Our dedicated faculty and staff are at the very heart of what makes SUNY Potsdam unique.
SUNY Potsdam faculty and staff members are published authors, well-known researchers, accomplished artists and inspiring mentors. Like our students, they are a friendly, caring group from a range of backgrounds - always ready to discuss a challenge or assist with a project.
Dedicated to teaching, learning and service, SUNY Potsdam faculty are not just active in the classroom, but outside it, too. Many of our students say they learn as much through friendship and interaction with their professors and with staff members as they do in classroom studies.
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Finding Mentors for Success
Marking the culmination of her success as a musical studies major at Crane, Christina Morris ’21 recently staged A Concert for Equity and Equality at Hosmer Hall. Pouring her heart and soul into the concert, she organized the event, secured a grant to pay her musicians and composers, and then conducted the concert from start to finish. She leaves Crane with unrivaled experiences—working one-on-one with Crane professors, touring Asia with the National Youth Orchestra, and attending Tanglewood’s prestigious conducting program—as she embarks on a career in conducting.
Arts Management in the Real World
Business savvy students pursuing a degree in arts management are gaining valuable hands-on experience this semester at organizations around the North Country—impactful capstone internships that allow them to take what they’ve learned in the classroom out into the real world. Led by Arts Management Coordinator Joshua Vink, students are completing the internships at organizations like the St. Lawrence Arts Council, Brick & Mortar Music and the Community Performance Box Office.
Finding Peace in Potsdam
Born and raised in New York City, Laneise Goggans ’15 & ’22 found a new home when she enrolled at SUNY Potsdam. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she returned to the city and immediately launched a career as a dance teacher at a charter school in Brooklyn. Now she’s back in Potsdam, pursuing a master’s degree in education while raising her twin boys, in a community that has always felt like home.
Foundations for Success
With aspirations to work in the field of health care administration when she graduates, Nikki Ramirez ’21 & ’23, a double major in psychology and business administration, has been a leader on campus this year as an official contact tracer for the College. Back home in California, she gained additional applied learning experiences as a volunteer for CORE, an organization that offers free COVID testing and vaccination clinics for underserved communities in Los Angeles. After she graduates in December, Ramirez will be pursuing her master’s degree in management at SUNY Potsdam, while working as a graduate assistant for the men’s volleyball team.
An Unwavering Trajectory
After devising an ambitious plan to complete her undergraduate degree in just three years, Cashlynn (Jaggers) Colbert ’19 & ’21 immediately landed a job as an art teacher at Salmon River Central School. Now she is back at SUNY Potsdam, wrapping up an educational technology specialist master’s degree program at the College, all while teaching art full time in the North Country.
Chords of Success
Wheeling a large Lyon & Healy harp through the halls of SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music is nothing new for Shannon Boyle ’20 & ’22. For more than a decade she has been mastering the harp at Crane, first in middle school and high school through the National String Project, then as an undergraduate student, and now while pursuing her master’s degree in music performance. Through an outpouring of scholarships, she will be graduating in May without any debt as she looks ahead to the future as a musician and educator.
A New Lease on Life
Leaving behind a decade-long career as a paramedic, Laura Schappert ’08 & ’22 returned to SUNY Potsdam for a fresh start. She’s now pursuing a degree in biology, and gaining hands-on experience as a beekeeper, researcher, and caretaker for a lively cohort of amphibians within the walls of Stowell Hall.
Seeds of Change
In an ever-changing world, SUNY Potsdam is at the forefront of adapting with the times, and developing relevant academic offerings for students. During the Spring 2021 semester, Dr. Christa Haifley offered a Cannabusiness class for the first time—one of three new courses that will form the backbone of a Cannabis Studies minor currently being developed at the College.
Love and Music
As an alumnus of SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, Drew Coles ’12, has come full circle, and is now leading Crane’s music business program as an assistant professor and program director. Leaning on the experience he’s acquired as a musician and entrepreneur through the Metropolitan Players—a highly successful wedding band business he launched with his wife Erin Coles ’12—he is sharing his real-world experiences with his students, and preparing them for successful music business careers.
Answering the Call
COVID-19 has presented challenges that we never could have imagined. Social distancing, wearing masks, and weekly pooled saliva testing have become as familiar to the campus community as late-night visits to the library. This semester, nine SUNY Potsdam students have embraced the challenge, and are giving back to the campus community as part of a new internship to meet the demands of the global pandemic—answering the call as newly appointed contact tracers for the College.
The Path of Persistence
As both a full-time student and a full-time employee at SUNY Potsdam, Angella St. Denis ’21 has learned to make the most of every moment, spending her days studying and her nights working on campus—all in pursuit of her dreams.
Harnessing the Power of Justice
As the nation responded to incidents of racial violence and injustice last year, Dr. Peter McCoy was compelled to make his advocacy more tangible by establishing the Racial Justice and Equity Scholarship at SUNY Potsdam—supporting students who are committed to advancing the cause of racial justice and equity on campus. In McCoy’s estimation, “Now is the perfect time to harness the power and the interest and the energy that we are all feeling to make a difference."
A Guiding Light for Diversity Initiatives
Since he started at SUNY Potsdam in the fall of 2019, Clifton Harcum has been supporting diversity initiatives on campus, and creating unique opportunities for students to get out of their comfort zone and have an engaging college experience. Last spring, he launched an alternative spring break program for students of color, providing them with a fully funded week-long journey throughout the Adirondack region.
Powered by a SUNY PRODiG Fellowship, a passion for anthropology and a wealth of lived experience, Kathryn Allen is inspiring other women to pursue their interest in the STEM fields.
The Curious Cases of Nasser Malit
Dr. Nasser Malit has volunteered his time with the New York State Police Forensic Investigation Unit since 2011. In the role of a forensic anthropologist, he narrows and focuses the almost endless possibilities surrounding a skeleton or a shard of calcium. Malit’s early research prepared him for this work, taking him deep into the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, where in 2004, he excavated a 7,000-year-old human skeleton in partnership with the famed paleoanthropologists in the Leakey family. His forensic anthropology students now benefit from his vast knowledge while examining bones in his lab.
The Man Behind the Music
The otherworldly sound of an orchestra playing Adagio for Strings can be lost without someone like Dr. Douglas McKinnie, the audio and video streaming engineer at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. Since 2014, McKinnie has worked behind the scenes at Crane to ensure that hundreds of performances are professionally recorded—leaning on two decades of experience as the chief engineer of live sound at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Murals for the Masses
Amy Swartele, who has been a professor in the Department of Art for the past 20 years, just completed a vibrant mural in downtown Potsdam! After securing a grant for professional development, she has been expanding the scope of her work and learning the nuances of creating large scale murals—all with the goal of launching SUNY Potsdam's first-ever mural painting class in the fall of 2021!
Home in the North Country
For more than two decades, SUNY Potsdam Professor Tony Betrus ’93 & ’94 has continued to have a positive impact on his students, promoted a passion for learning, and emphasized the importance of technology. His dedication to education runs in the family. His wife Kristen (Schneider) Betrus ’95, mother Barbara '91, and brothers Ryan '95 & '02 and John Betrus '97 & '01 all received their degrees from SUNY Potsdam and transitioned to careers as teachers—proving that there’s something special when you set foot on the campus.