July 1, 2021

SUNY Empire State College Dedicates Flower Garden to Those Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Resilience Garden to Serve as Lasting Symbol of Hope and Perseverance

Resilience Garden Press Event
Photo (left to right): Todd Shimkus, State Senator Daphne Jordan, NYS Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, Elaine Caruso-Roberts, Sue Epstein, Nathan Gonyea
(SARATOGA SPRINGS, NEW YORK — JULY 1, 2021) — Today, SUNY Empire State College held a dedication ceremony to announce its new Resilience Garden, celebrating the compassion and courage of the college community during the COVID-19 pandemic and honoring all New Yorkers impacted by COVID-19.
Last fall, college staff and administration planted dozens of Asiatic lilies at the entrance of 113 West Avenue in Saratoga Springs. The lilies were donated to the college by Lisa Johnson, a project coordinator at SUNY Empire.
Today’s event was attended by local dignitaries State Senator Daphne JordanAssemblywoman Carrie Woerner, and Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. SUNY Empire student Elaine Caruso-Roberts and Interim Assistant Vice President for Advancement and Interim Executive Director of the Empire State College Foundation Sue Epstein, Ph.D., also spoke at the ceremony.
The dedication also coincides with the reopening of SUNY Empire's physical locations and the return of its faculty and staff throughout New York state. During the pandemic, SUNY Empire moved to a fully online model to serve its students and keep their goal of earning a college degree within reach. The college is now poised to resume its online, in-person, and hybrid learning model for the fall term.
SUNY Empire Officer in Charge Nathan Gonyea, Ph.D. said, “In March 2020, we sent our students, faculty, and staff home due to the increasing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, we didn’t know how long we’d be apart or how we’d be impacted. This garden is a beautiful and lasting symbol that represents the resilience of our college community and communities across New York state. We look forward to welcoming back our students, faculty, and staff, which will add vibrancy to cities and towns across the state and help revitalize communities emerging from the pandemic.”
NYS Senator Daphne Jordan R-N.Y. said, “We’re so fortunate in Saratoga Springs to have an institution like SUNY Empire State College, whose compassion, strength, and integrity have provided a beacon of hope during this past year. Even with the pandemic at its peak, SUNY Empire continued to uphold its promise of making higher education accessible. Like the college itself, the Resilience Garden will serve as both a centerpiece of beauty and a testament to our fortitude during some of the most difficult challenges in recent memory.”
Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner D-Round Lake said, “I’m delighted to join SUNY Empire State College and my fellow upstate New Yorkers in celebrating the Resilience Garden, whose beauty stands as a symbol of human strength and endurance amid chaos. Even at the height of the pandemic, SUNY Empire continued to enable its students to pursue their education. Now, as their employees return to work, the college has made time to recognize the spirit of optimism that enables New Yorkers to persevere. It comes at the perfect moment, as we begin our recovery from the pandemic.” 
Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce said, “With the planting of this Resilience Garden here in Saratoga, SUNY Empire State College has not only enhanced the beauty of our community but also called to mind the strength and resolve that is in the heart of all New Yorkers. I want to thank SUNY Empire for sharing this garden with our city, and for taking bold yet cautious steps toward their reopening. The return of their students and employees to the city will help our local economy successfully rebound and thrive.”
To learn more about the SUNY Empire Resilience Garden, click here.