Archive Notes - October 2010

As we approach mid-semester, as usual, SUNY Potsdam is a flurry of activity with performances, exhibitions, competitions, book series, lectures and the daily energy of learning. I want to make sure we take time to acknowledge all the incredible work we accomplish and about which I am so proud.  

It is impossible to mention all the accomplishments that are occurring among the faculty, staff and students around the campus, but here are a few highlights to allow you to discover what amazing things are happening within our community.

Academic Accomplishments
My congratulations to all of the faculty members who published articles and books and who saw the completion of other projects of a creative nature over the last few months.  I look forward to reading your pieces.  As each of you sees your efforts reach conclusion, I would appreciate being informed so that I can recognize you personally.

Faculty Recognitions
Two of our Crane faculty members have been recognized by their respective alma maters as outstanding alumni.  Donald George was selected as 2010 Alumnus of the Year at Southeastern Louisiana University.  Jim Petercsak was chosen as one of the 2010 Distinguished Alumni at the Manhattan School of Music.

Additionally, Mike Rygel, Geology, has received the 2010 Biggs Earth Science Teaching Award from the Geoscience Education Division of the Geological Society of America. The award recognizes innovative and effective teaching of earth science among early career faculty.

I want to congratulate all of the organizers and volunteers of this year’s Golf Scholarship Classic. This year’s event was an overwhelming success.  We raised over $80,000 for student scholarships, which was $20,000 more than last year’s record-breaking achievement.  This is one of the region’s most successful golf tournaments and the money is so very important in assisting many of our best and brightest students.  Thank you to everyone involved.

Student Services
We pride ourselves on the individual attention that makes the Potsdam experience unique in all aspects of college life and are pleased to announce the addition of Patricia Pielnik, MD, as a full-time member of our College Counseling Center staff. A licensed psychiatrist, Dr. Pielnik officially began working at the College on Aug. 23. She will offer a full range of medical/clinical services to the students of SUNY Potsdam, including diagnostic evaluations and pharmacological/therapy treatments. With the addition of Dr. Pielnik, SUNY Potsdam will be able to offer students a wider array of support services. According to the Psychiatric Times, only 63 percent of schools provide psychiatric services on campus.  Dr. Pielnik’s addition to SUNY Potsdam’s clinical team is considered a tremendous asset to providing ongoing comprehensive proactive and responsive clinical care for students experiencing psychological difficulties while attending the University.

The fall 2010 recruitment campaign can be characterized as another solid year for SUNY Potsdam. As many of you know, in 2006 our Faculty Senate approved a more holistic application process which included a Test Optional Admission policy that was subsequently approved by SUNY System Administration in fall 2009. In general, this policy was developed largely as a result of SUNY Potsdam’s desire to implement an admissions process that not only evaluates students’ individual abilities but places more emphasis on using the most reliable measures of student success.   Therefore, high school transcripts, essays, interviews, and letters of recommendation provide a more holistic view of the student’s preparation for higher education.

Fall 2010 Results
In fall 2010, a total of 926 freshmen were registered on the first day of classes, thus exceeding the fall 2010 budget goal of 825 by 101 freshmen. Additional enrollment information can be found at:

In terms of the academic profile of the entering class of 2010, we are pleased to report the following:

 Fall 2010Fall 2009Change
Applications5,0284,525+503 (11.1%)
% Applications Accepted62.1%65.6%-3.5%
% of Applications Denied or Refused19.8%19.7%+.10

% of Applications Incomplete (No Review, No Decision)
Enrolled926830+96 (+11.5%)
High School GPA88.2988.19+.10

Average SAT

1177 (N=168)

1070 (N=673)


While we are in the early stages of monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the Test Optional policy, it appears that the academic profile of our entering freshmen has improved.  It should also be noted that the percentage of applications denied or refused has also increased. 

Overall, the feedback received from guidance counselors, parents, and prospective students was very positive.  As we move forward with recruiting the class of 2011, we will continue our efforts to assess the effectiveness of this policy and continue to follow the best practices and approaches to recruiting students.

Student Accomplishments
Congratulations to director of intramurals and recreation, Bill Beauchamp and our intramural canoe racing team, consisting of students Katilyn Gesel, Ryan Brink, Mike Collyer and Emily Stephan. With a time of one hour, 33 minutes and 22 seconds, the team won the New York State Collegiate C-4 championships at the Long Lake Long Boat Regatta, a 10-mile race in Long Lake, NY.

SUNY Potsdam student Shawn Hatch from Massena spent his summer rollerblading across the country in an effort to raise money for wounded veterans. The criminal justice major became the first person to inline-skate from New York to California with his 3,107-mile journey, which took him 66 days.  Shawn has raised $10,250 so far for the Wounded Warrior Project, which honors and empowers severely injured soldiers.

Geology major, Owen Brown, was lucky enough to unearth an extremely rare fossil from the Cambrian period at a Utah dig site. Just a few days later, he held in his hands a gold bar worth nearly three-quarters of a million dollars. Dr. Christopher R. Kelson, assistant professor of geology, led a group of seven students in his “Geology of the Great Basin” class to Utah and Nevada from July 26 to August 6. The group traveled to see geologic formations, caves and mining operations in an intensive hands-on learning environment.

Budget Update
As is well known, we have begun the 2010-2011 fiscal year with $7.5 million in restraint on our operating budget.  Over the course of the summer, the President’s Council has recommended, and I have approved, to relieve various divisions of part of that restraint.  As we closed out the 2009-2010 fiscal year, we had more funds carry forward than we had expected, due to several different largely unforeseen circumstances.  As a result, I have felt comfortable approving some restraint relief, while still maintaining a reserve to use in case of further reductions from the State.  A total of $1,099,000 has been restored to the divisions, for the current year only, in the following manner: $897,000 to Academic Affairs; $90,000 to Business Affairs; $40,000 to Institutional Effectiveness and Enrollment Management; $37,000 to Advancement; and $35,000 to Student Affairs.  Within Academic Affairs, the relief will provide courses needed by both first year students and continuing students in the fall and spring terms. In the other divisions, the funds will be used to hire essential personnel.