitment and belief in student success, equity, access, community engagement and economic development and shared governance resonated with our university community, SUNY Oswego College Council Chair James McMahon said in a press release.
Established in 1861, SUNY Oswego is one of the 64 campuses of the State University of New York, the nation’s largest system of public higher education. The university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate programs at the main campus in Oswego and the branch campus in Syracuse.
Where Is Officer-in-Charge Mary Toale?
SUNY Oswego’s Officer-in-Charge Mary Toale was one of the presidential candidates.
Toale first came to SUNY Oswego in 2014 to create a new communication studies graduate program and was named a faculty fellow in the president’s office by former President Deborah Stanley in 2017. Following Stanley’s appointment as interim SUNY Chancellor on Dec. 20, 2021, Toale was named officer-in-charge effective on Jan. 1, 2022.
Toale is a tenured full professor in the communication studies department.
She will remain working in the office of the president as deputy to the president and will provide support to President Nwosu in fulfilling the university’s mission, vision and institutional priorities.
However, Toale will not be teaching courses during the fall 2023 semester.