Dear Paul Smith’s community,
Greetings from the beautiful but very quiet Paul Smith’s campus. It is heartening to see the daffodils poking out of the ground and the snow pack (finally!) gone. Typically at this time of year we are planning for end-of-year activities including finals, capstones and celebrations such as commencement. We are still doing that, but just in a different way! We are looking forward to joining you virtually for so many of these activities. Thanks to the incredibly creative team who has been working on making these events as special as possible.
I know this has been such a difficult period for everyone. To our students – you have demonstrated incredible resilience in adapting to a very different learning environment. Hang in there – the semester is nearly done. And to our incredible faculty and staff – thank you for your agility, commitment and tireless work to ensure our students are supported through this period.
Due to the relatively low incident rate of COVID-19 in our region, we are hopeful that we will be able to open for (likely limited) summer operations soon. We do not yet know when that is but will keep everyone apprised. In the meantime, we are hard at work planning for the safe return of everyone for the fall semester. Our intent is to start the semester as scheduled and welcome everyone back (safely) to the campus! We have two teams working on this. The first is focused on proactively addressing health and safety procedures for when we re-open campus. The second is identifying creative approaches just in case we cannot operate in a completely “normal” status beginning in late August. We will be communicating with you throughout the summer with updates.
Finally, on a personal note, I know that my announced departure at the end of September came at a very challenging time. In addition, Dr. Lindsay’s departure adds to the uncertainty of our current circumstances. I assure you that the college will be in terrific hands; we have an amazing group of leaders here who are fully committed to ensuring a seamless transition. The board of trustees will be sharing news regarding an appointment of an interim president long before I leave. And below is some information regarding my plan for ensuring the good work that Terry started in student activities continues after he departs. I have heard from many of you and thank you for your understanding and best wishes. But I’m not gone yet; we have a lot to do before September!
I hope you and your families are safe, healthy and doing well.
- Today (May 1) is the first of four days of “virtual” capstones. They will continue on May 2, 8, 9. This is one of my favorite events as I see our students share their depth of knowledge on a great variety of topics. And they are virtual this year, so log-in for a schedule and to see some great work.
- Faculty and students are adapting well to this very challenging situation of switching to teaching online in the middle of the semester. A number of faculty (Kate Glenn, Bethany Garretson, Brett McLeod, Randall Swanson and others in the Forestry Department) are making very creative use of GoPro cameras to demonstrate skills…including how to start a fine in the rain. Others like Mel Johnson and Courtney Bringley are taking advantage of this change to invite in a lot of visiting speakers. Catie Lalonde has coached her students to us Canvas Studio Screen Capture as a tool to present film clip reviews. Paul Smith’s faculty also did remarkable work creating new one-credit classes on the fly—covering such topics as a media-studies/psychology class “Movies in a time of Crisis”, interactive storytelling and food preservation.
- The Microbial Life exhibition at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, curated and based on imagery by Scott Chimileski, has been extended by popular demand through March 2021.
- Bethany Garretson has partnered with Crua Outdoors to for the fall semester. Students in the Osgood program will be testing and providing product reviews for Crua tents and gear. The class will also design a tent of their own.
- Bethany Garretson has authored an article appearing in next month’s issue of Alpinist Magazine about the importance of mentors in the high mountains. Bethany is also working this summer with the Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative to hike the 400 mile trail that connects the Adirondack Park to Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada, all the while promoting the benefits of a wildlife corridor.
- The Center for Sustainability collaborated with regional partners and student activities to host a series of virtual Earth Week Events for Earth Day. Visit www.paulsmiths.edu/sustainability to view a schedule and recordings of these talks and events on our YouTube channel.
- PSC has begun working with L&S Engineering to complete a campus wide energy audit, this project is one of several steps being taken to develop an updated climate action plan for campus. This is grant funded project from the NYSERDA REV Campus Challenge Technical Assistance for Roadmaps program.
- While the campus is closed, we have been deep cleaning and disinfecting campus buildings. Thanks to our great facilities team for all they are doing to ensure our campus is safe and ready for re-opening.
- Three student athletes from the US Biathlon team have committed to enroll at PSC in the fall. In partnership with US Biathlon the college is enabling these elite performers to obtain a degree while also training on our campus and preparing for World Cup races.
- Our Smitties Persist fundraising campaign was given a boost by husband and wife alums, Ken (’68) and Patricia (’75) Raymond, who generously offered a $100,000 challenge match.
- We have reorganized a little bit due to the departure of Vice-President Lindsay. Effective June 22 Campus Safety will report to Vice President Janet Waldron, Athletics to President Dove, and Counseling and Health Services, Residence Life, Student Activities, Dining Services, C.A.R.E., Student Contact and Orientation will report to Vice President David Placey. Thanks to Terry for his leadership and great work; we wish him the best in his new role at Albany State University in Georgia. And thank you to Janet and David for agreeing to expand their responsibilities. Both have held leadership roles with responsibility for these functions at previous institutions; I know they are looking forward to working with their new teams.
- The Counseling Center, Athletics teams, Student Activities and Residence Life offered a wide range of virtual and digital programs:
- Participation in the One Love Foundation’s annual Yards for Yeardley Campaign. We pledged 1 million yards for and exceeded our goal in just one week!
- Sex(t) Trivia, the PSC Joy project, Spill the Tea: Self-care and Healthy Relationships, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Autism Awareness Month, a Pet Photo contest, trivia and bingo.
Admissions, Academics and Student Affairs have collaborated on a number of creative virtual events with prospective students:
- Facebook Live Q&A sessions with Residence Life, Financial Aid, and Admissions.
- “Know What You Owe” presentation by Financial Aid and TRiO.
- Virtual Open House.
- Virtual personal tours.
- Unibuddy Live. Our April event welcomed 75 attendees from 7 different countries. Engagement was very strong with nearly 350 chat messages from prospective students.
- Virtual Accepted Students Day was expanded with virtual events for each department, followed by “Meet your Classmates Trivia” and a “Local Day in the ADK” events.
- Jodi Rossi participated in an international virtual college fair where she gave an hour-long presentation and Q&A on PSC. More than 60 international students participated. In partnership with M Square Media, Jodi also hosted an international education agent summit and workshop where 220 education agents from 23 countries received in-depth training on PSC.
- Multiple “faculty and staff takeovers” of the #futuresmitty Admissions social media accounts. If anyone is interested in taking part in this, please contact Cori Barnard.
- The annual Sugar Bush event was held virtually with approximately 30 participants.
- Amy Belair has developed 3 new training programs for the campus community to be debuted in the fall.
- Sergeant Gary Lewis and Officer Greg Landon completed ATIXA Title IX Investigator Level One Training.
- Shakirra Jones completed a 2-day Telehealth for Mental Health Professionals training webinar.
- Amy Belair completed a Mental Health, Trauma Response and Disaster webinar.
- Annabelle Abbadessa, Health Services Office Manager, completed the first level of Civil Rights Investigator Training with Association of Title IX Administrators (atIXa).
- Admissions Counselors are busy reviewing applications, conducting transfer credit evaluations, reaching out to students for missing financial aid documents, and making contact with students in all stages (inquiry, applicant, accepted, deposited) via video, phone, text, email, and physical notecards. The team is also communicating with high school teachers regarding articulation agreements.
Upcoming Events of Note
- May 14th Annual Leadership Banquet
- May 2, 8-9 Capstones
- May 5 National #GivingTuesdayNow – please support the Smitties Persist Fund
- May 9 74th annual Spring Commencement