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Archive Notes - April 2010


Spring seems to be reaching the North Country. The birds have
returned, the flowers are coming up, and we are in the final push toward
the end of the semester.

In Albany, both the Assembly
and the Senate have passed preliminary budget resolutions. The two
documents differ rather significantly from one another as far as SUNY is
concerned. The Assembly has voted not to consider most of the key
aspects of the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act
within the context of the budget, but to consider it as a separate piece
of legislation after the budget is passed. The Senate, on the other
hand, has incorporated some aspects of the PHEEIA into their budget
resolution. In particular the Senate has agreed to a rational tuition
plan with annual tuition increases capped at 1.5 times the Higher
Education Price Index, down from the 2.5 times proposed. The Senate has
given relief regarding public-private partnerships and land sales and
purchase to only Stony Brook and University at Buffalo. There is some
talk of including Albany and Binghamton into that provision, but the
comprehensive campuses remain excluded. Neither house is willing to
take the SUNY tuition and fees out of the State budgeting process nor
have they indicated how they would handle approximately $30 million that
the Governor projected would come from concessions from SUNY unions as
part of a budget reduction. If it were passed on to campuses as an
additional cut, it could mean another $600,000 or so reduction to SUNY
Potsdam.

Despite this state of flux, we continue to
work to plan for next year (2010-2011). In December I announced our
budget blueprint. You will recall that it is a plan and not a budget.
Given the enormous size of the cuts we are confronting, we need to get a
preliminary plan in place in order to allow units to begin planning for
next year. The cuts have been significant to many units. As a result,
the Cabinet and I examined critical areas of need created by the budget
blueprint. Our goal is to maximize the long-term benefit to the campus
based on the Bicentennial Plan and the needs of our students. As a
result I have approved that $250,000 be restored to Academic Affairs for
courses for the fall semester. Further changes to the budget blueprint
will occur when we know more about the State budget for 2010-2011 and
when we have our final enrollment numbers for fall 2010. Areas we will
consider for budget stabilization include admissions, human resources,
physical plant, and academic affairs to name a few. The budget
blueprint is a point of departure which we will continue to implement in
a strategic manner based on our immediate needs and long-term goals.
Further complicating matters, there may be additional cuts coming from
the State, as outlined above. On the resource side of the balance sheet
our utilities costs have been lower this year and we have strong
enrollments and project that the Fall enrollment both at the graduate
and undergraduate level will be on target. Consequently, we still
believe that our final budget will be within the general parameters we
assumed in building the budget blueprint. Vice President Mike Lewis and
I will present a budget update at the April 29 full faculty meeting.

Even as we struggle with fiscal realities, our students,
faculty, and staff continue to work hard and produce amazing results.
The life of this academic community is focused on providing a quality
educational opportunity for our students. I am continually heartened by
the deep affection and dedication that everyone has for this central
goal here at SUNY Potsdam.

I am so pleased to report that
one of our students, Nate La Rowe, is a National Champion diver. At
the recent NCAA Division III national swimming and diving championships,
Nate placed first in the 1-meter board competition and third in the
3-meter event. In addition he was named Diver of the Year for all of
NCAA Division III. As a result of his showing, SUNY Potsdam is now
ranked 24th in the nation in swimming and diving. Congratulations to
Nate and his coaches Ken McLaughlin and Ray Toland!

On
March 26-27 we held our Fourth Annual Relay for Life here on campus,
raising over $50,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society. Annette
Robbins (Residence Life) and Julie Dold (Student Leadership and
Engagement) co-chaired the event and Susie Cobb (Business Affairs) ,
Melissa Garwol (Residence Life), Heather teRiele (Admissions), Zach
Davis (Residence Life), and Bridgette Bradish (Student Health Services)
chaired the operating committees. Within the New York and New Jersey
region our Relay for Life event placed first in the number of on-line
contributions, and in the number of registered participants, and second
in the number of Teams. We are all so proud of this wonderful event and
appreciate all of the time and effort that so many individuals and
groups put into making this an exemplary one.

The
National Science Foundation has awarded SUNY Potsdam?s Department of
Computer Science a $573,370 grant to establish a scholarship program to
help community college students complete their bachelor?s degrees at the
College. The Computer Science Leadership and Practice Scholarship
Program will provide 30 students, who have already completed their
associate?s degrees in the field, with full scholarships to finish their
Bachelor of Science at SUNY Potsdam. The first group of 10 CS-LEAP
scholars is being recruited now, and will enroll at the College starting
in Fall 2010. Two more groups of 10 students will be supported during
the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years. In total, 30 students will
receive scholarship support, each for two years of study at SUNY
Potsdam. This grant recognizes SUNY Potsdam?s leadership in Computer
Science education and builds on the development of a series of
articulation agreements in Computer Science with most of the leading
community colleges in New York and neighboring states.

On
April 21-24, we will be celebrating our triennial campus academic
festival. The theme for this year?s event is ?Footprints in the North
Country: Pathways on the Planet.? The four-day festival will be filled
with lectures, presentations and panel discussions including students,
faculty, and several invited guests. As part of the Festival, CNN?s
Anderson Cooper will appear live on the screen of Hosmer Hall and
discuss his experiences in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. A
panel of students will pose questions to Cooper about the Haiti
earthquake and about the future of journalism in the Internet age. Other
specialists participating in the festival will be Mary Louise Pratt,
Silver Professor and Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and
Literatures at New York University; Paul Winter, award-winning
saxophonist, bandleader, composer, explorer of the world's musical
traditions and founder of Living Music and the Paul Winter Consort; and
Jim Merkel, environmental activist and author of Radical Simplicity.