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Ask lawmakers to oppose SUNY plan

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A year ago, the Canton community successfully derailed an attempt by SUNY Central in Albany to consolidate our SUNY Canton with Potsdam (or so we thought). But we have discovered that the chancellor’s office was just waiting for things to cool down before it launched another effort to punish Canton for challenging its edicts.

We need your help to keep SUNY Canton from becoming a satellite of its sister school in Potsdam. Please write your state senator and member of the Asembly and ask them to fight an effort to combine these two schools (thereby diluting the missions and visions of both).

Last fall, and with the help of Sen. Patty Ritchie, the SUNY trustees agreed to keep Canton autonomous, provided that it increased its dollars for academic programs and developed a plan to share services with Potsdam. By every indication, our local schools have exceeded expectations. This past Tuesday, a delegation of concerned community leaders appealed directly to the SUNY trustees in Albany to honor their end of the bargain by allowing the search for a president to move forward. I want to thank Tom Coakley, Jim Smith and Linda McQuinn for joining me in making that case.

We later discovered that local administrators were also in Albany, advocating for just the opposite! We are not surprised. The chancellor’s office has made it clear that if local college administrators are not in favor of the plan, they will be considered to be against it. As these local people serve “at the pleasure of the chancellor,” their tenure will be very short if they aren’t fully supportive.

These discussions between trustees and local administrators were held behind closed doors, in clear violation of open government guidelines. The chancellor’s office does not want this plan to see the light of day until after she receives complete buy-in from the trustees.

What is really amazing is that it now appears that the two colleges (Morrisville and Cobleskill) that did not resist similar attempts last year will be allowed to move forward with a search for a president. The work of both schools in developing shared service plans — taken together — doesn’t compare with what Canton has done. It leaves the average observer with the sense that Canton is being singled out for trying to protect its independence.

Our state legislators need to hear your concerns. You also need to vocalize your support for Sen. Ritchie’s bill for each campus to have its own president. Please don’t waste a minute.

David T. Button

Canton

The writer is supervisor of the town of Canton.

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