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Leadership changes, student declines, mergers.What’s Happening at Paul Smith College? | | News, Sports, Jobs

Paul Smith College is one of the major employers in remote areas of Franklin County. (Photo courtesy — Emily Russell/NCPR)

Paul Smith — Paul Smith College sits on the shores of Lower St. Regis Lake in the middle of miles of Adirondack wilderness. There is a tall pine tree towering over the campus walkway and it is snowing on this day.

In the school library, senior student Anna Thrasher is sipping hot coffee and wearing a gray Paul Smith College beanie.

“I love Paul Smith” Thrasher says. “I love the campus. A few have been on and off during my time here, and many of the faculty are great.”

Having seen the school cycle through four presidents, Thrasher says it was tough. “There’s a lot to understand. Half the time, we don’t even know who runs the school.”

The turmoil began when Kathy Dove, who served as the school’s principal for more than six years, retired in 2020. The university then adopted Scott She Darrymple, a native of Central New York, in his 2021. To spend more time with family.

Anna Thrasher, a senior at Paul Smith College, has seen the school cycle through four presidents. (Photo courtesy — Emily Russell/NCPR)

Then the school’s president, Nicholas Hunt-Bull, was appointed president earlier this year. He also lasted less than a year. Today, Dan Kelting leads Paul Smith as interim president.

Kelting has been teaching at the university for nearly 20 years. He also headed the school’s Adirondack Watershed Research Institute.

Paul Smith is one of the Adirondack’s leading research institutions. But now, according to Kelting, schools face uncertainty.

“Paul Smith’s College is like many other colleges in the country. [it’s] in a challenging position. ”

Universities have struggled in recent years, especially during the pandemic. Across America, 60 schools have closed or merged in the last five years, according to educational journalism outlet Hechinger Report.

Interim President Dan Kelting has taught at Paul Smith College for nearly 20 years. (Photo courtesy — Emily Russell/NCPR)

Kelting was unable to provide specific financial details about Paul Smith’s condition, but Adirondack Explorer recently reported that the school will be in the red about $600,000 in 2020.

So a few years ago the university went to ask for help. “We reached out to the larger world and Fedcap responded and agreed to partner with us.” Kelting explains.

Fedcap is a non-profit organization based in New York City. It started as a post-depression vocational training program.

Today, it’s essentially the parent company of a small non-profit organization, serving 250,000 people. According to its financial reports, Fedcap averages about $300 million in annual revenue. Although it has never partnered with a university before, Kelting says he is excited about the possibilities.

“Their mission is to end poverty.

Bethany Garretson says she was initially optimistic about the merger. Garretson graduated from Paul Smith College and she was hired to teach Environmental Studies in 2014.

“I was excited about it because we might actually be able to make a living.” Garretson said he never got a raise during his eight years on the university staff. She said $40,000 a year wasn’t enough.

“Last winter, I didn’t have enough income and I didn’t have any savings, so I had to ask my parents to help me pay the utility bills.”

Garretson finally dropped out of college this fall. About a dozen faculty and staff have participated in recent months, including personnel, campus safety, student health care, and admissions staff.

Kelting says turnover is part of the reality at big places like Paul Smith. Offering a competitive salary isn’t easy, she says.

“Wages are certainly a challenge. This is a challenge, not just for Paul Smith faculty and employees. I think wages are a challenge for all Adirondack employers. It is not surprising that he holds as

Kelting says his goal after the Fedcap merger is to raise wages for everyone. He hopes it will happen in the next few years. The way to do that is to expand the program and increase enrollment.

Fedcap has a college in New York City. Kelting says it wants to offer college credit to students there. This serves as a path to Paul Smith.Kelting presents a sort of best-case scenario for the future of the university.

“This campus will thrive. All the dorms will be full, the classes will be full.” he says. “We will have a functioning and thriving chapter campus in New York City and perhaps a program in Boston that even Europe knows. I am very optimistic about the future of this institution.”

In a statement to NCPR, Fedcap reflected its enthusiasm and said the partnership was a win-win. “The partnership between Fedcap Group and Paul Smith College will improve student opportunities and enhance the long-term sustainability of this Adirondack gem of a university. , is deeply committed to supporting Paul Smith’s role as a key force in the economic, cultural and social fabric of the region and of New York State.”

State and federal accreditation agencies are considering merging. It’s unclear when a decision on that will come.

For now, Paul Smith students say they are focused on their classes, friends and campus life. Jamie Hintz is in his second year here. Paul Smith in green hanging out at the student center wearing his college hoodie.

“I am here to learn, have fun, and have meaningful experiences.” Hintz says. “And it is up to other people to make sure the university is viable and functioning in the long term.”

Hintz loves Paul Smith and wants to see it thrive. It’s not his problem to solve, but Hintz thinks a merger with Fedcap is the way to go.

“Every time Paul Smith College changes, I want a better, more educational and diverse place, and I think the planned merger is part of that.”

Part of the solution many want is to put Paul Smith on a more sustainable trajectory for the university’s students, faculty and staff.

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