I spent the majority of my journalistic career, up until this point, covering education.
I actually attended college with plans on becoming a high school English teacher, but found a home in journalism instead.
I had only been a journalist for nearly two years when I started covering education roughly 10 years ago, landing waist deep in the thick mess at Plattsburgh State revolving around its then president, Dr. Horace Judson.
It became immediately clear that much of the campus community distrusted him, even felt betrayed by his leadership, which they claimed lacked shared governance and vision and was bogged down by illogical hiring and firing decisions. Indeed, some of the individuals hired later left under questionable circumstances, while some he fired or wanted to fire seemed to be enhancing the university’s image, as well as its product. At least one individual nearly fired seemed a clear cut case of vengeance, holding a position Judson wanted a family member to possess.
Students and faculty were unrelenting in their assault on Judson as morale sank and the president’s opponents said the institution needed him to be gone to survive and thrive.
Eventually, after no-confidence votes by faculty and staff and quite a battle, Judson resigned, though his college career has continued since then, but not without continued struggles.
Also since then, Plattsburgh State has continued, and it has thrived.
Yes, the university was slightly embarrassed when its teacher accreditation program failed at initial accreditation. But it did happen, and that program is now stronger and more cohesive than it has ever been.
Plattsburgh, too, has suffered through the Great Recession, experiencing massive budget cuts and consistently finding itself tasked with doing much more with much less.
Yet the university has thrived and continues to excel.
On campus, there is apparently a feeling of shared governance that had long been desired, a sense of pride in product, an environment where students thrive and are cared for. Over the past few years, as the university has been forced to regroup and determine how to do more with less, how to improve with less, the consistent message from President Dr. John Ettling, other administrators and faculty and staff has been that financial stress will not be allowed to diminish the core mission of the university. That mission is to educate students in an environment that allows them to grow and thrive and succeed just as Plattsburgh State has done over the past 10 years.
It also should be mentioned that the university employs faculty who are world renowned in areas such as anthropology, science, English and writing, to name a few, receiving recognition for chasing after the universe's origins, writing acclaimed works of fiction and much more.
As someone who covered education for more than 10 years, while I would love to see my daughter travel to another part of the state, country or world for her education and add to her life experiences at the same time, I would also be proud and pleased if she remained here and attended Plattsburgh State.
I don’t say that because it is close, and therefore safer, at least in the mind of a parent who would miss his child if she left, but I say that because it is a fine institution. No, it is more than that, it is an institution at which my daughter would thrive and ultimately leave equipped with many of the tools she would need to chase after and capture success, in at least those parts of life a college education prepares you for.
Middle States recently accredited Plattsburgh State for 10 more years and poured accolades on an institution that has earned such a pat on the back.
I would say that I hope Plattsburgh State continues to thrive, but it appears the institution does not need my hope.
We are fortunate to have such a place in our back yard.
Reach Editor Stephen Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.