By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
---- — CHAZY — Students and staff at Miner Agricultural Research Institute will now be reminded daily of the man who helped make William H. Miner’s dream a reality.
Members of the college and local community gathered at the campus as the institute’s main academic building was dedicated to Miner Institute’s Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Joseph C. Burke.
At that ceremony earlier this week, the building where classes are held and research conducted was officially changed from Miner Center to the Joseph C. Burke Education and Research Center.
Miner Institute President Rick Grant told event attendees that it has been Burke’s leadership and commitment over nearly 35 years that has allowed the college to mirror Miner’s early 20th-century vision for the agricultural college located on Chazy’s Heart’s Delight Farm.
“It’s a hub of activity, so it makes sense that we would choose this building to name in honor of Joe,” Grant said.
Burke, a former president and provost of SUNY Plattsburgh, as well as a former chancellor of the State University of New York system, became a member of the Miner Institute Board of Trustees in 1978 and board chairman in 1988.
“He set the expectations, I would say, and helped to work with the leadership of the institution staff to have an environment to excel, and that is so important, and we really all appreciate that,” Grant said.
In addition to making his own contributions to the institute, Burke has worked to document the numerous contributions that William Miner made to the area in his book “William H. Miner — The Man and the Myth.”
Published in 2010, the book is the first biography written about the philanthropist, farmer and founder of Physician’s Hospital, which is now CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh. Miner also built the first Chazy Central Rural School, which opened in 1916 to students from 11 one-room schools.
Burke is also a long-time trustee of the William Miner Foundation, which helps sustain the institute, as well as CVPH and Chazy Central Rural School.
“Along with all of the work that he’s done with various presidents and the staff at Miner Institute, he’s been right in the midst of being a steward of the foundation,” Grant said.
FOR ALL WHO LABORED
During the dedication ceremony, Burke asked for a round of applause for all those who work at the institute.
“Naming a building for a person really reminds us that bricks and buildings do not make an agricultural institute great,” he said.
“It is the people who worked and learned there through the years that can perform that miracle.
“My name on this building really stands for all who have labored over the years to make William Miner’s dream a reality.
“He wanted a center for research, education and demonstration to make agriculture more productive, but also to protect the environment of his beloved Champlain Valley and the world beyond.”
Burke told the Press-Republican in a separate interview that the accomplishments of Miner Institute’s students and staff are what make him most proud.
Only about 50 people work at the institute, he said, but they maintain a beautiful campus, produce about $700,000 a year in research grants and contracts and are devoted to both environmental and agricultural studies.
“Today, so many people talk about just doing productive agriculture or just doing the environment,” he said.
“We’ve got to do both. It has to go together.”
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