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Hundreds protest SUNY shared services

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Hundreds protest SUNY shared services
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In an effort to save money the SUNY system has been pushing hard for shared services across the state, but that cost savings will mean the loss of individual school presidents on college campuses. Our Rachael Paradis has more on why people are protesting the move to have just one shared President for both SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton.

CANTON, N.Y. -- Faculty, students and neighbors were making their message clear at SUNY Canton Wednesday, that they are not welcoming the idea of getting rid of the college's president and having one person lead both campuses.

"President Kennedy has been a very valuable leader on this campus," said David Butler, United University Professions Chapter President.

Dr. Joseph Kennedy has been at the helm for 18 years, but a few weeks ago, SUNY officials announced that he would be stepping down, and both Potsdam and Canton would have one president. SUNY is looking into shared services throughout the state to save money, especially schools close to one another.

"It's imperative that we have one president designated to one campus. If we have one president over two campuses, one campus is going to get more attention than the other. In order for us to be independent, we need one president," SUNY Canton junior Jullian Phipps said.

"SUNY Canton is different from SUNY Potsdam. Different cultures, different kinds of people," sophomore Dorcas Ofori said.

For the couple of hundred supporters who showed up to the picket, it's not just about keeping SUNY Canton's identity, but many feel that saving money won't benefit the college or the students in the end.

"Don't see how sharing services is going to amount to any important savings," Butler said.

"I'm terrified. I don't know what's going to happen," senior Britney Livingston said.

But officials with the SUNY system say the move is actually designed to enhance the student experience. They say the move does not equate to a merger of campuses, but rather of way to re-allocate funding where it's needed most, for education.

"Redirect our precious resources to students so that we can educate them better, so they can get their degrees faster, so they're paying less money to get that college education. We think this plan works best," SUNY Central Spokesperson Morgan Hook said.

SUNY officials have not estimated at this point how much one president for two campuses will save.

Dr. Kennedy will still serve as SUNY Canton's President for one more academic year. And when he steps down in May of 2012, he won't be leaving the SUNY system. He will take on a new special advising role to the SUNY Board.

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