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2016 in review: Haynes retires, Cuba, construction

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Tompkins Cortland Community College President Carl Haynes, shown in this file photo, announced in June that he is retiring this year after 48 years at the college, the last 23 of them as president.

Here are some of the top stories to come in 2016 from SUNY Cortland and Tompkins Cortland Community College.

TC3 president retiring

After 23 years as president of Tompkins Cortland Community College, and 48 years working with the school, Carl Haynes announced in July he will retire Aug. 31.

“I think it is finally time,” Haynes said. “It is a professional and personal decision. I want to enjoy time with my wife and kids, and I believe the college is in good shape.”

Haynes, 71, is the longest-serving president in the college’s history. He said he gave 13 months notice to give the board enough time to find a replacement.

Much remains to be done, Haynes said.

“There are a number of initiatives to work on, including a new child care center,” he said. “There is a lot to focus on getting done before I retire.”

The board and Haynes have already begun seeking a replacement, Haynes said. A search firm has been hired and a search committee created. It hopes for a new president to be in place by mid-July.

“I have a lot to be proud of,” Haynes said. “It is a great college.”

SUNY Cortland hosts Cuba symposium

History was made in April at SUNY Cortland, as it played host to the first major symposium on U.S.-Cuba relations since President Barack Obama visited Cuba in March.

More than 80 people — faculty, students, local residents — congregated in the Sperry Center’s lecture hall before the start of the four-session symposium to hear experts discuss a range of topics, from politics to baseball.

The latter was the overriding topic of the event, which was sponsored by the Caribbean Baseball Initiative, a consortium of baseball executives that hopes to bridge U.S.-Cuba relations. Jordan Kobritz, a SUNY Cortland professor and chairman of the Sport Management Department, is an executive of the initiative and helped organize the symposium.

Through a number of connections, Kobritz brought notable professionals to discuss baseball diplomacy, business opportunities, politics and growth in academics between Cuba and the United States.

The first session dealt with the politics of U.S. and Cuba’s relationship.

“People believe they know about Cuba because they know about the Bay of Pigs,” said Miguel Fraga, first secretary for the Cuban Embassy. “Cuba is more than that.”

Other speakers included William Cohen, former secretary of defense during the Clinton Administration, Marc Grossman, former ambassador to Turkey, Venezuela and Zambia, and ESPN Deportes’ reporter Jorge Morejon.

SUNY schools lose prior felony application box

The SUNY Board of Trustees voted Sept. 14 to “ban the box” — remove the box on all SUNY school applications that required students to declare felony convictions.

Students will instead be asked to declare a felony conviction post-admission and only when they seek campus housing or participate in clinical or field experiences, internships or study abroad programs, according to SUNY.

Students who admit a felony conviction will be evaluated by a committee of people in the criminology field, sociology department and others to decide whether they have “paid their debt to society,” said SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum.

Depending on what the committee finds, a person could be denied access to campus housing or denied an internship, for example if they were convicted on a serious felony like homicide. Bitterbaum said the school has never dealt with a situation like that, but the college will enact a policy before the box ban takes effect.

TC3 raises funds for child-care facility

The Tompkins Cortland Community College Foundation began its campaign in September to raise funds for the remaining $1 million needed to build a $5.5 million child-care center, slated to open in 2018 on the college’s main campus.

The school plans to build the 8,674-square-foot Arthur Kuckes Childcare Center to enhance its ability to provide care for more children and benefit many more students. Haynes said the existing center had been upgraded twice before, but ran out of space because of an overwhelming number of students seeking child-care.

About 80 percent of the center’s parents are TC3 students.

The new center will nearly triple the number of children the center can service, to 80 full-time equivalent care slots from 30. Johanna Hartnett, the director of TC3’s child care center, said including part-time children the center could service up to about 100 kids.

Parents would pay about $30 a week for full-time care, or about $15 part-time, a fraction of the traditional cost because of state subsidies.

The center already has a 30-child waiting list, she said.

Building renovation complete at SUNY

DeGroat Hall at SUNY Cortland was one of the final dormitory-style residence halls to receive a major renovation, costing $7 million. The partially renovated Casey and Smith halls on Neubig Road are the next to be completed.

DeGroat Hall, which has 84 rooms and space for 161 residents, received new floors, energy efficient lighting, updated dorm rooms, bathrooms and laundry room, an insulated ceiling, new lounges with kitchenettes and an elevator.

The first and second floors each have a women’s wing and a men’s wing, with freshmen, sophomore and transfer students among the residents. The third floor is made up predominantly single rooms for upperclassmen and transfer students.

Each lounge has designer-like furniture, a flat-screen television, oven, sink, cabinets and a microwave.

The traditional large, hallway style bathroom facilities on the first and third floors were replaced with a series of smaller, single-use bathrooms, featuring a sink, toilet and shower stall, all of which can be locked behind the occupant.

For more of 2016’s top stories, check out our year-in-review roundups.

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