CANTON - SUNY Canton is lobbying lawmakers to make the college a premier training center for homeland security, emergency preparedness and cybersecurity as the state prepares its budget.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed creating the nations first college devoted to homeland security training in January. His budget includes $15 million for creating such an institution.
SUNY Canton, in partnership with Clarkson University and local leaders, wants to become the focal point of this initiative.
The college already has degree programs in homeland security and emergency management, while Clarkson Universitys computer science department employs cybersecurity experts. St. Lawrence Countys proximity to the U.S.-Canada border and Fort Drum also provides a potential benefit, because of the opportunity to create partnerships with U.S. Border Patrol agents and nearby Department of Homeland Security officials.
What were trying to do here is to advocate that this proposed college stays in the budget, and that we have the opportunity to present our (very strong) case for it being housed in Canton/Potsdam, SUNY Canton spokeswoman Lenore VanderZee said via email.
Canton Town Supervisor David T. Button, Canton Mayor Mary Ann Ashley, Potsdam Town Supervisor Marie C. Regan and Potsdam Mayor Steven W. Yurgartis have all expressed support for the initiative.
All of us locally realize we have two schools that can do everything the governor is looking for, Mr. Button said.
If the state does support SUNY Cantons proposal, it is uncertain how the governors plan would be implemented. Much depends on the ongoing budget negotiations, and there are political hurdles in the way.
The state Assembly budget calls for investing money into existing programs statewide rather than creating a new training headquarters. The Senates budget supports the governors plan, but insists the program be located in Syracuse.
This is largely due to the efforts of State Sen. John A. DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, who has been one of the chief advocates for a homeland security college.
Because it was his proposal, thats the way it was carried forward in the Senates budget, said Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton. I certainly support my colleges, and I know SUNY Canton has been working to put a proposal together. I dont think its locked down at this point, she said.
Syracuses claim is far from a sure thing, Mr. Button said. Local lawmakers have urged state leaders to keep all options available.
They made it clear to us that this is wide open. No one area has a claim on this, but we need to get working on it, Mr. Button said.
Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, could not be reached for comment Thursday, but her spokesman, Mark A. Pacilio said Mrs. Russell has been advocating for SUNY Cantons proposal since it was first discussed. The details of the plans implementation and the beneficiary of the states funds will not be known for a while, he said.
We wont know until the budget is ready, he said.
Ms. VanderZee said the plan would be of major benefit to SUNY Canton.
To locate the governors proposed College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cyber Security here would be wonderful for SUNY Canton, and would establish us, along with Clarkson University, as national leaders in these areas, integrating education, training, and research in a comprehensive public-private academic partnership, she said.