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A Framework for Fiscal Health

SUNY Potsdam is paving a path to a strong future.

We must adapt and evolve to meet the challenges of today and prepare our students for tomorrow.

Together, we can ensure a strong and resilient future for SUNY Potsdam. 

Following months of study, SUNY Potsdam has announced a financial stability plan, which will allow the College to address its structural deficit and rebuild for the future.  


Read and view the campus address here

Questions & Answers

An essential element of our strategy involves recalibrating our academic offerings to match student demand, including reviewing 9 programs for discontinuation over the course of the next few years. 

Under the proposal, the following programs would be discontinued, and phased out over the next three to four academic years: 

  1. Art History (Bachelor of Arts)
  2. Chemistry (Bachelor of Science) 
  3. Dance (Bachelor of Arts) 
  4. French (Bachelor of Arts) 
  5. Music Performance (Master of Music) 
  6. Philosophy (Bachelor of Arts) 
  7. Physics (Bachelor of Arts) 
  8. Spanish (Bachelor of Arts) 
  9. Theatre (Bachelor of Arts) 

One program would be deactivated:  

  • Arts Management (Bachelor of Arts) 

Under the deactivation policy, this program will enter into a three-year period in which it cannot accept new students, but will remain as a registered program. During this time, it is expected that a proposal could be developed to either revise the program or recommend its discontinuance. 

The identified programs above represent 3.9% of SUNY Potsdam’s total enrollment. 

  • Current undergraduate programs: 47 
  • Impacted undergraduate programs: 9 
  • Current graduate programs: 17 
  • Impacted graduate programs: 1 

All students in the impacted programs would be provided with individualized plans for degree completion. Every student currently enrolled in these programs, as of Sept. 19, 2023, would receive support to complete their degree here, enroll in a different major or transfer elsewhere, based on their personal circumstances and desires. All impacted students can graduate with a SUNY Potsdam degree in that field if they wish. 

It is also important to note that just because a program is discontinued does not mean that all positions associated with that area would be eliminated. The process can take several years, and even after it is complete, we will need to maintain some positions in impacted areas to support our General Education Program and other coursework needs. 

In addition to this proposal outlined above, SUNY Potsdam previously discontinued four other academic programs in Summer 2023, following the same process described here, including: 

  • College Teaching (Certificate of Advanced Study) 
  • Computer Science Education (Bachelor of Arts) 
  • Geographic Information Science (Bachelor of Science) 
  • Speech Communication (Bachelor of Arts) 

Those previously discontinued programs represented 1% of total student enrollment. 

SUNY Potsdam currently has 47 undergraduate programs and 17 graduate programs. If these proposed program discontinuances are ultimately approved, the College would have 38 bachelor's degrees and 15 master's degrees and advanced certificates to offer. Additionally, the campus will continue to innovate and develop updated or new academic programs in growth areas, where feasible.

SUNY Potsdam's top 5 bachelor's degrees granted:

  1. Music Education
  2. Business Administration
  3. Childhood/Early Childhood Education
  4. Psychology
  5. History

SUNY Potsdam's top 5 master's degrees granted:

  1. Childhood Education
  2. Literacy
  3. Curriculum and Instruction
  4. Management
  5. Music Education

Yes. Although we are proposing discontinuation of certain programs, we will continue to offer classes in some of these areas to support our general education program and coursework for other degree-granting programs. We may also continue to support minors in some of these areas. In addition, SUNY Potsdam students can take courses in impacted areas, as well as others, through SUNY cross-registration.

Yes. To ensure the continued viability of our other programs, faculty and staff positions in other areas will be evaluated over the coming months, as we adjust our workforce to serve our existing enrollment. At this stage, we cannot project the exact number of positions which will ultimately be impacted overall, as that will heavily depend on uncertainties like retirements and attrition. We are just at the outset of a multi-year process.

In addition, areas across campus are working to restructure and reorganize, finding efficiencies and synergies. Numerous offices are making do with less, by forgoing hiring in open positions. Ongoing attrition in administrative, clerical and trades positions has led to many not being filled. Every position opening will continue to be reviewed by the Budget Review Committee.

The academic program reductions are not based on the rigor of those programs, the quality of the faculty, or the experiences had by alumni who hold these degrees from our campus. We have simply had more programs than are supported by enrollment revenue.

SUNY Potsdam is operating with a structural budget deficit of $9 million annually. This deficit has been compounded by the impact of the pandemic and broader demographic challenges in higher education. We are not alone in facing these types of financial decisions. Colleges and universities across the country, both public and private, are having to reduce personnel and refocus program offerings. Unlike other campuses who are also operating in a deficit, our campus no longer has the reserves to sustain us.

No. SUNY Potsdam is not closing. In fact, SUNY and the State of New York continue to invest in Potsdam, the oldest campus in the system, most recently through the infusion of more than $2 million in ongoing annual operating aid. The financial stability plan is designed to put the College back on a path that allows for strategic investment, financial security and ensures a strong future for SUNY Potsdam. We remain fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Yes. This process will lead to the elimination of positions across campus over three to four years, as we adjust our workforce to serve our existing enrollment.

At this stage, we cannot project the exact number of positions which will ultimately be impacted overall, as that will heavily depend on uncertainties like retirements and attrition. We are just at the outset of a multi-year process, and SUNY Potsdam must follow the respective collective bargaining agreements with the unions representing our faculty and staff.

While our plan provides us a path toward fiscal health, every single expense will have to be reviewed for its critical need. However, we will continue to invest in growth areas where practicable. Any request to fill an open position or staff a new position will continue to be carefully reviewed. 

Benefits vary under each respective collective bargaining agreement. Anyone who wants to know about their benefits should contact their union representative and speak with Human Resources. HR will be sending a more detailed FAQ document to all faculty and staff with more information, including details on:

This plan is designed to be iterative, to help us respond to our changing conditions and adjust our offerings to best serve our students and the marketplace. Our strategies may evolve over time. However, as challenging as this plan will be, it is our aim to make this as comprehensive as possible, in order to return us to a position of stability and growth. We will need to review progress each year to ensure that we are meeting our goals.

A key piece of our fiscal health framework will be setting performance goals for all academic programs and departments. Our newly adopted institutional priorities also call for annual consultation between departments, deans and the provost’s office to review progress toward goals. Further adjustments in academic program offerings may be made based on these consultations.

SUNY Potsdam administrators have been gathering information and considering academic realignment for several years. The 2021-22 realignment process resulted in some creative solutions to grow enrollment, but ultimately did not produce the enrollment growth and expenditure reduction we needed to address the structural deficit.

Dr. Suzanne Smith, SUNY Potsdam’s 18th president, has approved this final framework after working extensively on it with the President’s Council and in consultation with SUNY experts.

As a reminder, academic program actions and personnel actions need to follow campus policy and some will involve shared governance and consultation with the applicable union(s) as required.

In making these tough choices, SUNY Potsdam is taking a holistic approach in evaluating program viability, including analysis on the following data points:

  • Pre-census enrollment for Fall 2023
  • 1- and 5-year enrollment trends
  • First-year first-time and transfer yield for Fall 2023
  • Department faculty full-time equivalent positions for the 2022-23 academic year
  • Department student full-time equivalent enrollment for the 2022-23 academic year
  • Undergraduate first-year retention in major cohort from Fall 2021 to Fall 2022
  • Department student/faculty ratio for Fall 2021 to Spring 2023
  • 5-year percentage change in department student/faculty ratio
  • Underrepresented minority student enrollment
  • Department WAYS course contribution in the 2021-22 academic year
  • Most recent departmental self-study
  • Departmental 2021-22 academic realignment report
  • Current staffing needs
  • Market research and workforce demand

Current active students, as of Sept. 19, 2023, will still be able to complete their degrees. All students in affected programs will be provided with individualized plans for degree completion. During the fall semester, representatives from each academic School will meet with impacted students and work with them one on one to develop their individual plans.

Some may choose to remain on campus through to graduation, either in that degree  program or in a different major (depending on their personal goals and interests). Others may wish to transfer to other institutions with comparable programs with pre-arranged transfer credit. We will support every student’s choice to further their academic journey.

The Office of Admissions will be reaching out to all prospective students who have expressed interest in one of the impacted program areas. We will offer information about other campus programs that may meet their life and career goals.

In the short term, nothing will change as we continue to support students through graduation and help them to complete their degrees. As we determine which coursework is needed to support the general education program and other degree-granting programs, we will evaluate the needs of each area as part of our planning for facilities usage going forward. In some cases, spaces may be reallocated to other academic programs to support growth in strategic areas.

Community engagement remains both an institutional priority and a driving force for SUNY Potsdam, which serves the North Country through research, service, outreach and enrichment. While change is difficult, it is our sincere hope to stabilize SUNY Potsdam’s finances so that the College can continue to best serve our community and our region for many years to come. We plan to invest in growth areas that serve our area’s workforce needs, and will balance program discontinuances with strategic investment. At the same time, we hope to broaden our outreach to the community by opening our doors for more local events and developing microcredential programs to serve employers throughout the region.

All degrees granted by SUNY Potsdam will remain as valid as the day they were issued. The program reductions are not about the rigor of those programs, the quality of the faculty, or the experiences of alumni who hold these degrees from our campus. We have simply had more programs than are currently supported by enrollment revenue. We know that these changes are painful. We plan to honor the many achievements and experiences of all our graduates, while working together to ensure SUNY Potsdam’s legacy remains strong, well into the future.

Many of the affected programs will be phased out over a specified period. During this period, any dollars previously allocated will be used in a manner that best meets the needs of that program and its students. Any unexpended funds will be allocated to alternate campus priorities which the Potsdam College Foundation determines most closely align with the original intent.

Regarding endowed gifts, whenever possible, donors will be contacted to discuss alternative uses of and/or adjustments to the endowed fund. In instances where contacting the donor is not possible, the Foundation will work to apply the gift to alternate campus priorities that most closely align with each donor’s original intent (as expressed in the gift agreement).

Any donor who wishes to modify their pledge or deferred gift commitment can contact the Potsdam College Foundation to discuss their options, by calling (315) 267-3054 or emailing

Choosing where to direct your gift is a personal decision. However, it may be helpful to know that gifts to the Fund for Potsdam or in support of scholarships remain the highest priorities for the College. These gifts offer critical resources and flexibility as SUNY Potsdam looks to recruit and retain students. Visit to make a gift today.

Make a gift. Refer a future student. Volunteer your time. Attend events on campus and in your region. We are grateful for the many ways that our faculty, staff, students, alumni and donors give back to make Potsdam stronger for our students. Thank you!

Questions / Comments?