Chapter Five


The Sustainability Era 2000-21


Clarkson in the 21st century steadily maintains the vision of its namesake, Thomas S. Clarkson: to remain engaged with “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed” while leading in using new technologies. Whereas Thomas S. Clarkson experimented with new machines, factories and electric lights, Clarkson experiments with nanotechnologies, biometrics and water purification. Thomas employed hundreds and worked to develop the North Country, while Clarkson employs over 800 people and adds $325 million to the North Country economy. Thomas was knit into a network of international financiers and businessmen anchored in New York City, and Clarkson is moving to reclaim some of those networks as it expands its footprint down the Hudson through vital mergers with Union College and the Beacon Institute.

Campus Expansion: The Hill

Clarkson marked the turn of the century by completing the move to the Hill with the opening of Bertrand H. Snell Hall, which houses the Reh School of Business and the School of Arts & Sciences. Downtown, Old Snell continued housing facilities, maintenance and the auditorium, and unused space was rented to artists and the St. Lawrence Arts Council. Clarkson Hall was renovated and used for graduate programs in the Department of Physical Therapy, as well as Canton-Potsdam Hospital offices. Peyton, Damon, Lewis and Burnap halls became small business incubators. Old Main was used for storage, until it was renovated to house the Office of Information Technology.

In the 21st century, three new buildings have been added on the Hill: Foster House, the new President’s house named for benefactors Everett and Judy Foster, and two LEED certified buildings: the Technology Advancement Center in 2008 and the Student Center in 2009. Other projects included constructing the Munter Trails, walkways between buildings, new fourth floors and rooflines on dorms and expansions to the Science Center and Rowley.

Campus Expansion: Downstate

With the actualization of the 100-year old dream to move the Potsdam campus to the Hill, it was time for a new dream. Alumni were taking jobs further afield, and an untapped pool of prospective students was growing downstate. It was time for Clarkson University to reconnect with its historical roots along the waterways leading to New York City. President Collins said in 2008, “As we move forward in the unfamiliar waters of a fragile global economy, we are actively encouraging a broader University engagement through local, regional/state, national and global partnerships that strengthen our academic excellence and demonstrate visible action towards addressing the complex world challenges that Clarkson and its community of talented people are uniquely poised to lead.”

Trudeau Institute

2013 — The partnership with Trudeau Institute and New York state received $35 million for five years of R&D to form a biotechnology enterprise.

Capitol Region Campus (CRC)

2016 — Clarkson’s Capital Region Campus opened as a result of the merger with Union Graduate College. The CRC offers graduate and professional degree programs and serves as the center for graduate recruitment and admissions.

Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries

2011 — Clarkson began a collaboration with the Beacon Institute in 2008, making it a subsidiary in 2011. Goals of the new alliance include advancing the commercialization of the sensor monitoring technology River and Estuary Observation Network (REON) and influencing public policy to protect waterways. The MS in engineering management, a hybrid program with classes online and in-person in Beacon or NYC, has had 174 students enroll since 2013 with 110 currently working toward completion.

Beacon launched “Sensor Place” an interactive learning to develop interactive space for visitors of all ages to explore the use of sensor technology for environmental science.

Leadership

The geographic expansion of Clarkson’s campuses echoes the University’s expansion on the national and international stages, as our multidisciplinary research, technological innovation and entrepreneurship programs continue to grow. Two men deeply rooted in Clarkson’s story have helmed these exciting new developments: Bayard “Barney” D. Clarkson, an emeritus trustee who served on the board beginning in 1969, is one of several relatives of Thomas S. Clarkson who has guided the University through the centuries. While Barney was the longest serving trustee, Anthony “Tony” Collins has been the longest serving president of Clarkson. He joined the Department of Environmental & Civil Engineering faculty in 1982, and later served as dean and provost. His presidency began at the turn of the century, in 2003.

Barney Clarkson with President Tony Collins and wife Karen at a trustee dinner.
Barney Clarkson with President Tony Collins and wife Karen at a trustee dinner.

Barney Clarkson

At a celebration for his 50th year on the board, Barney was honored as the “intellectual heart and soul” of the University for his leadership in positioning Clarkson to develop its research program — a battle begun when he joined the board. At that time, the college aimed simply to provide high-quality undergraduate education. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Barney, fought to raise the profile of research at the University, arguing that strong researchers would attract strong graduate students, who in turn would provide rich research opportunities for undergraduates. To Barney, himself a research scientist with a long career at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a strong research program could better address real-world problems. This goal was forwarded by the generous gift of Walter Coulter in 2003, who shared the philosophy of “technology serving humanity.”

To promote research, Barney and his wife, Ginny, endowed a faculty chair in biology.

Tony Collins

Tony Collins has always embraced the importance of technology and research in order to solve real-world problems. In his 2003 inaugural address, President Collins laid out his Evolution to Excellence plan to “build a technological university second to none — a university that develops leaders concerned about humanity and creates technology that aids humanity.”

In 2005, he urged the Clarkson community to “defy convention” by changing the nature of education and job expectations from 20th century silos to the 21st century’s “flat world” of global ecosystems and internet access. He encouraged spanning boundaries through multidisciplinary teams including professionals, academics, educators and entrepreneurs, and created a formal “Presidential Vision” to pursue sustainability and innovation.

Strategic Priorities

The 21st century has been a dynamic period for shaping Clarkson’s strategic priorities, of which three are featured here: sustainability, entrepreneurship and STEM. Clarkson has long worked in all three areas, but they have come into sharper focus through the support of benefactors and the needs of the American people.

Addressing real needs has been Clarkson’s mission from its founding. Current needs to improve sustainability have promoted changes in building processes and materials, recycling and monitoring, and cleaning precious resources like air and water. The need to speed innovation and creativity has brought entrepreneurship to the forefront, and the need for better education in STEM has promoted Clarkson’s expansion into K-12 educational programs. The STEM and sustainability initiatives are being supported by the dramatic expansion of the campus to sites down the Hudson River.

To solve some of the biggest problems society currently faces, Clarkson draws from its long experience with interdisciplinary teams, its cutting-edge research priorities, its entrepreneurship incubation and its emphasis on course and extracurricular projects. We are ready to address the challenges of the 21st century.

Sustainability

Clarkson has earned a Gold STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) rating for sustainability. As of 2019, we are in the top 15 of 100 universities and colleges that are actively working to decrease their carbon footprints and increase resilience to climate change. STARS includes metrics for energy, building, accommodations, well-being, curriculum and research.

Sustainability work at Clarkson began around 2000, when the University was already a national leader in campus sustainability initiatives. The Institute for a Sustainable Environment was formed in 2010 to centralizing sustainability efforts on and beyond campus, and in 2014, President Collins prioritized sustainability by signing the Climate Commitment. Sustainability remains a campus-wide commitment and includes innovative curriculum, interdisciplinary research and community outreach.

While buildings and campus leadership are important, so too is the work students engage in. Many courses involve a sustainability component, and students are directly involved in sustainability through research, campus projects and competitions or volunteer work. Campus projects include work with the greenhouse and biomass digester, recycling and increasing awareness of sustainability issues in the community.

Sustainability research on campus includes that in the areas of earth, air, wind and energy, and is performed in state- and federally-funded centers, faculty research groups and even classes.

Earth

A biodigester that recovers energy from farm waste for use in fueling farm productivity was developed in 2005. The $2-million project was funded by state and federal governments and involved faculty from Civil & Environmental, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science departments.

Air

The Center for Air and Aquatic Resources Engineering & Sciences (CAARES) was established in 2002 by Philip Hopke to provide a better and more complete scientific basis for air quality management.

Water

  • Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries
  • NYS Center of Excellence in Healthy Water Solutions
  • Great Rivers Center
  • Pollution remediation

Energy

  • Small wind turbines
  • Solar energy
  • The Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSES)

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship began in 1976 as a program in the School of Business. Since 1998, all first-year business students have been required to take First-Year Entrepreneurship, where they work in teams over two semesters designing a product to bring to market and competing for investor funding at the end. The entrepreneurship curriculum is supported by the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship, The Shipley Center for Innovation and faculty positions in entrepreneurship and innovation endowed by the Dorfs, Bonkes and Elmer Gates. The Gates endowment supports innovation in business as well as engineering. In 2015, the School of Engineering partnered with KEEN (Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network) to introduce the entrepreneurial mindset into engineering curricula.

As a result of these initiatives, Clarkson has been recognized as one of the top 50 entrepreneurial colleges in the country and has received awards for its excellence in entrepreneurial education.

Reh Center for Entrepreneurship

Created in 2009, the Reh Center’s mission is to educate and develop entrepreneurs by leveraging existing resources, such as Professor Marc Compeau’s My Small Business 101 course. Student interns have assisted over 800 entrepreneurs with business plans, financial applications and new capital management. Through the Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work, for example, Clarkson renovated a business center in Saranac Lake for telecommuting workers and offered courses for local residents who wanted to learn how to use broadband in their businesses. On campus, the Reh Center has nurtured the Innovation Hub, which assists those interested in exploring entrepreneurship and business ideas with mentorship. Originally operating out of Snell, the Innovation Hub moved to the expanded Educational Resources Center (ERC) in 2019. The Reh Center hosts the North Country Regional Business Plan Competition and the Young Entrepreneurs Program, among others.

Ignite

Ignite was initiated in 2017 as a super-structure that will allow Clarkson to reinvent itself and meet the needs of the 21st century. While the University has always promoted interdisciplinary teamwork in research centers and on SPEED teams, each program and major has worked in isolation to fulfill learning objectives and accreditation requirements. Separating disciplines into silos has been the standard structure of education; breaking down these silos is a mission for the 21st century. However, as any contractor knows, before current supporting walls are weakened, alternative supports need to be built. Ignite has been designed to provide the structural support needed to allow students and faculty to break out of their disciplinary constraints while still meeting disciplinary requirements.

In 2019, Ignite attracted over 2,205 students and faculty members from 53 programs of study to compete in the President’s Challenge. Many teams used resources in the Innovation Hub, where they participated in workshops and masterclasses. Through Ignite competitions, multidisciplinary faculty projects have received funding for 11 graduate students to work on research projects. And on the airwaves, information about student and faculty innovations is broadcast through the Ignite Podcast.

Innovation

The Shipley Center began in 1993 in the School of Business as the Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship, before gaining support from Charles R. H’84 and Lucia Shipley and becoming the Shipley Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship. After a name change to The Shipley Center for Innovation, it has focused on technology transfer — a pipeline for Clarkson students, faculty, alumni and others to bring their innovations to market. In 2014, it became a New York State Innovation Hot Spot and the regional center for START-UP NY, which allows new businesses to operate tax free for 10 years.

Of the approximately 400 applications received per year, The Shipley Center selects 120-200 to fund and provides guidance for incorporation, logo development, patent applications and prototyping. The Center’s startup failure rate beats the national average, and even if startups don’t succeed, the students involved take their valuable experience into their next endeavors.

Shipley maintains a walk-in center in Snell Hall, has operations in Damon and Peyton Halls downtown and coordinates START-UP NY development centers throughout the North Country.

The Seaway Private Equity Corporation (SPEC) was formed as a not-for-profit corporation to create quality job opportunities in St. Lawrence County by investing in new technology companies, with particular outreach to renewable energy and environmental technology startups. Funding for investments is derived from $10 million made available by the NY Power Authority. That following is a snapshot of the last four investments made by SPEC, which demonstrate the seriousness of purpose and international backing involved to create a premier place to live, learn and thrive through innovation.

ZeroPoint Clean Tech Inc. focuses on renewable energy and has 18 patents pending in biomass gasification, synthesis gas processing, fuel reformings and gas-to-liquids, and water treatment technologies. In 2007, SPEC invested $1 million and Credit Suisse and Zedonix in the Netherlands contributed $3.5 million.

Curran Renewable Energy is a wood pellet manufacturing company launched by Seaway Timber Harvesting and Curran Logging. SPEC invested $1 million, Oppenheimer Funds contributed $8 million and local development funds contributed $1 million.

Vertuous LLC is creating a web-based social networking community aimed at developing ways environmentally conscientious people can rate and assess the ecological impact of the products and services they use. SPEC invested $.5 million and other private investors invested more than $1 million.

ACR 2 Solutions Inc. produces risk/compliance reporting solutions for regulated entities like banks and hospitals. SPEC invested $257,900 while private investors invested $500 thousand.

STEM

Institute for STEM Education

Engaging students and citizens in STEM became a national priority in 2008. For the United States to compete both globally and locally, individuals must be digitally literate and trained in analytical thinking and problem-solving. Much of this training occurs in K-12. While a national strategic priority is creating and training teachers to use interdisciplinary curricula, in 2019, the North Country reported a shortage of STEM teachers. To address this challenge, Clarkson created the Institute for STEM Education in 2017.

Clarkson has often worked with K-12 students and teachers through camps and training sessions. With recent expansions, the University is even more well-positioned to create a full STEM ecosystem. One key component is STEM teacher education, which now has a home in the Master of Arts in Teaching program at the Capitol Region Campus. Another component is the environmental education facilities for K-12 education being developed at the Beacon Institute.

Curriculum Expansion: Children and Professionals

The Clarkson vision, centered on an intimate residential experience, has always looked beyond the campus for ways to facilitate learning for school children, families and professionals. From the 1940s through the 1960s, classes were held in Massena for townspeople and Alcoa professionals. In the 1980s, computer camps and classes were offered for teachers and families. Two outreach programs — Project Challenge, for high schoolers, and Horizons, for middle school girls — are still running. Clarkson encourages professional organizations, fraternities and sororities and other groups to reach out to the community and engage students in STEM education.

With online technology transforming education, Clarkson has been developing new opportunities for working professionals such as the online MBA and the MS in engineering management. A hybrid program, the MS in engineering management program holds classed at the Beacon Institute or in New York City.
Clarkson has consistently earned commendations as one of the top in the nation for its online MBA and graduate business programs.

Faculty Research

The Clarkson research enterprise drives innovation and the creation of knowledge that directly benefits society. Our laboratories, research stations and facilities are expanding, and our expertise grows rapidly as we engineer solutions for the world’s most pressing challenges. Students and faculty work side by side to discover novel applications for their research. In fact, in 2018, Carnegie conferred a Research 2 designation on Clarkson, highlighting our dedication to research excellence.

CREST — The Center for Rehabilitation Engineering, Science and Technology was begun with Coulter funding in 2003 by Charles Robinson, professor of electrical and computer engineering and Herman L. Shulman Endowed Chair. Medical devices, biosensors and bio-nanotechnology are just some of the exciting areas of biomedical engineering science and technology at Clarkson.

CITeR —The Center for Identification Technology Research is a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center, which are unique in that their affiliates become directly involved in all phases of the Center’s research, from planning to completion. Clarkson has served as the lead site since 2011 under the direction of Stephanie Schuckers, professor of electrical and computer engineering and Paynter-Krigman Endowed Professor in Engineering Science. Notable CITeR projects include exploring the impact of makeup on face recognition; keystroke and computing behavioral patterns; user identification based on IoT behavior; and using algorithms to detect face and fingerprint spoofing.

C3S2 — In the Clarkson Center for Complex Systems Science, researchers develop and use mathematical tools designed to understand the resultant outcome of group behaviors that are not evident when studying the behavior of individual elements alone.

Clarkson’s researchers have produced some of the most-cited papers in the world.

Evgeny Katz, Milton Kerker Chair in Colloid Science, co authored a paper in 2000 that has received more than 1000 citations: “Nanoparticle Arrays on Surfaces for Electronic, Optical and Sensor Applications,” published in ChemPhysChem. He was included in 2011 in the Hirsch, or H- Index, of the world’s most-cited chemists. In 2014, he received the Clarkson Lifetime Research Achievement Award, which honors those who have been internationally recognized for a body of work at the highest level of research. Katz is world-renowned as an expert in colloid science, bioelectronics and bioelectrochemistry, a two-time winner of the Kaye Innovation Award (1995 and 2004) and was recently ranked as one of the world’s top 100 chemists by Thomson Reuters.

Philip K. Hopke, Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor Emeritus, has over 600 publications and almost 3000 hits in Google Scholar H-Index.

Dipankar Roy, professor and chair of physics, has authored articles that are among the
top 1% of most frequently accessed in Chemical Physics in 2005.

Undergraduate Research

Clarkson’s active faculty research program and small intimate setting provide many opportunities for undergraduate research, which, along with other types of experiential education, has helped students succeed. In 2003, 83 students mentored by 39 professors presented their work at the Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium (SURE). By 2014, over 500 undergraduates were involved in research. In fact, so many students are now involved year-round that SURE has evolved to become the thrice-yearly on-campus Research and Projects Showcase (RAPS).

Honors Program

While hundreds of undergraduates are involved in research, the Honors Program was developed to drive the experience to nationally competitive levels. The Honors Program attracts top students, some of whom have gained national recognition for their research. Clarkson is one of only 27 institutions nationwide whose students have won a Goldwater Scholarship every year since 2005.

As well as performing research with faculty, Honors students research real-world projects and create solutions through their coursework. The first Honors project was the creation of DAX2000, a computer game targeted for middle schoolers that involved a simulation of the Adirondack Park to show how society and nature affect each other. More recent projects have included an interactive display for the Blue Mountain museum, plans for waterfront development at Clarkson and in Massena and sustainability projects for Clarkson and Potsdam.

Enriching the Student Experience

The Professional Experience Requirement

All students are required to fulfill a professional experience requirement, which can be met by participating in research, a co-op or internship, or a study abroad experience. The Career Center assists students with any of these three, but has been particularly innovative in facilitating co-op and internship experiences. The International Center offers options for studying abroad, as well as faculty-lead study trips.

The Career Fair, a semester event, gives students the chance to prepare resumes, interview and maybe even secure a co-op or interview, usually in their junior or senior year. The Global Study Program became a requirement for business majors, beginning with the Class of 2011. While the requirement can be met through study abroad or exchange programs, the Reh School of Business offers two- or three-week faculty-led trips that cap a semester of classwork focusing on cultural and business issues in the host country.

Extracurricular Team Competitions

Extracurricular competitions have been an important part of Clarkson since the 20th century. In fact, competitions are part of the agenda for many professional student organizations, and students are invited to participate in the annual Ignite President’s Challenge. It’s the SPEED program, however, that takes extracurricular competition to a national level. The Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design — SPEED —team program was recognized in 2002 by the National Science Foundation as “an exemplary effort to improve teaching and learning in undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics education” and a strategy “that has the greatest potential for preparing engineers, scientists and technicians for the 21s century workforce.”

The SPEED program has over 10 competitive teams that share campus resources. Over 350 students participate on one of the SPEED teams, which include Baja SAE; Formula SAE; SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge; Formula SAE Electric; Chem-E Car; Design, Build, Fly; Human-Powered Vehicle; Construction Management; Steel Bridge; Concrete Canoe; Timber Bridge; and FIRST Robotics.

SPEED teams are multidisciplinary, requiring team members who can work on design or write the required plans for design, budget and marketing. The teams complete their project on a budget and in compliance with safety regulations in order to compete at regional or national competitions.

Leadership

Wallace Coulter

Wallace Coulter

Wallace Coulter, a Clarkson trustee from 1983 to 1989, was the consummate creative real-world problem-solver and a proponent of diversity and global perspectives. In 2003, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation gifted $30 million to Clarkson for bioengineering.

Wallace’s funding and influence inspired a pivot to “Defy Convention.” Conventionally, engineering programs are seen as a career step for students who like gadgets. At Clarkson, we defy that convention by asserting that instead of being mere technical skills, engineering is a way to serve humanity. Coulter funding supports research, the Center for Rehabilitation Engineering, Science and Technology and the SPEED teams.

Helen Cheel

Helen Cheel

Helen Cheel bequeathed approximately $27 million to Clarkson in 2005. She has been recognized for her generosity with the naming of the Cheel Campus Center and Arena and Bertrand H. Snell Hall, a world-class academic facility named in honor of her father. “Mrs. Cheel was a beloved friend of Clarkson who derived great pleasure from the transforming gifts she made to the institution during her lifetime,” commented President Collins. “Her extraordinary financial support of Clarkson was surpassed only by the extraordinary friendships she developed with so many individuals associated with the University.”

David Reh

David Reh

David Reh and his wife, Sue, have been passionate advocates for Clarkson. Their commitment to supporting and shaping business and entrepreneurship education led to the establishment of the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship at the University. The Rehs continued their support through an endowed chair and an endowed professorship, which fund permanent faculty positions that focus on entrepreneurial leadership, research and practice.

In 2017, Clarkson named its School of Business after Davis in recognition of his lifetime of support and influence on the school’s award-winning education. He also was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree at Commencement that May. The degree was presented for “his steadfast commitment to technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, the twin engines of progress, and for his dedication to shaping the next generation of business creators and industry leaders.”

Charles ’84 and Lucia Shipley

Charles ’84 and Lucia Shipley

Charles ’84 and Lucia Shipley were long-time friends and supporters of the University. Both entrepreneurs, the Shipleys founded and built the Shipley Company into a multimillion-dollar international corporation that has made significant discoveries in the field of specialty chemicals for the electronics industry. The company’s early involvement in microelectronics and semiconductors has resulted in many technological innovations and numerous domestic and foreign patents. In 1999, the Shipley Family Foundation named the Shipley Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship in the School of Business. It also endows a Clarkson fellowship in chemistry and underwrites the Shipley Distinguished Lecture Series.

Other Benefactors

While many other benefactors could be listed, here we feature those who have been integral in the strategic development of entrepreneurship and sustainability.

Neil ’64 and Karen Bonke

Neil ’64 and Karen Bonke

Neil ’64 and Karen Bonke endowed a professorship for entrepreneurship and innovation in the engineering and management program. They support Clarkson’s ‘get out of the classroom’ approach to education, which exposes students to real projects, competitions, startups and community projects — all of which introduce students to entrepreneurial thinking and innovation. Neil was an executive officer and board member of Electroglas Inc., a semiconductor test equipment manufacturer.

Richard ’55 and Joy Dorf

Richard ’55 and Joy Dorf

Richard ’55 and Joy Dorf have endowed the chair in entrepreneurism and innovation. This faculty position belongs in the Reh School of Business, but the faculty member also connects entrepreneurial concepts to programs in the Coulter School of Engineering. Richard is a professor of electrical engineering, has authored several engineering texts and has co-founded six technology firms.

Elmer Gates ’50

The late Elmer Gates ’50 generously provided a gift to establish the Tony Collins Professor of Innovative Engineering Culture, and his family added the Elmer Gates ’50 Professor of Innovative Business Culture. These professorships were awarded to two individuals who demonstrate the symbiotic relationship between engineering and management, cross disciplinary boundaries, actively defy convention and embrace the entrepreneurial spirit. Elmer began his “turnaround business” approach with a rewarding and successful career at General Electric that ended in 1982. After a position as CEO of Fuller Company in 1986, which he sold in 1990, he mentored startups and CEO’s, always believing in and living by the dynamic attributes he supported at Clarkson.

Jean ’79 and Robert ’79 Spence

Jean Spence ’79

A generous gift from two Clarkson alumni enabled the University to create the Jean ’79 and Robert ’79 Spence Professorship for Sustainable Environmental Systems. This position is given to a faculty member who advises the University on sustainability matters; integrates sustainability principles into scholarship, teaching and service; and provides a focal point for exchanging ideas with other institutions worldwide. Jean Spence served on the Clarkson Board of Trustees and as executive vice president at Mondelez International Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc. After graduating from Clarkson in 1979 with her BS in chemical engineering, she joined Proctor & Gamble as a process supervisor. She went on to work for General Foods (later Kraft Foods) in 1981 as a research engineer for Maxwell House — the second female engineer at Kraft. She has earned three U.S. and international patents. Robert, who received his BS in mechanical engineering the same year, started his career with Loral Corporation as a manufacturing engineer. He went on to work for International Telephone & Telegraph, Singer Corporation and GEC-Marconi Electronic Systems, holding various positions. He is currently self-employed as a contractor.

Earl ’66 and Barbara Lewis

Earl ’66 and Barbara Lewis

In 2019, Earl “Skip” ’66 and Barbara Lewis, long-time donors to Clarkson, provided a transformational gift to establish the Earl R. and Barbara D. Lewis School of Health Sciences. This gift supports the University’s growing portfolio of programs that advance careers, research and innovation in the healthcare sector. The Lewis’ acute desire to bring quality healthcare to the region began when a beloved family member was given a short life expectancy following a diagnosis of heart failure and sent home to live out her final days. Through diligent advocacy and intervention from their son, a cardiologist in Boston, they found a way to prolong her life, and she enjoyed her life in the North Country for many more years. This experience raised the Lewis family’s awareness of rural healthcare challenges and became a huge impetus to engage in Clarkson’s health sciences programs.

Skip retired as president and CEO of FLIR Systems in 2013, a manufacturer of thermal imaging and broadcast camera systems. He continues to serve as chairman of the company’s board of directors. He received his BS in industrial distribution from Clarkson in 1966 and attended postgraduate programs at the University of Buffalo, Northeastern University and Harvard. Skip has held numerous positions on the Clarkson Board of Trustees and currently serves on the Executive Committee. Barbara, 1966 SUNY Potsdam graduate, and Skip met their freshman year in Potsdam.