To Our Friends:

In 1946, Paul Smith’s opened its doors to students for the first time. Our first class graduated in 1948. At the time, our primary programs included forestry and hotel management—areas we’re still known for now.

The same things that made us successful then continue to drive us forward today. We were founded on the notion that actually doing is the best way to learn. Decades later, that kind of high-touch education is exactly what employers look for in prospective hires. And we remain indelibly shaped by the place we call home. The Adirondacks are, indeed, our north star: A spirit of conservation and individuality has marked the people who have lived here for generations, and those traits are at the core of the Paul Smith’s College experience.

But if we are to thrive, we need to capitalize on what’s made us successful—and go even further through significant innovation and retooling.

For example, many of our students participate in an immersive learning experience. We want to make sure that every student has that opportunity, and we’re seeking local, national and global partnerships to make these experiences possible. We need to offer more opportunities for students to create and run their own businesses. We must share our story with new audiences—and what a story it is!

And, critically, we need to grow. We will always be a small college—we wouldn’t be Paul Smith’s if we weren’t—but our enrollment must be large enough that we can deliver the best possible education to our students. To achieve that scale, it’s not enough for Paul Smith’s to be an attractive destination for students in the Northeast. We must expand our recruitment area and become increasingly diverse. We must develop more programs for non-traditional students who may not want a fully residential college experience, and work even more closely with industry partners to provide on-site and online learning.

We’re already exploring how to make each of these important ideas come off the drawing board and into reality. Earlier this year, following months of collaboration with the campus community, the college’s Board of Trustees approved our 2016-2020 Strategic Plan. It includes dozens of initiatives that touch all facets of campus life—not only our academic programs, which are the backbone of what we offer, but a wide range of other initiatives as well.

Our new strategic plan calls for us to:

  • Attract and support a more diverse and inclusive community.
  • Improve student accessibility, success and retention.
  • Enhance campus living.
  • Invest in our classrooms, laboratories and kitchens.
  • And much more.

We’ve brainstormed many great ideas over the course of building this strategic plan that we can implement simply by changing what we already do. But many more of these ideas will take a significant commitment of time and money to accomplish.

This is how you can help: To launch this plan, an enthusiastic donor has pledged a 5-year, 5-million-dollar giving challenge. This gift, which we’ve dubbed the Coming Home Challenge, will provide the foundation for many of these essential initiatives. We are off to a fast start: Our matching challenge raised $556,000 from 1,700 donors over the last months of 2015, and our donor contributed $1 million in response.

Paul Smith’s is fortunate with so many things: Passionate alumni, students who subscribe to the notion that they can leverage the Paul Smith’s way on the road to really making a difference in society, a campus as beautiful as any in the country, and faculty and staff who aren’t just integral to our mission but are also believers in it.

You, too, are a critical part of our story. With your support, we know that the next seventy years will see the college continue to provide our deserving students with hands-on education for a meaningful life.


E. Philip Saunders

Cathy Dove

Cathy S. Dove