State's First Lady visits campus

Silda Wall Spitzer speaks with Josh Miller“New York is a place of hope and opportunity,” said the state’s First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer, in a “fireside chat” at SUNY Oswego’s Riggs Hall with campus and community leaders Nov. 28. “We want to keep the next generation here and build for the future.”

Spitzer’s stop in Oswego was part of her “I Live New York” campaign to attract and retain the next generation of New Yorkers. The wife of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, she led a summit on the topic Sept. 18 at SUNY Cortland.

At Oswego, Spitzer called for creating what she called a “livable community, where people want to live, work and raise children.”

She said one key to this was integration of higher education and the community. “The next generation will be launching from here,” Spitzer said at the college. “This is the best place to connect with the energy and ideas coming out of our young leaders.”

SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley said the college was working on the same goals in its long-range plan. “We try to open students’ eyes so they can see the power of their own work in the community.”

Stanley introduced several members of the college and community who shared their ideas on how to attract and retain younger people.

Tom Boney, Novelis Oswego works manager, said he was “passionate” about New York state. He described the 10Kan race, which Novelis hosted in September to collect one million cans for recycling and raise money to build a Habitat for Humanity home. Boney credited many members of the SUNY Oswego community for their help in the event, which included an educational component and fostered fitness and environmental awareness.

Spitzer, who is head of the state volunteer commission, said that “volunteering is the keystone to building community.”

She heard from members of Oswego’s YP Voice, Student Association, Office of Experience-Based Education and Center for Community Service and Service Learning, and other groups about ways their organizations share their expertise with the community.

Amanda Wilson, AmeriCorps/Vista volunteer on campus, talked about the Discover College program, in which 30 children of migrant workers spent a day on campus attending classes and visiting Tyler Art Gallery.

Jennifer Hill, executive director of the Greater Oswego Chamber of Commerce, spoke about her group’s integration with both YP Voice and SUNY Oswego students, as well as the Retired Senior Volunteer Program on campus. “The community is richer when we have all of those things,” Hill said.

In response to a comment by First Ward Alderman Constance M. Cosemento (a 1966 graduate of SUNY Oswego) that interns were helpful in service to her ward, Spitzer commented that internships were a strong way to link students with the community and give them a reason to want to stay. Paul Roodin, director of Experience-Based Education, noted that students were “empowered” and experienced “a sense of efficacy” through their internship opportunities.

The state’s First Lady said that her job and that of her husband’s administration was to “listen and see” what roadblocks can be removed and different communication channels opened to attract and retain the younger generation to remain in New York state.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Discussing Oswego—New York State First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer talks with Student Association President Josh Miller during her recent visit to SUNY Oswego.

(Posted: Dec 03, 2007)