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SUNY Potsdam college council talks shared services, uncertain future

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POTSDAM — While students enjoyed their last day of classes, cautious optimism on the prospects for shared services with SUNY Canton permeated a meeting of the SUNY Potsdam college council Friday afternoon.

“At this point you’ve all read about what is going on in Albany,” said council chairman Roger B. Linden. “In the course of the next several years decisions will be made impacting that campus and this campus that will affect the future of both institutions.”

The discussion comes to a point with the retirement of Michael D. Lewis, the school’s vice president for business affairs. When Mr. Lewis announced his retirement, the schools received directions from SUNY Central to hire a joint Chief Financial Officer for each campus, an idea that has not been entirely abandoned, said John F. Schwaller, university president.

“Our search for a new vice president for business affairs is coming along well,” he said. “All three finalists have visited this campus and SUNY Canton. Chancellor (Nancy L.) Zimpher has emphasized this should be a shared position.”

In a March 25 meeting of the college councils for both institutions, the joint CFO proposal was soundly rejected. SUNY Central responded with a request that the universities continue to look at shared services while it waits for a report from Mr. Schwaller and Joseph L. Kennedy, due to the SUNY Chancellor’s office by July 15

Faculty felt the uncertainty on campus, said Jan Trybula, faculty senate representative.

“Folks are still quiet and hunkered down right now,” he said. “They are a little confused about the Canton-Potsdam situation.”

Mr. Linden echoed the sentiment.

“Take a number,” he said.

Mr. Schwaller also said that both colleges continue to look closely at the prospect for sharing services, a process that led to an idea for shared academic programs in areas where one campus might offer a major or minor the other does not.

“The germ of the proposal is to move forward in sharing administrative services, but we have discovered other areas,” he said. “These are real win-win kinds of scenarios.”

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