The latest presidential candidate for SUNY Plattsburgh’s vacancy, Timothy Moerland, spoke to students Wednesday night in the Angell College Center’s Alumni Conference Room, followed by another forum the following day in the Giltz Auditorium, where he outlined his fit for the position.
A current provost and vice president for academic affairs at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Moerland has had his fair share of experience in his 20 years in administrative roles in higher education.
In his past, he was the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Kent State University and chair of biological sciences and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida State University. He has received a bachelor’s degree in biological science at Michigan State University and a doctor of philosophy in zoology at The University of Maine.
Moerland is also one of the 14 members of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, an agency that oversees state-owned colleges and universities.
“The big picture is higher education,” Moerland said, “one of the best things our society has to offer.”
Along with educational support, students in past years have complained of a lack of diversity within the faculty on campus. In 2018, the SUNY Plattsburgh Faculty Senate voted to improve the diversity of its faculty and staff after students protested Maria Gates, the former freshman student who ignited outrage with her Jan. 26, 2018, Snapchat containing a photo of herself and an unidentified male friend with the caption “Lynching n—— tonight,” that circulated among residents, previously reported in Cardinal Points:
“It takes a lot of hard work. Being present in public and in job fairs and doing it constantly,” Moerland said. “Making sure SUNY Plattsburgh is a welcoming place and inclusive, so people want to stay.”
The College Auxiliary Services has introduced the Halal Shack in the Sundowner and SONO to accommodate more students and attempt to provide diverse dining options. However, many of the options lack an ingredient or calorie list.
“I transferred from Mohawk Valley Community College and there were ingredient lists on what’s in the food,” student Kaitlyn Kenney said. “I came up here and there’s no lists.”
An issue brought up directly in the forum, Moerland said: “Everything is changing so quickly, it would be an evaluation of what’s working or what’s not working. Whatever makes sense.”
When discussing his personal life, Moerland was open to talking about his daily routine.
“I don’t watch television, especially not the news,” Moerland said, “but I do get my news from other sources.”
Moerland later clarified saying he reads websites that aggregates articles for news.
An avid dog lover originally from Northern Michigan, Moerland could relate to the large amount of snow SUNY Plattsburgh students endure every season. When discussing one of the last issues of unsalted ice that appears sometimes on campus, he repeatedly replied with, “I can promise you the best decisions would be made with the situation at hand.”
Candidate Moerland actively answered students questions on a conversational level, as he discussed athletic programs and educational program implementation throughout his forum.