Archive Notes - May 2013

It is with pride and admiration that I address this last President’s Notes to you, the members of the Potsdam community.  Over the last seven years, it has been my high honor and great pleasure to serve as your President.  In this period, we have accomplished a great deal.  We have seen our entering freshman classes grow from approximately 750 students to nearly 900 per year.  We are the first, and only, SUNY campus to have a test optional entrance policy, and we have seen no erosion of our academic standards.  We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of students, faculty, and staff from underrepresented groups join our community.  We have weathered the worst financial crisis the campus has endured in many decades, yet withstood the storm.  In spite of the economic conditions, our alumni and friends have remained steadfast in their support of the College.  We have launched a $27 million comprehensive campaign, with gifts and pledges of more than $17 million already in hand.  We have been able to pursue an aggressive program of critical maintenance, restoring essential elements of our campus infrastructure, while we have also systematically renovated and modernized classrooms and laboratories.  We received funding for and have begun construction on the Performing Arts Building, the first new academic building on campus in forty years.  Indeed, it has been both an exciting and a challenging time to be on campus.

As your President, I have stood as a link in a chain which stretches back to Levi Ives, one of the very first preceptors, or schoolmasters, of St. Lawrence Academy.  From that point on, the roster of leaders reads like an inventory of buildings on campus, including Asa Brainerd, Malcolm MacVicar, and Fred Crumb.  Preceptors, principals, and presidents, I stand in a line of men (as it turns out, the College itself has only been led by men) who have had as their principle concern the wellbeing of this wonderful place.  I cannot begin to tell you all the great joys which serving Potsdam has given to me and my wife, Anne.  We love this place so dearly.  My sole hope is that I have left this precious institution a little bit better than when I started.  The focus of my concern, day in and day out, has been with our students.  I hope to have served them by hiring and nurturing gifted faculty members, supporting talented professional staff, and empowering everyone to do what is needed to provide students with the Handcrafted Education, for which we are so well known.  Like our graduating seniors, in a few days I will take my leave of this place.  Like our students, I have learned so very much from Potsdam, experienced many joys, and gained the strength to do the work with gladness and singleness of heart.

Much remains to be done.  The Bicentennial Plan has charted a course for the next few years.  Over the past year, I have worked with the President’s Council to again place the College on a firm financial footing.  I am confident that Interim President Hefner and the President’s Council will complete this work for the campus.  For my part, please know that you all will be in my thoughts as I move on.  I have only fond memories and good wishes for you all.

On June 1, I will begin a six-month sabbatical.  Anne and I will be leaving Potsdam on or about August 1.  I have accepted a teaching assignment in the Department of History of the University at Albany for the Spring 2014 term.  As most folks know, teaching and research have always been a joy for me.  I am so pleased with the opportunity to return to the classroom and join our colleagues in Albany.  Again, Potsdam will remain a very important part of our lives.  Anne and I wish every member of the Potsdam family the very best in all your endeavors.  As I said in my Commencement speech: A little bit of Potsdam will be with us wherever we go.