Archive Notes - November 2009

As we return from the Thanksgiving holiday, it is a good time to consider some of the things for which we are grateful. I am grateful to be able to serve such a wonderful group of students, faculty and staff.  Your accomplishments and enthusiasm contribute greatly to the pleasures of my job. There are many important accomplishments that deserve to be recognized as the semester winds down.

New Degree in Theatre EducationIn curricular matters, we received some wonderful news that our request to offer a degree in Theatre Education has been approved at the State level. The Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Education (PreK-12) was approved by the State Education Department in October.  According to the Theatre Education Mission Statement, graduates of the program will be experienced in all facets of theatre—from the technical elements, to performance and directing, management and design.  Additionally, students will have exposure to the philosophies and practical application of drama and theatre in the classroom as well as in communities. These experiences, alongside the solid liberal arts education students receive at SUNY Potsdam, allow graduates to emerge from the program as well-rounded individuals ready to seek employment in a variety of settings. 

Relay For Life
I am very pleased to announce that SUNY Potsdam’s Relay For Life recently won an award in the American Cancer Society’s Eastern Division for the top net percent increase in donations collected over 2008’s total, with a 31 percent increase in 2009. With the help of nearly 700 people on 76 teams in SUNY Potsdam’s Third Annual Relay for Life, the event obliterated the $35,000 goal with a total of $50,982 raised. Our congratulations go to co-chairs Annette Robbins and Derek Pooley, the Steering Committee, and the hundreds of folks who participated in one way or another. Relay For Life brings caregivers, cancer survivors and teams of walkers together for an overnight community celebration of life and cancer survivorship. The event honors cancer survivors and caregivers and pays tribute to those who have lost their battle with cancer. Funds raised from the Relay support American Cancer Society research, education, advocacy, and patient service programs. For more information, e-mail or visit

Health Service
I would like to express my deep thanks to Dr. Richard Moose and the staff of the Student Health Center.  With the outbreak of the H1N1 flu, Dr. Moose and his staff have responded admirably.  The clinic remained open for several hours over the weekends so that students could receive the attention they needed in the midst of the outbreak. Many thanks to the scores of volunteers who helped to make the vaccination clinics so successful. We had very limited supplies of the seasonal flu vaccine, and significant amounts of the vaccine against H1N1. Nearly fifteen hundred persons were vaccinated in the various clinics. It was a fantastic undertaking, which we hope will ease the effect of the flu as the winter months arrive. Thanks, also, to faculty members who have relaxed their class attendance policies to ensure that students who are sick can stay out of class and not infect others. Please, everyone, remember to protect yourself by washing hands frequently, and cover your mouth with your arm or elbow when coughing or sneezing. But most of all: If you are sick, stay home!

Turandot at the Roxy
The community is invited to experience a free encore performance of Giacomo Puccini’s last opera “Turandot” on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 1 p.m. at the Potsdam Roxy Theater. Due to some technical difficulties in the uplink of the signal to North American viewers during The Met: Live in HD production, there were video and audio dropouts. To address this inconvenience, a free screening of “Turandot” will be presented. Tickets are required due to limited seating.  Maria Guleghina plays the ruthless Chinese princess of the title, whose hatred of men is so strong that she has all suitors who can’t solve her riddles beheaded. Marcello Giordani sings Calàf, the unknown prince who eventually wins her love and whose solos include the famous “Nessun dorma.” The production is directed by Franco Zeffirelli and Andris Nelsons is the conductor.

Test Optional Admissions and the Bridges Program

Our pilot test optional admissions policy for most students has been well received both by applicants and high school guidance counselors. While our applications are running ahead of last year, it is too early to tell the full impact of the policy on our overall pool. Nevertheless, the change will result in a larger pool.  That will allow us to exercise a greater degree of selectivity. Some students who might have been accepted without question last year will be subject to greater scrutiny in this cycle.  As such, a greater number of students will be eligible for the Bridges program. The applicants will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Admissions Committee for admission to Bridges. We are projecting a growth in that program by as many as twenty students, without impacting our overall selectivity. In the Bridges program, these students will receive more guidance and academic support than do our regularly admitted students. As a result, we are better able to retain these students than if they were part of the regular admission process. Currently, students in the Bridges program persist at a higher rate after the first year than the general first year class.

Budget Update
As you all know, we need to reduce our base budget by approximately $7.5 million for 2010-2011.  I have asked the Vice Presidents to provide me with a list of reductions for their area by December 9.  The Cabinet then will discuss those cuts and formalize a budget as quickly thereafter as possible.  I will provide a detailed update to campus before the end of the fall semester.

Archeology in the News

Our Archeology program and Dr. Hadley Kruczek-Aaron were featured in the Watertown Times of Sunday, November 29.  The article focused on the work of Dr. Kruczek-Aaron and her students at the site of Timbucto.  Timbucto was a settlement for free-blacks created before the Civil War by Gerritt Smith in the Adirondacks.  His goal was to give away some 3,000 parcels of 40 acres each to create a free-black community.  It was such an attractive experiment that the famous abolitionist John Brown moved into the area to participate.  Congratulations to Dr. Kruczek-Aaron and our students on this wonderful recognition.

College Ranks in U.S. News
U. S. News and World Report has recently identified SUNY Potsdam as one of thirty "Colleges that offer small classes on a budget."  We are in fourth place on the list, which is headed by SUNY ESF in Syracuse.  Others ahead of us include the University of Montana - Western, in Dillon, MT, and New College of Florida.  SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Oswego are also on the list.  While we do not actively participate in the U. S. News rankings, it is nice when our programs are recognized by external constituencies.

While we continue to confront the unpleasant realities of our budget, there is much for which to be thankful at this exceptional institution.  As other accomplishments are realized, I will be certain to share them with you.