It is with great sorrow that we begin this spring 2008 semester. The tragic loss of Cassie Davino, and the serious injuries of Matt Gergich and Angela Dicorato, remind us all of the fragile nature of our existence. We offer our thoughts and prayers to them and to their families as they, and we all, cope with this terrible event. I want to express my thanks to the members of the Student Affairs division and Counseling Center staff and to all those who have worked to help the campus community cope with this tragedy.
We've had some good news from Washington. Thanks to the work of Senators Schumer and Clinton as well as Representative McHugh and the work of our faculty and government relations team, $97,000 has been awarded to the College in the recent Omnibus Consolidation Appropriations Act. These funds, along with a $50,000 gift in memory of Ethel Lucas, Class of 1930, will be used to create a Center for Mathematics and Science Education that will develop model programs to prepare more, and better, teachers in the mathematics and the sciences at the primary and secondary levels.
Through the end of December 2007, I am pleased to report the College has received more than $2,250,000 in private support. Included in this number is a second million-dollar gift in memory of Becky Pratt, a '97 politics graduate, who passed away in 2001. This second million-dollar donation is also to be used for the enhancement of the Potsdam student experience. You will notice significant progress on Becky's Place and the Pratt Commons, made possible by PACES and the first million-dollar gift given in memory of Becky. We look forward to the opening of Becky's Place and Pratt Commons this coming fall.
After six years of persistence, our School of Education and Professional Studies will begin to offer this fall a part-time Master of Science in Teaching (MST) program tailored to the needs of adult learners in Ottawa. This degree program will lead to Ontario certification in the primary and junior divisions. This is a truly unique program that will create opportunities for Canadian students previously non-existent in the Ottawa area.
I have recently signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment as part of an initiative of more than 470 college presidents committing to reducing the carbon footprint of each campus. We are tackling this issue head-on at SUNY Potsdam. Our physical plant staff continues to investigate and apply energy savings opportunities for the campus. We are currently looking at alternative power technologies, including fuel cells, to apply to our proposed combined heat and power plant that may improve our efficiencies and reduce our carbon footprint at the same time. This new process will have the potential of saving the campus hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. We also recently have partnered with the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to take part in a biofuel study that will give Potsdam students the opportunity to grow and manage a crop of willow shrubs that will be turned into a source of petroleum-saving fuel.
I invite you all to be part of finding solutions to global climate change in our own Focus the Nation teach-in. This event, organized by Dr. Michael Wilson from our Environmental Studies program, will take place on January 31st as one of 1,300 campus teach-ins nationally. As part of the collaboration of our area colleges, a community forum and will be held on February 1st at 7 p.m. at St. Lawrence University's Gulick Theatre. This forum will offer an opportunity for students and faculty to share the highlights of each teach-in and discuss viable solutions for the North Country with invited local officials. The event will be rebroadcast on NCPR.org
The upcoming session of the State Legislature will be an important one for SUNY and for our campus. Governor Spitzer's proposals regarding SUNY and his budget recommendations will occupy a great deal of the deliberations of both houses. I will continue to work with our Governmental Relations Associate, Liz Tuttle, to see that our voice is heard in Albany. Moreover, we will be working relentlessly to see that our request for a new Performing Arts and Technology building comes to fruition. It promises to be an exciting time.
So, welcome to the 2008 spring semester. I encourage you all to do your part in making this the best year ever for our campus.