Spring has finally reached the North Country. We have begun the end-of-the-year cycle of honors and awards ceremonies. Seniors are excited and a bit daunted by the prospects of leaving campus. Others are preparing for exciting adventures over the summer. As we reach the end of the academic year, I wanted to share a few things with all of you.
I am very pleased to announce that we have reached our goal for new first-year students. The Admissions staff has done an extraordinarily good job this season. Currently, all data indicates that we will be close to the fall 2007 25-year record-breaking first-year class when the fall semester begins. This means we should enroll in the range of 820-840 first-time, full-time freshmen this fall. Moreover, our selectivity remains high, with test scores and GPAs comparable to the last few years. Obviously, the staff will continue to contact accepted and deposited students to confirm their attendance in the fall. During our summer orientations, we will all work hard to ensure that the new students find the help they need getting settled on campus, choosing the best classes for their curriculum, and adapting to their new college life.
In recent days, you may have seen television ads for our summer session. We are anticipating a solid enrollment. In trying economic times, people frequently invest in their education in anticipation that when good times return, they will be better prepared for a good job. Similarly, there are plans to run ads this summer to encourage people to apply to our graduate programs. Our graduate applications are consistent with this past year’s, but not growing in the way we would like, or as we had projected. Certainly, economic conditions have impacted certain groups of prospective students disproportionately. This has caused some of our graduate programs to be under enrolled.
The boards of the Potsdam College Foundation and of the Alumni Association recently had their meetings on campus, including an all-day retreat. During the retreat, the various board members heard a presentation regarding the feasibility of the College beginning a comprehensive campaign in the next few years. The Administrative Cabinet will be studying the feasibility report and the recommendations of the Foundation Board as we look to a new campaign. This campaign will help to significantly enhance student learning, improve conditions for faculty, and provide scholarships. I am very excited about the way in which this campaign can help us transform the campus and implement the Bicentennial Plan. In addition, the boards heard presentations by students regarding the importance of scholarships in student success, student and faculty research, opportunities for study abroad, and the Presidential Scholars program. I can report that the board members were quite simply “blown away” by the students. Our students are truly phenomenal and are the very best advocates for charitable giving to the College.
The Administrative Cabinet is putting the final touches on the budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year. The figures presented at the April full faculty meeting have not changed notably. Slightly more funds have been allocated to Academic Affairs, Institutional Effectiveness, and Advancement, as I reported at the Faculty Senate meeting on April 30. Over the summer the Cabinet will continue to monitor the budget, study the report of the Faculty Goals and Planning Committee, and see how we can use the Bicentennial Plan to assist us as we plan our way through the current budget difficulty. Just as we began to plan for the downturn in the budget before it came to pass, so now we need to create the college of the future, based on our strategic plans.
The Steering Committee for the Performing Arts Building has made recommendations for the allocation of space within the new building. The architects have presented several concept drawings designed to capture the essence of the new building and place it physically on campus. Once the general orientation of the building is resolved, and how it articulates with the Crane complex and the rest of campus, the architects will begin to create more detailed designs for the committee to evaluate within the programmatic needs already developed. Without doubt, this building has the potential to significantly transform the campus. Not only will it heighten our awareness of the excellence of our Theatre and Dance program, but in the spaces vacated elsewhere on campus, we also can provide new areas to enhance other excellent programs.
This summer, there will be numerous construction projects on campus. The parking lots on the north side of campus will be repaved, as well as Potsdam Drive and Lake Placid Drive. The water main and sewer lines that run near Dunn Hall will be replaced, along with the patio on the Quad side of Dunn. The classrooms in Kellas will be renovated with new desks and furnishings, along with Stowell 211. These are just a few of the projects that will occur this summer. As I have noted several times before, although our operating budgets are restricted due to the economic downturn, the funds for critical maintenance and the new building are in place, but cannot be used for any other purpose.
I hope that each of you has a restful and productive summer. It will be a busy place here on campus, with construction, summer session, and various camps and other programs. One of the highlights of the summer will be the Annual Alumni Reunion Weekend, July 9 – 12. This year, we will be featuring returning athletes as one of the themes of the Reunion. I do hope that some of you can join us in the celebrations. I look forward to seeing each of you on August 27, at 9 a.m., in the Snell Theater for the Opening Convocation and State of the College address.