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News of Otsego County

Dennis Craig

SUNY Oneonta celebrates 2021 graduates

SUNY Oneonta celebrates 2021 graduates

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

 

Dennis Craig, acting president of SUNY Oneonta

ONEONTA — After a tumultuous year, SUNY Oneonta is celebrating the graduation of the class of 2021, on Saturday, May 15.

A virtual graduation highlighted student life, achievements and an acknowledgement of the particular difficulties faced during the past year due to COVID.

Today we acknowledge a major life achievement for not only the graduates but also their families and those they care about,” acting president Dennis Craig said during the ceremony. “If we learned anything over the past year it’s that our successes are only possible from the support of those we love and those that we have been inspired by.”

The ceremony opened with video showcasing student life and videos of congratulations from students and staff. The Leatherstockings District Pipe Band played bagpipes and drums and Zoe Johnson sung the national anthem.

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also made remarks via video congratulating the class of 2021.

With Tests, Mandatory Masks, SUNY Takes Aim At C-19

With Tests, Mandatory Masks,
SUNY Takes Aim At C-19

Professors Deny They Were
Pressured To Return To Classroom

By CHRYSTAL SAVAGE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

They’re back!

Monday, Feb. 1, the first day of in-person classes, the SUNY Oneonta campus appeared almost deserted. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Monday, Feb. 1, SUNY Oneonta students began in-person, mask-to-mask learning following the start of the virtual spring semester one week prior.

Last fall, the campus made national news for its more than 700-student outbreak that happened almost immediately after undergraduates returned in August.’

With comprehensive testing, mandatory masks and a new campus president, Dennis Craig, with a track record of halting COVID-19 at SUNY Purchase, the hope is things will go much better.

“Of the 64 SUNY schools, 61 did not test students for the virus as they came back to campus,” Assistant Director of Business Services Graig Eichler said.

Not testing is not a good idea, this campus has learned, Eichler said, and a full testing regimen is being applied this semester.

So far, 99.22 percent of tests have been negative, he said.

In COVID Year, Leaders Did Step Up
Editorial

In COVID Year,

Leaders Did Step Up

The choice of Heidi Bond, “General in the Fight Against COVID-19,” as we put it, has been seconded by many since the “Citizen of the Year” edition appeared last week. She and her team at the Otsego County Department of Health rose to the challenge.

All of us thank her for her tireless contributions in 2020.

Otsego County has been lucky in leadership this year. Here are four other individuals who shone, and there are many others who, unheralded, have as well.

Many county leaders stepped up during the COVID Year, among them, from left, County Treasurer Allen Ruffles, Bassett Healthcare Network CEO Tommy Ibrahim, SUNY Oneonta President Dennis Craig and SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras.

One, County Treasurer Allen Ruffles, who returned Jan. 20 from a 12-month deployment in Djibouti with the 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion, Army Reserves, expecting to settle back into civilian life with wife Amy, daughter Mia, now 12, and son Cooper, 7.

Instead, he went from one foxhole to another.

By the end of March, he was in the midst of COVID-19, and county government found itself in a financial crisis, laying off 58 FTEs, and looking ahead to a hefty tax increase.

Then came the Ruffles Plan, which the first-term treasurer developed in consultation with colleagues in similar-sized counties: one, cuts; two, borrowing; three, chase limited money still flowing from Albany.

The plan reduced the deficit from $13.5 million to $5.4 million; borrows $4 million over 20 years at a historically low interest rate (1.0033 percent), and front-loads road work next spring (CHIPS money is still flowing from Albany).

This kept the county 2021 budget under the 2-percent tax cap.

Ruffles could have been buried under county-budgeting minutiae, but was able to see the big picture: COVID isn’t going to last forever – it could be at bay in weeks, certainly months. Then, tourism will return, sales tax will return – and the county will be able to fulfill its obligations.

Two, Tommy Ibrahim, recruited from nine-hospital Integris in Oklahoma with a goal of elevating quality and efficiency at the eight-county Bassett Healthcare Network, and returning it to profitability.

He arrived in June, and by December announced implementation of “OneBassett,” flattening the five “silos” – the five hospitals – and managing them horizontally, by discipline.

It’s hard to wrap one’s brain around, but Google “Bassett Hospital HR” and see how hiring, formerly scattered across the system, has been unified, a one-stop shop to getting a job at Basset, if you will.

Think it through. You can see how organizing and managing Bassett services individually – enabled by technology that wasn’t there a few years ago – could raise efficiency and lower costs across the board.

This isn’t just theoretical. Bassett has lost money for four years. Ibrahim – “call me Tommy,” he’ll say when you meet him – expects “OneBassett” to put the system at break-even by the end of 2021 and in the black after that.

A prosperous Bassett is essential to our aggregated health, prosperity and quality of life. Important stuff.

Three and Four: SUNY Oneonta’s new president, Dennis Craig, and the new SUNY chancellor, Jim Malatras.

A “super spreader” event on Friday, Aug. 21, the first weekend students returned, had pushed on-campus “positives” to 107 within a week.

Sunday, Aug. 30, the new chancellor was at SUNY Oneonta, trying to figure out what went wrong. And he acted, suspending classes for two weeks. As positives went over 300, he closed the campus for the semester.

By mid-October, campus President Barbara Jean Morris had resigned and, to succeed her, Malatras named Dennis Craig, who as president of SUNY Purchase kept a campus outbreak to seven cases in New Rochelle.

Craig’s action team came up with a plan of reopening within two weeks, and he successfully quelled a faculty revolt, and lined up enough support to aim at reopening on Feb. 1.

This is leadership.

In crisis, leaders emerge. And that happened here. Happily, identifying Heidi Bond and four other high-profile leaders doesn’t take anything away from the many others.

County Board chair David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Middlefield, as he does so well, brought together the talent around him – Ruffles, Meg Kennedy, Bond, Brian Pokorny and many others.

The mayors of Oneonta and Cooperstown, Gary Herzig and Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch respectively, Bill Streck in his final weeks at Bassett’s helm, and his COVID team, were all great.

And this doesn’t mention all of our fellow citizens who soldiered on – businesspeople and non-profits alike – and church, and schools, and police, and …

The point is, there are a lot of people we can thank as Otsego County begins to come back to life in 2021.

SUNY Over Hurdle On Reopening Plan
Reprinted From This Week’s
Hometown Oneonta, Freeman’s Journal

SUNY Over Hurdle

On Reopening Plan

Enough Agree On 20% In-Person Classes

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

David Lincoln
Dennis Craig

The stumbling block is gone, it seems.

Enough faculty members have volunteered to teach 20 percent of the in-person, “dual modality” classes called for in SUNY Oneonta’s plan to reopen on Feb. 1, 2021, according to David Lincoln, president of the local chapter of the United University Professions (UUP).

“That’s correct,” said SUNY Oneonta President Dennis Craig when asked about Lincoln’s statement.

SUNY Over Hurdle On Reopening Plan

Reprinted From This Week’s
Hometown Oneonta, Freeman’s Journal

SUNY Over Hurdle

On Reopening Plan

Enough Agree On 20% In-Person Classes

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

David Lincoln
Dennis Craig

The stumbling block is gone, it seems.

Enough faculty members have volunteered to teach 20 percent of the in-person, “dual modality” classes called for in SUNY Oneonta’s plan to reopen on Feb. 1, 2021, according to David Lincoln, president of the local chapter of the United University Professions (UUP).

“That’s correct,” said SUNY Oneonta President Dennis Craig when asked about Lincoln’s statement.

EDITORIAL: Unite In Making Plan Work
EDITORIAL

Unite In Making Plan Work

Doesn’t it remind you of what happened to Hartwick College President Margaret L. Drugovich?

No sooner had she arrived in 2008 on Oyaron Hill, when the Great Recession hit.

Within a few months, the fledgling president, with no chance to build a reputation or support among staff and faculty, had to begin laying people off.

The faculty balked. Criticism abounded.

Dennis Craig
Margaret Drugovich

Drugovich did what she had to do. Things settled down. The economy eventually rebounded, and Drugovich built the sterling reputation she has today.

Fast forward to 2020 and, across the valley, SUNY Oneonta President Dennis Craig.

It’s even moreso. Drugovich had a short honeymoon. Craig parachuted into the middle of a 700-plus COVID-19 infestation, one of the worst per-capita among U.S. campuses. His predecessor had departed precipitously. The New York Times’ front page was trumpeting our woes worldwide.

Craig immediately formed a COVID-19 Rapid Response Team. In a month – almost to the day – the team reported out a 22-page, single-space,
detailed-packed plan to take on the menace.

Pretty good.

So far, some of the faculty balked. But otherwise, criticism hasn’t abounded.

Just the opposite. Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig likes the plan’s focus on the safety of his constituents. Student Association President Gabby Cesaria likes the focus on a Feb. 1 reopening; she surveyed students, and 50 percent want to return to classes.

In recent decades, SUNY Oneonta has been on the make.

President Alan Donovan, now retired and an Oneonta community leader, began the drive to push up the quality of students and scholarship.

During his successor Nancy Kleniewski’s tenure, Oneonta was often mentioned, along with Geneseo and New Paltz, as one of “SUNY’s Ivies,” if you will.

During that period, the SUNY System invested heavily in the hilltop. Tom Rathbun, the level-headed assistant vice president/facilities, was spending $30-40 million a year upgrading the campus, and it looks great. (His successor, Lachlan Squair, appears to be quite an innovator, making SUNY Oneonta an innovator in Upstate Medical’s novel “pool testing.”)

And alumnus Bill Pullman starred in “Independence Day.” You can’t get much better than that.

SUNY Oneonta dropped the ball when COVID-19 arrived. That was then; recent, but then.

This is now.

The SUNY Oneonta community must want to return to what it was, a campus on the make. With its particular COVID mess behind it, the SUNY Oneonta community should strive, as one, to be a Model of the Reopening.

With two anti-COVID vaccines coming online, with the wide local acceptance of masks and social distancing, with the high-level of community sensitivity to COVID, it can be done.

The online petition – only a fraction of the faculty, some 71 out of 500 professors and instructors, have signed it – takes on Craig and Provost Leamor Kahanov personally.

While no doubt well meaning, the petition drive seems to be the wrong instrument at this point.

That’s misguided.

Of the many issues raised, the one about sensitivity to relatives of faculty who may have pre-existing conditions resonates most. But it’s hard to believe the administration would not seek to ensure what protection it can to people under particular threat of COVID.

No doubt the key players in the campus hierarchy are as imperfect as the rest of us, but – at this critical point in SUNY Oneonta’s history – let’s all pull together behind the people who, more than ever, need wide support.

And that includes the campus community and the rest of us, the public at large.

Plan: Catch Virus Before It Can Spread

Plan: Catch Virus

Before It Can Spread

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Dr. Dennis Craig

ONEONTA – A draft plan on reopening SUNY Oneonta on Feb. 1 was released Monday, Nov. 16, that – among many points in the single-spaced, 22-page document – addresses a particular community concern.

That is, preventing this fall’s outbreak of 700-plus on-campus cases from happening again.

In an interview, SUNY Oneonta President Dennis Craig called it “a strong plan” that includes a five-point prevention protocol he had outlined Nov. 9 in a video message to the campus:

• One, all students will be tested on arrival.

• Two, all students coming in from “hotspots” will be quarantined.

• Three, students, faculty and staff will undergo surveillance testing every two weeks.

• Four, a “pause” if the infection rate rises.

• And, five, Craig said, “what I would call a zero-tolerance code of conduct.”

“What gives the Oneonta plan an edge is: the campus went through something very difficult and learned lessons very quickly,” said Craig. “That makes it safer going forward.”

Under the plan, which is due in SUNY’s Albany headquarters by Dec. 10, students would begin returning Jan. 1, and classes – 20 percent of which would by M2M (mask-to-mask) – will begin Feb. 1.

The plan also limits the number of students taking classes on-campus to 1,100; it is usually 5,000. And only one person will be assigned to each dorm room; no more than four students will use each dorm bathroom, which will be cleaned twice daily.

Mayor Gary Herzig previewed the plan over the weekend and said Monday, “I found it to be very encouraging.”

“There was a significant increased focus on what happened off-campus, building stronger community relations, and eliminating unsafe behaviors,” he said. “That was something we did not see in the plan for opening in the fall.”

Craig bolstered that initiative Monday, he announced the appointment of Franklin D. Chambers to a new position, vice president/external affairs. In Oneonta since 2015, Chambers, who has been VP/student development, “will build and attend to the connections that make SUNY Oneonta among our region’s most unique assets,” the president said.

“I’m also encouraged by the open communications and sense of partnerships I’ve had with President Craig over the past several weeks, which is critical to a safe opening,” the mayor said. “We all want the campus to open. I think the plan does a good job of addressing risks while allowing the college to return to some semblance of normalcy.”

The plan was developed over the past month by a COVID Response Team co-chaired by Provost Leamor Kahanov and Vice President/Finance & Administration Julie Piscitello, and may be viewed in full by Googling “SUNY Oneonta 2021 reopening.”

Kahanov agreed tighter testing is the hallmark of the document. First, requiring students to get tested before arriving on campus.

Also, that off-campus students not only have to undergo daily checks – temperatures and the like – before coming on campus, and will have to carry a card that records those checks.

SUNY Oneonta  Posts Plan Aimed At Feb. 1 Opening

CLICK TO READ REOPENING PLAN

SUNY Oneonta 

Posts Plan Aimed

At Feb. 1 Opening

Goal: Serve 20% Of Students

On Campus, Expand Testing

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Dr. Craig addresses campus community on arrival.

ONEONTA – SUNY Oneonta today posted its draft plan to bring, if not face-to-face, mask-to-mask (M-2-M) instruction back to campus, offering an in-person option in 20 percent of its courses to the 1,100 students who, for now, may return to class as of Feb. 1.

Revisions to the draft are planned, with a Dec. 10 goal set for its final completion.

“What gives the Oneonta plan an edge is: the campus went through something very difficult, and learned lessons very quickly,” Interim President Dennis Craig said in an interview this morning.  “That makes it safer going forward.”

MORE IN THIS WEEK’S HOMETOWN ONEONTA

 

Under New Plan, SUNY Students Return Feb. 1

Under New SUNY Plan,

Students Return Feb. 1

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA –  For the last two weeks, SUNY Oneonta Interim President Dennis Craig has been listening – to staff, to community members, to students.

“We have identified that 50 percent of the students desire on-campus courses,” he said in an address sent to the campus community on Monday, Nov. 9.

As such, Craig plans to re-open the campus as a “low-density” model, with approximately 900 of the school’s 2,738 students living on campus, with another group living in the city and commuting to campus, and others learning entirely remotely.

The full plan, put together with his COVID Response Team, is being finalized and will be presented to the campus and the public on Monday, Nov. 16.

The local plan is tailored along guidelines issued Sunday, Nov. 8, by SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, which include pushing the semester start date back to Feb. 1, cancelling spring break to make up for the
late start.

To return to campus, Malatras said, all students will have to complete a seven-day precautionary quarantine before their arrival, where they will be tested for COVID, as well as being tested throughout the semester.

To be a “dual-modality,” campus, 20 percent of courses need to be delivered both online and in-person, up from 7 percent.

“That number is not enough to achieve our goals of working with students in optimal learning environments,” said Craig. “If we teach approximately 20 percent of our course sections with an on-campus dual modality, we will be able to provide our students on campus an in-person academic experience.”

And although students will have to wear masks on campus, he said the staff is working to offer “a robust mix” of events, lectures and activities to provide students with social opportunities on campus, rather than restrict students to their rooms when not in class.

Still, there will be a “zero tolerance” policy in place for infractions, such as the off-campus party that caused the outbreak in September, he said.

“The students I have spoken to take that to heart,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “This is an issue that requires every one of us to look out for each other.”

Craig also hosted students in his “office hours,” where he fielded questions from RA’s requesting single rooms during the pandemic – a demand during the threatened strike this fall – as well as increased access to mental health services.

“Not having a spring break will be a real obstacle for us,” one student told him. “We need that week
to take the stress out of our lives.”

Malatras said campuses can build in a “reading day” as a way to help students decompress while remaining on campus.

But the return of students is a welcome one, said Herzig. “Students are a big part of our community,
both economically and culturally,” he said. “Reopening the college will improve the economic crisis that businesses and taxpayers are experiencing.”

He has also reinstituted bus service to the campus for the students who remained on campus for
the fall semester.

“Our transportation director has been meeting with the student association,” he said. “We want
to provide students with the transportation they need without facilitating late-night parties.”

MAN of THE HOUR Can Hero Of Purchase Save SUNY Oneonta?
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: DENNIS CRAIG

MAN of THE HOUR

Can Hero Of Purchase

Save SUNY Oneonta?

Dennis Craig, SUNY Oneonta’s new interim president, had an instinct for readiness, forming a disaster preparedness committee on arriving at SUNY Purchase as a vice president in 2006. He discusses lessons learned and how to apply them to the Oneonta campus in an exclusive interview. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE & JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

SUNY Oneonta’s interim President Dennis Craig with “my ambassador” – Beckett.

ONEONTA – For SUNY Oneonta’s interim President Dennis Craig, 55, it’s all about how you react to a crisis.

“In tough incidents, sometimes you’re more defined by your response than by the incident itself,” he said, whether cheating, an instance of bias, a suicide, even a murder.

When that happens, “I’m all about transparency and giving people more information, and letting them decide what they need to know,” he said in his first local interview since arriving on campus Thursday, Oct. 15.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras picked Craig to succeed Barbara Jean Morris, who resigned after COVID-19 raged out of control at the local campus, infecting more than 700 students, more than on any campus in the nation.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: New SUNY President Determined To Halt Further C-Outbreaks

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

New SUNY President

Determined To Halt

Further C-Outbreaks

Having formed an emergency response committee years ago early in his tenure at SUNY Purchase, Dennis Craig, SUNY Oneonta’s interim president, said he was “very paranoid” when the threat of coronavirus appeared on the horizon early this year. Quick action kept positive cases at his Westchester County campus to 25.  Now, he’s tasked with winding down SUNY Oneonta’s worst-in-the-nation outbreak.
Get the details of his plan in an exclusive interview in this week’s Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal, on newsstands tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
In Places Like Oneonta, Town Needs Gown And Vice Versa

EDITORIAL

In Places Like Oneonta,

Town Needs Gown, Vice-Versa

Both college presidents, SUNY Oneonta’s Nancy Kleniewski and Hartwick’s Margaret Drugovich, were key members of the City of Oneonta’s DRI committee. It was formed in 2015 to figure out how best to spent $10 million provided by Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

The committee, no doubt, benefited mightily from both leaders’ wisdom, experience working within institutions and calm demeanors; no bomb-throwers there. In turn, Kleniewski and Drugovich likewise benefited, no doubt, by getting to better know the city’s movers and shakers and the key issues facing the “City of the Hills.”

The City of Oneonta and the two colleges are joined at the hip, like it or not.

When the undergrads return each fall, the city’s population doubles, from 7,000 to 14,000. Problems – let’s call them challenges – always arise, ranging from public mischief of all sorts to actual crimes, from OH Fest to blowouts in otherwise quiet neighborhoods.

In the past, an atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation helped the college presidents and top city officials work through the town-gown issues.

The tip-off that something was awry with the administration of Barbara Jean Morris, who departed abruptly two weeks ago after presiding over the largest on-campus outbreak of COVID-19 in the country,
happened a week before the cataclysm.

The president was declining to meet with Mayor Gary Herzig, to his dismay. And, after City Hall cancelled nighttime bus rides back and forth to campus, the Student Activities Office went ahead and leased buses through another company.

Bad omens.

When COVID exploded on campus after one particular party on opening weekend, Aug. 21-23, it was too late to build bridges.

When infections topped 100 on a single night the next weekend, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras stepped in and, in effect, assumed Morris’ decision-making authority until her resignation “to seek other opportunities,” submitted quietly 10 days before the Wednesday, Oct. 14, press conference announcing her successor, SUNY Purchase Interim President Dennis Craig.

SUNY Purchase may have dodged the bullet by happenstance: SUNY Oneonta opened a week earlier, seven days when “pool testing” – of 20 students’ saliva at once – quickly expanded so health officials could identify outbreaks sooner and drill down to “patient one” more quickly. Still, success is success:

Malatras credited Craig’s leadership with limiting campus infections to 25; astonishing, when you
think of what happened here.

Dr. Morris was likeable, at first blush dynamic, with a record of some success. Her formulation of a 13-word mission statement was brilliant: “We nurture a community where students grow intellectually, thrive socially and live purposefully.” It’s possible to mourn and, still, try to understand what happened.

Regrettably but necessarily, a college president faces many demands – from the faculty and staff, implementing SUNY-wide policies, maintaining buildings and grounds, law enforcement, relations with local state legislators and community leaders. It goes on and on.

Students and pedagogy are the fun part, but most of a college president’s duties aren’t fun.

It also might be that Morris didn’t understand COVID virulence, that she trusted 19-year-olds too much, that she didn’t realize that student care needed to take a back seat to public health – for days or weeks or months.

A telling indicator, perhaps, was her concern, expressed at a town-gown “Control Room” meeting, about the negative psychological impact on tender students of HAZMAT-suited EMTS knocking on dorm doors in the middle of the night to escort young people to isolation dorms.

Sympathy is fine, but a potentially life-and-death situation called for sterner stuff.

Things got away from Dr. Morris, and there was no one on her side apart from a loyal and admiring inner circle.

(It’s worth noting again that, where President Drugovich realized a successful response to COVID could be a life-and-death matter for Hartwick, the SUNY campus didn’t have to worry: Empire State taxpayers would continue funding SUNY, come what might.

(Hartwick kept total infestations to 21, or 2.9 percent of SUNY-O’s number, even though its enrollment is 25 percent of the larger school’s total.)

For the good of all, let’s, as a community, get behind President Craig, and give him all the support we can to help him duplicate his Purchase success here.

A final thought: When Barbara Jean Morris was recruited, her “two-fer” status – she was a woman and a Native American – was heralded.

By all means, hire whomever of whatever background. But chairman Patrick Brown and the College Council shouldn’t have stars in their eyes, distorted, if you will, by PC prerogatives.

They have a responsibility – to the campus and the Oneonta community; (City Hall alone is losing
$1 million in revenue per semester): Whoever succeeds Dr. Morris must be focused enough, tough enough, realistic enough, experienced enough to truly understand the daunting requirements of a college president’s job, and temperamentally able to handle them.

Getting that under control will allow the focus to return to raising the campus’ quality and reputation, which is what it’s all about.

New SUNY President Craig: Control Room ‘Very Encouraging’

New SUNY President Craig

Supports ‘Control Room’

Interim SUNY Oneonta president Dennis Craig, center right, joined the Control Room this evening to introduce himself. He is joined by, from top left, SUNY chief of staff Colleen Brannan, Mayor Gary Herzig, city health director Diane Georgeson, Emma Sarnacki, Common Council member Dave Rissberger, Third Ward, Oneonta police chief Doug Brenner and Rachel Dobkin.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – Following his first full day on the job, SUNY Oneonta interim president Dennis Craig said the “Control Room,” a bi-weekly meeting of college and city personnel, is “very encouraging.”

“Having conversations like this is what makes it work,” he said. “We discussed a lot of issues today and the collegiality and calm in light of everything is very refreshing.”

New SUNY Oneonta President: We Need To Speak ‘Frankly’

BARBARA JEAN MORRIS OUT

New SUNY Oneonta

President: We Need

To Speak ‘Frankly’

Dennis Craig Aims To Apply

Lessons Learned At Purchase

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras convenes this morning press conference in the Morris Conference Center, where he introduced SUNY Purchase acting President Dennis Craig, to his left, as SUNY Oneonta’s interim president, succeeding Barbara Jean Morris.   At left are Oneonta Town Supevisor Bob Wood and City Mayor Gary Herzig; at right, Patrick Brown, chairman of the Oneonta College Council, who will lead the search for Barbara Jean Morris’ successor.  (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JIM KEVLIN & LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

SUNY Oneonta’s interim President Craig says he plans to look forward, not back.

ONEONTA – With the resignation of Dr. Barbara Jean Morris, new SUNY Oneonta interim president Dennis Craig is ready to hear both the good and the bad about how the campus can recover from the COVID-19 outbreak that infected more than 700 students less than week after classes resumed.

“I want to foster an atmosphere where everyone can speak frankly,” he said. “I want to get a back-and-forth dialogue going about what went wrong. People on this campus did a tremendous amount of work, and I appreciate that.”

Craig’s appointment was announced at a 12:30 p.m. press conference called by SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras.  “SUNY Oneonta is at a critical juncture and Acting President Craig will bring steady, focused, and collaborative leadership to the campus,” said Malatras.

MORRIS OUSTED; NEW PRESIDENT AT SUNY ONEONTA

BULLETIN

MORRIS LEAVES;

NEW PRESIDENT

AT SUNY ONEONTA

Dennis Craig Presided At Purchase

After State’s First Major Outbreak

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, left, introduces new interim SUNY Oneonta president Dennis Craig, who successfully carried SUNY Purchase through the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak.  Barbara Jean Morris has transitioned out of the college presidency to pursue other opportunities, said Malatras. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
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