Remarks from SUNY Potsdam Performing Arts Center opening

 
Miscellaneous Transcript

Remarks from SUNY Potsdam Performing Arts Center opening

DR. DENNIS HEFNER, INTERIM PRESIDENT:

It’s my pleasure to introduce our first speaker. The entire campus extends its profound gratitude to our state senator, Joseph Griffo. [Applause]

He was instrumental in securing – you can clap if you want to, that’s okay [Applause] – He was instrumental in securing the full $55 million in funding for the Performing Arts Center from the Senate and the Senate committees. And he did this during his freshman year.

Now what makes this story more remarkable is during his freshman year, as this bill was going through, some of the Senate leadership wanted to reduce the scope of this particular project. Well, fortunately, Senator Griffo stood tall against the leadership, managed to secure the full $55 million that came through the Senate that resulted in this impressive facility.

So it is my deep pleasure and honor to present Senator Joe Griffo.

SENATOR JOSEPH A. GRIFFO:

Good afternoon, everyone.

To stand tall at my size is something very significant in of itself. Dr. Hefner, I really want to thank you today because we all know that this finest college for the arts. And to have the former president of Fredonia – who also competes– to tell us that this is, that is a great acknowledgment and admission.

Thank you, Dr. Hefner.

Can you feel the energy and the excitement? Isn’t it great? Just from the performance we saw but you can feel it in the building. And I think that is what is so significant about today. It’s another historic milestone in the life of this great college. It’s an opportunity for us to reflect and to celebrate our past, our present and the future. It’s an opportunity for us to recognize and appreciate over a decade ago when the seeds were germinating of an idea of how to continue to enhance this college and to attract new students, to broader our horizons. Where better than on a college campus can we contemplate, reflect and envision the potential and the possibilities that exist? And that opportunity came from a lot of good people.

And I also want to acknowledge Dr. Schwaller. Where are you, Fritz? Thank you. I want to thank Ann for putting up with you.

When they first approached me as a freshman legislator, this was an extraordinary project but proposed a great challenge because there was a limited amount of capital money at SUNY at the time. And we were all going to vie for that in the Legislature. And a lot of the individuals understood and recognized the significance of this project and we were able to do that on merit because Dr. Schwaller and his team came. And we were able to convince and show people that this was a worthy project and it would really do good things not only for the students and the community, but for SUNY as a whole and a whole region.

Finances were very challenged. The key here was we fought so hard and we were unrelenting. And I finally got them to agree to fund the entire project, not to piecemeal it as they had suggested. And now we know, historically, that was a great idea because the next year we really had significant budget challenges and many of the projects that had been delayed never took place.

So we were fortunate because of the team we put together – and the team that we continue to work with that is assembled here today – the Assembly members: Assemblywoman Russell and Assemblyman Butler; Senator Ritchie, our partner in state government, who is a native of St. Lawrence County; you’ve got a great college counsel here. June O’Neill: I’ve worked with June for a long time. In fact, this is the first academic building here since Nelson Rockefeller was governor. I was a teenager. June: I don’t know what you were doing back then. You were still a youngster.

Ruth Garner may have still been a mayor back then. Where’s Ruth? Mayor Garner: It’s so good to have you here. That’s a great leader of our community, I tell you. And Supervisor Regan: I’m not sure if she’s in the crowd today. This is a great team here in the north country. And you can sense the excitement and the potential that exists. And I think that’s what this is about.

Dr. Hefner said it. We talk about economic impact – the figures that he cited - $128 million, 344 people going to work. But it’s about what really can happen as a result of this school now allowing students to collaborate, to continue to get together, to spur creativity, to allow us not only to enhance the reputation of the school, but to grow everything that we have. And as a result bring great entertainers into this area, more activity into this area and as a region benefit economically.

So this is a phenomenal project. I want to thank the Potsdam administration. I want to thank SUNY Central. I want to thank the governor’s office. I want to thank everyone – all of you that are here today – for your belief in this school, for your commitment to this school and this community and to this region. Thank you so much. Our best days are still ahead! Thank you, Dr. Hefner.