Thursday, May 6, 2021

First PSUC female president makes history

For the first time in Plattsburgh State history, there will be a woman sitting in the President’s office next fall. Earlier in the semester, PSUC held forums to give students and faculty the chance to meet the five female candidates for the college president position. 

Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs Ken Knelly provided students with each candidate’s resume on the PSUC website from March 1 to March 10. The resume of candidates were posted one at a time and correlated with said candidate’s time on campus. When they left campus, resumes followed.

Gender and Women’s Studies Chair Susan Mody said it is long overdue for a woman to be in a central leadership position at PSUC, and it’s about time we caught up to other institutions. Mody has been a faculty member of the gender and women’s studies department since 2009 and became chair in 2013. 

During her time at PSUC, Mody has seen cabinet positions such as vice president and college president as male-dominated. While she is delighted to see a woman college president for the first time, Mody said she does not focus on the candidate’s gender. She went to all of the forums and reviewed each candidate’s resume. 

“We take, in Gender and Women’s Studies, a very intersectional approach to looking at gender,” Mody said. “That means we have to look at the fact that someone is a woman along side with ethnicity, class status and all kinds of characteristics that we have to look at because [their gender] is only the beginning to who these women are.”

Mody cares more about the types of leaders they will be and how they plan on connecting with the community. Mody believes the campus community will benefit more from a president who uses consensus-building leadership. Mody saw that kind leadership in some candidates but not others.  

“We are at a point in our history where we need some change,” Vice President for Student Affairs Bryan Hartman said. “I am grateful for the leadership Dr. Ettling has provided and his tenure here, but [PSUC] is at a crossroads here of change.”

Hartman said he studied different leaderships styles and learned that women typically differ from men in that regard. He thinks having a woman president will lead to PSUC having a different perspective on important matters. He is excited to embrace that kind of change and see where it takes PSUC.

“That dynamic is a positive for what [PSUC] needs,” Hartman said. “We would get new perspectives no matter who [becomes college president]. Bringing a female perspective to the work we do as an institution, I think will not only complement what we do but take [PSUC] in a new direction.”

PSUC junior Perla Menbez thinks positive change for PSUC will only come if the next college president is a minority. She said the college has very few minority faculty members that can connect with minorities on campus.

“Honestly if the next president is white, it won’t matter [that she is a woman],” Menbez said. “I am tired of seeing white faces in structures of powers at this college.”

The SUNY Board of Trustees will decide who the 11th college president will be upon the recommendation of Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. A campus email will be sent to the student body to inform everyone of the decision.

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