SUNY Potsdam’s theater, dance program may see cuts

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 3:29 PM EDT
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POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) - SUNY Potsdam’s theater and dance program may be targeted for cuts. 7 News has learned 5 faculty have been sent an email from the SUNY provost’s office recommending “non-renewals” of their positions starting in the fall of 2024.

Professor Emeritus of the program, Donald Borsh, learned of the pending cuts through former co-workers and admits he’s not surprised. He says the college hasn’t been replacing staff in the department when someone leaves.

“This is largely being done through attrition. We’ve had two retirements in the last couple of years of long-term faculty, myself and another person included, and someone else is retiring at the end of this year and there have been no plans in place to replace any of us,” he said.

Jay Pecora, chair of the Department of Theater and Dance issued this statement:

“While the recommended non-renewals of faculty and staff are deeply troubling, my colleagues and I continue to prioritize students and their success.”

SUNY Potsdam, like other colleges, is facing financial challenges due to a drop in enrollment.

A decade ago, the campus had 4,500 students. It’s closer to 2,500 today.

SUNY Potsdam President Suzanne Smith issued this statement Wednesday afternoon:

“With the passage of the New York State budget and more clear information on state support for the coming year, our leadership will continue to analyze data and work on proposals to close our budget gap through expense reductions and increased revenue. When we have more information, we will share it with both the campus and the community.”

Interim Provost Dr. Alan Hersker said in a statement, “We can’t discuss individual personnel decisions. The renewal process is still in progress and it is inaccurate to say that contracts are not being renewed at this point, as final decisions have not yet been made. At the same time, we don’t have any position openings to announce at this time. We review all hiring decisions based on our financial framework, including enrollment data.”

According to Pecora, if the theater and dance program loses the 5 faculty members, it would be left with 4 full-time members of the department.