State University of New York Chancellor John B. King Jr. visited SUNY Oneonta on Thursday, Feb. 16, to meet with students, faculty, staff and community leaders and learn more about programs that support student success, research, economic growth, and diversity, equity and inclusion.
Chancellor King started his day in Cooperstown with a tour of SUNY Oneonta’s Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies and the 2,600-acre Biological Field Station, which houses labs, classrooms, conference spaces, offices and equipment for research support and is home to the university’s Lake Management graduate program.
Upon arriving at the Welcome Center overlooking the SUNY Oneonta campus, he was greeted by Red, the college mascot, and Red Dragon tour guides James Marci and Emma Crawley. During his walk through the academic quad to the Milne Library, Marci and Crawley stopped at the Old Main pillars to explain the Pass Through the Pillars campus tradition, where new students walk through the pillars together the day before classes begin and then again as graduating seniors, this time in the opposite direction.
At the Milne Library, Chancellor King toured the Student Learning Center, met with staff and student peer tutors, and learned about some of the university’s many student support services, including Accessibility Resources, the Student Emergency Fund, Year 2 All About YOU sophomore success program, first-generation student honor society and Making Cent$ financial wellness program.
At the Physical Science Building, iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) student research team members Liam Buchanan, Julia Alvarenga and Jacob Aubrey gave Chancellor King a synopsis of their cyanobacteria project, which won a silver medal at the iGEM Grand Jamboree in Paris last fall. It was the third consecutive silver medal for the iGEM team, which is guided by Jill Fielhaber, associate professor of biology, Kelly Gallagher, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Bill Vining, professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
In a meeting with the university’s senior leadership team, Chancellor King asked about the new and exciting things happening at Oneonta and how SUNY can support these efforts and the university.
At Lee Hall, Chancellor King toured the Center for Racial Justice and Inclusive Excellence (CRJIE), which hosts educational and social events focused on antiracism, diversity, equity and inclusion and is home to a social justice museum and learning library. During a roundtable discussion with students and staff from the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), seven students shared the sense of empowerment and community they’ve found through the CAMP program.
“They really want us to become something bigger because they believe in us,” said Nancy Aguilera, a senior Digital and Studio Art major from Williamson, NY, who went from doubting whether she could succeed at college to thriving at SUNY Oneonta and being accepted to the university’s Museum Studies graduate program, where she will continue her studies next fall.
In another roundtable meeting with 20 student leaders, Chancellor King asked the students to share not only the good things they would tell high school seniors when describing SUNY Oneonta, but also the biggest challenges they face, and how SUNY can help.
“One of the things that I love about visiting campuses is the chance to hear from students about their experiences,” Chancellor King said.
The visit ended with a meeting with state Assemblyman Brian Miller and members of the Regional Innovation Council, which SUNY Oneonta established last year to bring together leaders of area business, nonprofit organizations and government to collaborate on initiatives aimed at meeting the workforce and economic development needs of Oneonta and Otsego County.
Oneonta was the 13th stop on a tour that will take the chancellor to each of the 64 campuses in the SUNY system this spring.