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SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam have looked at sharing services in the past

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SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam have looked with limited success in the recent past at sharing services.

“I had hoped that we could find some areas of mutual aid that we could use to show we are trying to be the best citizens possible. I know that there are not many savings,” SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy wrote to SUNY Potsdam President John F. Schwaller in an email in December. “Perhaps we should do some form of joint planning to keep the flag of cooperation flying. I suspect that this will be a very difficult political year and working together could help when the finger-pointing starts.”

However, Mr. Schwaller found few areas for sharing when he responded to Mr. Kennedy.

“In looking at merging back office operations there does not seem to be too many possible options. In most areas you have a sole employee or at most two. We can’t see leaving your campus with no employees for some of these operations. On the other hand, in most of the areas we considered (accounting, purchasing, etc.) we are pretty tight ourselves and do not have any excess capacity, so to take on your operations we would need personnel, thus negating a possible savings.”

The correspondence was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Canton town Supervisor David T. Button, a member of a task force created when residents thought Mr. Kennedy was being forced to resign.

At a meeting of the Town Council Thursday, Mr. Button noted the documents do not give much credence that SUNY Potsdam administrators have faith in the wisdom of sharing services.

Later in December, Mr. Schwaller reported to Mr. Kennedy on the findings of members of his administration on closer cooperation.

He recommended that the two campuses not pursue a merge of their police departments.

“While there are some advantages to this idea, such as being the first campuses to innovate in this way, providing greater cross-training for the two forces and centralizing the dispatcher function, in my estimation, the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages,” Mr. Schwaller wrote.

With regard to purchasing and payroll, Mr. Schwaller wrote that the schools would have to agree on a shared management philosophy.

“The cultures and approaches are philosophically different at the two campuses, making a collaborative effort challenging,” he wrote.

Mr. Schwaller did not recommend sharing administration of students’ accounts because of cuts to SUNY Potsdam coupled with staff limitations at SUNY Canton.

“There would most likely be no savings from further cuts to personnel and might be increased costs due to supervision,” he wrote. “This, then, does little to accrue significant savings to either campus, and might actually cost more because of supervisory costs.”

Mr. Schwaller suggested one area of cooperation might be using SUNY Potsdam graduate students in beginning-level courses at SUNY Canton.

“Placing Potsdam graduate students as adjuncts at Canton might serve both campuses well,” he wrote. “Another model would be for Canton to pay for Potsdam graduate assistants who teach at Canton.”

Mr. Schwaller noted the campuses collaborate in waste removal and the provision of buses for athletic teams.

Some efforts at consolidation have been bumpy, such as the consolidation of the print shops, in part because of changes in technology.

“We have merged our print shops, although that model too is recently proving not to be cost-effective,” Mr. Schwaller wrote.

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