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Acting Prez: SUNY Canton can share while mainting individuality

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CANTON - “Shared services is not the dirty word that many people think it is,” the new leader at SUNY Canton said.

Newly appointed acting SUNY Canton President Joseph C. Hoffman said his school and SUNY Potsdam will continue to maintain their individuality even as they act together.

Mr. Hoffman held a news conference Thursday to talk about his vision of SUNY Canton’s future including the talk of a shared presidency.

“If you look at it as, there are things that we can do together that will make both of these institutions better. Let’s do it,” Mr. Hoffman said. “Just because someone tags it with a shared services label doesn’t make it bad.”

SUNY Canton, a technology school, will continue to maintain its individuality from Potsdam, a university college, Mr. Hoffman said.

Both schools have different approaches to how they do things, he said. Potsdam’s is more theoretical, Canton’s more applied; but the two schools have a lot they can share.

“They have some wonderful master’s degrees; we don’t have any, but some of our programs would be nice feeders for those programs,” Mr. Hoffman said. “That kind of sharing is wonderful but the way I am looking at it is that we are yet to determine what we share.”

Recognizing Canton as a school that specializes in engineering, Mr. Hoffman said he would like to see an expansion in the department.

The expansion would include the growth of internships, something, he said, that would help give students a more clinical, hands-on approach to their degree, making them more employable than students at most schools.

“When you put the strong academic component with the directed hands-on pieces, internships are a very big part of that,” Mr. Hoffman said. “I’m a big fan of internships. Let the students get out there and see what’s going to be expected of them when they graduate.”

Mr. Hoffman said the college is geared toward putting out graduates that are ready for the real world.

“With degrees that we grant at Canton, these are degrees where the students are immediately employable,” Mr. Hoffman added. “Very often a four-year degree simply means that you are trainable. When you look at the programs that we have at Canton, those students are trained.”

That may mean, of course, that those graduating students may not end up staying in the north country, Mr. Hoffman said, but the demand for engineers nationwide is a large one and it would make graduates instantly employable.

Additionally, Mr. Hoffman said, he will be working on an enrollment management plan for the coming year, something he said he did with success at SUNY Maritime. The plan would include looking at who the school is taking in, how many students are being taken in, what programs those students are being taken into and the retention of those students.

From the late 1990s to 2008, Mr. Hoffman said his enrollment management plan grew Maritime’s number from 600 to 1,900, which included students from Turkey as a part of an international program.

“So you want to bring in students that you have a very good idea that they will succeed,” Mr. Hoffman said, “and what you want to do with those students is that you make sure that they do succeed when they get there.”

Regarding his own success as acting president, Mr. Hoffman, said the fact that he was appointed as acting president shows SUNY’s commitment to a single president for Canton.

He did say that SUNY is still talking about a nationwide presidential search within the next month and that as acting president it was his job to prepare for the next president, though it could very well be him.

“The fact that they made me acting means that I can put my name in the hat for this role,” Mr. Hoffman said. “So I want to bring stability and normalcy to the campus. It was in a bit of an uproar, so to speak.”

Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s Mr. Hoffman said he had to deal with governance problems at his former school and by 2009 worked to create the highest morale the campus had ever experienced.

“My philosophy on leadership is about learning to serve the people you lead,” Mr. Hoffman said. “It worked for me at Maritime, and I feel that is how my name ended up where it did up in SUNY.”

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