Some of the money would go toward an emerging research institute
By Chloe Bennett
The Adirondack Park’s only four-year college is looking to expand its funding sources and boost enrollment using several grants. With about $3 million banked and $4 million more pursued, Paul Smith’s College is tracking new opportunities.
“As an institution, historically our college has relied on enrollment and our mission is about education and providing opportunity for students, so that’s core to our mission,” President Dan Kelting said. “But we recognize that we need to diversify our revenue sources and diversify our opportunities as an institution.”
Some of the money would be used for a new research institute on campus.
John Foppert, the college’s head forester and Zoë Smith, executive director of the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI), will travel to Atlanta in March to promote ideas on the college’s Forestry Research Institute, which Kelting said is in development. The National Science Foundation selected the college to share its plans for opening the institute in the future. If funded, the operation would focus on research around forest products and carbon sequestration in the Adirondacks and the surrounding Northern Forest region.
Research on campus is already operating under the institute’s name, Kelting said, with funding from The Nature Conservancy and the private forestry sector.
Kelting said the institute has been in the works for years with the help of Foppert, who is also an assistant professor of silviculture and economics at the college.
“This is an incredibly exciting time to be at Paul Smith’s,” Foppert said. “There’s a real start-up energy at the college right now and a very strong sense that we’re building something special.”
The institute’s development is using a model from a similar program at North Carolina State University, where Kelting used to work. It will also use AWI as inspiration.
“We’ll be eventually looking to build a Forestry Research Institute here on campus, just like we built the Adirondack Watershed Institute on campus,” Kelting said.
Paul Smith’s was awarded $1 million recently to update its water and wastewater systems. The college relies on its own wastewater treatment plant, Kelting said.
“This award ensures that we are providing clean, safe water for our students and are able to prepare for future growth at the college,” said Smith, who also works as the college’s research and grants officer. “The project is an investment in the next generation of leaders in climate change, forestry, and sustainability.”
Another grant was recently awarded to the college for sugar maple sap production research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Around $500,000 was given to Paul Smith’s to explore the relationship between tree health, crown size and sugar production using the college’s sugar bushes.
“Maple syrup production is a huge part of the economy here, in our culture, right here in the Northern Forest,” Kelting said. “So that’s a big exciting one that’s just started.”
The new funding comes after the college was nearing a deal to be acquired by The Fedcap Group, a nonprofit with a network of higher education institutions. The group took over some operations of the college before Paul Smith’s pulled out. Now, Kelting said the college is in “building mode.”
“We’re doing the things we need to do to become a thriving and sustainable college,” Kelting said.
Photo at top: Participants of Paul Smith’s College forestry program mill wood. Photo provided by Paul Smith’s College