Faculty, Staff Welcomed Back to Start of Spring 2024 Semester
SUNY Plattsburgh President Alexander Enyedi hosted a welcome-back breakfast for faculty and staff Friday, Jan. 26, something previously reserved only for the fall semester.
The hour-long program featured recognition of both new and long-time employees, as well as special awards for two campus offices celebrating their commitment to campus service.
“This event is like our traditional fall welcome but with some different recognitions and points of emphasis, he told a few hundred colleagues from all facets of the university. “I believe it is important for us to come together before we start our critical work. The start of this new semester is just as important as the one that preceded it.”
Before talking about the strides made during the previous semester and rest of 2023, Enyedi paid homage to those upon whose land sits the university on the shores of Lake Champlain.
“As we begin, I want to start as I have other campus remarks, noting that as an institution that is deliberate and takes pride in conscious efforts toward building a more inclusive community, it is important to take time to acknowledge that our campus is situated on the land of the Iroquois, Western Abenaki, Mohican, and Mohawk peoples,” he said.
Honor ‘Original Caretakers’
“We honor the original caretakers of this and surrounding land and offer respect to the Haudenosaunee, who are still here. This land and body of water was inhabited and nurtured by these peoples for thousands of years,” Enyedi said. “We must do the same to nurture and protect this sacred land.
“This statement is a mere fraction of the steps needed to fight against systemic indigenous erasure. We are settlers on their land, and we strive to be accountable by remembering this history and cultivating respect in our relationships with our Indigenous neighbors and the land.”
Enyedi reminded the gathered how at the fall welcome, “I emphasized that our task this academic year is not just to continue our important work but to ‘future proof’ this university — to ensure it not only continues but grows in its impact. That is what we are doing and that is what we will continue to do,” he said.
Commitment, Capacity and Care
“I said at the Fall Welcome that there are three elements critical in this work that we as Cardinals not only value but demonstrate daily: Commitment, capacity, and care. This is what sets us apart from others and sets us up for success.
“As we look back on the past semester, each of these is present in any number of accomplishments, achievements, and activities. Within each of our divisions stand testimonies to dedication, focus, and drive on behalf of our students and our community,” Enyedi said.
He touched on successes across divisions and departments, including academic affairs, information technology services, enrollment and student success, admissions and the Plattsburgh College Foundation, to name a few.
He applauded the work of the Student Success Analytics Group, a team of 13 faculty and staff members who analyzed courses where a high percentage of students were negatively impacted by low grades and used collected data to see how the university can improve student success, one of the pillars of the university’s strategic plan, Plattsburgh Next.
He cited the successes in diversity, equity and inclusion, most notably Black Solidarity Day and last week’s commemoration of National Day of Racial Healing supports the third pillar of Plattsburgh Next.
Work by the admissions offices was also cited. Their efforts have helped drive applications for 2024-2025 higher with undergraduate applications up almost 10 percent over a year ago, with graduate enrollment at its highest level since fall 2010, all contributing to Pillar No. 1 of the campus’ strategic plan, Plattsburgh Next.
Recognizing Employees, Service
The program included recognition of new employees, those who have been at the university more than 20 years of continuous employment, and the awarding of the new President’s Campus Service Award, a joint recognition of teamwork, which, he said reading from the plaque, “honors a SUNY Plattsburgh office whose collective efforts demonstrate extraordinary work in educating, supporting, and caring for our students.”
This spring, the award was given to two campus entities: Academic Advising and Student Health and Counseling.
“Staff and leadership in Academic Advising are committed to fostering student success in every way possible. It is not hyperbole to state that the Academic Advising office is key to SUNY Plattsburgh's student retention efforts and results,” Enyedi said. “In Academic Advising, caring and thoughtful individuals trained to evaluate academic progress equip students with necessary information about major and general education requirements, prerequisites, and other policies.”
The professionals in the Student Health and Counseling Center “have delivered extraordinary services and banded together to provide excellent care and management through difficult times and with an ever-growing need for their services,” he said. “They provide a true student-centered and holistic approach to well-being with care, respect, compassion, and empathy.”
Enyedi applauded the room, saying that these are challenging times in higher education.
“But in this special place, where lives are truly changed, our work with students will continue and prosper. Remember, everything we do centers on students. They are the why. And everything we do that is student-centered runs through you,” he said.
— Story, Photos By Associate Director of Communications Gerianne Downs