SUNY Potsdam announces major restructuring to close budget deficit

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 10:55 AM EDT
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POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) - SUNY Potsdam is taking drastic measures to stop bleeding millions of dollars each year.

“We need to find a way to spend $9 million less each year,” President Dr. Suzanne Smith said in address to the campus Tuesday morning.

She said there will be no help from Albany to fill the gap.

“There will be no bailouts,” she said. “This problem is ours and ours alone to solve.”

To do that, she said, college officials will be looking at possibly closing 14 academic programs, an academic building, and parts of a college dormitory. Only 6 percent of the student population is enrolled in those 14 programs, she said.

Staff will likely be cut, too, she said, but the number is hard to predict because of attrition and retirements.

“Since 2010, our enrollment has dropped 43%, but our workforce has diminished far less,” she said.

“I believe this plan will put on us on sound fiscal footing and on a path toward a brighter economic and fiscal future.”

College officials plan to phase out programs and cut positions over the next three to four years.

Smith became emotional toward the end of her address.

“The fact that we are a small, tightly knit campus community is one of our greatest strengths,” she said, tearing up. The sense of family we cherish will make these changes hard, as each of us will be personally impacted in some way. But that sense of family is also what will enable us to meet our challenges and overcome them. We will get through this together and I will be seeking your collaboration and your input.”

Part of the plan is to hit enrollment of 2,500 “with hopes of growing to 3,000 or more one day.”

“We simply have more programs than are supported by enrollment revenue,” she said.

Even though many programs that may be cut are high quality and have dedicated staff, faculty will be reallocated “to where the students are.”

Students will be given the opportunity to finish their degrees at Potsdam, whether or not their program is canceled.

See details about the plan on SUNY Potsdam’s website.