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SUNY Canton, Potsdam apply for grant to build joint institute

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CANTON — SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam are seeking funds for an initiative bringing the schools together to create a new entity located between the campuses.

The schools have applied for a $12.25 million NYSUNY2020 Challenge grant to construct a building and buy supplies for the SUNY Institute of Arts, Sciences and Technology.

“It came about because the funding opportunity was available for us to ask for it,” said Natalie L. Higley, joint chief financial officer for SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam. “This is still very conceptual because this opportunity came up and we said we’ll apply for it, but there is a long way to go before this becomes a reality.”

Ms. Higley said this was likely the first joint grant application by two SUNY campuses.

“I would say this is a very unique application because we presented it from both schools,” she said. “I believe this is the only one, but I’m not positive. This is in the spirit of cooperation between the two institutions.”

The project involves a new building somewhere near the shared border between the towns of Canton and Potsdam. The building would house shared administrative services and give academic leaders on both campuses a common space.

“We’re looking at this as a place where the academic faculty can get together and use it as a meeting space so they can develop joint programming,” Ms. Higley said. “Many of our back office services would almost certainly occupy the building.”

The new institution wouldn’t be independent from the local SUNY campuses, but would incorporate elements from Potsdam’s liberal arts and fine arts programs as well as Canton’s applied technology and professional programs.

According to the application, the “institute is essentially the scaffolding linking the two institutions and on which many different opportunities can be built. It allows Canton and Potsdam to maintain their own identity, leadership, and brand while creating what will become a third brand shared by the institutions.”

The institute also would meet goals of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council for work force development, clean energy, energy efficiency and collaboration between the region’s college campuses. In their application, the colleges said they believe the institute would add $5 million each year to the area’s economy by expanding the enrollment at each school.

Under the proposal, SUNY Canton’s Small Business Development Center also would be relocated to the new building from the ground floor of Wicks Hall, expanding opportunities for startup businesses in a more visible space.

In July, former SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy spoke of the Institute of Arts, Sciences and Technology. At the time, Mr. Kennedy did not envision the proposal would lead to the construction of a shared facility between the campuses.

Ms. Higley said there is almost $60 million available in this round of NYSUNY2020 Challenge grants.

“We were told by SUNY administration that we would receive notification of whether we were successful by the first of the year,” she said. “I do know they have a tremendous amount of proposals.”

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