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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Opinions > Guest Editorial

Sullivan Strong

May 15, 2020

By Jay Quaintance - suny sullivan president

Now, more than ever, Sullivan County needs SUNY Sullivan. I want you to know that we are working tirelessly to make sure that we not only survive the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but emerge on the other side stronger and better equipped to meet those needs.
While no one can predict what the post-COVID world will be like with any degree of accuracy, we do know some things. We know that a college degree will be even more necessary for success in the increasingly technologically dependent economy. We know that healthcare will continue to be a driving force in the County's economy. We know that sustainability of resources will continue to play an increasing role in the viability of all of our futures.
We know that restaurants, hotels and the tourism industry will bounce back (in new creative ways) as we are able to gather in public again.
We know that people will need to find ways to change careers, learn new skills, and start new businesses. We know that, just as was the case after 911, there is likely to be an influx of people leaving New York City for the incredible quality of life that the Sullivan Catskills offers: fresh air, great outdoors, high quality arts, entertainment and cultural activities. We know we will survive.
Just as we were before the pandemic hit, SUNY Sullivan has been a resource during this time. Working with our partners across the county, we have been able to continue our primary mission to provide access to high-quality, affordable college degree and certificate programs. We have redesigned our Community Learning classes to offer free online programs addressing the needs of the county in the era of COVID-19, providing information on the healthcare system, financial wisdom, advice for job seekers, health and wellness support, and stress relief.
We have been working with our partners at Sullivan 180 to help them continue their mission to improve the health of county residents. With support from the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan we have turned one of our parking lots into a giant wifi hotspot for public access to the internet.
Our own SUNY Sullivan Foundation is working to provide access to food for our students who may be suffering from food insecurity. We partnered with Catskill Regional Medical Center to provide equipment and supplies to help them in their mission to provide quality healthcare so critical in this time. Our Nursing students have begun assisting in patient care in the Care Center at Sunset Lake. And last week, in honor of National Nurses Day, the Catskill Hospitality Institute sent over a delivery of 20 lbs. of cookies and cakes to the nursing staff at Catskill Regional Medical Center.
Even at this difficult time we are moving forward with a positive vision for the college, developing new distance learning certificate and degree programs, while also planning new ways to open up our campus to the community such as establishing public walking trails and outdoor fitness facilities, and creating coworking spaces to support area entrepreneurs.
We are striving to continue these efforts through the pandemic and beyond.
As a public institution, the majority of our funding comes from public sources: Sullivan County, New York State, and assistance to students in the form of financial aid. The uncertainty of public funding creates quite a challenge for us to plan for a strong future. We have been given guidance to plan for reductions in State support of between ten and twenty-five percent mid-year. A reduction of that magnitude presents serious challenges. I promise we will do what we need to do to meet those challenges, but it won't be easy and we can't do it alone.
Now more than ever, we need the support of our extended family, our community and our alumni. Help us do more than survive; help us thrive in the future so that SUNY Sullivan can continue to be a rich resource and engine of progress for Sullivan County. Please consider contributing to the college to help keep us #SUNYSullivanStrong!

Jay Quaintance is President of SUNY Sullivan Community College. Before working in this role, Quaintance served as Assistant Secretary for Education in the Office of New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, where his work included Statewide P-12 and Higher Education budget, policy development, and implementation. He also served as Assistant Vice Chancellor and Assistant Provost for Community College Policy and Planning at the State University of New York.

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