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Sun., Oct. 4
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SUNY Canton, Potsdam react to indictment of shared vice president


St. Lawrence County’s SUNY colleges are waiting to see what will happen in the wake of the indictment of their chief financial officer on theft and racketeering charges in Georgia.

Natalie L. Higley, the vice president for business affairs and administration for both SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton, remains employed by the colleges.

“She has taken some personal vacation time so she can answer these charges,” SUNY Potsdam spokeswoman Alexandra M. Jacobs said Thursday.

Ms. Higley and three others have been accused of stealing a tractor, a golf cart, an ice machine, two portable storage buildings and other items from Bainbridge State College in Georgia, where Ms. Higley worked before moving to the north country. These crimes allegedly took place from 2006 to 2013.

So far, neither SUNY Canton nor SUNY Potsdam plans an investigation into Ms. Higley’s conduct during her time here.

“Presently there is no evidence to suggest that any similar incidents have happened or are happening at SUNY Canton,” college spokesman Gregory E. Kie said.

For now, both colleges are waiting for news out of Georgia before deciding how to proceed. Ms. Higley’s responsibilities have been delegated to other campus officials until the matter is settled.

If this matter stretches on for a significant amount of time, the colleges may have to consider hiring someone to fill Ms. Higley’s position on an interim basis. It is too early to say whether each college would hire someone individually or they would fill the position jointly.

Administrators from both schools remain in touch with each other, and are expected to create a more concrete plan in the coming days.

“Our presidents are in close contact, and are waiting for more information about how this will proceed,” Ms. Jacobs said.

Ms. Higley was among the colleges’ first major forays into shared services. She was hired in July 2012 in an effort to cut costs, and has since spearheaded many of the college’s shared services efforts.

It is not yet clear whether her indictment will slow these efforts, Ms. Jacobs said.

Ms. Higley earns a $155,500 annual salary, with the cost split evenly between both campuses.

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