College taking historic step

Siena College, which has an academic program that concentrates on the Revolutionary War era, is plan

Siena College, which has an academic program that concentrates on the Revolutionary War era, is planning to open a satellite office near the Saratoga battlefield so students can be close to the site of what they are studying.

On Tuesday, staff from the college toured the former Schuylerville High School on routes 4 and 29. The college is considering renting space in the building, which is just a short drive from the battlefield.

The Saratoga battlefield is the site of the Battle of Saratoga in 1777. The American victory there is considered by many historians to be one of the most important battles in the Revolutionary War, but some say it isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Some scholars hope to increase exposure so it’s more akin to Gettysburg National Military Park, which gets an estimated 2 million visitors a year.

Siena College hopes to help accomplish this by establishing its Center for Revolutionary Era Studies nearby.

“It’s great. It’s an opportunity. The only other college with a similar program is the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College,” said Devin Lander, interim staff administrator for Saratoga-Washington on the Hudson Partnership.

This partnership was created to preserve open space, revitalize the economy and develop tourism in communities along the upper Hudson River in Washington and Saratoga counties.

“There is nothing like this that deals with Revolutionary history,” said Lander. Gettysburg College partners with Gettysburg battlefield and many of the ideas that Siena College is using for its Revolutionary era studies program are based on concepts used in Gettysburg, said Lander.

“We want to teach people to respect the Saratoga battlefield, understand its historical significance, utilize it as a living laboratory and understand how to manage it, work with tourists and run a site like this,” said Lander.

Siena College will also be partnering with the National Parks Service, and students in the program will work with park rangers.

The town of Saratoga purchased the former high school building for $4.3 million and will move its Town Hall into the building. Part of this building could be rented to Siena College.

Assemblyman Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, invited Siena College to look at the school as a possible location for its office.

Revolutionary era studies is a certificate program and is intended to increase appreciation and awareness of events behind the struggle for American independence. It could eventually develop into a major at Siena.

The program began with summer workshops for local high school students and has expanded, said Siena College spokeswoman Janet Gianopoulos.

As part of the academic concentration, students tap into the historical resources at the Saratoga National Historical Park and battlefield.

The college is interviewing for a new director for its Center for Revolutionary Era Studies. The job would begin in September and responsibilities would include collaborating with the Saratoga National Historical Park.

Categories: Schenectady County

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