SUNY Plattsburgh honors outgoing president & his wife

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SUNY Plattsburgh is honoring its outgoing president and his wife for the decade and a half they’ve spent in New York’s North Country.

After serving as president since 2004, Dr. John Ettling announced last summer that he’d step down at the end of this academic year. He and his wife, Lisa Lewis, who’s served on the English Department faculty, will both retire in June.

“I’m especially proud of our international programs,” Dr. Ettling said. “Lisa and I have worked very hard to build those and to maintain them, and they’re as good as any international programs in the world, so I’m pleased with that.”

Lewis is thrilled that the Plattsburgh College Foundation is raising $100,000 to bring an idea that she came up with to life…building a meditation garden.

“The support for the garden has been terrific,” Lewis said. “We’ve gotten a wonderful response, and I think the meditation garden will be an important part of the campus.”

The Lisa Lewis and John Ettling Garden would be in a courtyard outside of Hawkins Hall. It would offer a chance to — as Lewis calls it — perfect the art of doing nothing.

“To get away from the chaos and burdens of study, work, computers, cell phones and simply be very present in nature in a space devoted to that,” she said.

And what advice would Ettling offer to his successor?

“Meet as many people as you can early on,” he said. “Don’t come with preconceptions on what you are going to find or what you want to do, and then adjust quickly and have a great ride. Ours has been 15 years.”

The search for a new president is down to three finalists. There’s no word yet on who they are, but SUNY Plattsburgh officials recently told the Press-Republican that all three of them are among five candidates who visited the campus in March. Ettling also pointed out Friday night that all three are women.

If you’d like to donate to the Lisa Lewis and John Ettling Garden, click here.

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