When future generations reflect on SUNY Canton’s history, I believe 2020 will stand out as a pivotal year in our story.
That prediction may seem idealistic, considering we are the midst of a social upheaval and a health crisis that are testing the country’s – and higher education’s – resilience. However, those with an understanding of our heritage will recognize that the College has been preparing for a moment like this for decades by fostering and building an agile, innovative, collaborative, and inclusive environment.
When the pandemic required a quick plan of action this Spring, we were among the first in SUNY to announce the switch to fully remote instruction for the remainder of the term. This nimble transition was possible primarily due to a forward-thinking approach that began in the early 2000s and was cemented in the school’s 2010-2020 Strategic Plan: continue to invest in the technology, training, and support services that enhance the online educational experience and improve student outcomes. This preparation also enabled us to be an important partner for SUNY’s online pilot program and provided a blueprint to continue to develop online programs, including our newest degrees in Crime Analysis, Esports Management, and Forensic Criminology.
The spirit of innovation that is embedded in our mission was brought to bear this year as never before. Ironically, just when we were being asked to physically distance ourselves from one other, the SUNY Canton family came together with generosity, compassion, commitment to service, and creativity. This report is dedicated to the many faculty, staff, students, and alumni who are working, volunteering, or serving in the military during this crisis. Their contributions inspired this year’s theme, “Together, We Can.”
While the country was dealing with a dangerous health emergency, the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed demanding justice presented us with an opportunity to reaffirm a commitment to our motto, “Everyone is Welcome Here.” Once again, a prior emphasis on creating an inclusive environment provides a strong foundation to further examine every aspect of our campus and ensure we are living up to that promise.
The fallout from COVID-19 has had a devasting effect on the economy. Fortunately, we are uniquely positioned to be a powerful ally in the recovery process. Our two Small Business Development Centers (located in Canton and Plattsburgh) have been busier than ever helping local businesses to plan and rebound. Those who want to address skill gaps and improve employment preparedness can earn a micro-credential or take advantage of the Career Ready Education and Success Training (CREST) Center programs, which are designed to quickly prepare students for new job opportunities. More options will be developed in the coming year.
With the Fall semester approaching, our ability to develop a safe Restart Plan was dependent upon internal and external cooperation. Nine planning committees worked over the summer to essentially reinvent the college experience while adhering to social-distancing and density-reduction guidelines. This would not have been possible without a previous commitment to nurturing a culture of collaboration, and the strong support from our local elected officials, law enforcement, and health agencies.
As we embark on a new semester, renew our Strategic Plan, and prepare for a new way of life on campus, we have the opportunity to draw on the strengths that were developed over the past several decades and build on the lessons learned during the past year. Combined, this has the potential to be a turning point in our history and allow us to lead in the new educational frontier.
SUNY Canton President
he SUNY Canton family used their collective knowledge and resources to assist New York in the battle against COVID-19. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni joined various efforts to support health care personnel, first responders, other essential workers, businesses, and the SUNY community.
David R. Penepent, Ph.D., Director of the College’s Funeral Services program, and Lecturer Darien B. Frederick, led an initiative to help alleviate the strain on New York City’s overworked funeral homes. He and several student volunteers helped transport the deceased to crematoriums all over the state and to neighboring facilities in Vermont and Pennsylvania. Following cremation, remains were then sent home to families. Their work was documented by several national media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, and Univision.
To combat the critical shortage of PPE in New York, Professor Matthew J. Burnett teamed up with the Northern New York 3D Printing Network and local schools to make homemade face shield components for medical workers at his home studio in Saranac Lake. A Graphic and Multimedia Design professor, Burnett utilized several printers to produce parts around the clock. He also led free webinars for those interested in 3D modeling and printing. The Davis Health Center also donated face shields to SUNY Potsdam and N-95 respirator masks to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse.
The Canton College Foundation harnessed the generosity of alumni, friends, and allies to meet the Chancellor’s Challenge of a match of up to $50,000 in donations to the Student Emergency Fund. Between April and June, $69,116 was raised. Combined with SUNY's contributions, $123,661 was ultimately raised for students in need.
Despite the economic challenges during 2019-2020, the Canton College Foundation raised $1,752,800 from more than 1,100 donors, purchased computers for students studying remotely without adequate IT resources and awarded 347 scholarships totaling $465,000 to 271 students.
tudents and alumni working in the health care field and in other essential positions represent the very best of the SUNY Canton community. Meet a few of the many courageous Roos who are caring for New York.
Nursing student and women’s hockey team member Alyssa Hein ’18 & ’21 is working as a full-time nurse at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center in Ogdensburg while completing her bachelor’s degree. Originally from Regina, Saskatchewan, she is working on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19 in the U.S. She received the 2020 Vice President for Student Affairs Award for her leadership and campus involvement.
New York City EMT Shakeil Joseph ’21 is one of the thousands of first-responders assisting in the fight against the virus. In addition to being a full-time online student in the Healthcare Management program, Joseph and his colleagues worked 16-hour shifts due to the overwhelming demand on emergency services. Incredibly, he earned President’s List honors this spring and received the College’s Humanitarian Award.
Christopher S. Ponsammy ’20, a graduate of the Healthcare Management Program, began working as an Infection Preventionist at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady this Spring as COVID-19 cases were spiking in New York. He was uniquely qualified for the role and quickly developed educational materials and policies and guidelines to keep hospital staff and patients safe.
In response to an urgent need for blood donations, Simone N. Moultrie ’20 & ’22 led a grassroots effort to assist the American Red Cross with several on-campus drives. Along with members of her sorority, Beta Sigma Gamma, she helped organize events and recruited volunteers, generating more than 200 donations. In recognition of her work, she received a $2,500 Red Cross/SUNY Challenge Scholarship Award.
nnovation continues to be among the College’s greatest strengths, and the research successes and scholarly achievements over the past year demonstrate our creative spirit.
The annual Scholarly Activities Celebration switched to an online format this year, allowing students to present their research digitally. In addition to topics such as peat moss water filtration, invasive plants, and thermoplastics, Healthcare Management senior Megan Mills gave a comprehensive presentation on the role of public health during the pandemic response.
Assistant Professor Dr. Kambiz Ghazinour is part of a group of researchers that secured a $2.47 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to study hospital trauma rooms and make recommendations to improve patient safety.
Student Maelea M. Mercado earned second place for her presentation at MIT’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Undergraduate Research Technology Conference. She designed a robotic knee brace for people who suffer from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
Associate Professor Dr. Emily Hamilton-Honey coauthored a book about the adventures of young women in World War I fiction, called “Girls to the Rescue.” She is the recipient of the American Association of University Women award and the Dr. Nuala McGann Drescher Affirmative Action/Diversity Leave Program award.
Assistant Professor Ran Li and two peers investigated occupational fraud trends and published their findings in the journal “Internal Auditing,” She and her colleagues recommend mitigation strategies to curb corruption, asset misappropriation, and fraudulent statements.
he SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) stepped in to advise local businesses on implementing safety precautions as New York State entered the second and third phases of reopening and helped them apply for federal disaster loans. They also participated in several free webinars and suggested ways for owners to market their business during the PAUSE directive.
s SUNY’s online learning leader, the College was one of the first campuses able to quickly pivot to an entirely virtual academic landscape this Spring due to prior investments in a robust IT infrastructure, comprehensive online instruction support, and virtual student resources and activities.
The College works to anticipate student needs by exploring undergraduate to graduate pathways that maximize their credits and experience, while saving them time and money. A new agreement with SUNY Empire allows those working toward a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management or a Bachelor of Business Administration to concurrently begin their studies in SUNY Empire’s 36-credit MBA in Business Management program. In addition, students enrolled in the undergraduate Healthcare Management program can enroll in SUNY Empire’s MBA in Healthcare Leadership. Candidates in this hybrid program will save as much as $4,000 toward their MBA. This is the latest in a series of partnerships, including a 3+3 agreement with the University at Buffalo School of Law, which reduce both cost and time to degree completion.
The college ranking organization Educate to Career named the College among the top schools New York state that have the flexibility to deliver education in a variety of formats and in an economical way in light of COVID-19. The organization used several criteria to determine the ranking and announced that SUNY Canton earned a top-tier classification, outperforming some of the most prestigious schools in the state.
Automotive Technology student Tyler J. Hogle ’20 was initially skeptical about how his hands-on courses would translate to a virtual classroom. But once he saw his instructor, Brandon Baldwin, explain the week’s lesson via a video from his home garage, Hogle was pleasantly surprised. “He took the time to make videos that pertained to each topic so we could watch them in advance,” he said. “Then when our class was held via videoconference, we had the chance to ask questions.”
Graphic and Multimedia Design student Forrest Vorolieff ’20 said the transition was a seamless experience for him, because “my professors were prepared to make the switch and took the time to make sure students had everything they needed to progress.” He noted that this was particularly important to him because his spring senior project was building a brand identity for his family’s new business.
n the wake of George Floyd’s death, President Szafran, in a message to the entire campus, recommitted to the College’s motto, “Everyone Is Welcome Here,” by pledging to work harder to heal divisions and fight injustice. This includes a series of open forums and the establishment of an Anti-Racism Working Group, which aims to engage white faculty and staff in confronting unconscious biases and work toward building a more inclusive environment.
This year, the College continued its tradition of bringing a diverse group of speakers to campus. Native American poet Santee Frazier (above, center) read from his newest collection, “Arum,” and discussed the marginalization of Native people. Syrian-Canadian author and LGBTQ activist Ahmad Danny Ramadan (below, left) shared the story of being exiled from his home country because of his sexuality, and novelist Chanelle Benz (below, right) spoke about her book, “The Gone Dead,” which deals with race and justice. To cap off the year, Dr. LaVon Williams ’99 (below, center), this year’s Scholarly Activities Celebration keynote speaker, gave an inspirational lecture about leadership and overcoming obstacles.
SUNY Canton’s Chief Diversity Officers, in conjunction with the College’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, continued a self-assessment initiative with curriculum coordinators to identify new teaching resources and develop new courses and topics that enhance inclusion. From Psychology to Criminal Justice to Early Childhood Education, the College is collectively working to raise awareness about the perspectives and experiences of all races, ethnicities, and gender identities.
As part of the co-curricular badging initiative, students can earn a Cultural Competency badge, which requires participation in diversity events and programs, taking on leadership roles within clubs and organizations, and community service with charitable organizations to develop greater appreciation of and empathy for a variety of groups.
The Canton College Foundation is developing several scholarships to minimize the financial hurdles for Black students in their pursuit of a degree. The “Promises Kept” Pathways Initiative will assist recipients at three phases throughout the academic journey: during their first year as they establish goals and adjust to College life; at critical intervals while in pursuit of a degree to ensure retention and completion; and upon graduation to support those who want to attend graduate school.
As a member of the Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley, the College joined St. Lawrence University, SUNY Potsdam, and Clarkson University in support of local municipalities’ adoption of Black Lives Matter resolutions. In light of the shootings of Jacob Blake, Trayford Pellerin, and Julian Edward Roosevelt, President Szafran and the College’s Co-Chief Diversity Officers Lashawanda Ingram and Emily Hamilton-Honey signed an Associated Colleges joint statement about the tragedies and the ways in which the colleges are working together to support the Black community.
s social distancing keeps athletic fans isolated and arenas silent, the College has a unique opportunity to capitalize on its standing as a leader in esports by engaging more students in playing – and watching – video games online. Similarly, as the popularity of esports skyrockets worldwide, the College is in an excellent position to offer academic opportunities for students who want to pursue a career in the digital gaming industry.
The College was among the first in the nation and the first in SUNY to launch a Bachelor of Business Administration in Esports Management. This one-of-a-kind program offered online or on-campus prepares students to enter one of the fastest-growing entertainment industries in the world. It complements the established Game Design and Development degree and offers unlimited job potential for graduates who understand the technology, culture, and business of esports.
The College organized the SUNY Chancellor’s Esports Challenge Co-Sponsored by Extreme Networks in April, which distributed $20,000 in prize money for COVID-19 relief efforts. Nearly 40 colleges signed up for the three-week competition in “Fortnite” by Epic Games, “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” by Nintendo, and “Rocket League” by Psyonix. The $2,000 top prize in each game was donated to the student emergency fund at each winners’ respective school as part of the #SUNYTogether initiative. The tournament earned national media attention from NPR and The New York Times.
Student interest in esports is increasing exponentially, and this Spring the player roster reached 80 students playing eight game titles, including Blizzard’s “Overwatch” and “Hearthstone;” Riot Games’ “Fortnite” and “League of Legends;” Psyonix’s “Rocket League;” Nintendo’s “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate;” and Ubisoft’s “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege.” Most recently, EA Games’ “Madden NFL 20” was added to the program’s Eastern College Athletic Conference lineup.
In an effort to encourage more gender diversity in the esports program, the Athletics Department held an open house for females of all ages to meet and build camaraderie. This year, the esports program also added an all-women’s “Overwatch” team to its roster.
A partnership with the University at Buffalo to host a SUNY-wide summer esports tournament kept gamers’ skills sharp and promoted player camaraderie. Students were invited to compete against their peers in Valve’s “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” Riot Games’ “League of Legends,” Blizzard’s “Overwatch,” Psyonix’s “Rocket League,” and Nintendo’s “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.”
Professional “League of Legends” players from the German team SK Gaming paid a visit to the College’s state-of-the-art arena to hold a guest-coaching session for the Varsity Esports Team. The lesson was the team’s grand prize for winning an Instagram challenge to promote Mountain Dew’s new beverage, AMP Game Fuel.
he establishment of a new Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity (CJIC) in Dana Hall coincided with a complete renovation of the building utilizing financial assistance from the SUNY Construction fund. A portion of the College’s $10 million investment in this project is being used to create state-of-the-art academic spaces, including a criminal investigation laboratory, a crime scene staging room, and a $500,000 cybersecurity computer classroom.
The addition of two new programs under the Center’s purview came to fruition this year. The Bachelor of Science in Crime Analysis and Bachelor of Science in Criminology programs offer additional options for students who want to pursue careers within the criminal justice field. Another CJIC signature program – the Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity – begins this Fall as part of the SUNY online pilot program.
A pair of articulation agreements with the University at Albany now gives any CJIC student the ability to complete one-third of their graduate coursework by the time they complete their bachelor’s degree at SUNY Canton, saving them time and money. One leads directly to UAlbany’s Master of Science in Information Science degree and the other leads into a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice degree.
he men’s basketball team made program history in the 2019-2020 season by winning the North Atlantic Conference Championship and automatically qualifying for the NCAA Tournament by defeating Maine Farmington. Head Coach Shiva Senthil was also named the NCAA Division III National Coach of the week in March by the website HoopDirt.com
The Athletics Department added co-ed cheerleading to its sports offerings in 2019. They made their debut at events in the fall and began training for collegiate competition. They’re led by Joey Boswell, who is a New York State-certified Cheerleading Judge and Coach.
Student-athletes continue to maintain high marks in the classroom, with an average GPA of 3.06 in fall 2019 and 3.35 in spring 2020.
ith the guiding principles of health and safety, a team of representatives across campus developed a coordinated process for employees to return to work this summer. In recognition of the College’s symbiotic relationship with the North Country, this guidance was created in consultation with local public health organizations and hospitals to ensure the safety for the surrounding community. Among the most important guidelines in this process to prevent the spread of the virus are:
For the Fall semester, a comprehensive Restart Plan was developed by a team of campus experts and meets the New York State Department of Health’s higher education guidelines. Key dates, testing protocols, health guidelines and a learning format schedule was sent to all students, faculty, and staff on July 1. The Restart Plan lays out a roadmap for the entire semester, including: