New programs, buildings await college students returning to Canton and Potsdam
Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - 9:04 am

By CRAIG FREILICH

The pace of life and traffic in Canton and Potsdam is picking up as both villages prepare for another year of instruction at the four colleges.

Major construction projects are nearing completion at Clarkson University and SUNY Canton. Several facility upgrades are almost finished at St. Lawrence University and SUNY Potsdam is continuing planning for a $55 performing arts center.

SUNY Potsdam is expecting the largest freshman class in nearly three decades and SUNY Canton reports a record number of applications.

St. Lawrence is now offering many new semester-long international programs and Clarkson is offering several new programs.

New Student Center, More Dorms

At Clarkson University, where classes start Aug. 23. the new $25 million Student Center is just about ready. The 55,000 square foot project houses a three-story amphitheater atrium for concerts, entertainers, lecturers, large-screen broadcasts, and other events; large and small rooms, a dining hall, food court, mailroom, and multipurpose areas. The student newspaper, radio and television stations will all have dedicated, state-of-the-art facilities.

The university has added a fourth floor to Hamlin-Powers Residence Hall, creating more than 70 new rooms.

The Educational Resources Center has been renovated and there is a new Nanoengineering and Biotechnology Laboratories Center (NABLAB), an addition to the CAMP building.

This fall, with the Village of Potsdam, the federal-stimulus-funded Clarkson Avenue project of bike lanes and sidewalks will get under way.

New programs at Clarkson this fall include a Ph.D. track in materials science and engineering, which will cross several disciplines to take into account the assortment of materials’ properties, says university spokesman Michael Griffin. The school also has a new double-major in “social documentation,” combining majors in the social sciences or humanities with a major in communication and media.

The university’s new Institute for a Sustainable Environment (ISE), will get up to speed, integrating two of its interdisciplinary research centers, the Center for Air Resources Engineering and Science and the Center for Sustainable Energy Systems.

New faces among faculty at Clarkson will number 17, in science and engineering, humanities, the physical therapy program and ROTC. They include William Jemison, new chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

SLU Improvements, Challenges

While St. Lawrence University, like many other institutions, faces a challenging economic climate, “the quality of the student experience remains the top priority for St. Lawrence University,” says university spokeswoman Macreena Doyle.

Physical improvements on the Canton campus are in progress, in various stages of completion, as students arrive for the start of classes Aug. 25.

The Noble/Griffiths Arts Center will reopen this fall following major renovations. It features a 19,000-square-foot performance hall for music, theater, and public events; an addition with new classroom and climate-controlled storage space for musical instruments; a newly winterized Barnes Sculpture Yard for metal sculpture production and study; improved accessibility, elevator, heating, ventilation and safety systems; and new faculty offices, allowing the building at 21 Romoda Dr. to return to its original use as student housing.

Three athletics facility projects will be ready for the fall semester. North Country Field and Hall-Leet Stadium will be renewed with a turf surface for field hockey and lacrosse, and a new stadium built around the bleacher area. The football program has a refurbished locker room. The Sammis Tennis Courts, built over 10 years ago, are newly resurfaced.

The 1950s-era building that once housed the bookstore and health center has been razed, creating green space in the center of the campus.

Some 500 feet of steam tunnels and new pipe and insulation has been installed in the Hepburn/Sykes and Carnegie/Gunnison areas to reduce energy consumption.

The university is expanding and enhancing opportunities for international study St. Lawrence is offering new semester-long programs in Thailand, New Zealand, Japan, Italy, Czech Republic.

Early Start at SUNY Canton

SUNY Canton’s Aug. 23 start date is a little earlier than usual, says college spokesman Randy Sieminski, partly because of a decision to schedule a slightly longer December break. Semester final exams will run through Dec. 11, “about a week ahead of usual.” That way, Sieminski says, the college can save money on heat during the break.

The college has set an all-time record for student applications, with over 5,400 as of last week, topping the 5,331 the college received for the fall 1977 semester.

New bachelor’s degree offerings this semester include a sports management major, just approved by the state Education Department and the State University and announced last week.

“We had hoped for approval earlier,” Sieminski says. “Some students had been waiting. Already 10 students have enrolled even though it was just approved.”

The two other new majors, announced previously, offer degrees in electrical technology and in civil and environmental technology.

Meanwhile, the call for assistance from area landlords to help with a housing crunch this semester has been answered by about half a dozen people. “Housing is tight both on campus and in the village,” Sieminski says. Building of a new residence hall, due to be ready a year from now, has begun.”

Meanwhile construction continues on the new Roos House, the college’s $40 million field house, ice rink and convocation center, in anticipation of a spring opening.

It will include a field house with a regulation hard court and an ice arena, with press box and ample seating. Locker rooms for indoor and outdoor sports, an athletic training facility, a fitness center, a lap pool office, classroom and study space are also in the plan.

Largest Class in 28 Years

As SUNY Potsdam prepares to welcome new and returning students for classes starting Aug. 30, construction projects and preparations continue.

Even though admission to the college is becoming increasingly selective, SUNY Potsdam has its largest first-year class in 28 years, according to college spokeswoman Alexandra Jacobs. About 930 freshmen are expected, an 11.4 percent increase over the number in last year’s incoming freshman class. And about 320 students are transferring to SUNY Potsdam.

North Country natives comprise 24.5 percent of the first-year class. The college is seeing double-digit increases in the number of freshmen from outside northern New York. Those from New York City rose 43 percent and those from Long Island 22 percent

A part of Bowman Residence Hall will open after a year of renovations including new lounges, bathrooms and entrances. Two academic buildings have been enhanced with facilities for classes via cyberspace. The student union has undergone exterior improvements, and will feature an upgraded outdoor plaza.

The college’s $55 million Performing Arts Building is still in the design phase. It will be built on the southwest side of the Crane School of Music complex. The building will establish an “arts village” for students and community SUNY Potsdam’s newest major, theater education, will benefit from the new facility. Potsdam is the first SUNY college to offer the bachelor of arts degree.

To welcome students for the start of classes Aug. 30, SUNY Potsdam will again offer a number of events on campus in downtown Potsdam.

The College’s Welcome Weekend activities will include a carnival, picnic, sporting events and musical offerings. The college will encourage students to get to know downtown with the “First Saturday” festivities on Saturday, Sept. 4, which will include workshops, interactive games and live music and special sales for students.

SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music will welcome students with the Crane New Student Concert 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28. The ninth annual Crane Faculty Gala Opening Concert will be presented 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7 in Hosmer Concert Hall. The concert is free and open to the public.