Annual Report
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Foreword From President Zvi Szafran

After a year of uncertainty and disruption, I am looking forward to the future with a renewed sense of optimism. The pandemic has tested our resiliency and flexibility, and the SUNY Canton community responded with determination to teach, learn, protect, and support. It’s incredible what we were able to achieve together despite significant challenges, and I am particularly proud of our on-campus essential workers who stepped up to create a safe environment. Their contributions are to be commended, and I am pleased to shine a spotlight on them in this report.

Best Year Ever

For students, a year of remote learning and social-distancing requirements put a pause on the relationship- and community-building opportunities that make our college feel like home. As vaccine availability increased, we started to think about how to create the best student life experience possible. Our Student Affairs Division began working to create fun, safe, enriching signature events. We call it the “Best Year Ever” initiative, and our Public Relations Department developed an advertising campaign built around that message to generate excitement for the Fall semester.

We paired the “Best Year Ever” announcement with the #30DayVaxChallenge to encourage as many students as possible to get vaccinated before returning to campus. In addition to hosting vaccine clinics, our COVID-19 response team is doing an outstanding job monitoring and tracking cases so students can feel confident that SUNY Canton is a safe place to live, learn, and grow.

The Sister 2 Sister Club hosted a welcome back “Dye Party” Monday evening for all students.

Although we are just beginning to resume a sense of normalcy on campus, the pandemic’s economic impact will affect New Yorkers for years. We continue to explore every avenue that can help our students and their families afford to attend SUNY Canton. By being a SUNY for All partner, we have cleared a path for even more people to seamlessly transition from certifications and high school equivalencies to a postsecondary degree.

SUNY Canton has all the resources necessary to educate the workforce that a post-COVID economy requires. Our students, like those highlighted in this report, are resilient, innovative, and possess an entrepreneurial attitude. This strength, combined with our ability to develop in-demand degrees, is a powerful tool to increase the region and state’s economic resiliency and competitiveness.   

Zvi Szafran
SUNY Canton President

President Zvi Szafran at his desk
Ornella Parker, Alexas Marshall, Cassidy Asiamah

Bridging the Gap


ccess and equity are at the forefront of our mission. They are of even greater importance now in light of the financial strain many New Yorkers are experiencing because of the pandemic. We are leveraging our strengths to meet students where they are, provide opportunities for reskilling and upskilling, and break down economic barriers that prevent many from pursuing higher education.

Promising Pathways

An important partnership between the Canton College Foundation and alumni is raising funds for high-achieving Black scholars who have a financial need and demonstrate a commitment to community involvement. Alumna Ornella Parker ’14 (above left) faced financial hardships on her path to graduation, and she is the lead donor of the Promises Kept Pathways scholarship.

Alexas and Cassidy are the first recipients of this award.


Finance Focused

Alexas Marshall ’23 (above center) loves math, so it’s no surprise she decided to pursue an Accounting degree, and she wants to teach others how to be financially healthy. She works during the summer at Amazon as a product tester to help pay for tuition, and Alexas said the Promises Kept Pathways scholarship will help her achieve her own financial independence.

Community Ally

Cassidy Asiamah ’22 (above right) is a champion for positive change. She has developed leadership skills through activism and public service projects with the Brotherhood/Sister Sol organization in Harlem. A first-generation college student, she said this scholarship is crucial to helping defray the cost of completing her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Investigation and minor in Forensic Science. After graduation, she plans to attend Columbia University to study medicine and become a medical examiner.

A Gift of Gratitude

In a show of appreciation to local volunteers, frontline workers, and other essential employees, a scholarship was established for St. Lawrence County residents who have worked to help the community during the pandemic or have been impacted economically.

Amanda Commella stands outside Kunoco.

The “In Gratitude Scholarship” is an award up to $1,000 per year. Amanda Commella ’22, (above) a convenience store manager and essential worker, is one of the first recipients. As an online student in the two-year Business Accounting program, she said the degree complements her management experience and will make her an asset to any company.

Open Access

Faculty have helped students save more than $1 million in three years by using open educational resources (OER). The initiative grew significantly during the past year, with OER courses serving more than 4,000 students. The Southworth Library also has an eBook program that offers students access to online texts that are not on the public domain. During 2020-2021, eBook texts were provided for 204 courses and were accessed over 33,500 times, representing an estimated cost savings of $378,000. Many traditional printed texts are also held on reserve for students to use as needed. In all, the initiatives covered 86% of the classes offered in 2020-2021.

Fighting Food Insecurity 

A multi-year gift to the Student Emergency Fund will provide even more students with a food safety net. The $25,000 pledge from the Renzi Foodservice Charitable Foundation of Watertown will allow the Renzi Pantry to expand its inventory.

SUNY Canton's new red truck for CDL training.

Drive Time

In response to a regional need for commercial drivers, the Career Ready Education and Success Training (CREST) Center partnered with the St. Lawrence River Valley Development Agency to acquire a semi-tractor-trailer truck for a six-week commercial driver’s license course year-round. This program saves students time and money, as those interested in obtaining a CDL were previously required to travel outside the immediate area.

Student photos make up a photo collage.

People Like Me


o address perceptions that colleges are elitist and degrees are decreasing in value, the Public Relations Department began a social media series called “People Like Me” to demonstrate how SUNY Canton provides the foundation for career success. Weekly profiles of students from all walks – and in different stages – of life illustrate the student experience. The series aims to inform the general public about the significance of a postsecondary education, as well as inspire those who may feel marginalized to consider pursuing a degree. The following profiles showcase the diverse student body the College serves.

By Design

In May, Briannah Isaac '21 was the first in her family to graduate from college. Without a roadmap to follow, the four-year journey to finish her Graphic and Multimedia Design degree and minor in Marketing Management was something she did mostly on her own. Briannah said she often had to work two or three jobs simultaneously while taking classes full-time. “Today, I look at how far I have come and understand pursuing a degree was one of the best choices I ever made. College will not only broaden your horizons, but connect you to endless opportunities.”

Shifting Gears

Judson Foote '22 is a former truck driver studying to be a nurse. The 36-year-old father of four is also an ordained minister and a private pilot. “When I told people I wanted to be a nurse, many would always say the same thing: that I would not make a good nurse because I was too rough around the edges,” he said. After starting a family, Judson decided to follow his dreams and provide a better future for his wife and kids. “Helping people has always been my passion,” he said. “I believe that as a nurse I can make a difference.”


Luis Torres Rivera '21 from Puerto Rico is a Health and Fitness Promotion major and a pitcher for the men’s baseball team. He said he chose SUNY Canton because it gave him the opportunity to become more independent and study what he loves. “I had to adapt to a new language, a new environment, new friends, and being far from my family,” he said. “I got the opportunity to work and meet amazing people. I had the chance to play the sport I love and get a degree.”

Growth Opportunity

For Karly Rothvoss '21, flexibility was important when she decided to enroll in the Agribusiness Management program. Her family obligations and distance from campus didn’t allow her to attend in person, so online learning was a perfect fit. She plans to use her degree to help farmers develop and market products that make their businesses more profitable. Karly graduated Summa Cum Laude in May. “Online learning was both a demanding and rewarding experience, and I hope my success inspires others.”

Two Chaney employees place food in a to-go container.

Above and Beyond


ince the pandemic began, the College’s on-campus essential workers have stepped up to keep the campus community safe. A team of dedicated professionals have worked to successfully administer COVID tests, develop enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols, care for residential students in quarantine or isolation, and increase mental health and academic support for those struggling online or on campus.

Clean Slate

The Building Services Department jumped into action at the early stages of the pandemic to deep clean and disinfect common surfaces and touchpoints. They also modified the placement of furnishings to meet social-distance guidelines. Their custodial work in the residence halls, particularly in areas that were occupied by quarantined and isolated students, helped reduce the chance of virus transmission.

A custodian sprays disinfectant in a classroom.

The talented Skilled Trades Department constructed more than 40 custom-sized sneeze guards for customer-facing departments and eateries. To encourage healthy habits, they installed wall-mounted hand sanitizers in strategic locations and constructed portable dispensers that could be deployed to any area on campus.

Meal Plan

The Dining Services staff displayed incredible flexibility during the past year to accommodate increased sanitary measures and meet social-distancing and density-reduction requirements. A new reservation system used by Chaney Dining Center safely managed customer flow and limited building capacity, while take-out options and outdoor seating were implemented for safety. A custom online menu was developed specifically for those in quarantine or isolation, and approximately 4,400 meals were delivered to students’ doors.

Infographic: 4400 meals delivered to students, 28,000 COVID-19 Tests Administered

Safe Guards

The Residence Life team and the Davis Health Center staff led a comprehensive strategy to educate students about how to navigate college life safely during a pandemic. Clear, consistent communication about social-distancing, good hygiene practices, mask-wearing, and quarantine and isolation protocols prevented a significant outbreak. Both teams also worked seamlessly to ensure COVID-19 test results were communicated quickly and accurately to prevent further spread. In an effort to encourage students to get vaccinated, the Health Center partnered with St. Lawrence County Public Health to provide the vaccine on campus in May, and another clinic was held at the beginning of the Fall semester.

A student gets vaccinated during a recent clinic in Dana Hall.

Students’ mental health was a priority this year, and the Counseling Department created opportunities to increase support to those who were struggling. They quickly switched to teletherapy, completed the necessary training, and moved administrative forms online. As more and more students chose to learn from home, the Department worked with University Police and outside law enforcement agencies to complete wellness checks. To relieve anxiety from quarantining and isolating, hundreds of care packages with snacks and wellness supplies were distributed, and a “Quarantine Buddy” program was established to connect students with a faculty or staff member who could offer emotional support.

RJ Thayer, Lenore VanderZee and Courtney Bish

The logistics of this year’s massive campus-wide COVID-19 testing program were overseen by a team of dedicated professionals: Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Courtney Bish (above right), Executive Director for University Relations Lenore VanderZee (above center), and Director of Student Affairs Technology R.J. Thayer (above left). They successfully scheduled approximately 28,000 tests, supervised a large volunteer workforce, tracked student compliance, interfaced with local health officials, and provided care and guidance to those who were exposed to the virus. Their outstanding leadership ensured a safe environment to learn and work. 

Animated motherboard lights up SUNY Canton emblem

Ideas + Innovation


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.

Role Reversal

Assistant Professor Dr. Kambiz Ghazinour published research conducted with Cybersecurity students Blake Pecore '23 and Jake Rabideau '23 in the College’s Advanced Information Security and Privacy Lab. Their paper investigates how to effectively teach students to keep their data safe online by allowing them to pose as simulated “hackers.”

Tunnel Vision

Mechanical Engineering Technology students Jerome Joseph '21 and Andrew Fitch '21 (above) used NASA technology to rebuild the control mechanism and testing equipment in the College’s wind tunnel. They upgraded the tunnel with three new servomotors and custom 3D printed parts to generate more accurate data when conducting experiments. The apparatus draws air through a large opening across the mounted object allowing students to control roll, pitch, and yaw in addition to air speed velocity and temperature.

Power Tools

Assistant Professor Christopher Mayville is authoring an open-educational resource on marine jet propulsion systems and has previously created instructional videos for the repair industry. He also developed a low-cost tool that could help people recharge their own nitrogen-charged shocks. This year, Christopher presented at the New York State Cyber Security and Technology Association about his process to invent an electrical plug used in snowplow applications.

Student Spotlight

Some notable projects throughout the year include Electrical Engineering Technology students who employed upcycling by designing remote-control robots using found materials. Another team designed and built a scale-model house to demonstrate their home security system. A third group devised a patient monitoring system that monitors blood oxygen, ECG, EMG, heartbeats per minute and temperature.

Nicole Ouellette of Breaking Even Communications holds up a Do What You Love sign.

Small Business Strong


he SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has played a vital role in helping north country businesses throughout the pandemic by assisting owners with creating reopening plans, applying for federal aid and loans, and enhancing their online presence.

SBDC's Economic Impact in FY 2020

Icons: 91 Jobs Created, 1514 Jobs Saved, 500+ Clients seeking COVID-19 disaster assistance

Infographic: Helped secure $19 million+ in relief loans Infographic: Generated $22 million in economic impact

The SBDC also partnered with the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Authority and Nicole Ouellette (below) of Breaking Even Communications to offer workshops for local businesses about online sales techniques and social media marketing.

Nicole Ouellette of Breaking Even Communications holds up a Do What You Love sign.

In coordination with the Cooperative Development Institute and the Adirondack North Country Association, the SBDC helped make history when it worked with Ward Lumber in Malone to secure the down payment capital to transition the business to a worker-owned cooperative. The project was the first employee ownership transition of its kind in the North Country.

Maryalice Grotkowski Blake, nursing students using patient simulator, and Alson Caswell holding photo of Mary Ann Caswell.

Support Network


espite the economic challenges brought on by the pandemic, the SUNY Canton family continued to give generously over the past year for emergency assistance, scholarships, academics, and athletics. The Canton College Foundation raised more than $2,138,000 for these endeavors and allocated approximately $467,000 to scholarships. The Student Emergency Fund was critical to those who encountered unforeseen job losses, medical issues, or other financial setbacks. Nearly $100,000 was distributed for housing assistance, food, heat, books, and laptops.

Infographic: Raised $2,138,000, Assistance grants for food, heat, books and laptops, Awarded 300+ scholarships, totaling $467,000

Future of Frontliners

A trio of donations this year will provide financial assistance to Nursing students and ensure they receive the highest level of training for healthcare professionals.

Alson T. Caswell Sr. stands next to the newly unveiled Dr. Mary Ann Caswell Nursing Simulation-Hospital holding a picture of his late wife and the namesake of the new learning area.

The family of late Nursing Professor Emerita Dr. Mary Ann Caswell made a generous gift to the College to ensure the program continues a tradition of state-of-the art simulation technology. The Dr. Mary Ann Caswell Nursing Simulation-Hospital was named in her honor, and the donations were used to purchase state-of-the art equipment. Mary Ann’s husband, Alson T. Caswell Sr. ’61 (above), and their son, George A. Caswell ’91 & ’94 were several of the family members in attendance at the naming ceremony.

Maryalice Grotkowski Blake ’68 donated $25,000 to establish an endowment to provide $1,000 annually to a student enrolled in the Associate of Applied Science in Nursing program, with preference given to graduates of Ogdensburg Free Academy.

A donation from the Dr. D. Susan Badenhausen Legacy Fund, a charitable fund of the Northern New York Community Foundation, was used to purchase three simulated nursing manikins for the Dr. Mary Ann Caswell Nursing Simulation-Hospital.

Stronger Together

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.

Canton Athletics Giving Week - Men's hockey, women's hockey, and women's basketball

In April, the inaugural Athletics Giving week, organized by the Athletics Department and the Canton College Foundation, raised just over $80,000 from alumni, parents, faculty, staff, friends, businesses, and community members. In the spirit of competition, student-athletes and alumni from each sport worked together to win prizes for the most donations. The men’s hockey team, led by John Shellington ’76, Dick Layo ’76, and Dan Brown ’77, won the top prize with more than $35,000 raised.

Overhead view of the new Esports Wing gamer lounge.

Level Up


he popularity of esports isn’t slowing down and neither is the College’s commitment to remaining a leader in collegiate gaming. This year opened up new opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the industry and improve their skills.

Two students sit in gamer chairs in their new Esports Wing room.

Gamer Life

The announcement of a new co-ed Esports Wing created excitement and anticipation among residential students. Thirty-five double-occupancy rooms in Heritage Hall were completely redesigned to accommodate gaming enthusiasts. New loft beds maximize space for gaming computers and large monitors, and a common area with a 10-person gaming desk equipped with high-end Alienware Area 51 computers allow for team-based play.

A League of Our Own

To build on the esports talent within SUNY, the College assisted with the creation and management of a system-wide league along with partner Extreme Networks. Approximately 1,500 students from 50 colleges have competed in more than a dozen titles over the past year, and SUNY Canton earned its first league championship in “Overwatch” this spring. SUNY gamers also had a chance to build camaraderie in a socially-distant environment when the College hosted the first “League of Legends” community invitational in April.

SUNY Canton Overwatch A Team (l to r) My Dang, Bryan Hurtado, Kal-El Key, and Shane Girard
Two students laugh as they depart from the newly renovated Dana Hall.

Breaking New Ground


he College reached a milestone this fall with the opening of the new home of the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity (CJIC) in Dana Hall. New academic spaces include a criminal investigation laboratory and crime scene staging room, giving students access to state-of-the art technology.

  • A student sits on a rock outside of the new Dana Hall.
  • The new classroom criminal investigation laboratory in Dana Hall.
  • Students view a blood splatter experiment from the observation room.
  • Students hang out in the new Student Lounge in Dana Hall.

Cyber Smart

As COVID-19 required more people to connect virtually, the CJIC hosted its first Cybersecurity Awareness Month Conference to educate the public about how to protect themselves online. Five panel discussions brought experts from throughout the state to discuss the latest in regional IT security issues, election misinformation, and cyberbullying. The College was named a 2021 Champion Organization by the National Cybersecurity Alliance for efforts to promote internet safety.

Cybersecurity Month - October 2020.

Remote Connection

To mirror the upward trend of remote jobs in the cybersecurity field, the CJIC recently announced the new Cybersecurity program can now be earned completely online. The degree was also identified as one of the 100 Best Affordable Cybersecurity Programs in the nation, according to University Headquarters, an independent educational ranking organization.

Two engineering students using calculators in the Electrical Lab.

By the Numbers

Total Operating Budget: $25.5 million


  • Enrollment Revenue (Tuition & Fees) 78%
  • State Support 22%


  • Personnel Services (PSR) 82%
  • Temporary Services (TS) 7%
  • Other Than Personnel Services (OTPS) 8%
  • Utilities 3%

Enrollment Demographics

Enrollment by Degree Type - 2020-21 - Bachelor's 73%, Associate 22%, Certificate 1%, Non-Degree 3%

Diversity Stats

Fall 2010

  • White 69%
  • Black 9%
  • Hispanic 5%
  • Native American 1%
  • Asian 1%
  • Excludes Other, Unknown, and Non-Resident Alien

Fall 2020

  • White 65%
  • Black 13%
  • Hispanic 11%
  • Native American 1%
  • Asian 2%
  • Excludes Other, Unknown, and Non-Resident Alien