Retiring Hartwick College President Margaret Drugovich said she will miss the Oneonta community
when she steps down next year.
“I really enjoyed being part of the Oneonta community and I’ll miss it,” Drugovich said on Monday, Sept. 20, and said how much she liked the warm atmosphere of the people in Oneonta.
“They care deeply about one another and the people in it,” Drugovich said. “It’s just a great place to be and I’ll make sure to tell the next person who will be president that it’s a community they will really enjoy.”
“The number of college-bound students was declining, students’ needs and interests were shifting, and families’ ability to pay for education was diminishing. Hartwick had to adapt and evolve.”
MARGARET L. DRUGOVICH
From The Wick, Spring 2021
Sure, life can be random.
But at Hartwick College, your higher education doesn’t have to be; (or your son’s or daughter’s.)
Just get on the right flight path. Or FlightPath, that is, Hartwick’s innovative new structure designd to ensure students get optimum value from their four years on Oyaron Hill.
It works like this.
Arriving on campus with dreams for the future, you take the Clifton StrengthFinder test – the best of its kind – to help identify your strengths and careers you might best pursue.
You’ll be welcomed by a Personal Guidance Team, including a professional “Success Coach,” as well as a career coach, faculty adviser and alumni mentor who will collaborate in your success.
Over the next four years, classroom studies, J-terms (locally, in the U.S. or internationally), and internships. will lead you to the first job in your optimal career.
By graduation, you’ve also become a full member of the Hartwick community. Its far-flung network of fellow alumni will support you, advise you and open new opportunities to you over the rest of your life.
“What’s special about FlightPath is our commitment to every student, every time,” said Karen McGrath, senior vice president/enrollment & student success. “It’s not optional: It’s the Hartwick Experience.”
“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” William Shakespeare
Can it be 15 years since The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta, (after its founding in 2008), have recognized a Citizen (or Citizens) of the Year in the final edition of the 12th month?
In 2006, Cherry Valley Town Supervisor Tom Garretson, digesting information brought before him on industrial-scale wind turbines, changed his mind and led the charge to block them. That took guts and flexibility.
In 2020, Heidi Bond is a worthy successor. Like Garretson, she didn’t expect the worst epidemic in a century to explode upon us. But, like Garretson, she rose to the occasion, deploying her limited staff and doing what needed to be done, including long hours of hard work many days on end.
When called for a comment, but not yet knowing who had been chosen, county Rep. David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, said, “Your Citizen of the Year should be Heidi Bond.”
Of course, she is. Greatness was thrust upon her, and she was ready.
That is the case in several of the 42-some people who have been Citizens of the Year. (Several years, more than one person was chosen, the peak being Oneonta’s 12-person Charter Commission.)
But that idea: Not expecting a specific challenge, regular citizens can still be prepared, discovering that, through training, discipline, energy, intelligence and mental toughness, they can rise to the
occasion and overcome the challenges at hand.
That certainly applies to Heidi Bond, but also to Adrian Kuzminski (2010), who led the anti-fracking movement; Cooperstown then-mayor Carol Waller (2007), who led the village through a trouble-free record turnout to Cal Ripken’s 2007 Induction, to Pastor Sylvia Kevlin (2017), who responded to the fiery destruction of the Milford Methodist Church with the declaration, “We will rebuild.” And her congregation did.
Some achieved greatness in a more conscious way: Hartwick College President Margaret Drugovich (2016), who raised a record $32 million, launched numerous innovations and renovated the campus. Is it any surprise that she largely succeeded in limiting the COVID spread on Oyaron Hill?
Or former Oneonta Mayor John Nader (2009), who, required to resign when he was promoted to SUNY Delhi dean, put the pieces in place for the renovation of the former Bresee’s Department Store into a reborn downtown anchor?
Or state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford (2013) – he is retiring this week after representing us in Albany for 34 years – whose hiring of a hard-driving economic developer and the elevation of the IDA to Otsego Now grew out of two “Seward Summits” on economic development and a personal determination to help his natal county better succeed at job creation?
It’s interesting that some of the Citizens, chosen with high hopes, didn’t quite work out.
The new team of Kathy Clark, Kay Stuligross and Linda Rowinski (2012) on the county board helm was heralded as a “return of amity,” but it didn’t turn out that way.
Entrepreneur Tom Cormier’s plan (2010) to revive the Oneonta Theatre as a concert venue was an exciting one, and had traction for a few years before collapsing.
Arguably, the Oneonta Charter Commission was visionary in professionalized governance (2011) through creating a city-manager position. But three failed or iffy city-manager tenures later, the City Fathers and Mothers are looking for a greater role for elected officials.
Still, these have been learning efforts. While economic developer Sandy Mathes’ energy didn’t prevent his forced departure, his successor – the more low-key Jody Zakrevsky – has been able to move Mathes initiatives forward. Plus, Mathes – and Seward – underscored the importance of jobs, jobs, jobs.
Not all promising initiatives succeed. As John Kennedy declared in his Boston brogue: “Why do we go to the moon? Not because it is easy – but because it is HAWED.”
One thought: Over 15 years, Otsego County – north and south – has been operating as more of a unit, with much more communication and collaboration between Oneonta and Cooperstown.
At first, it made sense to have separate Hometown Oneonta and Freeman’s Journal Citizens of the Year. No more, with Senator Seward, the Hager family (hops yards in Pierstown, Northern Eagle’s new brewery in West Oneonta), Stacie Haynes, serving distressed animals countywide, with Oneontans working at Bassett, and Cooperstonians at the colleges, a single county agenda made more and more sense.
Another thought: While eight of the first 10 Citizens were men, six of the last nine were women.
That brings to mind a quibble: In the recent efforts to fill state Sen.-elect Peter Oberacker’s county board seat, both Republicans and Democrats declared it should be filled by a woman.
Folks, that battle’s been won; we can knock it off. The “little ladies” are beyond needing a leg up. They’ve fully arrived.
With MacGuire Benton’s election to the Cooperstown Village Board in a hard-fought race, and county Rep. Clark Oliver’s elevation to county Democratic chairman, it seems the county’s gay community is also claiming its proper place in our public life.
Fifteen years of recognizing our fellow citizens’ strivings to achieve, to solve problems, to realize visions, to meet challenges, demonstrate that imperfect human beings can do great things, whether they pursue us or are thrust upon us.
As COVID’s first anniversary approaches, the 42 Citizens provide reasons for pride and hope.
WE can overcome.
►FROM GARRETSON TO BOND, GREATNESS PURSUED
Tom Garretson: Cherry Valley town supervisor led opposition to industrial-scale windmills.
Carol Waller: She proved to be Cooperstown’s “Little Mayor That Could” during record attendance at Cal Ripken Induction.
• Hometown Oneonta: The Centennial Committee – Tom Klemow, Kevin Herrick and Mayor John Nader – which organized city’s 100th-anniversary celebration that ended in a knock-out parade.
• The Freeman’s Journal:
Penney Gentile; her son Chris’ death in a Holy Thursday car crash spurred her campaign to make drivers’ education mandatory in state’s schools.
• The Freeman’s Journal: Reinventing 22 Main – Mayor Joe Booan, Trustees Eric Hage, Willis Monie Jr., Neil Weiller. Republicans took control of Village Board and vowed clean-sheet look at Cooperstown government.
• Hometown Oneonta: John Nader, who resigned as mayor when he was promoted to SUNY Delhi provost (he is now SUNY Farmingdale president), but not before the Bresee’s renovation was assured.
• Hometown Oneonta: Tom Cormier – Entrepreneur bought Oneonta Theatre, launched
• The Freeman’s Journal: Adrian Kuzminski, activist led
local fight against fracking.
• Hometown Oneonta: 12-person City Charter Commission recommended professional city manager, got idea through referendum. Dave Rissberger, chairman; John Dudek, Martha
Forgiano, Karen Geasey, Tom
Kelly, Larry Malone, Steve Londner, Sarah Patterson, Paul Scheele, Kay StuliGross, Kathy Wolverton, Laurie Zimniewicz.
• The Freeman’s Journal: “Farmers of the Future” – Hartwick beef farmer Chris Harmon’s profile launched monthly profiles of futuristic farmers over 2012.
New amity on county Board of Representatives hailed as County Reps. Kathy Clark, chairman, Kay Stuligross, and Linda Rowinski took over leadership.
Jim Seward, “Building a
Consensus on a Properous
Future,” as former Greene County Economic Developer Sandy Mathes prepared to lead
The Hager Family, “Reviving the Golden Age of Hops.”
“Fighting The Scourge: They Opened Four Fronts Against Heroin Tide”: County Judge
Brian Burns, now Supreme
Court judge; Oneonta Police Chief Doug Brenner, LEAF executive Julie Dostal; District Attorney
Hartwick College President Margaret Drugovich: “Beacon on Oyaron Hill,” as record $32 million fund drive came to a successful conclusion.
Pastor Sylvia (now kEVLIN): “Gethsemane & Back,” as new Milford Methodist Church building was rising after fire razed former church that March.
Stacie Haynes: “For The Love Of Misty,” a childhood pet who nurtured a love of animals, and inspired drive to build new Susquehanna Animal Shelter,
now rising on Route 28, Index.
Meg Kennedy: “The Kennedy Method,” where county board vice chairman, first local rep to serve on NYSAC board, built momentum behind county-manager system.
Heidi Bond: “General in the
COVID-19 Fight.” The county’s public health director led
contact-tracing, much more to limit disease’s spread.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ONEONTA – A photo circulating on social media, purportedly showing a party underway in SUNY Oneonta’s isolation dorm over the weekend, prompted a conversation about the differences in how SUNY and Hartwick colleges are handling the COVID-19 outbreak and quarantines.
“I’m concerned by this photo,” said Council member David Rissberger, Third Ward, during the second of Mayor Gary Herzig’s Oneonta Control Room meetings this evening. “There’s no supervision, and the community needs reassurances that moving forward, something like this is not going to happen again.”
Currently there are 651 total cases of COVID-19 at SUNY Oneonta; 43 students are quarantined on the campus, with 139 in isolation after testing positive for the virus.
ONEONTA – With only two cases, compared to SUNY Oneonta’s 245 (as of now), Hartwick College President Margaret L. Drugovich nonetheless announced a few minutes ago the college is immediately switching to all-remote instruction for 14 days as a precaution, through Sept. 15.
“Because of the sudden and steep increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Oneonta community, we have decided to commence remote instruction only,” she said. “We are taking this step as a precautionary measure to protect the health of all members of our campus-based community.
“This adaptation was anticipated in, and is consistent with, our Reopening Plan,” she said.
ONEONTA – Students returning to Hartwick College this weekend must already have been tested for COVID-19, and will be tested again before classes begin Monday, Aug. 31.
By then, all students and employees must sign a document averring they will “Our Social Compact: A Healthy Hartwick College,” outlining all steps they must take to keep the COVID threat at bay.
“Hartwick’s goal is to enable our students to return for instruction while complying with the best guidance available to protect our community, both on- and off-campus,” said college President Margaret L. Drugovich.
All students and employees will be required to:
• Provide evidence of negative results from COVID-19 testing within a maximum of 14 days prior to arrival.
• Quarantine for 14 days, if arriving from a “Hot Spot” state, as determined by the State of New York, even if the student has tested negative for COVID-19;
• Undergo COVID-19 testing again on arriving on campus Aug. 22-31 – students and commuters, and all employees.
• Be tested every week until the end of in-person classes (Nov 20). Again, that applies to students and employees.
Further, “Out Social Compact” requires wearing masks in public, six-foot social distancing at all time, and respect for personal space; good hygiene, including frequent handwashing; participating in daily screenings including temperature checks; disinfecting living and working spaces and personal items on a regular basis; and comply with the College’s Reopening Campus Plan as well as local, state, and federal guidelines on COVID-19 when both on and off campus.
Course work will be delivered both in-person and virtually for students in the fall semester. Changes to the academic calendar for the fall semester eliminated breaks until in-person instruction ends on Friday, November 20. All students will leave campus by Nov. 21 and then complete the semester’s instruction and exams remotely. Final exams conclude on Dec. 10.
The College has enhanced safety and cleaning measures campus-wide, including:
• Daily screening of all individuals entering campus.
• Increased sanitizing of academic and administrative buildings and residence halls.
• Additional hand sanitizer dispensers at building entrances, dining and café locations, fitness entrances, and event spaces.
• Markings and signage in campus buildings to indicate six-foot distancing.
• Designated single-direction foot-traffic in some spaces, and limited the number of building entrances to facilitate screening.
• Restricted elevator occupancy.
• Reduced capacity in theaters and auditoriums to maintain six-foot social distance.
ONEONTA – Hartwick College is serious about reopening this fall – and serious about getting it right.
The key to success is a safe campus. The tool to achieve it is “Our Social Compact: A Healthy Hartwick College,” which college President Margaret L. Drugovich announced in her latest weekly video to the campus community, Sunday, June 21, and is central to the reopening plan submitted to the State of New York.
All students returning to campus Aug. 22, as well as faculty, staff and anyone working on Oyaron Hill, will have to review the Compact and sign it. Classes are due to begin Aug. 31.
“We believe (the Compact) is enforceable, we believe that individuals who refuse to agree – whether a student, employee or individual who refuses to adhere – they can’t be on our campus,” Drugovich said in an interview. “We just don’t think individuals have the right to put other people at risk.”
The community is advised “that you will adhere – to markings on the floor, to daily screenings, to masks in the presence of others, to reduced density rules. You will be refused access to campus if you have symptoms. This is what we need to do to minimize the spread,” she said. “We feel we have a right to do so, and we’re going to exercise that right.”
Governor Cuomo’s Reopening New York website posted “Higher Education Guidelines” late Saturday, June 20, and Drugovich advised the campus community that Hartwick’s reopening plan has been submitted to Albany. She said more details will be forthcoming, perhaps as soon as her Sunday, June 28, video.
Hartwick and SUNY Oneonta’s 8,000 students are cornerstones of the local economy, so their plans are of intense local interest in some quarters. While Hartwick is sharing its reopening plans, SUNY Oneonta is apparently prohibited from doing so. “We are not at liberty to say what that is until we receive approval from SUNY,” said spokesperson Kim MacLeod.
Hartwick’s decision didn’t just happen, Drugovich said. It grew out of her creation of a “strategic response team,” convened March 3, 10 days before Cuomo’s emergency declaration.
Key administrators and faculty members, as well as vendors that operate the dining halls and provide other services, have been meeting twice a week since then, “making decisions on what we need to do. First, to close and go to remote instruction; and every significant decision we’ve made since then.”
Drugovich also convenes weekly Zoom conversations, open to all employees, and “145 people show up every week.” In them, “I bring people up to date with what is true,” but “we spend most of the time talking about people’s concerns. I keep people informed, so they can leave and think for themselves, and decide for themselves.”
In early May, Drugovich convened 15 “problem-set groups,” involving more than 100 people, “that came together on one of 15 problems.”
“One problem: how to be ready to deliver education, whether or not we’d be able to meet in person,” she said. “Another problem, how to reopen athletics. Another: how to support students who would not be able to return because of COVID but want to continue their educations.
“That ended up being the core of our plan.”
A key “problem” was how to keep people safe. In addition to individual actions contained in the Compact, “we’ve been making major changes in dining. There’s no more self-service. There will be kiosks to order; or students can order their food online.
“We’re going to be limiting foot traffic. We’re going to screen people as they come into buildings … We’ve been able to operate in a certain way for so long: But this has allowed – has required – us to think differently.”
While Hartwick’s plan is one of the early ones to surface, Drugovich said components will be contained in other institutions plans, because “we’ve all been talking to each other.” In her case, as vice chair of the national Council of Independent Colleges.
She declined to comment on what she’s learned about leadership from watching Governor Cuomo, President Trump and others, but observed, “Many leaders are trying to stay isolated and making decisions on their own. It’s making a terrible mistake. You need the insights of colleagues to solve these problems and solve them well.”
Insights obtained from the last few months? For one, the lack of dependable Internet within short distances from campus. One administrator kept going dark during a meeting.
Another, students have always gotten sick; now distance learning will let the college continue to serve them.
In a Sunday video, Hartwick College President Margaret L. Drugovich announced students will begin a phased-in return to campus Saturday, Aug. 22, with classes reopening Monday, Aug. 31. The state issued guidelines for college reopening on Saturday afternoon, she said, and plans are for Hartwick to release its full reopening plan in the next week, to be discussed in detail by the college president in next Sunday’s video. Part of the opening, she said yesterday, will involve every student signing “Our Social Compact: A Healthy Hartwick College.” She continued, “this compact will help each one of us to understand and hold one another accountable for our commitment to being an educational community. If we individually make this commitment, we will be able to return to our shared work – together. I know we can do this. I have confidence in you.”
Editor’s Note: Hartwick College President Margaret L. Drugovich issued this letter to the college community to address concerns in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
By MARGARET DRUGOVICH • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Simply occupying the office of the college presidency does not give me the right to presume that I know how every member of our community thinks or feels. We do not all agree on politics, culture or even the meaning of words. The very nature of an academic community begs us to question and debate every thought, every statement, and every idea that takes flight.
But there are some ideas that stand clearly apart from all others. When it comes to human decency, justice, and fairness, there is no room for equivocation.
And so I write to every member of our Hartwick Community to say to all who will listen that we condemn the murder of George Floyd. There is no room for bias-fueled hatred at Hartwick. At Hartwick, we stand with all who seek justice for Mr. Floyd’s death.
It is our responsibility to eliminate the social, health and economic inequities that allow bias-fueled hate to continue. We must stare into the truth that these inequities result in pain for both individuals and our society as a whole. There is no benefit to any one of us if others are treated with less respect, care, compassion, or opportunity and more prejudice, mistrust, anger and cruelty. It is easy to say the words “Black Lives Matter.”
Each of us must act in a way that makes it clear that Black lives do matter. Each of us must act in a way that makes it clear that every life matters.
In my video message on May 31 I spoke to our students about how important it is to get an education that will open doors to spaces of influence so that we can make the change that is so overdue. I hope that my message planted the seed of hope that this madness does not need to continue. Education certainly is not the full answer, nor is it the only answer, but it is one path to a more just future.
I am a white woman who has worked hard to move to a place of relative privilege, but I have also been allowed the opportunity to do so. I cannot claim to fully appreciate the depth of rage and anguish of a woman of color who has been deprived of this same opportunity. I cannot know what it is like to be a black man who fears for his life when he leaves his home.
But I do understand the fear that comes with the inability to breath. If you are angry, hurt, frustrated and afraid, please know that you are not alone. We do care about you. And we will defend and protect your right to live without fear.
We will soon organize a forum for our community to discuss what we have learned from this tragedy and how we can turn that learning into meaningful action. I hope that you will participate.
On May 31, six days after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Hartwick College President Margaret L. Drugovich told students about how, through education, they are preparing to ensure justice in the world. She also shared Hartwick’s reopening plans for the fall and asserts, “When given permission, we will be ready.” And she again thanks those who are keeping us safe during this COVID-19 crisis.
ONEONTA – Both local college presidents – SUNY Oneonta’s Barbara Jean Morris and Hartwick’s Margaret L. Drugovich – this evening announced they will be shifting to online instruction, beginning Monday, March 23.
In sending the students home, both are acting out of concern about the unknown dimension of the coronavirus outbreak, which has emerged downstate and in Saratoga County.
In a statement issued at 7:50 p.m., SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris said she was following Governor Cuomo’s directive, issued this afternoon, that “instruction across SUNY will move to other modalities.”