April 2016

As we head into the final weeks of the semester and into the extraordinary creativity of the LoKo Festival, I want to take a few minutes to update you on campus news. Despite the appearance of snow as I write this note, we are clearly well into the spring semester, with all of its promise and flurry of activity.


I'm excited to announce that we have just recently (this week!) officially crossed the $33 million mark in the Take the Lead Campaign! Most importantly, I'm proud of the role that faculty and staff have played in this amazing success through your ongoing generosity. While we are guided in this work by a phenomenally talented staff in Advancement, it takes the efforts of the whole campus to achieve this success. My deepest appreciation to everyone who has had a hand in this multi-year campaign!


The SUNY presidents met with the Chancellor on April 18 to discuss the state budget passed on the first of the month. The final budget was a great disappointment for SUNY, and did not include the rational tuition increase, performance investment funding, support for the cost of negotiated salary increases, nor maintenance of effort on behalf of the State.That's the bad news. The good news is that we planned for just that set of circumstances. Our five-year plan for financial solvency, submitted to SUNY last year, was built with the assumption of essentially flat funding and no increase in tuition. We are still on target with the plan, and I am confident that with our continued efforts we will achieve our goal over the next three years.

Recruiting and retaining students are key to our financial wellbeing, and so as we enter into this "yield" season I want to thank all who are working hard to recruit the incoming class and encourage the entire campus to help in that effort.

In the meantime, I am pleased to inform you that our new budget analyst, Amanda Prescott, with assistance from the Business Affairs staff, has begun to create financial dashboards that will soon be made available to all budget managers allowing them to track their expenses and allocations in a much more efficient manner. We will be rolling out these dashboards soon and I believe the results will respond to our goal to achieve more financial transparency across the campus.

Personnel Changes

You recently received an announcement that Bernadette Tiapo will begin her position as Chief Diversity Officer on June 1. Bernadette will be on campus May 5-6. I hope you will join me in welcoming her.

I would like to make you aware of other personnel changes that have occurred in the past few months.

In January, Dr. Robyn Hosley assumed the role of Interim Dean of The School of Education and Professional Studies, as Dr. Peter Brouwer stepped down to assume the role of Special Assistant to the Provost, to help with the transition over the spring and summer. I am grateful to both Robyn and Peter for their deep dedication to the institution. Peter's work leading The School of Education and Professional Studies has been invaluable, and I am so pleased that Robyn has come out of retirement to help guide the School until a new dean can be hired. Please take the time to thank them both when you see them around campus.

On March 1, Dr. Bette Bergeron began her role as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Bette has surely hit the ground running in her first six weeks and I am very much looking forward to working closely with her.

And, finally, I wish to express my appreciation to Dr. Susan Stebbins for her fine work as Affirmative Action Officer for the past decade. Susan stepped down from her position as AA Officer in December, and that responsibility has now been given to Stacey Basford, who is also one of our Title IX coordinators, along with Annette Robbins.

Emergency Table Top Drill

As part of our ongoing efforts to ensure campus safety, on April 12, the Emergency Response Resource Group conducted a table top drill to practice a simulated campus emergency. The drill was led by Acting Chief of University Police Tim Ashley, in coordination with the other two emergency response coordinating officers, Torey Russell and Eric Duchscherer.

Bias Incident Response Form

The SUNY Potsdam Diversity and Inclusion Action Coalition has uploaded its new bias incident reporting form on its webpage. All members of the college community are encouraged to use the form when you want to inform DIAC of an incident which you experienced or witnessed. You can also use it to ask us to contact you to provide support. To use the new form, visit the DIAC page at, then choose "Bias Incident Reporting" under the photo on the right.


It gives me great pleasure to announce the names of our campus community who have received President's and Chancellor's Awards this year. Please join me in extending your congratulations to them by attending the Employee Service Recognition event at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 5. Please confirm your attendance at the event with Jennifer Murray at

President's Award Recipients

Heather Beauchamp, Psychology, for Excellence in Teaching
Beth Bellardini, Advancement, for Excellence in Professional Service
Jan Felt, Registrar's Office, and Jessica Haggett, HR, for Excellence in Clerical Service
Matt LaVine, Philosophy, and Jill Rubio, Crane, for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching
Larry Leashomb, Physical Plant, and Deb Massell, Crane, for Excellence in Community Service
Lorilee Smith, Catering, for Excellence in Maintenance, Police and Food Service
Lonel Woods, Crane, for Excellence in College Service

Chancellor's Award Recipients

Fadi Bou-Abdallah, Chemistry, for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities
Jan DiTullio, CTS, for Excellence in Professional Service

LoKo Festival

The fifth annual Lougheed-Kofoed Festival of the Arts begins on April 29 and continues through May 8. As always, these ten days are packed with exciting opportunities for the campus and community to experience the culture of creativity that is a hallmark of our campus. Please check out the schedule of events and join us for as many activities as possible. You won't be disappointed.

As always, I'm grateful for your efforts on behalf of our students and our campus community, and I look forward to experiencing the LoKo Festival and our many spring celebrations with all of you.

February 2016

As we finally see some winter weather emerging, I am energized by the return of faculty and students following a much needed winter break. I enter this semester with great excitement for our bicentennial, and the knowledge that we are the first campus in SUNY to reach 200 years. We have much to be proud of, and yet we have exciting and important things to learn and to accomplish as we enter our third century of teaching and learning. I look forward to embarking on that journey with each of you.

SUNY Budget News

Winter always brings with it the start of the budget season in New York State, with the introduction of the Governor's budget and SUNY's response. I was fortunate to be able to accompany Chancellor Zimpher at the budget hearings in Albany last week, and give a North Country perspective to the Joint Legislative Public Hearing of the New York State Assembly Committees on Ways & Means and Higher Education and the Senate Committees on Finance and Higher Education. There are some positive signs, with the inclusion of rational tuition in the Governor's budget, but increased investment and full maintenance of effort is still needed for the campus. There is a long way to go before the budget is finally passed, and I will keep you posted on the impact to our campus. The System has launched a new campaign, Stand with SUNY, calling for increased investment. To find out more, visit


Our fall to spring retention numbers continue to inch up every day toward the 89% retention rate we typically see in the spring semester. Our census day is February 15, when we will have our official spring enrollment numbers on which to base our budget for the spring. Vice President Rick Miller is preparing a detailed report to share with the campus at that time. I wish to extend my appreciation to all those who have worked diligently over the past few weeks to help our students return to campus, including members of the Student Success Center, the Admissions Office, and Institutional Effectiveness and Planning. In addition, we are very pleased to announce that SUNY Potsdam experienced an 11.5 percent increase in freshman applications this fall, when most SUNY comprehensive campuses have seen reductions in this area. In fact, we were the top comprehensive campus for growth in prospective student interest. Thank you all!

Center for Applied Learning

It was an exciting moment last week when we cut the ribbon and officially opened the SUNY Potsdam Center for Applied Learning with colleagues from System Administration in attendance. By providing every student with the opportunity for a high quality applied learning experience, this center is one of the ways in which we will distinguish ourselves as we enter our third century. We are grateful for the initial gift that was given to create the endowed directorship of the Center by Joy ('58) and Richard Dorf. And now we have received news of an award through the SUNY Performance and Investment Fund of $750,000 to support the center so that the College, along with our partner SUNY Oneonta, can develop models of success for applied learning that can be replicated at other campuses throughout the system.

Chief Diversity Officer Interviews

The next few weeks will see the campus hosting several finalists for the position of Chief Diversity Officer. As you recall, this is a senior leadership position which will report directly to me and serve on the President's Council. The CDO will provide leadership on diversity and inclusion efforts for the campus, and will serve as a resource as the College makes progress towards our diversity goals. I strongly encourage your participation in the interview process and welcome your responses about these candidates. The interview schedule for the finalists can be found at

Center for Diversity Ribbon Cutting

Our Physical Plant staff worked continually throughout the winter break to renovate and enlarge the Center for Diversity in Sisson Hall. SUNY Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Carlos Medina has been invited to attend the grand opening of the new facility, which has been planned for Thursday, February 25, from noon to 3:30 p.m., with remarks at 12:30 p.m.Please join us in celebrating this new space.

DIAC Events

I encourage your participation in the many events that have been coordinated by members of the Diversity in Action Coalition. Among the events that are right around the corner is the LGBTQ Safe Zone training for faculty and staff from 4 to 6 p.m. on February 15 and 22. Topics to be covered include the use of language and definition of terms, negotiating identities, and tips to create a welcoming environment. To reserve a seat in one of the two sessions, send an email to Beth Fayette at Other upcoming events and activities sponsored by DIAC are listed on their website at:

Bicentennial Birthday Bash

Please mark your calendars and plan to attend the celebration of the 200th "birthday" of SUNY Potsdam. The charter establishing the St. Lawrence Academy was signed on March 25, 1816, and we are inviting the entire campus to celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of that occasion on Friday, March 25 at 1 p.m. in the Barrington Student Union MPR. The Bicentennial Committee has planned a fun event, to include a birthday cake replica of the Satterlee Hall clock tower, special music and more. I hope you will join us for this exciting day.

December  2015

As I write this last note of the semester, students have left campus for the holiday break and faculty are preparing to submit grades. There is much to look forward to as we pause for a much-needed break and then return to campus for the beginning of our bicentennial year in January.


As we prepare to welcome Dr. Bette Bergeron to campus in March as our new provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, I want to extend my deep appreciation to Dr. Alan Hersker and all the members of the search committee who worked for approximately 9 months to create the campus profile, review stacks of CVs, participate in countless interview sessions and meetings, and finally to recommend four strong candidates for the position. When you see your colleagues who have served on the committee around campus, please remember to thank them for their good work.

Provost & VP Search Committee Members

Tony Betrus, Ed. & Professional Studies
David Curry, Philosophy
Lynne Durant, CSEA Representative
Jim Fryer, Psychology
Lynn Hall, Ed. & Professional Studies
Alan Hersker, Chair
Julianne Kirk-Doyle, Crane
Samuel Lucas, Student
Steve Marqusee, Dean Arts & Sciences
Thomas Nesbitt, Director of Admissions
Sean Partridge, Student Affairs
Erika Plaza, Student
Melissa Proulx, Human Resources
Shali Singh, EOP
Patty Stone, Academic Affairs
Lonel Woods, Crane

It has been such an honor to work for the past five months with Dr. Judith Kirkpatrick in her role as interim provost and vice president. Judy brought a wealth of experience and knowledge when she arrived in Potsdam and I am grateful for the opportunity to work beside her. Judy will remain with us until March and I look forward to learning all that I can from her during that time.


While I'm sure this seems premature, I wanted to emphasize to everyone that commencement will be held on Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 10:15. This is a change from past years when we held two separate commencement ceremonies for undergraduate and graduate students. This year, all students will process in one ceremony, outside in the academic quad on Saturday morning. A special committee led by the Office of the Provost has recommended that all awards which have traditionally been presented at the campus-wide honors convocation be presented in the School or Divisional convocations and award ceremonies.

Spring Semester Opening Address

Please join me on Tuesday, January 19 at 9:00 a.m. in the Performing Arts Center proscenium theatre as I present the State of the College address to the campus community. With this address, I intend to begin a tradition to deliver a State of the College address at the beginning of each semester, not only in the fall. I hope to see you on January 19.

Even as we wonder when our North Country winter weather will begin, I wish for all of you a safe, healthy and peaceful winter break. I am thankful for the support and hard work of each member of our Potsdam family, and I am confident that, despite our challenges, we will continue to grow and thrive as a campus community. There is much to look forward to as we enter into our bicentennial year, and much to be thankful for.

August 2015

Opening Address
I hope to see you all at the opening address on the state of the College, as we join together to welcome both new employees and returning faculty and staff, on Thursday, August 27, at 8:30 a.m. in the Proscenium Theater in the Performing Arts Center. Immediately following, there will be a breakfast reception in the PAC Lobby.

Welcome Weekend
Please join us as we welcome the Class of 2019 to campus with a raucous display of Potsdam Pride, during the First-Year Funnel, on Friday, August 28 at 3:45 p.m. outside the Barrington Student Union. All are invited to join this annual tradition of welcoming our newest students to campus.

You won’t want to miss this year’s Welcome Weekend Carnival on Sunday, August 30 from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Maxcy Hall Fieldhouse. All employees and their families are invited to take part in this free event, which features prizes, activities, games and great food from PACES. This year’s carnival will have a special bicentennial twist.

Provost Search
As I announced in my last message to campus, Dr. Judith Kirkpatrick has been chosen as our interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, and has been in this position since the beginning of the month. We are so pleased to have her here, and I hope you will all get a chance to meet her at the opening address and other events as we kick off the fall semester.

Meanwhile, the search for a permanent provost has begun, with Dr. Alan Hersker chairing that committee. Search Committee members are currently reviewing a large applicant pool, and at its meeting on Sept. 16, the group will select candidates for online interviews. These interviews will take place in early October. We hope to have our three finalists on campus in mid- to late-October, so that a recommendation can be made by the first week of November.

Interim Dean of Education and Professional Studies
I am pleased to announce that Dr. Robyn Hosley, a professor emerita of music education, has been chosen to serve as the interim dean of SUNY Potsdam’s School of Education and Professional Studies, beginning in January 2016. Dean Peter Brouwer has agreed to stay on for one more semester in his current capacity, working closely with Dr. Hosley as she familiarizes herself with the School and with this important interim position. We will continue to update the campus on the search for a permanent dean throughout the year.

Diversity in Action Coalition
One of the goals I set for myself this summer was to work with others across the campus to restructure the Diversity in Action Coalition into a working group that truly represents my vision for the future of inclusive excellence on this campus. Over the summer, we have created a new structure that will help the coalition become more effective. The DIAC will be chaired by Educational Opportunity Program Counselor Latesha Fussell ’13, who will be joined by members of a small steering committee, overseeing four subcommittees. I am very pleased with the outcome, and wish to invite you to join me in this critical work.

Combined Outdoor Commencement Ceremony
The 2016 SUNY Potsdam Commencement Ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 21 at 10:15 a.m., and will include both master’s graduates as well as bachelor’s graduates – as we award degrees to all of our graduating students in one ceremony. The ceremony will take place outdoors in the Academic Quad, rain or shine, with a new contingency plan for extreme weather conditions.

The emergency weather plan will include two ceremonies, to be held at 10:15 a.m. and 3 p.m., in the Maxcy Hall gymnasium. Students will have four tickets for guests to be admitted to the gym, with overflow for additional guests in the Barrington Student Union Multi-Purpose Room. 

Take the Lead Campaign Update
Take the Lead: The Campaign for Potsdam continues to enjoy incredible success.  Having just exceeded $30 million in gifts and commitments, we are inching ever closer to our increased goal of $32 million. As we move through this final year of the Campaign, I am overwhelmed by the generosity of our donors and the dedication of our Potsdam family. The continued philanthropic success of this Campaign and the impact it is having on our students would not have been possible without the extraordinary service of our faculty and staff.  Many of you also give personally and I want you to know that I am extremely grateful.

July 20, 2015

Interim Provost appointment
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Judith A. Kirkpatrick as SUNY Potsdam's interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. She will begin to familiarize herself with the position over the next two weeks, and will be fully on campus by August 3.

Dr. Kirkpatrick served most recently as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Utica College, a role she had held since 2009, after previously serving as the VP for academic affairs and dean of the faculty beginning in 2004. Prior, she had worked as the dean of arts and sciences at Texas Wesleyan University, and as associate dean for the humanities and fine and performing arts at the University of Alabama. Before that, Kirkpatrick had been a faculty member in the department of modern languages and classics at UA, and was previously the assistant director of the University of Southern California's Center for International Studies in Madrid, Spain. Kirkpatrick completed her bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in Spanish literature at Indiana University.

She was chosen from a pool of external candidates that were identified through The Registry, a national firm that recruits experienced academic administrators for interim positions. Academic Search assisted with the search process as well, which brought five finalists to campus.

Interim Dean search
Our search for the interim dean of The School of Education and Professional Studies is reaching its final stages, and we hope to have someone in place by mid-August.

Looking to the Future
As we look toward the third century of excellence here at SUNY Potsdam, we especially need to hear from you, the faculty and staff, about your vision for the future.

In just a few short minutes, your contributions can be made through a short questionnaire, at

Submissions are anonymous, and I assure you that every word you type will be a building block for crafting a strategic plan for SUNY Potsdam.

Opening Convocation
I will offer the annual Opening Convocation address on the state of the College, as we welcome new employees and returning faculty and staff, on Thursday, August 27, at 8:30 a.m. in the Proscenium Theater in the Performing Arts Center. Immediately following, there will be a breakfast reception in the PAC Lobby.

Bicentennial Kick-Off
In honor of our approaching 200th anniversary, SUNY Potsdam will kick off its yearlong bicentennial celebrations on Welcome Weekend 2015, as the newest ranks of students join our campus. This year's Welcome Weekend Carnival will be bigger than ever, with special retro-themed activities for students, faculty, staff and families alike. All are welcome to join. The carnival will be at 1 p.m. on Sunday, August 30, in the Maxcy Hall Field House. Please join us!

Reunion Success
I would like to thank each and every volunteer who made Reunion Weekend 2015 a great success this year. Our alumni and emeriti simply adore coming back to SUNY Potsdam, and they are truly a resource and a legacy to be treasured. I would also like to congratulate Director of Alumni Relations Mona Vroman on a job well done.

March 25, 2015

Welcome to Spring
Whether it feels like it or not, it is spring and on March 25, SUNY Potsdam celebrated the College's 199th birthday by kicking off the final phase of Take the Lead: The Campaign for Potsdam. I am thrilled to announce that once again we have exceeded our goal, raising $28.3 million to date. The Third Century Challenge is the final phase and with the record-breaking momentum, we have an enhanced goal of $32 million by our bicentennial celebration. I want to thank all of you who have worked and continue to work tirelessly on the Campaign for Potsdam.

Looking to the Future Project for Strategic Planning
I have asked the Faculty Senate Goals and Planning Committee to assist the entire SUNY Potsdam community in our planning for the College's third century. The committee has been hard at work and has launched an online questionnaire as one way to collect ideas and feedback from members of the campus and community. We are encouraging all to express their ideas in creative ways, including short videos. Please take a moment to join the conversation and inform the College's strategic planning process.

The Diversity of Diversity on Campus
I continue to be inspired by the diversity of the SUNY Potsdam community. As we work to ensure that all are fully embraced within our community, I am mindful of the complexity that comes as our community changes and grows. The Diversity in Action Coalition, the campus organization charged by me with leading our diversity efforts, has been hard at work assessing our campus climate and responding to the concerns raised by students in our winter forum on race. The DIAC, led by faculty member Dr. John Youngblood and student vice chair Jully Gomez, is actively working on a number of initiatives. I invite you to read the letter outlining their progress, including work toward developing training for faculty and staff, assessing the results of the Campus Climate survey, and developing additional programming. In addition, PACES is collecting student feedback on menu options in order to cater to a broader array of student tastes and has tested a number of new options in Lehman Hall. In order to accommodate growing student demand, a second group is making recommendations for enhancing the Center for Diversity.

New Majors & Program Offerings
SUNY Potsdam has been approved to offer new baccalaureate programs in the vibrant and growing field of graphic design and media arts. The College's Department of Art will offer two tracks in the new graphic design and media arts major—one leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree, and another leading to the rigorous Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. The College has also been approved to offer a new bachelor's degree program in the emerging field of international studies, with a new interdisciplinary social science major that combines coursework from politics and economics, enriched with a history foundation. Finally, SUNY Potsdam has also entered into an articulation agreement with the Rockefeller College at the University at Albany, in support of creating a new joint BA/MPA degree program. 

Healthy Plant Initiative Launched
The Healthy Plant Initiative is a student-run program designed to create healthier, more attractive plants around campus. Student interns from SUNY Potsdam's Department of Biology will help diagnose plant health and advise you on the best plan to save or improve your indoor plantings. If employees have plants in their office or department, they can request student interns to visit and consult on how to improve their plant's health by emailing

I want to remind everyone of the upcoming Lougheed Kofoed Festival of the Arts, otherwise known as LoKoFest. The festival will kick off on April 24, with what I hope will be a very creative and inspiring inauguration celebration. Once again, we are so grateful to the generous support of Kathy and Don Lougheed in their support of our culture of creativity with what is shaping up to be an incredible line up of artists, scholars and musicians, including many alumni returning to exhibit their talents once again on our campus. Please check out the preliminary program at

Bears Athletics
I would like to congratulate the Bears Men's Hockey team in taking their season all the way to the SUNYAC quarterfinals, hosted at home. Well done! Spring sports are in full force, so please join me in the stands and support our Potsdam Bears whenever you can!

Potsdam Pointercounts Fourth in the Nation
Over the weekend, the Potsdam Pointercounts placed fourth in the national semi-finals for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, in Boston's Symphony Hall. The all-male singing group is the oldest student a cappella organization at SUNY Potsdam. The Counts reached fourth place out of more than 300 groups who competed in the Northeast region this year. We are so proud.

Although spring temperatures are slow to rise, I remain impressed by the tremendous warmth and hospitality of the Potsdam community and invigorated by the tremendous creative energy of our campus. I encourage you to get involved with our campus community and support our students in all of their efforts. Whether it is the Relay for Life, the second annual Gay Pride Parade, a performance of the Monkey King, or a women's softball game, please join me in embracing and supporting our diverse campus community.