It is with great sadness that I note the passing of Emeritus Professor of Music Brock McElheran on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008. He was a true gentleman and a scholar and will be sorely missed by all of us who knew him. The family has planned a private interment. Memorial contributions may be made to the N. Brock McElheran Scholarship Fund at the Potsdam College Foundation.
Events on Wall Street remind us of the difficult economic situation for the State of New York. The financial services industry based in Wall Street provides the state with approximately 20 percent of its revenues. Due to the economic downturn, SUNY has already received three budget reductions, as I outlined in my State of the College Address. In the last few weeks, the governor has issued another cut to SUNY, amounting to $96 million. While negotiations are still ongoing in Albany as to how this reduction will be addressed, it seems likely that part, or all, of it will be borne by the campuses. This could mean an additional $1.3 million reduction to SUNY Potsdam. Although the Cabinet and I have been able to meet the initial round of cuts using funds that are available on a one-time-only basis and through some accounting measures, we no longer have those options available. Furthermore, we have already begun the academic year. Plans are made and contracts have been issued. As a result, our ability to make these cuts is severely compromised. Nevertheless, we will proceed as best we can, attempting to ensure that the essential business of the College, teaching and learning, is protected as much as possible. Vice President Lewis and I will be reporting to the Faculty Senate and Business Affairs Committee on the progress and on projections for next year’s budget.
While larger economic trends are disturbing, closer to home the College has much to celebrate. We just finished the best year ever for charitable giving, for the second year in a row. This year we received more than $3.6 million in charitable giving, the bulk of which has been designated for student scholarships and other important efforts. Our 20th Anniversary Scholarship Golf Classic was a resounding success, raising more than $57,000 for our students. As well, thanks to an anonymous gift and our award of a Title III grant from the U. S. Department of Education for $1.6 million, we will be inaugurating a new Office for Undergraduate Research. Dr. Bethany Usher will be the director and is developing the plans and procedures to launch our new efforts.
Through a partnership between SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music and Potsdam’s Roxy Theater, 11 live and 11 encore Metropolitan Opera performances will be presented in Potsdam in high definition video and digital sound. The College has been selected as one of only 15 campuses nationwide to bring the Met to local audiences. On September 22, the season began with the historic presentation of SUNY Potsdam alumna Renée Fleming, Class of 1981, as she performed roles in acts from three different operas. Learn more about all the performances and tickets at http://www2.potsdam.edu/cps/0809/MetOpera.html I encourage everyone to support this wonderful cultural outreach to the North Country.
In the next few weeks, we will be seeing a total revamp of our Web site. The tentative date for the launch of the new design will be the week of October 12. I have seen the Beta trial of the new design, and it is very, very exciting. The Office of Public Affairs is busy working with campus liaisons and departments to put together the necessary pages for the full launch. Testing of the site is going on to attempt to alleviate many of the start up glitches.
In an effort to be more efficient and effective in the employee recruitment process, SUNY Potsdam has implemented a new Web-based applicant-tracking module to enable online management of the recruitment process. The system, powered by PeopleAdmin, also will improve SUNY Potsdam’s employment services to job applicants. The overall goals are to shorten the time frame for filling positions with the best candidates and eliminate extra paperwork at all steps of the process for both search committees and applicants.
This semester we are proud to host NEH Distinguished Visiting Professor Carol Frost in the Department of English. Both a poet and a scholar of poets and poetry, she will be presenting a series of three lectures this semester under the title "Poetic Imagination and Aesthetics." The titles and dates of each lecture are "Berryman, Brueghel & Bosch" on September 30, "Passing Beauty" on October 28 and "Elizabeth Bishop's Inner Eye" on November 11. All lectures are free and open to the public, and will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the 8th Floor Lounge of Raymond Hall.
Lastly, my thanks to all of you for your patience during the construction projects this summer. As we all know, there are two seasons in the North Country: winter and construction. The projects, while inconvenient, are extremely important in that they address areas of critical maintenance that have been put off for far too long. Thanks to the legislature, we will be able to achieve much-needed improvements in critical maintenance over the next five years.