SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher is citing significant progress in improved spending priorities and will recommend separate presidential searches if SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam want it that way, Assemblywoman Addie Russell said in a statement Monday.
“I have talked with Chancellor Zimpher and she assures me that Potsdam and Canton have made significant progress with streamlining administrations, saving money and investing these savings back into student services,” the Theresa Democrat said.
“It is admirable what these campuses have been doing to ensure the most resources possible go to where they are needed most. These colleges are becoming leaders within the system and models of finding innovative ways to work together,” Russell said.
A disagreement over how well SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam might be doing in meeting SUNY guidelines for increasing spending on academics broke out last week when a SUNY Central official suggested that SUNY Canton had not met benchmarks while people representing the Canton school said they had exceeded the recommendations.
The inference drawn from the benchmark requirement was that if the benchmarks were met, SUNY Central would allow the two schools to maintain two presidencies.
A continuing point of contention between the two North Country schools and SUNY administration is the Albany officials’ stated goal of having the Canton and Potsdam campuses run by a single president, presumably to try to save money. The move is strongly opposed by both schools on grounds of different campus cultures, traditions, missions and requirements.
“I stressed my desire that each campus retain its own president, and Chancellor Zimpher reiterated that from the beginning the path to sharing services has been campus-driven and their input will be key on how best to move forward,” Russelll said.
“She further informed me that the campus administrations have asked for more time, possibly another full year, to achieve greater efficiencies and additional savings. At that time, if both colleges wish to proceed with separate presidential searches, Chancellor Zimpher would make that recommendation to the Board of Trustees.
Russell, whose 116th Assembly District includes Potsdam and Canton, says she will keep an eye on the situation.
“I plan to continue to monitor this issue closely with the administrations and with Chancellor Zimpher's team to ensure these colleges have the support they need throughout this process,” Russell said.