By Aleksandra Sidorova
SUNY Plattsburgh received $649,009 from New York state to go toward enrollment and student retention, academic programs and operational efficiency, President Alexander Enyedi announced Oct. 28. This money is part of a lump sum of $60 million to be distributed across the state.
An additional $125,000 has been allocated to support diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Funds allocated for diversity, equity and inclusion will be used for initiatives to support women, BIPOC students and students in need of support. Allison Heard, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, said targeted support initiatives are aimed at the “middle student” — a student who is not enrolled in any programs that would provide them with additional resources, such as Student Support Services, Student Accessibility Services and the Educational Opportunity, Cardinal Achievement and Honors programs.
“So where do you fit in? Right in the middle. You are the student that’s most likely to be rendered invisible,” Heard said. “You are a person who has a higher chance of possibly leaving.”
These resources can manifest as a check-in with Multicultural Coach Travis Gorham or more accessible opportunities to leave campus, but Heard’s goal is creating a “whole support network” for the “middle student.”
Another proposed initiative is the Academic Diversity Officers program, where students would be recruited as ambassadors to the schools within the college to serve as a liaison between the office of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Officers would work closely with Heard and offer faculty resources such as readings, teaching strategies and technology to create more inclusive spaces within their departments.
“It’s like a flower, it don’t just grow,” Heard said. “You can put it in the ground, but you’ve got to do something to it.”
One of the other initiatives planned is a Racial Justice Summit, which Heard said would in some ways resemble the social justice teach-in held in honor of Black Solidarity Day Monday, Nov. 7. It would be a day of programming, possibly on a weekend. The sessions would be about advocacy, volunteerism and leadership, though there will not be as many as there were on Black Solidarity Day. Heard also said she hopes to invite students from other colleges to the event. She also hopes to continue hosting the event in years to come.
However, Heard said she has not done any “legwork” for planning the event yet.
Of the $649,009, $280,000 — 43.4% — will go to enrollment and student retention initiatives. The listing displaying the proposed uses for the money shows initiatives aimed at gathering and tracking enrollment and retention data, as well as recruiting students from outside the state and abroad. One initiative specifically focuses on developing educational opportunities for prospective students in Vietnam. There will also be efforts to recruit more student athletes and graduate students.
The second-largest sum — $144,159 making up 22.3% of the total awarded — will go toward student services. Three year-long pilot programs are proposed: peer mentors for Student Support Services, a position for a mental health programming advocate and a supporting role for the Cardinal Achievement Program, which is a program to ease students’ transition from high school to college.
$139,000, or 21.6%, of the money will be invested in academic programs. Initiatives are aimed at developing new programs within the next year in areas of high projected regional needs. Money will also be invested in improving existing programs, particularly producing an accelerated nursing program to fill the region’s high need for the profession. Other initiatives include professional development and the addition of workstations.
The remaining 12.6% of the sum, $81,500, will go toward operational efficiencies would be invested in a channel to livestream campus events, updated hardware and software for the Center for Cybersecurity and Technology and other equipment to be used for promotional materials.
The funding, in addition to $2 million of SUNY Plattsburgh’s own funds, will help the college work toward achieving the goals established in Plattsburgh Next, its three-year development plan, Enyedi said in a press release.