SUNY Potsdam Chosen to Study Learning Communities at Institute


SUNY Potsdam is one of 18 colleges and universities selected by the Washington Center to participate in the 2010 National Summer Institute on Learning Communities from June 27 to July 1 at The Evergreen College in Olympia, Washington.

The Washington Center was established by the Washington State Legislature in 1987 as a national public service resource for higher education educators and  institutions to share best practices in instructional pedagogy that improve the quality of undergraduate education. The Summer Institute is a competitive submission program designed to identify effective institutional change strategies that explore a transformative campus action plan for the development of learning communities.

The SUNY Potsdam proposal, which emerged as part of the college’s $1.6 million dollar Strengthening Institutions Grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education in 2008, will explore the potential role of introducing undergraduate research principles across the curriculum in order to promote student learning skills, persistence, and graduation rates. The focus of the institutional proposal is to design a series of interdisciplinary pilot programs featuring undergraduate research initiatives that increase the current number of freshman interest groups, upper division learning communities, and general education foundation courses.

Institutional team members who will attend the Summer Institute and play a major role in the Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant component to promote undergraduate research include: Dr. Oscar Sarmiento, director of the Learning Communities Program; Dr. Caroline Downing, director of the General Education Program; Tamara Durant, director of the Student Success Center; Dr. Carleen Graham, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research; Michele Pinard, clinical instructor in the Education program; Dr. Jan Trybula, associate professor of biology; Dr. Jeremy van Bloomestein, assistant professor of sociology, and Dr. Gerald Lee Ratliff, associate vice president for academic affairs and Title III project director, who designed the proposal blueprint.

Founded in 1816, SUNY Potsdam is a four-year liberal arts college nestled on the outskirts of the Adirondack Park. Among the 64 units of The State University of New York system, SUNY Potsdam has the longest history and currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. It is well known for its academically challenging liberal arts and sciences and teacher education programs, as well as its world-renowned Crane School of Music.