The State College of New York at Potsdam is seeking to remove 14 educational packages over the following few years — together with bachelor’s in chemistry, public well being and theater — because it tries to bridge a $9 million finances hole.
SUNY Potsdam President Suzanne Smith unveiled the cuts in a speech Tuesday, at one level rising teary-eyed as she detailed how the general public establishment will try to recalibrate its educational array within the wake of sliding enrollment and subsequent monetary deficits.
The college might want to considerably cut back college numbers, Smith mentioned throughout her remarks, though she didn’t provide the precise variety of positions it would search to chop.
Regardless, the method will likely be painful, however will allow SUNY Potsdam to lean into its strengths as a regional public school, Smith mentioned.
These cutbacks come as the upper schooling panorama stays as harsh and aggressive as ever, pressuring establishments of every kind. Whereas school closures this 12 months have been at personal establishments, publics haven’t been resistant to monetary stressors.
Even West Virginia College, a public flagship, has began phasing out levels — greater than two dozen — within the face of its personal $45 million finances deficit, although college critics fault administration for the monetary gap.
The WVU cuts have majorly frayed the professor and administration relationship, and one thing related may play out at SUNY Potsdam, with the union representing college already pushing again on leaders’ austerity plan.
SUNY Potsdam’s issues
The college is a part of the State College of New York, the biggest complete public system within the nation, enrolling about 364,000 college students. However regardless of the system’s prominence, its enrollment — and SUNY Potsdam’s — has plummeted.
SUNY Potsdam at its peak had greater than 4,400 college students in fall 2012, which fell to about 2,500 now, in accordance with establishment knowledge. College officers have blamed the decline on inhospitable demographics — basically, there are fewer highschool graduates to attend school.
“The pool we’ve to drag from goes to proceed to shrink, most likely at the very least for the following decade,” Smith, the college’s president, mentioned throughout a press convention Tuesday.
As enrollment slipped, SUNY Potsdam tried to cut back. Directors mentioned Tuesday they introduced down spending by virtually $12 million over the past decade, virtually totally via worker attrition.
The college had 791 full-time equal workers in 2012-13, which fell to 609 FTE college and workers in 2022-23.
It additionally began phasing out 4 educational packages earlier this 12 months, together with bachelor’s levels in laptop science schooling and geographic data science. Now, it affords 46 undergraduate levels, 15 graduate diploma packages and a pair of superior certificates.
What’s on the chopping block?
None of this was sufficient to treatment the college’s monetary straits, and it’s now mulling extra drastic educational reductions. Rumors have already been swirling: The college’s college senate chair, Greg Gardner, informed colleagues in a letter earlier this 12 months to brace for “program and headcount cuts of an order past something we’ve seen on the campus in residing reminiscence.”
Over the following three to 4 years, SUNY Potsdam needs to weed out a dozen bachelor’s packages and two grasp’s levels in music efficiency and public well being.
Officers mentioned these are low-enrollment packages — college students in them signify about 6% of the college’s inhabitants.
College students within the packages will “obtain assist to finish their diploma right here, enroll in a special main or switch elsewhere, primarily based on their private circumstances and needs,” a doc summarizing the plan states.
SUNY Potsdam thus far gained’t disclose the variety of college who might be laid off. Smith mentioned the administration is ready, as an example, to see what number of college members settle for buyouts, that are being funded by the Potsdam Faculty Basis, its endowment supervisor.
Not each college member within the disciplines going through cuts could essentially lose their jobs, both.
“Simply because we’re discontinuing a program doesn’t imply we’re discontinuing the programs in that discipline,” Alan Hersker, SUNY Potsdam’s interim provost, mentioned throughout Tuesday’s press convention.
Beginning later this month, college officers will give college representatives two weeks to submit suggestions on the educational cuts. Directors then plan to ship proposed cuts to SUNY system officers for approval towards the top of October.
SUNY Potsdam’s administrative wing can be scaling again and won’t fill the president’s chief of workers or vp of enrollment positions. The newest chief of workers and enrollment vp earned $80,000 and $135,000 a 12 months, respectively.
Finally, the college goals to remodel operations to suit a campus of two,500 college students for the long run, with hopes to achieve 3,000 once more sometime.
Criticism already arising
Even earlier than SUNY Potsdam made the educational plan public, the union representing 37,000 SUNY workers was up in arms.
United College Professions mentioned in a press release Monday that SUNY’s governing board ought to have allotted extra funding for financially struggling campuses like SUNY Potsdam. The state gave SUNY $163 million extra in 2023-24 than in its earlier finances, which may have helped these faculties, UUP mentioned.
The union president, Frederick Kowal, blamed the monetary floundering on Nice Recession-era state funding cuts.
“No marvel enrollment has dropped at Potsdam,” Kowal mentioned within the assertion. “How can we anticipate college students to position any worth on this campus when the state and the SUNY Trustees clearly haven’t. Now, administration is poised to make cuts to packages and college that may solely serve to additional cut back enrollment and make it harder to retain college students.”
Kowal steered SUNY Potsdam shut its deficit after which develop a strategic plan for the campus.
“As a substitute, SUNY is selecting to make additional cuts, that are totally pointless and can solely serve to exacerbate an already untenable scenario,” he mentioned.
SUNY’s accreditor, the Center States Fee on Increased Training, has additionally been monitoring the college’s monetary scenario. Final 12 months, Center States warned that SUNY Potsdam’s accreditation could also be in danger as a result of it did not meet two of its requirements.
In June, Center States affirmed SUNY Potsdam was again in compliance. On the time, it requested for a report on its operations, due January 2024. Then in late August, Center States requested one other report that was due Monday, this one on how the college is supporting college students and instruction.