Incoming SUNY Potsdam president to take on challenges with campus community

Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 5:33 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The oldest college in the SUNY system has the newest president.

Last week, Dr. Suzanne Smith was named as SUNY Potsdam’s new leader last week.

She comes to Potsdam from Georgia Southwestern State University where she served as provost and vice president for academic affairs and is proud of the emphasis she puts on meeting students.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than watching a student from the first day on campus to seeing them walk across the stage at graduation,” said Dr. Smith.

SUNY Potsdam, like other colleges, is faced with declining enrollment. At the SUNY board of trustees meeting last Tuesday, one member welcomed Dr. Smith and referenced the challenges ahead.

“I think the skills that you discussed in your interview with us will serve you well in navigating the interesting waters that will be ahead of you,” said Keith Landa.

Dr. Smith tells 7 News she’s aware of the challenges at Potsdam and wants to improve the morale of the college’s faculty and staff. She says the future of the college will be sculpted by the college community - not just her.

“I know what the challenges are and that this campus will tackle them together as a unit. This is when our sense of community will be most valuable. For any campus going through struggles, it’s easier to handle when you work together as a team,” she said.

Dr. Smith will start at SUNY Potsdam in mid-April and gets emotional when thinking of this opportunity.

“I got emotional thinking about letting me be in their family. They are trusting me with what’s valuable to them,” she said.