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SUNY Potsdam Cuts Ribbon to Open New Wiser Greenhouse Facility

From left, Potsdam College Foundation President Lynne Boles ’74, SUNY Potsdam President Kristin Esterberg, Wendy Wagner, Robert Wagner ’75, Provost Bette Bergeron and School of Arts and Sciences Dean Steven Marqusee.

SUNY Potsdam officially opened the College's new state-of-the-art greenhouse facility with a ribboncutting ceremony on Friday, May 13.

The College marked the completion of the new Wagner Institute for Sustainability and Ecological Research Greenhouse with a ceremony and reception in the new space, which is connected to Stowell Hall. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the Potsdam College Foundation Board of Trustees were on hand to witness the occasion.

The lead donors, Robert Wagner '75 and his wife Wendy, cut the ribbon with giant golden gardening shears, alongside College officials.

"I was thinking about what makes this place unique, and the one word that kept coming into my head was 'unity.' The students, faculty and staff are a community, a family. That's one of the things I think this facility, the WISER Greenhouse, can facilitate and move forward," Mr. Wagner said.

The fully donor-funded WISER Greenhouse at SUNY Potsdam will provide the campus with a research-grade facility with four growing zones. The building incorporates environmentally-friendly design principles, including the ability to capture rainwater for irrigation and strategies to operate using solar energy.

A lounge will connect the greenhouse to Stowell Hall, and will feature an energy dashboard with real-time energy use and environmental indicators for the greenhouse. The building includes a vertical garden, with a living wall of plants, and the College plans to create botanical gardens lining the path to the entrance of the greenhouse from Barrington Drive.

"Through research, education and practice, the WISER Greenhouse will be the cornerstone of campus sustainability and ecological efforts at Potsdam," President Kristin G. Esterberg said. "As we reflect on our past 200 years, we are reminded that our history is filled with generous people who have made SUNY Potsdam greater because they followed their passion and shared it with our students. I can't think of a better example than Bob and Wendy Wagner."

Additional gifts in support of the greenhouse construction were received from Frederic Pratt '75 and Jana Pratt '76. In addition, the Alcoa Foundation has awarded grant funding to support Wagner Institute programs that will take place in the new facility.

"This space, the WISER Center, will be a hub of sustainability and ecological research that benefits our campus, serves our community and connects us to the world," said Ray Bowdish, a member of the biology faculty who will lead a number of research projects in the facility.

Along with the new greenhouse space, WISER will allow students to engage in experiential learning in classes and programs, investigating issues of climate change, sustainable agriculture and biodiversity. Through the new institute, biology faculty and students have spearheaded a campuswide Healthy Plant Initiative, and are also working on educational outreach regarding sustainability practice in the North Country, urban farming research and much more.

Construction of the greenhouse began last fall. Continental Construction of Gouverneur, N.Y., was the general contractor for the project.

Along with the new greenhouse space, WISER will allow students to engage in experiential learning in classes and programs, investigating issues of climate change, sustainable agriculture and biodiversity. To learn more, visit

For more information about Take the Lead: The Campaign for Potsdam, visit


Founded in 1816,The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America's first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. As the College marks its bicentennial in 2016, SUNY Potsdam will celebrate a 200-year legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 4,200 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and leadership in the arts. Empowered by a culture of creativity, the campus community is nearing the completion of Take the Lead: The Campaign for Potsdam, which has already raised $33 million for scholarships and programs.

Media contact:

Alexandra Jacobs Wilke, Office of Public Affairs,
(315) 267-2918