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Antlers Passes to Cortland College Foundation

 Antlers Passes to Cortland College Foundation

05/14/2013 

SUNY Cortland’s plan to place more students and alumni in the living laboratory of the Adirondack wilderness took a giant step forward May 13 when the SUNY Cortland Auxiliary Services Corporation (ASC) transferred its Antlers property in Raquette Lake to the Cortland College Foundation.

College, Cortland College Foundation and ASC officials gathered in Brockway Hall to sign the change-of-ownership agreement, which gives the 2.7-acre camp complex, valued at more than $1 million, to the foundation. In conjunction with the transfer, SUNY Cortland enters into a 30-year lease agreement with the foundation for the right to operate the former 19th-century hotel and summer resort.

student in classroom
A SUNY Cortland student examines a specimen found near Antlers during a class in the Casino building.

“We are very pleased that Auxiliary Services Corporation is making this important transfer of Antlers,” said SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum. “This will enable the College to further develop its vision for students to gain a greater appreciation of the Adirondacks.  We hope that all SUNY Cortland students take advantage of the opportunities they have to experience first-hand the rich life lessons the Antlers experience has to offer.”

As part of its campus-wide commitment to create environmental and outdoor education opportunities for all members of the College community, the College will increase its use of Antlers as a resource for students and alumni to strengthen their connection with the College.

“I’m very pleased the foundation is taking over Antlers and I can see only positive outcomes in the future,” said John Silsby ’69, who heads the annual Hearts of Gold retreat for alumni and students at Antlers. “I’ve been there many times and as an alumnus I am glad of the opportunities I’ve had.”

The transfer solidifies the College’s commitment to Antlers and the improvements needed to help SUNY Cortland’s Raquette Lake facilities reach their full potential, said Kimberly Pietro, vice president for institutional advancement and executive director of the Cortland College Foundation.

“The Raquette Lake center is something that makes us special and very different from other college campuses,” Pietro said, “It’s a place we’re quite proud of because we are among only a very few SUNY institutions that can offer this kind of unique, historical wilderness learning opportunity.”

Transfer agreement signing on May 13, 2013
President Erik J. Bitterbaum, standing, presided over the historic change of ownership for the Antlers property. Adjacent to him were, on the left, Pierre Gagnon, ASC executive director, and on the right, Kimberly Pietro, vice president for institutional advancement and executive director of the Cortland College Foundation. Their attorneys, shown far left and right, were Mike Shafer and Don Armstrong.

With the property acquisition, the Cortland College Foundation ends the silent phase of a  $1.5 million endowment campaign for programs at the two camps the College operates at Raquette Lake; Huntington Memorial Camp and Antlers. Robert Rubendall, director of the College’s Center for Environmental and Outdoor Education, continues to develop unique programming and will play a lead role in determining how the endowment fund is spent.

The endowment initiative is part of “Educating Champions: The Campaign for Cortland,” which since Fall 2011 has made steady and significant progress in raising a total of $25 million to support the College’s major priorities. Although the overall campaign ends June 30, the Raquette Lake campaign will continue until all needs are met.

The foundation has numerous building- and room-naming opportunities on site at Raquette Lake, along with special Raquette Lake giving societies that will offer permanent recognition to leadership donors.

For its part, SUNY Cortland will significantly improve the Antlers facility by pledging $1 million for future upgrades to the infrastructure and by expanding the operation at Antlers to three seasons. The ASC — an independent corporation created by the College to provide dining, vending and other services for the SUNY Cortland community — purchased Antlers in 1965 to provide marina access and a staging area for water and ice access to Camp Huntington, a 400-acre historic great camp on the remote Long Point. The College had acquired Huntington in 1948.

Antlers hosts students studying biology, physical education, professional writing and other disciplines. It currently accommodates up to 45 overnight guests, serves meals and offers unique classroom and meeting space.

For decades, alumni have used Antlers to reunite with their classmates in an informal setting. Many feel a very strong connection to the camp.

students relaxing on a porch
Students unwind from a long day of learning on the upstairs porch in the Casino building at Antlers. 

“It’s such a tremendous resource for the College and for the alumni,” said Silsby, who currently chairs the Harlan Gold Metcalf Endowment Fund. The fund, which benefits the Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies Department, supports an annual Hearts of Gold reunion at Antlers for alumni who studied with the late, revered SUNY Cortland emeritus professor Harlan “Gold” Metcalf, as well as selected current recreation majors.

For more information about the Campaign for Raquette Lake, contact the Cortland College Foundation, Inc. at SUNY Cortland, Brockway Hall Room 313, P.O. Box 2000, Cortland, NY 13045; or call 607-753-5744; or email cortlandcollegefoundation@cortland.edu; or visit the Center for Environmental and Outdoor Education website at cortland.edu/raquette.