December 3, 2014


Volume 9, Issue 20 – December 3, 2014


Georgia on My Mind…

Last week may have been Thanksgiving to you, but it was travel time for me. Last Saturday (the 22nd) I drove down to Georgia to pick up Jill and Mark for their final move to New York.

On the first day of driving, I went from Canton all the way to Winchester, VA, following I-81 all the way down from Watertown. The roads were mostly fine—there was a little snow on the road in a spot they hadn’t plowed down in DeKalb Junction, but that was pretty much it in terms of weather issues that day. I zipped through New York just fine, but ran into a big traffic jam due to construction between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre in Pennsylvania and lost almost an hour there.

It’s always amazing how fast things seem to go once you reach Harrisburg—the Maryland border is close by, Maryland and West Virginia are very narrow on I-81, and you’re in Virginia before you know it. I wasn’t that tired when I hit Winchester, but it was 5:30 PM and very dark, so I decided to call it a day. I stayed in a nice Hampton Inn there. I’ve always liked the Hampton Inn—their rooms are a good size and the beds are comfortable, they give you a full breakfast, and they usually have coffee and cookies around the clock.

I got up at 7:00 AM on Sunday, and continued on I-81 south. Virginia is very long this way and it seems to take forever to get from Winchester to Roanoke, and then all the way to Wytheville before you switch to I-77 in a place called Fancy Gap, all still in Virginia. I know Fancy Gap well due to an incident that happened to me many years ago—I was driving from Columbia, SC (where I was attending graduate school) to Blacksburg, VA (home of Virginia Polytechnic) where I was giving my very first professional paper at the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society. On the way up, as I got near the Virginia border, I heard a kathump kathump of my tires. I pulled over to look and see what was wrong, but didn’t see anything. Driving again, I heard the kathump kathump once again. I pulled over a second time and still couldn’t see anything wrong. I finally pulled forward slightly, looked again, and saw that the problem was that the steel belting was coming out of one of my radial tires. All I had for a spare was one of those useless mini-tires, so I had to limp into the next town—Fancy Gap—to try to get a spare. This wasn’t as small a deal as it might seem, since I was driving a Volkswagon 411 in those days, and the car took a very unusual size of tire.

I pulled into the first gas station I saw, told the owner what was wrong, and asked if he could help. “No problem,” he said and he called a cousin who ran a junkyard a few miles away. About five minutes later, a pickup truck comes barreling up the hill, with a very good quality used tire. They mounted and balanced it, and when I asked the price, was astonished to hear $15 all in. Needless to say, I filled up the tank there too! When I got to Blacksburg, I drove a little further up to Roanoke to get another spare in case it happened again. No luck—there wasn’t another tire of the same type in all of Virginia! I eventually wound up having to order one by mail from Cleveland. I never knew you could send a tire in the mail, but (at least then) you could, and it showed up in Columbia a few weeks later.

Anyway, I got onto I-77, drove across North Carolina (it only takes about 2 hours), and it began to rain. By the time I reached Statesville, NC, it was absolutely pouring, in the way that only happens in the South. I kept going and switched onto I-85 in South Carolina and the rain only got worse. By Spartanburg, the visibility had gotten so bad that you could only see about 10 feet in front of you. I kept going, determined to get home, and was soon in Georgia, where the rain got heavier still. After another 30 minutes, it finally began to let up and I zipped into Metro-Atlanta an hour later. Just before I reached the I-285 beltway, it began to pour again, so hard that I couldn’t even see the lane stripes on the beltway. Just as I reached my exit about 20 miles later, the rain stopped and everything was fine down to Marietta, where I used to live.

It was nice to be off the road, but when I went into the house, I saw that Jill had not gotten rid of as many of our things as I had hoped she would. The movers had been by on Friday, but had only gotten started packing things. I finally convinced her to get rid of some of the excess clothing we had accumulated over the years, and we quickly drove 10 large garbage bags full of clothing to the Hope House donation box. On Monday, the packers were back to finish, while I went down to SPSU to say “hi” to everyone and see how things were going there. Since it was Thanksgiving week, lots of people were taking time off, but I did have the pleasure of seeing a fair number of friends. After lunch, I dumped another 10 boxes of clothing and toys at Hope House, and went home to pack up my computer and the speaker system we had in our family room.

On Tuesday morning, the movers came and loaded up the truck with the rest of our stuff, finishing at about 2:00 PM. We did a bit of cleaning, loaded up the clothes and stuff that Jill couldn’t bear to send up on the truck into the car, and found that we also needed to bring up the Dish satellite receivers to Canton, since that’s where Dish was sending the return boxes. So, the car was filled all the way to the gills. Housecleaners were set to come on Wednesday to do a thorough cleaning, and the house was being listed for sale as of Friday.

We left Marietta at about 7:00 PM, wanting to get a start on the trip back, since there was supposed to be a nor’easter hitting the east coat on Wednesday and I wanted to time our trip so that we’d miss it. Immediately, we ran into a huge traffic jam on I-285 around Atlanta, since everyone else traveling also had the same idea of getting an advanced start on their holiday travel. It took a little more than an hour to travel the 20 miles to the I-85 interchange, but after that, it was smooth sailing and we got to Greenville, SC at about 10 PM, where we called it a night at another Hampton Inn.

Mark is not an early riser and we couldn’t get him out of bed until 10 AM on Wednesday. We got onto the highway, went about 20 miles, and promptly ran into a traffic jam. We got stuck for about 30 minutes, finding out that the jam was caused by an accident where a car had gone off the road into a guardrail. The traffic cleared and we were off again for about 10 minutes, when we ran into another traffic jam. We crept along for about 40 minutes, when I had enough of it and pulled off at an exit to get some gas and some lunch. I asked someone at the station if they knew what was causing the jam, and they said a tractor-trailer had gone off the road on its side, blocking one lane about half a mile ahead. We got back on the highway, crept along for another 10 minutes passing the truck, and all was well from there.

We got onto I-77 and headed north. When we had gotten almost to Virginia, I saw an exit for Mount Airy (home town of Andy Griffith, and the town on which Mayberry was based), and Jill and I decided we had to go there. Mount Airy is now a bit of a tourist town, with lots of stores there named the Mayberry this or that. Floyd’s Barber Shop is there, as is Walker’s Drug Store, and Opie’s Cookie Shop. There’s an Andy Griffith Museum (sadly, closed for the holidays) and an Andy Griffith Playhouse, in front of which is an iconic statue of Andy and Opie Taylor heading for the fishing hole, just like at the beginning of the Andy Griffith Show.

10430869_10152828104525211_4850189824135696223_nAndy and Opie going fishing

10351965_10152828085455211_295685137559916400_nJill in front of Floyd’s Barber Shop

We had a fine time looking around and taking pictures, and then took US-52 up to rejoin I-77, you guessed it, at Fancy Gap. There was a little snow blowing around but nothing serious and the traffic was moving well heading north, though for some reason it was bumper to bumper for many miles headed southbound. We turned onto I-81, and spent the night at a Hampton Inn in Roanoke.

Thanksgiving Day, we started at 10 AM, finding that the nor’easter hadn’t left all that much snow in the Shenandoah Valley and that the roads were fine. When we got to West Virginia, it started to rain, and 25 minutes later when we hit Maryland, it started to sleet. Fortunately, the sleet didn’t last long and it was clear skies when we hit Pennsylvania. We got to Scranton at about 6:00 PM and decided to spend the night there, staying at a Comfort Inn Suites, which was pretty nice. The only place open for Thanksgiving dinner was a Ruby Tuesday’s, so that’s where we ate. No turkey was available, so I had a Thanksgiving steak instead, with Jill going for the salad bar and Mark electing pasta.

Friday, we woke to find that some snow had fallen overnight and that the parking lot was very icy, but the roads were fine. We left at 10 AM and ran into another brief traffic jam a little before Binghamton (another tractor trailer on its side). As we neared Syracuse, lake effect snow showers began, but nothing too bad. The weather got a little worse, as usual, in Parish, but the roads were well treated and nothing was sticking. The weather improved, as usual, in North Adams, and we were home in Canton by 3:30, having missed the storm pretty much entirely.

It’s great to be home, but I’m not looking forward to dealing with the gazillion additional boxes of stuff that are headed our way. That big rumble you’ll heard was Canton sinking another foot as the moving van with our stuff arrived on Monday.  The house is now filled with hundreds of boxes, and it will be months before we know where everything is!

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with the South. Our winner was Christina Huie Lesyk, an adjunct faculty member at Canton, who was the first to get them all right. Others with all five correct included Desiree LeBoeuf-Davis, John Jodice, Nicholas Kocher, Lenore VanderZee, Rajiv Narula, my 2nd cousin Joshua Szafran, Alan Gabrielli, Rhonda Rodriguez, Kevin Elliot, and Janel Smith. Here are the correct answers:

  1. A pretty girl. Southern Belle.
  2. Largest religious denomination in the south. Southern Baptist.
  3. Ray Charles song that’s the state song of Georgia. Georgia On My Mind.
  4. Town in North Carolina where Sheriff Andy Taylor lived. See today’s BLAB for a little about Mount Airy, NC, which the town Mayberry was based on and Andy Griffith’s hometown.
  5. 1991 Movie starring Kathy Bates (Evelyn), Jessica Tandy (Ninny), Mary Stuart Masterton (Idgie), and Mary-Louise Parker (Ruth). It’s a story about the friendship between the four women, and also about the murder of Ruth’s abusive husband. Fried Green Tomatoes.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

In honor of my visit to Mount Airy, this week’s questions all have to do with the Andy Griffith Show. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Andy’s profession.
  2. Opie’s teacher, who Andy Taylor eventually married.
  3. He worked at Wally’s Filling Station, and later joined the Marines, spinning off into his own TV show.
  4. Barney’s girlfriend’s name.
  5. The one food that Aunt Bea couldn’t make well—Barney said they tasted like kerosene.
Posted in Uncategorized

November 18, 2014


Volume 9, Issue 19 – November 18, 2014


Snow Update…

It’s been two weeks since the last BLAB and we’ve now officially had some snow in Canton. I’m told it snowed last Thursday, but by the time I returned to Canton on Friday (see below for where I was), it was gone. It snowed again overnight going into Sunday, leaving maybe half an inch on the roof and on the cars, but by 9AM it was all gone again. The forecast is for some more snow this week, but we’ll have to see if it is any significant amount. It’s snowing pretty well today, but so far, nothing is sticking to the streets.

For those not from the area, Canton gets much less snow on average than Syracuse, even though Syracuse is more than 100 miles further south. That’s because of the lake effect—areas around the south and east of Lake Ontario get lots of additional snow due to moisture from the lake. There are some areas that get hit harder than others, including a belt from Oswego to Syracuse to Morrisville, and another further north from Parish to Adams to Watertown. Canton is generally colder than those locations—temperatures below zero are not uncommon during winter—but gets less snow.



On the Road to North Carolina

The reason that there wasn’t a Blab last week was that I was on the road visiting with alumni in North Carolina. You might not think that a small college in the North Country has many alumni in North Carolina, but you’d be wrong—we have quite a few, several of whom told me they live there because they finally got tired of the cold weather up north. Having previously lived in South Carolina (during graduate school) and in Georgia (for the past nine years), I’m quite familiar with North Carolina and have been there previously many times. I have good friends in several locations in the state, but my time was pretty solidly booked up and I didn’t have a chance to see any of them this trip.

The trip began on Sunday morning, when David Gerlach, Canton’s VP for Advancement, picked me up at the house to go to the Watertown airport. Watertown is about 75 minutes southwest of Canton and is a small city of some 40,000. The airport is quite small, with one gate and three flights out daily on USAir, all going to Philadelphia. The planes are DASH-8 propeller planes, which seat about 50 and are pretty comfortable. Some advantages of a small airport are that you don’t have to get there too early and the parking is free. We got to the airport at about 11:30 and checked in. The first question to consider was whether to check my bag, one of the annoyances of modern life. I’m not currently a USAir frequent flyer, so I’d have to pay $25 to check it and then wait for it at baggage when we got to Raleigh, our final destination. My bag is sized to fit into most overhead bins, so I usually just take it with me. After going through security, the agent decided the bag was too large for the plane’s bins and gave me a gate check, saying I could pick up the bag planeside in Philadelphia.

The flight to Philadelphia was smooth until the very end, where we had a bit of turbulence just before landing, though nothing serious. I got my bag and we changed terminals for the Raleigh flight. We were both a bit hungry, so we stopped at a restaurant and asked if they’d be able to get us our food within 15 minutes. They said yes, but ultimately we only got the salad within the first 30 minutes and had to quickly switch to a “to go” order to make our connection. Since we were among the last ones on the flight, I was told that the overhead bins were filled and was given another gate check for my bag. As soon as the flight took off and the seat belt sign was extinguished, we got out the food—still warm! The flight to Raleigh was uneventful and the bags came off the carousel pretty quickly. We got the rental car and drove to Southern Pines, staying at the Springhill Suites hotel.

Monday, we went to meet our first alumni couple. We got there a little early, so we had a chance to look around Southern Pines. I was a bit surprised when I saw the street names—New York Avenue, New Hampshire Avenue, and so on—until I found out that Southern Pines was a resort town originally catering to tourists from New England and the northeast. We went into a furniture store that had formerly been a theater and had a chance to look at the Amtrak (formerly Seaboard) train station, half of which is now the local tourist office. We met up with Phil Scalia (Class of ’60) and his wife Geralen, going to lunch with them at Dugan’s Pub in Pinehurst. Pinehurst is a golf resort and Phil and Geralen gave us a quick tour of the area after lunch—very pretty. We talked about Phil’s experiences at the college and how he had wound up in North Carolina, and I told him about what was new at Canton and about some of our future plans. Later in the day, we drove down to Lumberton to meet Don Betz (Class of ’66). Don is currently the head of a five county water district, and was formerly the mayor of Wilmington, NC, a fairly large city. We had dinner at Adelio’s Restaurant, where the food was very good and both the waiter and owner liked to talk to the customers. Don is an interesting guy, and I enjoyed hearing about his pathway into politics and experiences in water quality management. It was late by the time we got back to the hotel in Raleigh, and I was thoroughly zonked.

 10646642_10152779410798886_4317088559919795867_nPhil and Geralen Scalia

Tuesday was Veterans Day and appropriately enough, we got in the car for a drive down to Fayetteville, home of Fort Bragg. We met up with Gary Goulden (’78) at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, a very cool place with a really interesting main exhibit about the history of the airborne and special operations units of the army.

13245_10152781688238886_735742920059359201_n-1A special smaller exhibit about the Battle of Mogadishu was also interesting, as was our ride on a simulator that gave us the feeling of being in a Humvee, in a helicopter, and of skydiving.

10406992_10152781688008886_2944118491927130303_nGary Goulden and me at the Mogadishu exhibit

10603633_10152781688123886_8720758573903877277_nDave and me on the simulator

After lunch in town at Pierro’s Italian Bistro, Gary (who works in military logistics) gave us a tour of Fort Bragg, one of the largest military bases in the US. Even though we only saw a small part of the base, it was still gigantic—parts of the base looked like a very large university, parts were storage depots for military equipment, and we saw two different airports.

We then returned to Raleigh for a big alumni gathering at the Tribeca Tavern in Cary. About 30 alumni came, representing the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. After a bit of mingling, I gave a short talk about my history and the future plans we are developing. The alumni were quite engaged, asking lots of questions. Dave then asked a representative from each decade to get up and say a few words about their experiences at the college. Despite the wide span of time encompassed by our alumni, their stories were strikingly similar. Each, in turn, told about how SUNY Canton was the starting point for their success, due to the applied nature of the college and the strong support they had received from the faculty and staff. I was quite touched when one person after another handed Dave a check or a pledge, all seeing the importance of “paying it forward” so that future students can get the same kind of support that made such a difference. It was a pleasure chatting with our alumni and hearing their individual stories, as well as about their strong support for the college.


Wednesday began with breakfast with Sylvia Paro (’64). It was interesting to hear about her career pathway starting from her degree in Food Service Management to becoming a licensed dietician, getting a graduate degree, and traveling all over the country with Continental Management Consulting until she retired. Dave and I were really pleased to hear that now that her constant cross-country travel has ended, Sylvia will be able and willing to serve on our Canton College Foundation Board.

We then met Carol Sue Rosenberg (’53) and her husband Paul for lunch at the Weathervane Restaurant. Carol Sue is another graduate of the Food Service Management program at Canton, and went on to become a licensed dietician. They are strong supporters of the College, and are in the process of creating an endowment to support student scholarships.

1912484_10152783651953886_676480891491200886_nCarol Sue and Paul Rosenberg

Dinner that evening was with Philip Morrissette (’56), who got a degree in Drafting at Canton, and then got degrees in industrial engineering and business. More recently, he has taught business courses at North Carolina State. We then returned to the hotel and a little later, had some drinks with two more recent alums, Roger Rush (’90) and William Blasko (’99). Roger is now working at Sysco (a food distribution company), and Bill is at Cisco (the networking company). Since both were also Alpha Theta Gamma brothers, there’s obviously a bit of job-related cosmic synergy going on.

On Thursday, we had breakfast with Dennis Yaddow (’64) and his wife Sharon at Brig’s Great Beginnings. The restaurant was fun, with lots of goofy signs about eggs and breakfast related ephemera around the place. Dennis was a graduate of our Air Conditioning Technology program, and worked for Thermo Industries for many years. Even in my short time at Canton, I’ve met lots and lots of successful graduates from this program who have gone on to do big things.

10649603_10152785097493886_6613549362168595660_nDennis and Sharon Yaddow

We had been scheduled to meet additional alumni for lunch and for dinner that day, but due to a scheduling error on one’s part and a family obligation on the other’s, we got the rest of the day off. What do you do if you’re in Raleigh with some time on your hands for an afternoon? You look for an Indian restaurant, of course, at least if you’re me! The first place we went to had closed, but there was a second Indian restaurant close by which turned out to be rather good. Dave had never had Indian food before and was a bit cautious, but bravely tried a number of things and found that he liked quite a few of them.

Friday, it was up before the crack of dawn to return the car, get to the airport, go through security and make a 7:00 AM flight. Everything went fine and we arrived in Philadelphia a little past 8:00 AM. We had some time to kill, so Dave introduced me to a game called Civilization which is pretty slick. I had some fun learning how to play it and the time passed quickly until our connecting flight back to Watertown. That flight was fine as well, though when we landed in Watertown, I was surprised to see a couple of inches of snow there.   When we drove back to Canton, we found there was no snow whatsoever.

We got to the College about 2:00, and promptly went into an Executive Cabinet meeting at 3:00. When it ended, I went home, ate dinner, and collapsed.

And Then…

On Saturday, the day after coming back from North Carolina, SUNY Canton had its third Open House of the season. This was the biggest one yet, with more than 500 people scheduled to be there. I got there a little before 8:00 AM, to be with the band as we set up. Our band grew to four people this time: Lenore VanderZee (Executive Director for University Relations), Dan Gagliardi (Mathematics), and me from before, joined by new member Rosemary Phillips (Legal Studies). We played for about 45 minutes while visitors came in and talked to our deans and staff from admissions and financial aid.

IMG_8695l-r: Rosemary Phillips, Lenore VanderZee, Dan Gagliardi, and me

The bleachers were packed with parents and students, and it was then time to begin the presentations. After Melissa Evans (Director of Admissions) gave her intro, it was my turn to give my pitch as to why SUNY Canton is the perfect place for all students. I always end these presentations with a story about a graduate who dies and goes to heaven, but is sent to hell instead. It’s a funny story with a punchline that people don’t see coming—about 10% of the audience gets it immediately, with the laughs spreading to the other 90% about 15 seconds later. This time, after about a minute when all the audience had finished laughing, one of the admission recruiters broke into loud laughter saying: “I just got it!” That started a second round of laughs.

After a few other brief presentations by our Dean of Academic Support Services and from Financial Aid, the audience was then dismissed by major for the academic part of the day. A little later, I went down by the covered bridges (where we were serving hot chocolate and letting people take pictures with Rudy ‘Roo, our mascot) to meet parents and students. In all, it was a great event with a wonderful turnout.

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with superheroes, in honor of our theme for Advising Week. For those who didn’t see it, there was an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about “Which Marvel Superhero Would Make the Best College President?” Given our superhero theme, I just had to respond with a letter to the editor stating that SUNY Canton was way ahead of them, which they posted. If you want to read it, click here.

Our winner was Christina Huie Lesyk, an adjunct faculty member at Canton, who was the first to get them all right. Others with all five correct included Desiree LeBoeuf-Davis, John Jodice, Nicholas Kocher, Lenore VanderZee, Rajiv Narula, my 2nd cousin Joshua Szafran, Alan Gabrielli, Rhonda Rodriguez, Kevin Elliot, and Janel Smith. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Planet that Superman is originally from.  Krypton.
  2. She’s the emissary to man’s world from the Amazons. Wonder Woman.
  3. Wields the mighty hammer Mjolnir, which only the worthy can lift.  Thor.
  4. He and his shield were frozen in an iceberg from the end of World War II until the early 1960’s. Captain America (Steve Rogers).
  5. Very cool 2000 movie starring Bruce Willis and Samuel Jackson, directed by M. Night Shyamalan about a Philadelphia security guard who slowly discovers he has superhuman abilities. Unbreakable.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

In honor of my trip to North Carolina, this week’s questions all have to do with the south. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. A pretty girl.
  2. Largest religious denomination in the south.
  3. Ray Charles song that’s the state song of Georgia.
  4. Town in North Carolina where Sheriff Andy Taylor lived.
  5. 1991 Movie starring Kathy Bates (Evelyn), Jessica Tandy (Ninny), Mary Stuart Masterton (Idgie), and Mary-Louise Parker (Ruth). It’s a story about the friendship between the four women, and also about the murder of Ruth’s abusive husband.
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

November 3, 2014


Volume 9, Issue 18 – November 3, 2014



November is here and with it some colder weather. It was supposed to snow this weekend, since it was a bit drizzly and the temperature dropped below 32°F on Friday night. I read on Facebook that some folks up here saw a little snow, but I didn’t see any. The weather yesterday was sunny and mild, almost reaching 50. Oddly enough, I noticed that it only reached 65 in Las Vegas yesterday, and Jill tells me it was cold in Georgia as well. It’s supposed to snow here this Friday, but I’m not counting on it.


Seeing Double

The Funeral Services Administration program was hosting a continuing education event for local funeral directors and for its students last Thursday and I was invited to give the welcome. I was happy to do it, though what should one say at such an event? I was advised by our faculty to be funny, since funeral directors are known for having a sense of humor. I talked a little about how I felt when they were making a life mask of me a few weeks ago, having my face covered first with petroleum jelly, then a green polymer mask, and final with plaster of Paris. When the mask was removed, I found that the polymer had gotten onto my right sideburn, and we had to cut it off to remove the mask.

zvi mask1

Anyway, after I gave the intro, Prof. Penepent gave me the final cast of the mask, now done up in a copper hue. I think it’s a quite good likeness, and the folks who’ve seen it all agree.

Szafran Death Mask

The mask sits on two thin wooden dowels, set in a block of wood base. It’s currently in my office, but when my wife comes up for good this Thanksgiving, it will become the strangest Chanukah present ever.



It’s Magic

Later on Thursday, I had the pleasure of being part of SUNY Canton’s Read Aloud program for young children, led by Maureen Maiocco of our Early Childhood Education program. When I first talked to Maureen about the program, I offered to do a Chemistry Magic Show as part of it and she liked the idea. I had prepared a list of experiments I wanted to do, and Jim Hamilton, our Chemistry stockroom director, ordered the chemicals and made up the necessary solutions. Maureen, Jim, and I got together on Wednesday to do a dry run to make sure everything worked as it should, and all was well.

At 5:30 PM on Thursday we set things up in the Theater, and at 6:30 it was show time. The audience consisted of about 40 local children and their parents, with the children ranging from six months to about 14.  The Early Childhood Education students helped seat the audience and assisted with the fun.

The program began with Maureen reading “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything”, a funny Halloweenish story with lots of acting out that the children all enjoyed. The magic show followed, with me doing such things as creating a fireball (the kids wanted to see that one twice!), changing the color of a bottle of liquid from clear to blue by shaking it (and the color then changed back after 30 seconds, whereupon I’d shake it back to blue again, doing this throughout the show), starting a really hot fire with water and then putting it out with the same water, exploding some hydrogen balloons, freezing various things (a superball, racquetball, piece of rubber tubing, a banana, and an orange) in liquid nitrogen (400 below zero!), making slime, and doing an iodine clock reaction (a reaction that changes color after a specific amount of time).

IMG_1485The Early Childhood Education student team.  Maureen Maiocco (left), Jim Hamilton (back)

2014-10-30 18.48.40Making a fireball!



IMG_1483Me and Jim Hamilton pouring the liquid nitrogen

I had a good time playing the mad scientist doing the show and the kids seemed to enjoy it too—I heard that at least one told his parents he wanted a chemistry set for Christmas.

I used to do lots of magic shows when I was a young faculty member, trying to interest elementary school children in science, but hadn’t done one in over 10 years. I got so well known around the local area back then (northeast Massachusetts) that the local paper was going to cover one of the shows and send a photographer, but I had to cancel at the last minute for a very good reason—my son decided to be born that day. The newspaper ran a small story about that instead, so as a result, Mark was in the newspaper on the day he was born.



Volleyball Mania

On Wednesday night, I attended the United Small College Athletic Association (USCAA) national volleyball tournament banquet. While the tournament was hosted by SUNY Canton (for the third straight year!), the banquet was held at Eben Holden Hall at St. Lawrence University. It was a nice venue complete with fireplace. The top ten teams in the USCAA were all there to compete, one of which was SUNY Canton.


Five of our athletes won national awards: Mackenzie Mytner and Morgan Bills both were named First Team All-Americans (Mackenzie for the third time); Caitlin Grimshaw earned a spot on the All-American Honorable Mention team; and Caitlin, Kelsy Cornish, and Kiana Archer were named members of the All-Academic Team. If that wasn’t enough, SUNY Canton coach Carol LaMarche was named Coach of the Year.

SUNY Canton was undefeated during the pool play, and quickly made the semi-finals. Unfortunately, we lost a heartbreaker to Rochester College on Saturday morning (who then went on to lose to Florida College). The Roos then beat SUNY Alfred in the consolation game, thereby coming in 3rd in the national tournament, our best result ever. Jessica Reynolds was named to the USCAA All-Tournament team. It was a great tournament and very exciting to watch. Congratulations to our excellent players, coach LaMarche, and the rest of the staff for a very fine season.




Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with the word gold. Our winner was John Jodice (SUNY Canton Help Desk Technician) who was the first to get them all right. Others with all five correct included Nicholas Kocher, Christina Lesyk, Desiree LeBoeuf-Davis, Memorie Shampine, Chelsea Chase, Kerrie Cooper, Renee Campbell, Jennifer Jones, Marianne DiMarco-Temkin, Rajiv Narula, Terri Clemmo, Barry Walch, Joanne Fassinger, Rhonda Rodriguez, Umesh Kumar, Patricia Todd, Marcia Sullivan-Marin, Robin Palm, Robin Gittings, Martin Avery, and Ronald O’Neill. That’s quite a list!

Here are the correct answers:

  1. Fairy tale character that spent some time with the three bears.  Goldilocks.
  2. It’s kept at Fort Knox, in Kentucky. The nation’s gold reserve.
  3. Someone who marries only to get their spouse’s money. Gold digger.
  4. It happened in California between 1848 and 1855, starting at Sutter’s Mill. The Gold Rush.
  5. 1981 Movie starring Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, set in Squam Lake in New Hampshire! On Golden Pond.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

In honor of Advising Week, this week’s questions all have to do with superheroes.

Advising Week November 03, 2014Captain America and the Wonder Twins, Marianne DiMarco-Temkin and Sharon Tavernier!

As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Planet that Superman is originally from.
  2. She’s the emissary to man’s world from the Amazons.
  3. Wields the mighty hammer Mjolnir, which only the worthy can lift.
  4. He and his shield were frozen in an iceberg from the end of World War II until the early 1960’s.
  5. Very cool 2000 movie starring Bruce Willis and Samuel Jackson, directed by M. Night Shyamalan about a Philadelphia security guard who slowly discovers he has superhuman abilities.


Posted in Uncategorized

October 28, 2014


Volume 9, Issue 17 – October 28, 2014


The Difficulty of Decision Making

The past few days were the hardest in my 34 years in higher education. As your president, my most keenly felt responsibility is the safety of our community.

As everyone knows, early last Thursday, someone posted a threat to commit suicide and kill others on our campus on an anonymous social media site called Yik Yak. The message was forwarded to the University Police by both staff and students who saw it, and I was notified soon thereafter. I discussed what to do with our Chief of Police, John Kaplan, and several others. Based on an analysis of the content of the message and several other factors, we decided that the threat, though very serious (i.e., it threatened something dangerous), wasn’t credible or imminent, and decided not to close the college at that point. We decided to contact the SUNY police and multiple other law enforcement agencies to get advice on how to proceed, and if any disagreed with what we were doing, to reconsider. We contacted Yik Yak to try to trace who had posted the message. We also decided that we needed to inform our community and sent out an email at 4:00 AM stating that a threat had been received, but that we didn’t think it was credible.

The Executive Cabinet met at 8:00 in the morning, was updated on what we knew so far, and then decided that the college should remain open. We decided to reconvene at 11:30 AM. We also decided that we should all do a walk around campus, both to show that we thought the campus was safe, and just to be sure we didn’t spot anything suspicious. Our residence hall staff did the same in their halls. Nothing was spotted and the students, faculty, and staff on campus were largely calm, though the number of students in class was down significantly. I contacted various offices at SUNY, telling them what was going on.

At 11:45 AM, we were notified that a second threatening message had been posted. The nature of the second message was different from the first (in ways that I won’t describe for reasons I’ll give below), and we decided to lock down the campus, immediately sending out messages on email and on NY Alert. The police on campus scoured the area, but nothing unusual was observed and no incidents were reported.

At 2:00 PM we decided to begin releasing people from the various academic buildings. Operating with an abundance of caution, teams of police were sent to each building in turn, first to search the building carefully, and then to escort the persons there either to their cars in the parking lots, or to the residence halls if they lived on campus. This was obviously a slow process, but by 5:00 PM, all academic buildings had been emptied. Again, no incidents were reported. During this period, we were joined by SUNY Police Commissioner Bruce McBride, who had driven up from Utica.

As we finished with the academic buildings, we began a room-by-room search of the residence halls, to make sure that all residential students were safe and could be accounted for. St. Lawrence University called, offering any assistance we needed. Since we knew that when we lifted the lockdown we would have lots of hungry students, we asked St. Lawrence’s food service if they could bring some easily transportable meals and assist the staff in Chaney Dining Hall to bring them to the residence halls. By 6:30, the residence halls had all been searched and cleared, and the lockdown was lifted soon thereafter. Food was delivered at 7:00 by Chaney and SLU personnel.

Throughout the lockdown process, we sent out updates by email, NY Alert, and on social media every hour. The Executive Cabinet was in constant meeting, reviewing all new information. When lockdown was lifted, we decided that it was safe for the campus to be open on Friday. Several news media reported what was happening and there were several reporters just off campus waiting for the lockdown to be lifted. At 7:20, we did a brief press conference. Afterwards, several of us walked down to the residence halls to make sure everyone had been fed and was feeling OK, and we were glad to see that everything was fine.

We then went to the University Police Office to thank the officers, both from our campus and from outside, for their fine work. My wife called at this point, totally unaware of what had been happening, and asked how my day had been. I told her I’d call her (she’s still in Georgia finishing up the selling of our house) when I got back home.

We decided to send out one last email for the day at 11:00 PM, expressing our thanks to the campus community for their patience and cooperation during the lockdown and thanking the many police agencies that had helped us, which included the Canton Village Police, the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Police, Homeland Security Investigations, the F.B.I., and the Bureau of Criminal Investigations unit of the State Police in addition to our own University Police. We informed everyone that we believed the campus was safe and that classes would resume.

We were concerned that there might be more threat postings on Thursday night, but there weren’t. The Executive Cabinet met again at 8:00 on Friday morning, and were informed that there were no incidents to report. Classes proceeded as normal on Friday, with attendance down, but only by a little. We carefully reviewed the decisions we had made and the actions we took the previous day, to determine if there were any second thoughts or if we could have done anything better. Everyone thought we had gotten all the big decisions right, though there were a few small things that we’ll be looking at more closely.

The rest of the day was uneventful, with no incidents reported. A reporter from WWNY-TV interviewed me at 1:00 PM. We decided to have a series of open forums to update the campus on Monday, one for faculty, one for staff, and one for students.

On Saturday, I arrived at the University Police Office a little after 11 AM, where I was told that the person who had posted the threat had been caught, arraigned, and was now in federal custody. Our campus communication team was quickly assembled, and we sent out an announcement to the campus and to the media.


As you know, I strongly believe in open communication and sharing all information on our campus. The synopsis above only omits some details that could jeopardize the ongoing investigation, and any information that could be used by people who may wish to do similar things in the future.

A few questions have been asked pretty frequently, so I’ll try to address them here for those who couldn’t come to the open forums.

Why didn’t we shut down the campus immediately when the first threat was posted? As we informed the campus community, for various reasons all related to our threat assessment methods, we did not think that the threat was credible or imminent. A posting on Yik Yak has been described by others as having the same level of credibility as graffiti on a wall. While some may think that we should shut down the campus if there’s any possibility whatsoever of a threat, that’s a really bad idea for several reasons, of which I’ll only name a few. First, it could cause a panic that is much more dangerous than the threat itself. Second, if the threat were real, it could cause the perpetrator to move into action more quickly. Third, if we were to shut down the campus for any level of threat this time, it would establish a pattern of behavior where we’d have to do it every time there was any kind of threat, regardless of its credibility. The result would be much more frequent postings of threats (it would have worked, so we’d get more of it). This, in turn, would result in more frequent lockdowns or closings, which would begin to be ignored due to their frequency (as in the “boy who cried wolf”). If there were a real emergency, we would then be in even more serious danger. The path of greatest safety for everyone is to do a proper and thorough risk assessment and then act accordingly, neither over-reacting nor under-reacting. Sadly, no path exists that can absolutely guarantee everyone’s safety.

Why didn’t we take the first threat seriously? In fact, we took the threat extremely seriously. That’s why we took many actions, the most important of which was doing a thorough threat analysis. That’s why we called in help from the various police agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations and the F.B.I. That’s why we contacted Yik Yak to trace the person who posted the threat. There’s a big difference between taking a threat seriously and finding it to be credible.

Why didn’t we close the campus Friday, given that we hadn’t yet caught the person who posted the threat? The entirety of our actions on Thursday, including the continuous updating of our threat analysis, the absence of any incidents, and having thoroughly searched the campus, gave us confidence that our campus was safe. Staying closed until the perpetrator was caught would be a really bad idea for a number of reasons, the most obvious of which is that some perpetrators are never caught. Following that standard, any unsolved major crime would cause the permanent closure of wherever that crime occurred. Further, it throws out the idea of making decisions based on a threat analysis, which (as stated above) provides the safest possible path forward.

Are we perfectly safe going forward? Sadly, no. We live in a world where bad things happen, as recent events in Ottawa make all too clear. There will always be a risk that bad things may happen. Each day, we will continue to monitor our situation, gather information, and carry out threat analyses. We will continue to respond accordingly. As your president, my greatest concern and most keenly felt responsibility is for the safety of our community. We are fortunate that we have an extremely effective University Police force, as well as a campus community that knows how to respond, and that combination results in the safest possible environment.


As I said at the beginning of this piece, the past few days were the hardest of my life. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for the support from the Executive Cabinet, our University Police, the various police agencies that provided us with invaluable assistance, and from our entire campus community.




Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with the word blue. Our winner was Christina Lesyk who was the first to get them all right. Others with all five correct included Melinda Miller, Rajiv Narula, Julie Parkman, Rhonda Rodriquez, Janel Smith, Patricia Todd, Crystal Simmons, Robin Gittings, Kari McCormick, “Mike Pinkrn” (I only have the email address), Marcia Sullivan-Marin, Chelsea Chase, and Carmela Young.

  1. Nursery rhyme boy that should come blow his horn. Little Boy Blue.
  2. Major US health insurance organization. Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
  3. Beautiful hamlet located in the Adirondacks, at the intersection of NY 28 and 30. Blue Mountain Lake.
  4. The bad guys in the Beatles animated movie Yellow Submarine. Blue Meanies.
  5. The Navy’s flight squadron, known for its aerial acrobatics. Blue Angels.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Staying with our theme of colors, this week’s questions all have to do with the word “gold”. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Fairy tale character that spent some time with the three bears.
  2. It’s kept at Fort Knox, in Kentucky.
  3. Someone who marries only to get their spouse’s money.
  4. It happened in California between 1848 and 1855, starting at Sutter’s Mill.
  5. 1981 Movie starring Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, set in Squam Lake in New Hampshire!


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

October 20, 2014


Volume 9, Issue 16 – October 20, 2014


Fun with Funeral Services Administration

They say that there’s nothing new under the sun, but last Tuesday, I did something for the first time—something that I had never thought about doing before. I joined the students in the Funeral Services Administration program to have them make a life mask of my face.

For those of you who don’t know what this involves, here’s what happens. First, you lie down on a table. Second, they put some petroleum jelly all over your face, especially on your sideburns, eyebrows, and anywhere else you have hair. Third, they put a rubbery green polymer over the petroleum jelly, being careful not to plug your nostrils. Fourth, they add a layer of plaster of Paris on top, again being careful not to plug your nostrils. Fifth, you have to wait for about 20 minutes for everything to dry. At various points, I was asked if everything was OK. Since my mouth was covered, I had to reply by giving a “thumbs up”. It was pretty weird breathing under the mask—I could breathe reasonably well, but the idea of my whole face being covered except for those two small holes was a bit disconcerting.

zvi mask1

Color pictures throughout this issue are by Greg Kie

When everything was dry, I could feel the life mask pulling away from my face. It was very easy for the student to remove in some places, but unfortunately, a big glob of plaster of Paris had gotten onto one of my sideburns and didn’t want to let go. Ultimately, Prof. Pennepent had to get a pair of scissors and cut it loose, taking most of the sideburn with it. The mask came out pretty well and they’re going to give me an impression of it, which will make a pretty strange present for my wife. After it was all over, I was all gunked up from the remaining petroleum jelly. I went to the restroom and tried to wipe and wash it off, but I felt sticky until I got home that night and took a long shower. Bottom line: between the Ice Bucket Challenge and this, no one can say I haven’t given my all for SUNY Canton!

 zvi mask1-2


Departmental Meetings

I’ve been meeting with a number of our departments and schools each week, just to get to know each other, hear what they have to say, and to answer any questions they might have.

On Tuesday, I met with the School of Business and Liberal Arts. The conversation touched on a number of points (my responses are in italics), which included:

  • Some questions related to the engaged/not engaged process that had just been completed. Would there be more such initiatives, and will the faculty have the opportunity to provide input to them? The engaged/not engaged process was time sensitive, since there is only one “start of the year” and not doing it when we did would mean having to wait a year. Any other such initiatives will be done via normal faculty processes with full faculty input. Why wasn’t the term “engaged” defined more specifically? We wanted the faculty to use their own best judgment as to which students were responding effectively in their classes. Since faculty assess in different ways, we thought it would be best to keep the term general. Will advisors get a list of advisees that were marked “unengaged” and by whom? Perhaps in the future. In this pilot stage, since faculty hadn’t agreed to share their engagement grades with anyone, we didn’t think it was appropriate to share them with either students or advisors. Students got an email that either said (in effect) “Congratulations—you were engaged in all your classes. Great start!”, or “You were indicated to be unengaged in one or more of your classes. Here are some support services that you might want to take advantage of.” What will be done with the engagement grades? We are tabulating the results and will compare them with student withdrawals and GPAs. We will see if there is a correlation between the engagement grades and future performance and retention.
  • An issue was raised regarding hiring terminally qualified business faculty vs. faculty with industry professional experience. This is a tough one, because while we are an applied college (and thus, industry professional experience is very important), we are also a college that believes in accreditation as the mark of program quality. We should probably move toward ACBSP accreditation in the near future, while looking at the desirability of moving toward AACSB accreditation in the long term. AACSB requires the majority of faculty to be AQ (academically qualified, in their terminology) or PQ (professionally qualified), which means that they have to have terminal degrees and/or publish.
  • It was noted that a number of the new degree possibilities that had been discussed would include significant elements from the Management program. Was this putting the Management faculty behind the 8-ball? Faculty in the relevant programs will decide which programs make the most sense to go forward with. Even if the faculty like them all, they wouldn’t all be done at once. Additional resources will be provided where appropriate.
  • A question was asked about how we’re going to apply the new tenure and promotion matrices to faculty already at the college. As discussed earlier with our colleagues in UUP, the matrices seek to paint a picture of what credentials a faculty member should have and what a faculty member should be doing in order to be promoted and/or get continuing appointment. They are not black letter law—they are what normally should be the case, but each case will be looked at individually and flexibility will be applied where appropriate.
  • A question was raised about the role of the Liberal Arts in the College’s future. A model that we were developing at my previous college was that of a comprehensive polytechnic—a college that would offer all degrees that you would expect to find at a state university, but all with a technological focus. I’d love to see us move in that direction at SUNY Canton. Specifically for the Humanities, this might involve development of a degree program in Technological Communication, something that was discussed with that department when we met two weeks ago.

Wednesday, it was the science faculty’s turn and we had a very pleasant lunchtime discussion. They wanted to know what kind of new programs I thought they might be able to develop. After discussing current course offerings within the department, we settled on two areas that might be productive to look at: Environmental Science (in the short term) and Biotechnology (in the longer term). Environmental Science would be the easier to implement, since many of the necessary courses are already being offered as part of other programs, and many of the needed labs already exist. For Biotechnology, we would need to develop more new courses and would need additional specialized laboratories. New equipment would also be needed and we discussed how we might be able to acquire it over time through corporate loans and donations, and through grant writing.


Burning Down the House

Last Thursday, there was a really interesting (and somewhat scary) demonstration held on campus about fire safety, sponsored by our Environmental Health and Safety Office. There were various events held throughout the day, but the most impressive was the controlled burning of a model dorm room, built for the occasion by students in the Wood Structures class. The model dorm room was about 10×10 feet in size, and contained a bed and various other things one might find in a typical student residence.

When an outside corner of it was set on fire, the smoke alarm went off immediately—well before any smoke could be seen. This clearly indicated the importance of having a properly working smoke alarm—by the time fire and smoke can be seen, conditions in the room are so dangerous that one may not be able to get out. Early warning is imperative. As the fire spread, the room wasn’t well lit (like on TV)—it quickly filled with smoke, making it almost impossible to escape. The temperature was high too—above 200F at floor level, rising to 800F near the ceiling. Members of the Canton volunteer Fire Department then put the fire out, but the damage was already done—everything in the room had been burnt to a crisp. The goal was to make our students more aware of fire safety and for them to avoid unsafe practices in their residence hall rooms.

After the dorm room demonstration, there was a fire extinguisher demonstration on how to properly put out a fire. After being informed of the right procedure, I took one of the extinguishers, pulled the pin and approached the fire slowly, spraying from side to side with each step, until the fire was out. You can read and watch videos about proper procedures all you want, but there’s nothing like a hands-on use of a fire extinguisher with a real fire to show you what has to be done.

zvi extinguisher

My deepest thanks to everyone who was involved in Fire Safety Day. Your work was critically important and may have saved some lives.


 Coakley Dedication

Later on Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending the dedication of the Coakley Student-Athlete Study and Classroom in the CARC. It was great to meet Bill and Carol Coakley, Carol and Ronald Spadaccini, and Tom and Nellie Coakley; as well as their families through several generations, including some very sweet grandchildren, there for the occasion.

zvi - unveil-2

The Coakley family (owners of Coakley Carpet One Ace Hardware) have long been supporters of SUNY Canton. Robert J. Coakley (Tom, Bill, and Carol’s father) filled in as a Construction instructor in the College’s earlier days. Bill was the assistant men’s ice hockey coach for 15 years, during which time the team won numerous championships. Tom has been a member of the College’s Foundation Board of Directors since 1981, and with his wife Nellie, serves on the Service Members Advisory Board. Carol helped design the renovation of the Alumni House.

Also present at the dedication was SUNY Canton’s legendary hockey coach Terry Martin. It was a real thrill to meet him and to hear that he’s still actively involved in cheering our hockey teams on and helping recruit students for the program.

zvi - martin I gave a short speech talking about how there is a connection between athletic and academic success, with the skills needed for athletic success (teamwork, focus, practice) also being skills needed for academic success. Tom Coakley noted: “The relationship between athletics and academics has been absolutely crucial to the success of our family…For us, it was a natural fit to add our family name to a room that contributes to the academic success of student-athletes at SUNY Canton.”

New steel signage is now present on the exterior of the room and a ceremonial plaque hangs by the classroom door.


Living Writers

Later still on Thursday, I dashed over to the Miller Student Center to see the second installment of this year’s Living Writers series. Our guest was Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of the book “She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders”. The book is autobiographical, detailing her journey from being born male, struggling with her increasing realization that she wanted and needed to live as a female, and ultimately undergoing sexual reassignment surgery.


The event was very well attended, with the Theater totally filled by an attentive crowd of students and faculty (including a number from co-sponsor Clarkson University) and many people from the community. I had a chance to speak with Ms. Boylan before her talk, where I asked her if her book’s title had derived from the Zombies’ hit song of the same name. Indeed it had, and two of her other autobiographical books also have song-derived titles (“I’m Looking Through You” and “Stuck in the Middle with You”).

Boylan’s talk was really interesting and included two extended readings from “She’s Not There”. Right at the beginning, she began to sing a few lines from the Zombies’ song and when applause rang out at the end, she looked at me and said “You liked that, didn’t you?” The readings were witty and compelling, describing both her own struggle and the reaction of her family to her changing life. A portion of the talk described the wide range of different sexual identity choices falling under the label of transgender. She ended by taking a number of questions from the audience.

After the event, I joined a number of faculty and their families and friends for dinner with Ms. Boylan at First Crush, a nice bistro in Potsdam. The food and company were wonderful. I had a really nice conversation with several of the people there on topics ranging from the swing period of jazz to the rather interesting question of what it means to be a women’s college in today’s society, when gender is often seen as a fluid thing. Coincidentally, the New York Times took up the very same subject in Sunday’s newspaper. You can read this very interesting article, “When Women Become Men at Wellesley”, here.

The Living Writers series is quite a wonderful labor of love organized by Phil LaMarche of our Humanities Department. The logistics for this particular event were handled by Phil and by Emily Hamilton-Honey (also of the Humanities Department). My congratulations to both, as well as to the others who help support this series. Everyone in the audience thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d encourage everyone to attend the next Living Writers event, featuring short story writer Patrick Lawler, on November 19. You won’t be sorry.


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with the word away. Our winner was Rajiv Narula who was the first to get them all right. Others with all five correct? This must have been a hard challenge, because there weren’t any! The closest runner up was Jamie Garrett (from SPSU) with four correct.

  1. If it’s not a home game. It’s an away game.
  2. Popular Christmas carol. Away in a Manger.
  3. What the Lone Ranger said as he rode off into the sunset. Hi-Yo Silver, Away.
  4. Lousy 2002 movie about a snooty socialite (Madonna) stranded on an island with a communist sailor (Adrianno Giannini). Swept Away.
  5. Phrase inscribed at the bottom of Jackie Gleason’s sarcophagus in Miami. And Away We Go.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Since some folks are feeling those mid-term blues, this week’s trivia contest has answers all associated with the word “blue”. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Nursery rhyme boy that should come blow his horn.
  2. Major US health insurance organization.
  3. Beautiful hamlet located in the Adirondacks, at the intersection of NY 28 and 30.
  4. The bad guys in the Beatles animated movie Yellow Submarine.
  5. The Navy’s flight squadron, known for its aerial acrobatics.
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

October 13, 2014


Volume 9, Issue 15 – October 13, 2014

Open Forum Coming Up

As a follow-up to the meeting we had with our colleagues on the leadership team of the UUP (see the previous BLAB for details), we will be cosponsoring a Faculty Open Forum on Wednesday, October 22 from 4:00-6:00 PM in the Theatre. The two main topics will be:

  • Discussion about the current Student Course Comment Instrument. It is my understanding that many faculty have issues with the current instrument. We’d like to give you an opportunity to raise those concerns, and to suggest what might be done to address them.
  • Discussion on possible implementation of a mentor or advocate program to help faculty through the reappointment/continuing appointment/promotion process. We’d like all of our faculty to fully understand R/CA/P process and to be able to put their best possible case forward.

I hope this Faculty Open Forum will be a good way of having collegial dialogue on these important issues. Assuming it is useful to all, we’ll have more in the future, and will solicit possible topics to be discussed. [Similarly, if there are issues of interest to our staff that would benefit from having such an Open Forum, let me know.] I hope to see you all there!


Time for a Diversion

During our last Deans Cabinet meeting, some of the Deans mentioned that folks were getting a little antsy due to lack of a fall break this year (we combined the fall break into Thanksgiving to give a week-long vacation then). Well—we can’t have that, can we? We decided we needed a cure—a Mid-Semester Diversion! What’s that, you ask? It’s a party to blow off a little steam and just have a good time. It will be on Thursday, October 16, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM and all faculty and staff are invited. There will be hors d’oeuvres and perhaps a bit more for the party. What bit more? Well, you’ll just have to come to find out. Please RSVP to or call 7204 if you’re coming, so we’ll know how much food we’ll need.

Career Fair

SUNY Canton held a Career Fair last Tuesday, and by all measures it was a great success. The number of participating companies was so large that we held it in two different locations—one group met in the Miller Center (CC 212-214), and the other in the Auto Lab in Neveldine. I gave a brief welcome at both locations and had the pleasure of meeting with several of the companies that were present. In our chats, they all had the same thing to say—they were very happy with the Canton graduates that they had previously hired, finding them to be well educated and able to add value to the company right from the beginning, and that they were looking forward to hiring more of our graduates in the future. In fact, several of the companies had brought SUNY Canton graduates to staff their tables. The student turnout also was good to take advantage of the Fair.

Congratulations to Julie Parkman (Asst. Director of Career Services), Terri Clemmo (Career Services Office), and work study student Mackeba Campbell for their fine work on this event.

Bringing on the Band at Open House

Last Friday, SUNY Canton held its first Open House of the season. When I first got to Canton, I had discussed some of the things that we used to do at SPSU, where our open house was very cool indeed. Molly Mott heard that I had been part of a band called “Fridays at Five” that played at our open houses and related events, so she decided that we needed to do that here. So, we quickly put together a trio consisting of Lenore VanderZee (vocals, guitar), Dan Gagliardi (vocals, bass), and me (rhythm guitar) to play. We had a single rehearsal on Thursday afternoon, since that was the only time we could all get together, and it was “on with the show” on Friday morning.


l-r:  Lenore VanderZee, me, and Dan Gagliardi

The Open House began at 8:30 with the band playing while students and their parents went through registration and looked at some of the display tables. The band finished at about 9:15 and at about 10:00, I gave a welcome speech to the 250 or so people who had come. We had all decided to wear T-shirts while we played, so I when it was time for me to talk, I walked over to the podium in my T-shirt, put on a tie, put on a suit coat, and said: “Now I’m ready”, and launched into the talk. I spoke about the top reasons people go to college, and how SUNY Canton fits all of the reasons very well. I asked: “Is it possible for one college to fill the academic needs of every single student in this room? — YES! SUNY Canton can.” I ended by telling a funny story about a SUNY Canton graduate who died and went to heaven, but got an unfortunate surprise there. Want to hear the story? Come to the next Open House!

My talk was followed by Melissa Evans (Director of Admissions) giving out some prizes for the family that had come the farthest (Long Island), and giving a Canton T-shirt to a woman who had come in a Syracuse University shirt. The students were then dismissed by major, to speak with the faculty. There were several events in the afternoon that families could participate in, including getting their pictures taken with Rudy by the covered bridges.

It was a great event, and I thoroughly enjoyed being part of it. Several people came up to me to tell me how much they enjoyed themselves (including the band!), and others heard similar comments. Congratulations to Molly, Melissa, and the entire group from Admissions for all their hard work.

In case you’re wondering what the band’s name is, we don’t have one yet. Molly was calling us Open House Jive, but I know we can do better than that, so it’s time for a contest. The best suggestion will win a cool prize.

SEFA and SUNY Canton Foundation

We’ll soon be starting our annual campaign for contributions to SEFA (the State Employee Federated Appeal) and to the SUNY Canton Foundation. I’m told that our faculty and staff have been very generous over the past years, and that’s something to be very proud of.

SEFA benefits local, national, and international charitable organizations. If you gave $1 per pay period (which would be giving up a cup of coffee every two weeks), that would amount to an annual contribution of $26, which can do a tremendous amount of good. Obviously, if you can afford to give more, you should. If everyone at SUNY Canton participated, we would break all previous records.

Similarly, if everyone were to donate at least $1 per pay period to the Foundation, the money could be used to support scholarships for our students and other worthwhile endeavors that would make our College stronger. Lots of outside donors ask what the College’s participation rate is when they’re deciding who to support.

I’d like to challenge the campus to bring our participation rate up to 100% for both SEFA and for the Foundation.   Stay tuned for the official start up of the campaigns.

Flaming Leaves

On Saturday morning, Dave Gerlach (VP for Development) and I drove down to Lake Placid for the Flaming Leaves Festival, where SUNY Canton was holding an alumni event. The weather was a bit cold and wet, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the 200 or so alumni and their friends and family who came. SUNY Canton had a registration table at the Festival and we held drawings for some cool swag every hour, with the big prize being a pair of tickets to ride the bobsled.

During the Festival, I got to meet lots of alumni and hear what they and their families had been up to since graduating from Canton. During the Festival, there was a ski-jumping competition (no snow—they were doing their jumps onto a slippery artificial turf surface) which included several national champions.


There was lots of good food and beer at the Festival, and one of the vendors was staffed by lots of SUNY Canton volunteers from our Veterinary Science student organization.  This was another great alumni event, put on by Dave, Peggy Sue Lovato, Jamie Burgess, and Kelly Obermayer.   Excellent job!

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with the word home. Our winner was Lenor VanderZee who was the first to get them all right. Others with all five correct (and there were a lot of them!) included Jesse Clark-Stone, Bill Prigge (Asst. Dean for Administration at U. Tennessee College of Pharmacy), Alan Gabrielli (SPSU Director of UTeach), Rajiv Narula, Renee Campbell, Jamie Weber, Patricia Todd, Kathryn Kennedy, Rhonda Rodriguez, Janel Smith, Tiffany Dailey-Faulkner, Farren Lobdell, Anne Williams, Chelsea Chase, Jennifer Jones, Amanda Rowley, and DianeMarie Collins.

  1. Where the deer and the antelope play. Home on the range.
  2. A four-bag hit in baseball. Home run.
  3. Long running TV show starring Tim Allen. Home Improvement.
  4. 1990 Christmas movie with several sequels. The original starred Macaulay Culkin. Home Alone.
  5. What Dorothy learned at the end of the Wizard of Oz. “There’s No Place Like Home.”


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Just to keep things balanced, this week’s trivia contest has answers all associated with the word “away”. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. If it’s not a home game.
  2. Popular Christmas carol.
  3. What the Lone Ranger said as he rode off into the sunset.
  4. Lousy 2002 movie about a snooty socialite (Madonna) stranded on an island with a communist sailor (Adrianno Giannini).
  5. Phrase inscribed at the bottom of Jackie Gleason’s sarcophagus in Miami.
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

October 6, 2014


Volume 9, Issue 14 – October 6, 2014


Reunion Time

As mentioned in the last BLAB, Jill (my wife) and Mark (my son) came up for a visit after us being separated for almost three months while she was getting the house in Georgia ready to sell. They got here on the 24th, and left earlier today.

It’s been a great visit in many ways. First, the weather more than cooperated—it has been beautiful almost every day, with temperatures from the high 60’s to the high 70’s and sunshine almost every day. Saturday was intermittently rainy, but we also had beautiful rainbows as the sun set.


Second, they got a chance to meet lots of people in Canton, all of whom they found to be wonderful and friendly. Molly Mott (Dean of Academic Support Services and Instructional Technologies) was especially kind, showing them around and taking Mark to see the shelter animals in our Veterinary Technology program, which he especially enjoyed. The folks at the synagogue were also very welcoming, all wanting to meet Jill and Mark. Sylvia, at Josie’s Pizza, gave Mark a “welcome” pizza (he likes pizza with no sauce) that had him wanting to eat there every night. He also loved the Game Stop in Massena, the Wal-Mart on the way to Potsdam, and the local McDonalds and Dollar General store.

Third, we had lots of nice events on and off campus for them to enjoy, more about which below. We had dinner with the Alpha Theta Gamma fraternity, enjoyed High Holiday services at Temple Beth El, and went to several Homecoming Weekend activities. They met lots of students, all of whom were extremely welcoming. Finally, they both really liked the new house.

All in all, Jill and Mark have discovered that Canton is a wonderful place to live, and that they can really enjoy life in a small town. They’ll be back in Georgia for a few weeks to finish things up, and plans are for them to move here permanently in late November. My biggest personal thanks to everyone who was so kind and friendly to them this past week—you’re all the best.


 Selfie of Jill and Me


Greek Life

As mentioned above, last Tuesday, Courtney Bish, Amanda Deckert, Jill, Mark, and I had dinner with the brothers of Alpha Theta Gamma fraternity at their house on Court Street. The Alphas are SUNY Canton’s oldest fraternity, being founded in 1909. I had been to their house in July, getting the grand tour of their rooms, rooftop patios, and basement party room. They’ve put a lot of sweat into the place and it looks quite good, though they tell me that there’s still a fair bit to do. It’s a big old house that was formerly owned by James Payson, who was one of the founding fathers of the college, working there for 22 years. He was the Director [which was the highest ranking position at the time] from 1917-1918. The house, obtained by the fraternity in 1946, still has the hitching post on the side, as well as the stepping stones in the front that were used to get down off horses.


The dinner was very nice, consisting of chicken, baked potatoes, and salad. One of the brothers did the cooking, and I think he has a great future in the hospitality industry if he wants to go in that direction, because it was delicious. Jill thought the place was very cool, and Mark especially liked their big screen TV.

Later in the week on Thursday, I met with the Greek Council. They were having their regular business meeting, so I got to hear about some events they were planning. I said a few words about all the positive things fraternities and sororities can add to a campus, so long as they keep things under reasonable control. We all like to have fun, but it has to be responsible fun. They asked me if I had ever belonged to a fraternity (no—fraternities existed, but weren’t very big at WPI when I was an undergrad) and was I familiar with Greek organizations on my previous campuses (yes—my graduate school, the University of South Carolina had very strong fraternities and sororities that did lots of good things on campus, and SPSU had some good (though relatively small) Greek organizations as well). I wound up my remarks by telling them that since I’ve never belonged to a fraternity or sorority, I was available to be recruited. We’ll see if any of them take me up on it.


More Pictures and Interviews

Last week saw several interviews with the local press.

The Watertown Daily Times talked to me and the other North Country SUNY presidents about Governor Cuomo’s new statewide policy proposal to combat sexual assaults on campus. The Governor had met with the SUNY Board of Regents, who voted to establish the policies across the SUNY system. He will also work to get the policies adopted at the private colleges in the state. In my weekly blog to the students, I had written about a policy known as “Yes Means Yes”, meaning you can only engage in sexual activity with a partner when they had said “yes”, and that only a sober individual can say “yes”. Governor Cuomo’s policy was also a “Yes Means Yes” policy. You can read about my own support for the Governor’s policy in the Watertown Daily Times article here.

As loyal readers of the BLAB will already be aware, I had represented the SUNY presidents at a news conference earlier this summer where New York’s Senator Gillibrand had announced a Senate bill designed to support victims of sexual violence on campuses. Also last week, President Obama had announced a program to publicize the fight against sexual violence on campuses called “It’s On Us”. SUNY Canton is participating in the “It’s On Us” campaign through social media and by sponsoring a selfie contest on this theme. It’s a very good thing when SUNY, our governor, our senator, and our president all are speaking with one voice on this important issue.

On Tuesday, I was interviewed on Yes-FM in Ogdensburg about being a new president, what has changed at universities and what my plans were for the college. If you have nothing better to do, you may want to see the YouTube video of the interview, below.



Meeting with Labor

On Monday, September 29, I had my first official Labor/Management meeting. Unlike my previous campuses, SUNY Canton is unionized. Way back in the day when I was earning money for college working at Greyhound, I was a union member of Amalgamated Transit. Salary and benefits were much better at Greyhound than they were at non-union bus companies located in the same terminal in Syracuse, and I was very appreciative of that! Of course, I also had to pay union dues, but it was well worth it. That had been pretty much the totality of my union experience, so I was looking at this meeting with some level of anticipation. Still, I’ve always believed that everyone, union or not, wants the same thing—a place at the table where their concerns would be seriously listened to and considered.   My view is that everyone is entitled to that.

I believe that the Union will be sending out their minutes from the meeting. I’d like to say a few words about some of the issues that came up just to amplify a few points. The first few items were requests for information about enrollment and the budget. I suggested that in the future (beginning this month), we would be happy to make a report on these items at the Faculty Assembly, and that this should be a regular occurrence. There was general agreement that this would be a good idea. The timeliness of responses to reappointments, promotions, and salary increase requests was brought up, noting that in some (hopefully) rare cases, this had taken six months. We committed to a two week turnaround at each level, unless otherwise specified in the contract.

Perhaps the “biggest” issue discussed was a change that had been made last year regarding student course comments. Before, tenured faculty could opt out of doing student course comments (though few actually did, because most faculty find them useful and want to know what their students are thinking). The procedure was changed to that tenured faculty had to provide a compelling reason to opt out. The Union felt that this was a unilateral change, and it should have been negotiated. We had a fairly lengthy discussion about this, with me arguing that student course comments provide valuable information that pretty much every faculty member needs. There were several concerns raised about the student course comments instrument, and that it asked questions that students were in no position to answer. It was pointed out that only a handful of tenured faculty had opted out, and that there were other remedies in those circumstances—the president can call for a Section-12 Review in cases that seem particularly of concern. We agreed to go back to the previous policy (tenured faculty can opt out), with us strongly encouraging tenured faculty to participate and monitoring the response rate. If the fraction opting out increases, we agreed we would take the issue up again.

The meeting went very well, from my point of view and I hope the Union’s. Our union colleagues expressed their views in a clear and straightforward manner, and made many reasonable points.   When I asked several questions, I got answers that I found to be clear and accurate. Our union colleagues listened to my point of view, as well as that of other administrators, and I believe we had a genuine dialogue.

We plan on holding an open forum in the near future to discuss the student course comment form, and perhaps some other issues related to the reappointment, promotion, and continuing appointment process.


Friday and Saturday were Homecoming weekend. I wanted to attend all the events, but couldn’t due to Homecoming overlapping almost exactly with Yom Kippur, one of the Jewish high holidays. Jill, Mark, and I went to the synagogue on Friday night and Saturday day but then ended our fast after sundown at the Homecoming Weekend buffet (great food, and was I hungry!) and then went to the Canton’s Got Talent show.

The show began with the crowning of our Homecoming King and Queen, Vernon Hicks and Nafie Cisse. [The following three pictures are all by Greg Kie.]

King, Queen and Zvi

This was followed by all sorts of cool acts—some singing, some dancing, some poetry, and some rap. In between, there was a lot of humor by the emcees.

GammasGo Gammas!

In the middle of the show, all the attendees participated in the launch of SUNY Canton’s “It’s On Us” publicity campaign.

itsonusThe event was extremely well attended, with some 400-500 people there, all having a good time. It was a most enjoyable evening, and the ‘Roo Royalty T-shirts were very cool! There’s no doubt about it—Canton does have talent!

After the show, we went over to Miller Student Center to see the cardboard village assembled by the Habitat for Humanity student organization. It was great to see so many students involved with the critically important issue of homelessness. I was pleased to here that our students had been involved over the years in building multiple homes all over the country. Special thanks to JoAnne and Will Fassinger, the advisors to the group, for their fine work.



Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with the word college or campus. Our winner was Jesse Clarke-Stone who was the first to get them all right. Others with all five correct included Carmela Young and Patricia Todd.

  1. Games are played in the fall, usually on Saturday. College football or College bowl.
  2. What BMOC stands for. Big Man on Campus.
  3. Giving it a strong attempt. Giving it the Ol’ College Try.
  4. Movie starring John Belushi, set at fictional Faber College. Animal House.
  5. “Boola Boola”, and “The Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech”. College Fight (or Drinking) Songs.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Since Jill and Mark will be making their new home in Canton, this week’s trivia contest has answers all associated with the word “home”. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Where the deer and the antelope play.
  2. A four-bag hit in baseball.
  3. Long running TV show starring Tim Allen.
  4. 1990 Christmas movie with several sequels. The original starred Macaulay Culkin.
  5. What Dorothy learned at the end of the Wizard of Oz.
Posted in Uncategorized