POTSDAM — SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras met with SUNY Potsdam Officer-in-Charge John Graham, student leaders and key staff members — leading a conversation about the College’s ongoing pandemic response and its plans for the future.

“Today at SUNY Potsdam, I saw first-hand the excitement and energy among the students and staff I met, and I know they are committed to keep this positive energy going,” Malatras said. “Further proof is Potsdam’s on-campus student vaccination rate of 92 percent, and Dr. John Graham and his team will continue to remain vigilant in helping more students get vaccinated by the mandate deadline. Together, our students can feel confident — poised to receive a high-quality education that SUNY is known for, with access to all of the experiences and opportunities that come with being in-person.”

Dr. Graham is entering his second week leading SUNY Potsdam. Right before the Chancellor’s visit, he delivered a welcoming address to faculty, staff and students, outlining his vision for the campus and inviting the campus community to join in the important work ahead.

“The Chancellor’s visit today was certainly most welcome, and everyone was so excited to see him. We have an extraordinary plan for reopening, and the fall semester is going really, really well. We have an outstanding team here on our campus,” Graham said. “This is an exciting time for our institution. We’ve got a lot of work to do. I’ve asked everyone to bring a shovel and a brick — because we’re trying to build something here.”

During the visit, the Chancellor and Dr. Graham met with Dean of Students Eric Duchscherer, Director of Residence Life Julie Dold, Director of Environmental Health and Safety Patrick O’Brien, University Police Chief Tim Ashley II, Student Government Association President Nick Hausman ‘23 and student contact tracer Nikki Ramirez ‘22. The group discussed the College’s reopening plan for Fall 2021 and ways that SUNY can support the campus as it returns to in-person activities and instruction.

Now in her senior year, Ramirez has been working as a trained contact tracer with the SUNY Potsdam Student Health Services team for the past year. A double major in psychology and business administration and a member of the women’s volleyball team, Ramirez is interested in healthcare management — so when she heard about the opportunity to get trained in contact tracing and learn more about managing the pandemic on her own campus, she leaped at the chance.

“It has been a great experience. I love volunteering and working with Student Health Services to keep everyone safe. I love it here. The campus is beautiful, and the people are all so helpful,” she said. “I try to do my part as a community member. I wear a mask in public places even when it isn’t required, and I encourage my friends to stay safe. We all are doing our best.”

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