SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam could have one president at the end of 2012.
Why is this a problem? The colleges are 14 miles apart. Why two people who make six figures, both called presidents?
Well, SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton are very different. Potsdam is liberal arts. Canton is more career-driven.
So I suppose the question is: Can one president juggle the responsibilities of two different colleges?
I just spoke with Gabrielle Hovendon, our reporter who's on the scene in Canton and Potsdam. She reports that College Council officials don't think it's possible and that the colleges will find it difficult to keep their own, separate, identities.
Obviously, the major concern for SUNY Central is the cash crunch it's faced after yearly sweeps (taking its money and putting it elsewhere in the state) and cuts to its finances.
So that's what it boils down to. Are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
State Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, certainly thinks that this might be the case.
"I strongly support consolidating services and finding efficiencies. I'm not sure that doing away with one of the presidents at one of the colleges is the correct way to do that," Mrs. Ritchie told me this afternoon. "How would we know that, considering the way this was laid out? Nobody really knows what's going on."
Mrs. Ritchie also alluded to the strange bedfellows aspect of this whole mess. Her office has been really on top of this stuff — aligning itself with the likes of the O'Neill family. Ron O'Neill is a member of SUNY Canton's college council, and the husband of June O'Neill, the former No. 2 Democrat in the state. Mr. Kennedy, the Canton president, is also known as a supporter of Democratic causes and candidates.
When I mentioned that to Mrs. Ritchie, she talked about Mr. Kennedy's accomplishments over the past 18 years — which are, without exception that I've heard, remarkable.
"I was looking at colleges to go to 30 years ago, it's not the same place it was back then," she said. "And a lot of that has to do with President Kennedy."