The College Councils of SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton met on Monday, March 26, in an unprecedented joint session to create new pathways toward SUNY’s challenge to increase shared services.
The joint meeting was the first of its kind in recent history between the two College Councils. Historically, College Council members have made decisions for the benefit of their home institution.
“To the best of my knowledge, today marked the first time the two College Councils have officially met together,” said SUNY Canton College Council Chairman Ronald M. O’Neill following the meeting. “We are excited to work together for the betterment of both colleges and to the overall betterment of SUNY as a whole. By being proactive, we can further SUNY’s vision of increasing efficiency by sharing services and increasing ‘SUNY Systemness.’”
“This extraordinary joint session was very important from the perspective of both campuses and their respective leadership,” SUNY Potsdam College Council Chairman Roger B. Linden said. “It is thanks to the vision of Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher that we have been able to find many areas for further collaboration between the campuses and all of SUNY, by embracing ‘Systemness,’ so that we can capitalize on the unique strengths of both Potsdam and Canton for the good of both the North Country and New York State.”
Both College Councils unanimously passed a resolution requesting that each campus be allowed to hire its own respective vice president for business affairs or vice president of administrative services, in recognition of the unique educational programs and organizational structures at each campus. They additionally resolved to continue consideration and discussion on other avenues for combining administrative functions.
“The two positions are vastly different at each College,” O’Neill said. “It would not be effective to combine the position without hiring additional staffing, such as assistants, beneath one single shared vice presidential position, negating any cost savings on the administrative side of our operations.”
“The joint search committee reflected at great length on the enormity of combining these two very different positions on each campus into one, and just how difficult a job that would be. They found that they could not see how the job could be performed by a single human being,” Linden said.
The two colleges offer cross-registration, and common courses for both student populations. Both colleges extend these services and transportation to and from each respective campus, and partner with St. Lawrence and Clarkson universities to further educational opportunities for students in St. Lawrence County.
During the joint search, members gained new insight and a new appreciation of the neighboring colleges’ administrative responsibilities. By getting a sense of the inner workings of each College, both groups stand better poised to make recommendations into other cost-saving strategies.
“We want to continue this type of collaborative effort,” O’Neill added. “We are planning to meet together a minimum of once a year to continue our positive dialogue. By working together, we are making steps in the right direction and look forward to making recommendations for further shared services among the two colleges, and perhaps other colleges as well.”
“Today, I had the honor of chairing this historic joint meeting, as it was held on the SUNY Potsdam campus. I told Ron I would like the opportunity to watch him chair such a meeting on his campus, so we can continue to share ideas and work together, always keeping in mind that all that we do is for the advancement of our students,” Linden said.