The State University of New York at Potsdam welcomed SUNY Chancellor Dr. Kristina M. Johnson during her first visit to the campus today. Chancellor Johnson met with faculty, staff and students during a whirlwind campus tour, accompanied by President Dr. Kristin G. Esterberg, as she got to know more about SUNY Potsdam’s unique history and programs.
“What I saw here was that the students were very cross-disciplinary in their degrees. I thought that was interesting, and pretty exciting to be doing in your undergraduate studies. The student-faculty ratio is about 11 to 1, and so that gives a very unique connection between the students and professors,” Johnson said. “It’s just been a fabulous trip.”
The Chancellor’s first stop was the Donald and Kathryn Lougheed Center for Applied Learning, where she found out about the College’s dedication to making sure that every graduate has the opportunity to complete an internship, study abroad, conduct research or complete a service learning project.
Dr. Johnson met with the center’s staff, as well as some of the students and faculty who have benefited from its programs. Students Alexa Mani ’19, Paul Dougall ’20 and Samantha McComb ’20 told the Chancellor that they chose SUNY Potsdam because of the opportunities the College offers to engage in interdisciplinary study, field research and international service learning.
Later, biology faculty members Dr. Jan Trybula and Ray Bowdish spoke with Dr. Johnson about their work engaging with students and the community through the Wagner Institute for Sustainability and Ecological Research.
“I was grateful for the opportunity to showcase our amazing students, faculty, and staff; our beautiful campus, and our applied learning initiatives to Chancellor Johnson today. The true highlight of the visit was the opportunity for the Chancellor to meet members of our extraordinary SUNY Potsdam community and see our students in action,” Esterberg said.
As she helped lead the tour, Faculty Senate Chair Kimberley Bouchard, a professor of theatre and dance, took pride in showing off the Performing Arts Center—and gave the Chancellor a behind-the-scenes glance of her department’s upcoming mainstage production.
“Chancellor Johnson’s visit gave the opportunity to explore the unique qualities and the innovative programs that we offer at SUNY Potsdam, and affirmed the great work that our faculty, staff and students are doing on our campus. She really listened, and engaged with us in brainstorming ways that we can only become stronger,” Bouchard said.
Student Government Association President Kadiatou Balde ’19 also joined in on the tour, and highlighted student engagement, especially on issues of diversity and inclusion.
“The Student Government Association at SUNY Potsdam was thrilled to welcome Chancellor Johnson to our dynamic institution. As the voice of students, by students, it is with great honor that we shared with her a few of our 80-plus active clubs on campus, our new innovative ideas in uniting our community, and most excitingly, our efforts in implementing many policy changes, like a free menstrual hygiene pilot program,” Balde said. “She told us that she wants SUNY to ‘lead,’ and by proactively exploring our unique institutions, it appears she is already paving the way.”
The Chancellor said that the true “high note” of the visit was getting to see a scene from the new opera, “Mayo,” by Tom Cipullo, which is set to have its world premiere at The Crane School of Music later this week. Soprano Emma Marhefka ’21 took to the stage to perform an aria, in which her character Valeria gushes about falling in love for the first time, with the opera’s title character, Mayo Buckner.
“Wasn’t that amazing? That was the first time I’ve seen something like that on a campus,” Johnson said afterward.
She also met the directors of the opera, as well as the donor whose gift made the Pellicciotti Prize-winning production possible, Dr. Gary C. Jaquay ’67. College Council Chair June O’Neill, Hon. ’01, also accompanied the Chancellor on her tour.
Following her visit to SUNY Potsdam, Dr. Johnson traveled to nearby SUNY Canton, as she continues her 64-campus tour.
For more information about Chancellor Johnson, visit https://www.suny.edu/about/leadership/chancellor/.
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. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 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 culture of creativity. To learn more, visit www.potsdam.edu.