Archive Notes - April 2011

It is said that here in the North Country we have two seasons: winter and construction.  Construction season is starting early this year as evidenced by all the heavy equipment in parking Lot 7 between the Crane complex and Timerman Hall.  As you all should know, we will be celebrating the groundbreaking for the construction of our new Performing Arts Building on Friday, April 29 at 3:30 PM.  Everyone is invited to join in the festivities.  We anticipate the project will take just over two years, and I, for one, am thrilled by the addition of the first academic building to campus in nearly 40 years.  The construction phase will, no doubt, cause significant disruption in many of our lives, but the end result will be a wonderful new building and innumerable opportunities for our students.

The President’s Council and I have approved a budget framework for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.  In the next weeks, as further information becomes available, we will be refining it.  Vice President Mike Lewis and I project an approximately $2 million reduction in our state support, as a result of the Governor’s budget proposal, which was largely approved by the Legislature.  While SUNY has not yet finalized the distribution of the reduction in State support, we are estimating this additional $2 million cut for our campus.  After projecting our budget for 2011-2012 and making the appropriate reductions, I have accepted a framework recommended by the President’s Council which fully imposes the restraint adopted last year, except for relief to Academic Affairs for additional sections in the fall and two critical positions in Business Affairs.  At this time, I will not seek further cuts from any of the College’s divisions.  Yet at the same time it means that the campus will, by and large, feel the full effect of the budget reductions of the last three years. 

In 2011-2012, every area of campus will need to operate within the restraint imposed last spring. Thanks to a better than projected budget picture last summer, I was able to provide some relief to every division of the College for this fiscal year, including $1 million to Academic Affairs.  At present, I do not believe that we can repeat that for 2011-2012. I have provided some funding for additional sections, particularly for the fall, and any temporary service funds not used in the fall can certainly be allocated to the spring. Yet in general, we will need to cope with limited funding.  In this budget reality, I believe our first priority is to assist students to graduate in a timely manner, especially those closest to graduation.  Over the next few weeks, Vice President Lewis, Provost Madden, the academic deans, and I will be meeting with various campus constituencies regarding the budget to discuss how individual units can cope.

On the political front, bills have now been introduced into both the Assembly and Senate to create a rational tuition plan.  The framework of this legislation is to first repeal the action which two years ago diverted tuition dollars to the general fund.  After that, the legislation would empower the SUNY Board of Trustees to increase tuition up to 5.5% per year.  All tuition revenue, fees, and state support would be placed into a fiduciary account, which is a governmental process to prohibit the Governor or Legislature from taking those funds for any purpose other than the support of SUNY.  Lastly, the bills would establish the 2011-2012 State Budget as a funding floor.  Each subsequent Legislature would have to provide at least that amount to SUNY, plus mandated costs, such as the cost of implementing collective bargaining agreements. 

The College has been informed by the NCAA that we have inadvertently violated an association bylaw. We are working closely with NCAA officials to bring the College into compliance. The violation relates to SUNY Potsdam’s International Initiative Grant, which is given to all international students through a blind review process. The program has been found to inadvertently benefit a higher proportion of student-athletes compared to the number of international students in the entire student population. SUNY Potsdam’s international community consists of primarily Canadian students due to the close proximity to the Quebec/Ontario border, and serves a large number of undergraduate and graduate students from these provinces, many of whom are interested in participating in the College’s athletics program.  This is an unintentional violation and NCAA has stated that no one at the College acted improperly or sought to advantage College athletics through the program. Nevertheless, it does constitute a major violation within the NCAA system of infractions. A full statement from the College can be found on the web at http://www.potsdam.edu/newsandevents/42211ncaa.cfm.

I am proud to say that SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music will open its year-long 125th anniversary celebration this week, with the 2011 Spring Festival, featuring internationally-renowned conductor Helmuth Rilling. The festival will showcase many of Crane's exceptional students, faculty and staff.  Since its founding in 1886, The Crane School of Music has been widely recognized as a focal point of music education in the United States, and has gained a worldwide reputation for excellence in musical performance. We will celebrate that tradition of innovation with a week's worth of events, culminating in a concert of Bach's "Mass in B-Minor."

This musical celebration would not be possible without the generous support of two alumni. The partnership of the Dorothy Albrecht Gregory Visiting Conductor Fund, established by Dorothy Albrecht Gregory ’61, and the Adeline Maltzan Crane Chorus Performance Tour Fund, established by Dr. Gary C. Jaquay ’67, brings distinguished conductors to The Crane School of Music for festival performances by the Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra, and funds travel for major Crane Chorus performances to venues outside of Potsdam. We are so grateful to Dorothy and Gary for giving our students this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform with a world-renowned maestro.

We invite the entire SUNY Potsdam community to take in a lecture, check out the display at the Crane library, and certainly to enjoy the big concert to applaud Crane for its legacy of excellence. This is a wonderful opportunity to join together and reflect on our achievements, while looking forward to SUNY Potsdam's bright future. http://www.potsdam.edu/Crane/125years

Marveling at Crane's legacy while we set the stones for our Performing Arts Building will certainly set the stage for a transformation of our campus into an arts village, and will cement SUNY Potsdam's reputation as a center for creativity and inquiry.