President Enyedi Celebrates Past Year, New Semester in Welcome Event
President Alexander Enyedi welcomed SUNY Plattsburgh faculty and staff back to campus Friday, highlighting a year of success and celebrating the year ahead.
"Today is a celebration," he said. "It is a celebration of your colleagues, who partner with you in our common service to students and to each other. It is a celebration of the work we each do, the craft, the skill and the academic pursuits that together make a difference in this community and the North Country region. And ultimately, it is a celebration of those we serve, our students. They are the reason we are here, the reason we exist as a university."
The morning event, held in the Warren Ballrooms in the Angell College Center, featured several special recognitions, including Dr. Michele Carpentier, who was presented an inaugural award named in her honor that will be given annually.
Making a Difference
In reviewing the past year, Enyedi noted the campus' successful work through the COVID-19 pandemic.
"As I think about the work we have done together over the past year, I am drawn to your collective efforts since my arrival on campus in January 2020," he said. "While this is my third fall here, it is the very first one where we can gather like this, together, sharing a meal and speaking at tables in a room this size. We have been tested, both personally and professionally, over that time. Yet, the best of our campus, the best of Cardinal spirit has shined. You have never stopped lending a hand to our students on their academic and life journeys."
The university has continually planned health requirements and guidance. Vaccines continue to be required for all students with an allowance for medical or religious exemptions. The Student Health and Counseling Center is also tracking the global outbreak of monkeypox, working closely with the Clinton County Health Department and communicating with campus.
Enyedi highlighted the reaffirmation accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, with a final team report that was positive and clearly supporting Plattsburgh Next, the college's strategic plan, and the School of Business and Economics, which received re-accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Business Schools, a distinction shared by only five percent of business schools worldwide.
SUNY Plattsburgh has also returned to in-person activities over the summer, with the Educational Opportunity Program’s Summer Institute on campus hosting close to 100 students, and Upward Bound, with 170 North Country high school students on campus.
Enyedi thanked Dr. Richard Miller, who has served as SUNY Plattsburgh's interim vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion since December 2022.
"He has led the division well and laid the groundwork for continued growth and success with the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation campus center. Support for students is also centered on equity and inclusion. We intend for our university to be an active place for conversation and for this center to encompass curriculum across the full campus and wider communities. I appreciate Dr. Miller’s thoughtful work."
Allison Heard, currently director of institutional diversity and Title IX coordinator at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois, will be joining the university Oct. 3, bringing a depth of experience and a background of success to the position.
Financially, the university closed the 2021-2022 fiscal year at the end of June. With careful spending and the carryover use of federal stimulus dollars, SUNY Plattsburgh grew its operating reserves to better support this year’s operations. Additionally, federal HEERF Mental Health funds of nearly $400,000 were secured and are being used for numerous purposes, including contracts for tele-counseling professionals and after-hours crisis counseling and per diem services to be used during peak times at the end of each semester.
On the fundraising front, 2021-2022 was a record-setting year for the university, with $8 million raised; the previous one-year record was $5.4 million. Half of this is earmarked for student scholarships that will support all four pillars of the Plattsburgh Next strategic plan. The new fiscal year includes a new $1 million bequest from the late Muriel Ferraro, a member of the Class of 1948, just advanced to the Plattsburgh College Foundation.
"This is an amazing expression of Muriel’s appreciation of her alma mater and will also fund scholarships for students," Enyedi said. "We celebrate this gift, and all the generous gifts received, and what it will mean in the years ahead."
With respect to enrollment, the university is on pace to reach its new incoming target for fall. There are currently 1,778 deposits, which is 5 percent, or 89 students, above the new student goal.
"However, enrollment is more than incoming students, and the number of students we serve is our grand challenge, as it is across the SUNY system and all of higher education today," Enyedi said. "Our success at SUNY Plattsburgh hinges on the retention of the students who matriculate, and this is the cornerstone of our strategic plan. The healthy financial surplus I mentioned earlier goes away quickly without growing and stabilizing enrollment. Thus, we must have a laser-sharp focus on this pillar of Plattsburgh Next."
Faculty Impact, Chancellor's Awards
Enyedi presented several awards at the welcome event:
- Dr. Julia Davis, chair and associate professor of Counselor Education and coordinator of the Student Affairs Higher Education program, was presented the Faculty Impact Award. This annually recognizes faculty, current or retired, who have a major and lasting positive impact on the life of alumni and is given by the Plattsburgh Alumni Association.
- Kerry Chapin-Lavigne, director of alumni relations in the Office of Institutional Advancement, is the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Professional Service, which recognizes consistently superior professional achievement within and beyond the position.
- Julia Devine, adjunct lecturer in English and theater, is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching, which recognizes consistently superior teaching at the graduate, undergraduate, or professional level in keeping with the State University's commitment to providing its students with instruction of the highest quality.
- Jack Downs, lecturer in journalism, is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, which also recognizes consistently superior teaching at the graduate, undergraduate, or professional level in keeping with the State University's commitment to providing its students with instruction of the highest quality.
- Rachel Flemming, director of the Speech and Hearing Center in Sibley Hall, is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service, which recognizes consistently superior professional achievement within and beyond the position.
- Colleen Lemza, professor and chair of journalism and public relations, is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service, given to State University of New York faculty members who have provided outstanding achievement, leadership, outreach, and community service over multiple years and a variety of areas.
- Dr. Alison Puliatte, associate professor in teacher education, is the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, which recognizes consistently superior teaching at the graduate, undergraduate, or professional level in keeping with the State University's commitment to providing its students with instruction of the highest quality.
Inaugural Dr. Michele Carpentier Award
The final recognition was a new award singularly centered on the college's most important focus —students.
"In developing the criteria for such an award, I was less drawn to words than I was to a person," Enyedi said. "To the life they have lived and the gifts they have given. In creating any set of values or centering on a mission, it is important for an organization to not only craft a clear focus but to also identify those who already embody what is best about what you do."
"Dr. Michele Carpentier is SUNY Plattsburgh at its best. As the first recipient of this new award, it will be named in her honor."
Carpentier, a member of the Class of 1977, was born in the old Champlain Valley Hospital. As assistant vice president for enrollment and student success and director of special programs, her work is important and it has spanned generations. In her role in overseeing Student Support Services and the Educational Opportunity Program, she has always been about students.
The Dr. Michele Carpentier Award will annually honor a SUNY Plattsburgh employee whose investment in the lives of students, over a period of many years, demonstrates an exemplary level of care, compassion, and selflessness. Recipients model the truest spirit of what we aspire to as members of the Cardinal family and reflect our commitment to student success, Enyedi said.
Travis Gorham, named this summer as the university's multicultural student success coach and a member of the Plattsburgh State Athletic Hall of Fame, spoke about Carpentier's impact on his life and the life of campus.
"I would be up here all day, probably for weeks, talking about how much of an impact Michelle has had not only on myself, but thousands of others," Gorham said. "I don’t know where I would be had I not met and interacted with Michelle Carpentier. For all of your selflessness, advocacy, support and everything that you do for students, we all thank you."
Enyedi closed the program noting each faculty and staff member has been given the opportunity to contribute to the success of an amazing place — a place where lives are changed, where ideas are explored and debated, and where students’ hopes for the future are imagined, prepared for, and realized.
"The essence of what happens at SUNY Plattsburgh can be distilled down to a single phrase: We make students’ educational dreams come true," he said. "This is something we’ve done for over 100 years, and something that will continue as we move toward our strong future. This is our why."