SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum highlights development projects on campus in opening address

SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum delivered remarks to faculty and staff during Thursday’s all-staff meeting to usher in the 2018-2019 academic year on campus.

Several areas of the SUNY Cortland campus have been undergoing construction this summer, being granted about $300 million in new construction and $100,000 in new drone technology for the campus’ Geology department.

Bitterbaum highlighted the various development projects on campus that have come to fruition, noting that construction on the Old Main Quad between Bowers Hall and the Old Main building has been completed.

That’s in addition to the construction on the first floor of Corey Union, where the “Union Station Café” project has been completed and will open on Monday just in time for the arrival of students. In that same area of campus, within the next few weeks, a vegan restaurant, a living room area, and a sculpture of several famous musicians who have come to Cortland will be constructed for student use. The space will be used for students to perform live music and poetry readings, among other activities.

Construction at the Memorial Library is expected to be completed within the next several weeks. Moffett Center will begin “phase two” of that construction and renovation process very soon, as well as Van Hoesen Hall and the Communications Department. Park Center has also been undergoing some changes and renovations as well, which are all expected to be finished within the next two years.

Bitterbaum also noted the college’s inclusion in the top 5 percentile of Money magazine’s “Best colleges for your money for the second year in a row.

SUNY Cortland saw an increase in undergraduate freshman applications this year, with more than 13,288 applications for a freshman class admittance size of 1,276 students. SUNY Cortland was also ranked for having the third highest graduation rate among all 64 SUNY schools.

Bitterbaum also discussed the campus’ “green” practices, as well as the football player, Kyle Richard, who accepted the Biden Courage Award for Bystander Intervention after stopping a sexual assault last year at a party in his hometown. Richard has been invited by the new SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson to speak at her inauguration this year.

The college will celebrate its 150th year as an institution—otherwise known as its Sesquicentennial— at a birthday party hosted by the campus this semester on Oct. 5- 6, where faculty and students are invited to come and share in the celebrations.

Bitterbaum also talked about the campus’ $25 million capital campaign, expected to last until 2022, as well as the campus’ initiatives this semester to focus more on accommodating students with disabilities and those with interest in the international and study abroad programs.

“I had the opportunity to go abroad my junior year of college, and students who go abroad come back and are changed. It’s one of the highlights of their careers. It really is a great opportunity. I’ve never seen students so excited about their education, and that’s what it’s all about, inspiring our students,” said Bitterbaum.

Bitterbaum also talked about diversity and inclusion on campus. Since his time at SUNY Cortland, the minority levels at SUNY Cortland have risen from 4 – 26 percent, he said.

With all the good that was being announced, Bitterbaum did not fail to mention some of his concerns, as well concerns of the SUNY Cortland community, including: President Donald Trump’s travel ban, as well as his plans to merge the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Workforce; U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ plans for “profit colleges,” and the new federal admissions guidelines for colleges and universities.