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High-tech support for "Prez K"

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Support for SUNY Canton President Joseph Kennedy has reached Twitter and the world wide web.

Mr. Kennedy's decades-long tenure at the state school is the matter of north country intrigue. We're all trying to answer one simple question: Has he resigned? If so, what's the future of SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam, about 14 miles apart? (OK, one simple question and then a follow-up.)

The fact that he won't tell us, and the fact that SUNY is being coy about it, leads some to believe that administrative functions at the campuses could be merged (consolidation is like the opposite of whistling: The only person it annoys is the person that does it).

Mr. Kennedy's tenure at SUNY Canton has been, by many measures, a success. It's basically transitioned from a two-year to a four-year school under his watch.

So the fact that he could be on the outs — his own will notwithstanding — has a lot of people riled up (potential job losses contribute to that, too).

In a cheeky moment, I tweeted a photo of Mr. Kennedy that a lot of people in the newsroom found funny — Mr. Kennedy ominously shadowed by a kangaroo (the photo was taken at an event to unveil the college's marsupial mascot).

That's when the Twitter feed supporting Mr. Kennedy responded to me.

I'm working on finding out who, exactly, is behind the feed and the website, and I'll post a response as soon as one comes my way. The site is still rather spartan, but it's nifty in its own way.

Meanwhile, even local legislators have been kept in the dark about the possible changes at SUNY Canton/Potsdam. And they're not very happy about it.

"I'm concerned about these sudden changes," said Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa. "They're confusing. They could lead to a lack of confidence. They could have a negative effect on financial support. Private donors could pull back because of the uncertainty. There's a lot of wonderful programs at SUNY Canton that would lose momentum."

Said state Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Heuvelton: "It's really important that we make sure the college is moving in a positive direction. This news coming a few weeks before school starts is very troubling.”

Mrs. Ritchie is a SUNY Potsdam grad.

"I'm asking that this be held off for a year so that the details can come out, the communities can have input, and the affected people in the merger can have input," she said.

From what I've been hearing, I expect SUNY's central office to make some sort of announcement on the situation this week.

And here's a map showing how close the campuses are.


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