The semester now is well underway, and as the leaves turn, we have exciting things to report.
Our final enrollment numbers are strong. We ended up with more than 900 first-year students for the second year in a row. We also experienced strong growth in transfer students, welcoming 358 this semester, with at least 150 anticipated to join us in January. We have retained some 77% of last year’s freshman class, and so have maintained a healthy retention rate, although we still have a way to go to keep that rate over 80%, which is our goal. With the Commencement last spring, 60% of our students now graduate within 6 years, which is an acceptable rate, but again demonstrates that we still have work to do.
I am also proud to say that for the first time in College history, more than 10% of our students have self-identified as persons of color. We also have welcomed several faculty of color over the last few years, so we are making good progress at having our campus reflect the world in which we are preparing our students to succeed. As a campus we value and celebrate our differences and learn from our diversity.
SUNY Potsdam kicked off the academic year with a daylong symposium honoring faculty members’ excellence in research, on Friday, Aug. 26, featuring talks from Potsdam professors about their latest work. The event showcased the College’s general education academic core as a foundation for creative leadership and interdisciplinary problem solving. There were sessions of talks from faculty in all three Schools, on topics ranging from history and literature to chemistry and environmental studies.
In 2011-12, we continue to invite the entire campus to celebrate the 125th anniversary of The Crane School of Music. The celebration this academic year was kicked off by the Faculty Gala performance in September. We are also welcoming back a large number of alumni to share their gifts with us. Over Family Weekend, the Crane Institute for Music Business welcomed four leaders of the music industry, all alums, to share their insights with students. The upcoming Crane Music Education Symposium taking place on October 20-22 will also welcome alumni, emeriti and guests to celebrate Crane’s history while charting the future of music in the classroom. The Crane 125th will culminate in April and May when the Crane Chorus and Orchestra performs the Verdi Requiem, under the baton of Anne Howard Jones of Boston University, both here on campus and at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, New York City. I would like to encourage the entire campus to find time to experience the depth of talent that this campus represents as we celebrate this milestone.
The exceptional student experience offered through our First-year Interest Groups was recently highlighted in a national higher education publication, the August 2011 edition of AAC&U News, published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
The Crane Opera Ensemble’s Spring 2010 production of “L’Enfant et les Sortilèges” has been awarded first place in the American Prize in Operatic Performance competition for 2011. The opera was produced by student singers, instrumentalists and stage crew from SUNY Potsdam and The Crane School of Music.
Two Potsdam professors have come together to publish a book, but instead of across campus, their collaboration is across the ocean. One faculty member is from SUNY Potsdam, and the other is from the University of Potsdam in Germany, in the Prussian city that our community—and the College—are named for. SUNY Potsdam Assistant Professor of History Dr. Axel Fair-Schultz and University of Potsdam Associate Professor of Contemporary History Dr. Mario Kessler have co-edited a book, “German Scholars in Exile: New Studies in Intellectual History.”
These are just a few examples of the amazing things on our campus. It is always so gratifying to hear about the accomplishments of our faculty, staff and students. Congratulations.
We have seen some fantastic success in fundraising over the last year. Despite the continued challenges of the economy, the College exceeded its Fiscal Year 2010/11 fundraising goal by more than $600,000, raising a total of $3,076,976 to benefit students and programs here on campus. This success was due in no small part to the generosity of our faculty, staff and emeriti, with 326 current and retired employees (an increase of 4% from last year) giving more than $1.1 million to support students and programs. Even more remarkably, our Advancement staff members have already reached their Fiscal Year 2011-12 goal, by raising in excess of $3 million just since July. In just one week alone in September, we received gifts totaling more than $1.4 million.
On September 8, SUNY Potsdam held its 23rd annual Scholarship Golf Classic, which netted $93,000 for the College’s scholarship fund, breaking last year’s record. This tournament wouldn’t be what it is without the more than 100 sponsors that we have at all levels, as well as the many volunteers who assist in the organization and operation of the event. Thanks to everyone who contributed toward our students’ futures.
In late September, members of the President’s Council met in an all-day retreat with representatives of the Faculty Senate. We discussed the current operating budget, looked at a revision of the Bicentennial Plan, taking into account the changes in the economy since it was first drafted, and worked on the Biennial Goals of the College. Throughout the year, I will be meeting with the Executive Committee of the Senate to keep them informed on these issues and seeking their collaboration. I will also meet with the committees of the Senate to share this information and seek their input.
Because of the interest across campus regarding the campus alliance with SUNY Canton, I have prepared a more detailed report on progress to date, which is available on the President’s page of the College website http://www.potsdam.edu/about/administration/president/index.cfm. You will see the link for Campus Alliance Update on the right side of the page. I will regularly be posting additional information to that page as we progress in our discussions with Canton.
As always there are many events and activities happening all around us on campus. I encourage you to check the events calendar online (http://www.potsdam.edu/newsandevents/), and take advantage of the academic and cultural richness of SUNY Potsdam.