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Paul Smith's College sees biggest enrollment in 25 years

PAUL SMITHS Paul Smith's College welcomed 385 new students to campus on Monday, the start of the 2007-08 academic year.

About 950 students are expected to enroll at the college this semester, the largest figure since 1982. Enrollment is approximately 10 percent ahead of last year's tally.

"We're very excited about this year, and our prospects moving forward," said John Mills, president of Paul Smith's College. "Our strong incoming class is really a testament to the innovative education that all our students receive, and carry with them into their careers."

When students arrived, they found changes and improvements completed in several areas on campus, and about to begin in others. Construction on a pair of 48-bed residence halls is expected to start soon, as the Adirondack Park Agency has approved the energy-efficient buildings. The new halls, which feature single rooms grouped in suites, are expected to be ready by next August; site preparation has already begun. Next year's incoming class is expected to be at least as large as this year's, making the additional beds necessary.

This fall, the college re-opened its residence hall in downtown Saranac Lake; students who live there will be able to use meal cards to purchase food from several area restaurants.

Other changes include a $3.3-million project to update the college's athletic facilities. Work was completed this summer on a new hardwood gym floor and the addition of classrooms and a dance and aerobics room. Additionally, a top-to-bottom renovation of Pickett Hall, an academic building, is nearly complete.

About two-thirds of the new students are from New York State, with the rest coming from elsewhere. Of the 385 new students, 56 are transfers. On Saturday, the incoming class gathered in the college's Buxton Annex for Convocation. Mary Wolf, the former dean of freshmen at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., and currently that city's mayor, addressed the group; she discussed community wellness, and what that means on a residential campus such as Paul Smith's College.

Paul Smith's College is the only four-year institution of higher education in the Adirondack Park. The school, on the shores of Lower St. Regis Lake, encompasses 14,200 acres of forests, streams, lakes and mountains that are available for students to explore and study. The College offers both bachelors and associate degree programs which focus on experiential learning in a variety of majors including biology; fish and wildlife sciences; natural resources; environmental science; forestry; surveying; recreation, adventure travel and ecotourism; hospitality, resort and culinary management; liberal arts; and business.

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