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SUNY Potsdam Announces Financial Stability Plan

September 19, 2023

The State University of New York at Potsdam Establishes Framework to Achieve Fiscal Health & Return College to Position for Growth 

The State University of New York at Potsdam today released a financial stability plan that will ensure the future of one of the nation’s oldest institutions of higher education, and begin to address the College’s $9 million structural deficit 

The plan, outlined in an address by SUNY Potsdam President Dr. Suzanne Smith, focuses on aligning academic programming with student enrollment needs, charts a path for investments in strengths and growth areas, and leans on the College’s strengths to establish a future-focused fiscal health framework. Dr. Smith has been working diligently on the plan since her appointment to lead the campus in April 2023, along with members of the President’s Council and in collaboration with SUNY experts.  

“SUNY Potsdam is a special place, a college that respects and honors our history, but is unwavering in its commitment to ensuring future generations of Potsdam students enjoy the same growth and fulfillment,” Dr. Smith said. “While we may face challenges now, I chose to be a part of this legacy to help nurture SUNY Potsdam’s traditions, champion its values, and propel it to new heights, ensuring that our beacon of excellence never dims. 

“President Smith has provided a thoughtful, difficult, and absolutely necessary approach that will set SUNY Potsdam on a path toward financial health and growth,” said SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr.The campus has an incredible 207-year history and has provided an excellent education at every step. Moving forward, President Smith has the right experience to build a strong future to attract students for generations to come. She and the campus community have my full support.” 

In her speech, Dr. Smith outlined a series of steps that the College will take to reduce costs and increase revenue, in accordance with shared governance, collective bargaining agreements and civil service rules: 

  • The College will review 14 academic programs that have been recommended for discontinuance over the next three to four years. Under the proposal, the campus would ensure that every single current student would be given the opportunity to graduate with their SUNY Potsdam degree if they wish. 

  • Reductions will be assessed across campus, allowing for an alignment of staffing levels to meet current student and workforce needs. 

  • SUNY Potsdam will offer a one-time, local voluntary separation program, thanks to an allotment of funds from the Potsdam College Foundation. 

  • A working group will be established to review the campus footprint, to analyze infrastructure and make recommendations for the reuse and/or possible closure of underutilized spaces. 

  • Looking forward, the campus will establish key performance indicators to assess all areas annually and provide the opportunity to invest in growing programs and initiatives, such as microcredentials and online graduate programs. 

The plan builds on a 25 percent increase in direct state support this year — the largest single-year increase state in investment in many years — including $2.5 million in ongoing state operating aid. What’s more, Potsdam will utilize a SUNY Transformation Grant support to invest in the ACE Initiative, which will provide comprehensive support for an initial cohort of 150 students in Fall 2024. As Potsdam plans for the future, a 3.12 percent increase in enrollment between Fall 2022 and Fall 2023 provides light on the horizon.   

That SUNY Potsdam is a small, tightly knit campus community is one of its greatest strengths. The sense of family we all cherish will make these changes hard, it is also what will enable us to meet our challenges and overcome them,” Dr. Smith said.I am committed to seeking our campus community’s collaboration and input. Working together, I believe this plan will put us on sound fiscal footing and on a path toward a brighter academic and fiscal future.” 

A series of question-and-answer sessions have been scheduled across all areas of campus and with all constituent groups for the coming weeks, including dedicated advising and support sessions for students in impacted programs and forums for faculty, staff and alumni.  

“We fully support President Smith and the plan to restore our beloved institution to fiscal health,” said College Council Chair June O’Neill (Hon. ’99).Over SUNY Potsdam’s more than two centuries of service, this is certainly not the first time we have faced significant challenges. Now with the new framework in place, and our strategic planning process already underway, the College Council has full faith and confidence that SUNY Potsdam will ultimately emerge stronger and ready for the future as a result of this painful but necessary realignment. We stand ready to support our Potsdam family as the entire campus engages in this important work.” 

“We support the SUNY Potsdam financial stability plan, including the difficult decisions related to the future of some academic programs,” said Potsdam College Foundation President Amy Kellogg ’99. As an organization committed to ensuring access to a quality education for all Potsdam students, we understand that these decisions were not made lightly, but are necessary to secure the future of Potsdam. The Foundation Board will continue to steward the resources entrusted to the Foundation to ensure that this historic institution can thrive well into the future.”  

“As proud alumni of SUNY Potsdam, we support the College as it assesses the strength of its academic offerings,” said SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association President Peter Galloway ’83. We understand that these decisions are challenging, but we are confident that they will help secure the future of our alma mater. With a rich history spanning 207 years, SUNY Potsdam has demonstrated its worth to the tens of thousands who have passed through its halls over its two-plus centuries of serving our state. The Alumni Association will continue to work closely with the College, alumni, and friends to help advance our beloved institution.”  

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About SUNY Potsdam:  

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 2,500 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 

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