July 15, 2014

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 9, Issue 3 – July 15, 2014

 

First Orientation

Thursday was my first new student orientation at SUNY-Canton, and I have to say that I loved every minute of it. As everyone up here knows, to enter the campus, one turns onto Cornell Drive, the main campus road, from Main Street (Route 68). The road then splits to circle the campus, with the academic and administrative buildings and their parking lots to the left, and the residence halls to the right. As I drove up to the split, several of the orientation leaders were standing there to welcome the new students and wave them toward the left to the orientation parking spots—a really nice touch. I rolled down the window to say hello, and then drove down to park the car. It was an absolutely beautiful day, cool and sunny, as I walked to the College’s athletic center (which everyone calls either the ‘Roo’s House or the CARC). After shaking hands with several students and orientation leaders, I went inside.

There were two lines for check-in and several stations of coffee, juice, water, and food (fruit, bagels, and pastries). I introduced myself to several more students and their parents, asking where they were from and what they planned to study. The most common major that was mentioned was criminal investigation or some other form of criminal justice, as well as business, veterinary science, engineering technology, and mortuary science. About half of the students were from the northern half of the state (at or above the Albany-Syracuse-Buffalo line), with the other half being from New York City or its suburbs. There were a few out of state students too—I met one from New Jersey and one from Pennsylvania. A lot of the students wished me good luck when they found out that I’d been at the college for only a week.

The athletic center has lots of first-rate facilities, including a field house (with a track and several basketball courts), a hockey arena (it’s the north, after all!), a swimming pool, exercise room, offices, meeting rooms, a large open meeting space with a fireplace, and many others. There’s even a snack bar, inevitably named “Joey’s”. Everyone (about 280 students, 400 people in all) was brought into the field house and sat on the bleachers. The podium and microphone were in the middle of the field house, seemingly miles away, so I decided to use a hand-held microphone instead to do the welcome.

photo 3.1I talked about how education is a partnership, with both the College and the student needing to do their parts for the partnership to work. Our part consists of what I like to call our “Ten Commitments”, which are basically ten promises to our students about what they can expect from us. The students’ part of the partnership was broken down into five parts: being an active learner, getting help when they need it, being a person of integrity, taking advantage of their new independence, and harnessing the power of their own dreams. I closed, as I have at countless orientations at my previous colleges, with the story of the philosophy professor and the jar of rocks. If you’ve never heard this story, you’ll just have to show up at a future orientation! The welcome was well-received, with several parents and students telling me that they enjoyed it.

The parents and students then separated, with the students doing “get to know each other” exercises and the parents going to a question and answer session. I attended the latter and the parents’ concerns mostly dealt with health insurance, dispensing medication, and housing. Both the students and the parents were well-engaged with the orientation.

Later in the day, I rejoined the students for lunch. The dining hall offers lots of different choices and I opted for teriyaki beef over rice and vegetables, which was quite good. It was back to the office for some paperwork, and I joined the parents at 3:30 for a little wine and cheese. Many of the parents left at this point, and at 5:30, the students gathered for a barbeque. I can’t remember when I’ve seen such perfect weather, and the barbeque took full advantage of it. The food was a nice range of picnic favorites—hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage with pepper and onions, salad, watermelon, and cookies. There were lots of carnival games and a volleyball game going on simultaneously. I met more students as well as some of the student life staff and some of the coaches. One coach then went off with a group of students to go kayaking on the Grasse River, which flows alongside the campus—pretty cool. I’ll have to learn how to kayak, because it looks like a lot of fun.photo 3.3

I went home for a few hours, and then returned a little before 9:00 PM to see the orientation leader skits, held in the residence hall being used for the orientation. As I parked and walked to the residence hall, just to make the evening complete, two deer walked across the lawn just ahead of me. Unfortunately, they ran off before I could get a picture. The skits were well attended and very well done—they were slightly edgy and very funny, dealing with a number of situations that students will likely encounter during their first year. I was laughing as two of the students “introduced” themselves during one of the skits (“Hi, I’m Frank with a capital F”… “Hi, I’m Drrl—that’s Darryl without the vowels”). Forty minutes later, it was time to say good night.

In the second day of orientation, the students met with their departments and advisors. I had various meetings so I didn’t attend myself, but I heard that it went very well. A little later, I worked with two of the public relations folks to make a “please attend” video inviting folks for Alumni Weekend next week.   If you’re interested, you can see the video below.

I saw a few more students and parents just before lunch, and that completed things. My compliments to Courtney Bish, Dean of Students and Chief Student Affairs Officer, and the whole student affairs crew for their fine work in organizing and holding the orientation. It was first-class all the way.

 

Town and Gown

On Tuesday, I attended my first Potsdam/Canton Town-Gown Alliance Meeting. Between Potsdam and Canton, which are small towns 10 miles apart, there are four universities: SUNY-Canton and St. Lawrence University in Canton, and SUNY-Potsdam and Clarkson University in Potsdam. The purpose of the meeting is for the four universities to work together more, to work more closely with the community, and to encourage students to be more involved in the community. Warren Anderson from Clarkson, the chair of the committee, introduced me to the group. Lots of worthwhile ideas were proposed, and two subcommittees were established. The meeting was interesting, and I’m looking forward to working together with the folks at the other three colleges. My first opportunity came at the end of the meeting when I was invited by Marsha Sawyer, Director of St. Lawrence University’s McNair Scholars Program, to talk there in a few weeks about graduate school opportunities in Chemistry.

 

And on the Weekend…

On Friday night, my parents and I went into Potsdam to attend services at what I’m told is the only remaining synagogue in the county—Temple Beth El in Potsdam. There used to be synagogues in Ogdensburg and in Massena, but as is the case in so many small towns, they couldn’t sustain themselves. The Adath Israel synagogue building in Massena has now become the Chamber of Commerce. It dates back to 1844, when it was built as the Emmanuel Congregational Church. It became a synagogue in the 1920’s when the church moved into new facilities. The building housed the synagogue for many years, but the local Jewish population dwindled and the synagogue became inactive. Interestingly, the Emmanuel church moved back in 2007, when fire damaged their church. They moved back to their renovated church in 2009, and the building has been empty since.

The synagogue in Potsdam is named Temple Beth El, which coincidentally was also the name of the synagogue my family attended when I was growing up in Syracuse. When we pulled in to the parking lot, there were only two other cars there, but the person conducting the service came out of one of them. Ultimately, 15 people were there for the service including us, including a couple from Montreal who were visiting their daughter, who is a faculty member at Clarkson, as is her husband. The service was very pleasant, and the others in the congregation were quite friendly. We wound up staying for more than an hour after the service, talking about various things (such as the Middle East situation, and which are better—New York or Montreal bagels), and getting to know each other. I’m looking forward to going again.

On Saturday, my parents and I went to the Potsdam Summer Festival. It was quite nice, with a couple of downtown blocks closed off to traffic. Lots of stores had specials out on the sidewalks, and there were various flea markets and food stands as well. There was also a small bandstand set up in the middle of the blocked off road, and we listened to several groups play—some rock, some jazz. Later that evening, we went to dinner with VP of Development David Gerlach and his lovely wife Lisa at Jake’s, a very good bistro type restaurant in Hannawa Falls (which is about 6 miles south of Potsdam). The restaurant is brand new and has an outdoor seating area with wonderful views of the Racquet River. The company was great and the food was good too—everyone except me had salmon, and I had Mediterranean shrimp over pasta. The drinks were served in mason jars, which I’ve seen done before at another restaurant, but can’t remember where for the life of me.

photo 3.2Sunday was pretty rainy, the first bad weather day in a week. No problem though, because we were staying in anyhow to watch the World Cup. I’m a huge soccer fan and my father and I had been watching all the games up until now. I had hoped for a Germany-Netherlands final (my favorite team Ivory Coast having been eliminated earlier), but the Argentina-Netherlands semi-final had been a purely defensive affair, with both sides determined not to lose, rather than trying to win. The semi-final’s regular game ended in a 0-0 tie, as did both overtime periods. The game then went to penalty kicks, which Argentina won. Frankly, given how cautious they were, I didn’t think either of them deserved to win. The other semi-final has now become notorious, with Germany blowing Brazil out 7-1. Thus, the final was between Germany and Argentina, with Netherlands beating Brazil 3-0 in the consolation match.

The cup final was quite good, with both teams playing well and attacking hard. The 0-0 tie at the end of regular time hid the fact that there were quite a few close calls for both Germany and Argentina, including one that went in the goal but was called back for off-sides. Germany finally scored in the second overtime period, on a beautiful cross by Schurrle (who plays for my favorite regular season team—Chelsea, in the English Premier League) to Gotze, who deftly chested the ball and slammed it into the corner on the fly. Gotze is only 24, and was an 88th minute substitute, so this was without a doubt the highlight of his life. It was the first time that a European team had won the cup when it was held in the Americas. Given the popularity of the World Cup this time, lots of folks are wondering if soccer will have finally crossed over to become a popular sport in the US. We’ll see, but I’m not holding my breath.

 

This Just In

I was just at the Rotary meeting in Canton today and had the pleasure to find out that the winner of the “Service Above Self” scholarship was Geniveve Hopkins-Better, who will be attending SUNY-Canton this fall. Yes, it’s spelled that way. Geniveve will be majoring in management, and is hoping for a career where she will be able to travel. Welcome to SUNY-Canton, Geniveve!

 

Big Rocks

Just so the folks at SPSU don’t think they’re the only ones with a big rock on campus, here’s SUNY-Canton’s big rock, located in our Gerald E. Roselle Academic Plaza.

photo 3.4

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all involving the word “second”. Our winner, getting them all in the fastest time was Bill Prigge, who is the Assistant Dean for Administration at the College of Pharmacy at University of Tennessee’s Health Science Center. Lots of others got all five right, including Alan Gabrielli (Director of U-Teach at SPSU), Maureen Maiocco (Chair, Early Childhood, Canton), Jonathan Thompson (lecturer, Canton), Rhonda Rodriquez (visiting instructor in English, Canton), Heather Lauzon (secretary, Accomodative Disability Services, Canton), Kelly Carter (sustainability coordinator, Canton), Patty Todd (Director of Health Services, Canton), Stacia Dutton (instructor, Computer Information Systems, Canton), and Rajiv Narula (asst. prof. in Chemistry, Canton). Here are the correct answers:

  1. A common cause of cancer, even if you don’t use cigarettes. Second hand smoke.
  2. Love is lovelier then, according to the song. The second time around.
  3. You share a grandparent with them. The question should have said “you share a great-grandparent with them”, but most people knew I was looking for second cousin as the answer.
  4. Musical expression meaning “to play a subsidiary role”. Second fiddle, though there were a few other acceptable answers,such as “second string”.
  5. The entropy of the universe or any other isolated system never decreases. Second law of thermodynamics.

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

In honor of the World Cup, this week’s challenge has all answers featuring the word “cup”.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. What the top professional hockey team wins.
  2. Fast food from Lipton—just add hot water and stir.
  3. What we’ll take for Auld Lang Syne.
  4. Dome-like structure on top of a building, often found on churches.
  5. 1996 Tim Costner and Rene Russo movie about a washed up golf pro.

 

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July 8, 2014

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 9, Issue 2 – July 8, 2014

 

Settling In

For the past week, I’ve been mostly involved in “settling in” and “getting to know you” sorts of efforts. Until I close on a house (which could be as soon), I’m staying in the college’s beautiful Alumni House, located just two minutes from the campus. The Alumni House is a really nice split entry house, with an elaborate huge kitchen, a large formal dining room, a living room with windows all along one side looking out onto the backyard and the river, and a two-car garage on the main level. Half a flight upstairs takes you to three bedrooms and two baths, and half a flight downstairs takes you to another bedroom, an office, and two large meeting rooms, one of which is a sunroom. Outside, there’s a small deck for a table and some chairs. The backyard itself is huge, with nice flowers about halfway down, and it abuts the Grasse River on one side. There’s also a path through the woods that abut the house on the other side that goes down to the covered bridges from the campus that cross the river into town.

photo[2]

The bridges are beautifully restored. The first crosses the river from the campus onto an island, where you walk down a paved path for about 0.2 miles to the other bridge that goes to the village on (appropriately enough) Riverside Drive. From there, it’s a short walk to downtown. There are several islands in the river, which formerly housed various industries that took advantage of the waterpower. One has now been restored into Heritage Park, which has a nice walking path with lots of signs indicating what had previously been located there. There are still some ruins of some of the factories. Interestingly enough, the day after I first walked the path at the park, I went to my first Rotary meeting in Canton, and the speaker was a person on the development board of Heritage Park. Rotary meets every Monday, and the members are a very friendly group.

I’ve had several meetings with groups on campus. This included the folks in Public Relations, the Deans Council, one-on-ones with some of my reports, and several other individuals. It’s interesting how the same issues pop up on every campus. One issue discussed at the Deans Council, for example, was whether one could come up for tenure and promotion to associate professor simultaneously as well as issues related to prior tenure credit, topics that had been discussed at the working group meetings for the SPSU-KSU consolidation.

The Public Relations team took me to lunch in a nice restaurant in town called “The Club”. If you want a really good meal at an unbelievably low price in Canton, go there pretty much any night and they’ll have some sort of special. Tuesday features their famous $5 menu. I ordered the roast beef dip (one of several choices), which was a full sized roast beef sub, dipping sauce, French fries, and coleslaw. Wow!

Speaking of nice places to eat, I’ve also tried out one of Canton’s pizza restaurants—Josie’s. Metro-Atlanta has many nice restaurants, but in my time down there, I never found a really great pizza place like you can find in New York City or Boston. There were a few that were good, but none that I thought were great. Well, Josie’s is darned good, and I’ll definitely be going back again. We ordered the deluxe pizza, and the large was more than sufficient for me and my parents. The crust was just right, the toppings were plentiful, and instead of cutting the pizza into the normal slices, they cut it cross-wise so that there are lots of smaller pieces. They have a pub underneath the restaurant as well, which I’ll have to check out.

photo[5]My father, mother, and a Josie’s pizza

Shopping-wise, between Canton and Potsdam one can find pretty much everything you need. There’s a huge Wal-Mart about 8 miles away, just before you hit Potsdam, with an Aldi across the street from it. Canton also has a Price Chopper grocery store open 24 hours a day. The usual range of fast-food places is also available in Canton, including McDonalds, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Hut, and Subway, and there are no less than three dollar stores in town. There’s also a KFC and a Taco Bell on campus, and a Starbucks in the library. My son Mark will be glad to learn that there’s a Little Caesar’s in Ogdensburg, so he’ll still be able to get crazy bread.

About the only problem I’ve run into so far is in trying to get a New York driver’s license. When I went to the DMV, they wanted as proof of identity my old license and a valid passport, both of which I had, and my social security card, which I haven’t needed for the past 30 years. Nothing could substitute for it, I was told. I called Jill to see if she could find it back in Georgia, but she couldn’t, so I had to drive to Ogdensburg (18 miles from Canton) to the nearest social security office location. To get a new card, I had to fill out a form and show them my passport, and I should receive it in the mail in 10 days. The logic of being able to get a social security card with a passport, but needing the card AND the passport to get a license escapes me, but there you are. The good part was that since I was in Ogdensburg, I was able to stop and have lunch at an excellent restaurant there I’d been at twice before, the Little Italy.

Opening a bank account was much easier, and the folks at North Country Savings Bank in Canton couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful.

 

Visiting Hospitals

As president, you also get to attend various community meetings. My first week included two associated with local hospitals. The first was in Potsdam (10 miles away) at Canton-Potsdam Hospital. There was a small reception before the main meeting, where I got to meet some of the hospital folks, as well as Chuck Thorpe, the provost from Clarkson University. The reception was followed by an information session about the hospital. Hospitals in small towns have big challenges when it comes to their budgets, since they don’t have a large population base to draw support from and they have a lot of fixed costs. The data presented indicates that Canton-Potsdam Hospital is in strong financial shape. The hospital was also instrumental in helping provide quality health care in Gouverneur, NY (30 miles south of Canton) by having established Gouverneur Hospital on January 1, 2013 to replace the financially troubled E.J. Noble Hospital.

Last Wednesday, I attended the 20th anniversary celebration for the Richard E. Winter Cancer Treatment Center at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center in Ogdensburg. This is a remarkable center, even more so considering the size of the city (11,000)—I’m told it’s the most comprehensive cancer center in the state north of Syracuse. They had recently purchased a new linear accelerator, which allows for more specific targeting of tumors, allowing significantly shorter treatments.

Both hospitals score very high on measures of patient satisfaction, and it’s a wonderful thing to know that the quality of health care is excellent in northern New York.

These community meetings are excellent opportunities to network, and I was pleased to find out that both hospitals were very happy with the quality of the nursing students from SUNY-Canton who are doing internships there. Several of the major administrators were also graduates of SUNY-Canton, and there was interest in working with us to develop some new programs in the health area.

In the “it’s a small world” department, I had the pleasure of meeting Ravinder Agarwal, a retired doctor, at the Claxton-Hepburn event who was originally from India and had lived in the area for 45 years. When I asked him where one could get good Indian food in the area, he said “I’ve just opened a new restaurant”. When I asked him where it was, he smiled and said “my house” and invited me for dinner the next evening. The dinner was delightful and delicious, with several other couples also invited. It turns out that his wife was a graduate of Merrimack College, which many BLAB readers are aware was my first college, where I worked for 17 years. She graduated before I started there, but knew another faculty member in the Chemistry department with whom I had co-written several textbooks. Another person at the dinner had studied for his MPA degree at Deakin University in Geelong Australia, a place I had given a microscale workshop many years ago. In one way or another, I had a connection to each of the couples at the dinner!


Fourth of July

My first official workweek was a short one, due to the 4th of July holiday. To celebrate, my parents and I went up to Norwood (about 15 miles away to the northeast), where they had what I read was the largest parade in St. Lawrence County. I love small town parades because they have such a pleasant local flavor to them. This one was very nice, from the several fire department contingents to the local merchants to the Dairy Princess winners car. The parade lasted a solid 45 minutes, with lots of candy being strewn for the children by the participants.

photo[4]

We went back on Sunday night for a concert on the Norwood village green. The concert consisted of the All Star Big Band with special guest star Tony Desare, an excellent jazz vocalist and piano player. His album “Last First Kiss” debuted at #5 on the Billboard jazz chart in 2007. Desare did a number of his own compositions, and several Frank Sinatra charts. While most members of the All Star Big Band had a connection to SUNY-Potsdam’s well-known Crane School of Music, the bass player, Dan Gagliardi, is from SUNY-Canton. Dan is part of an excellent jazz trio that played at the President’s Gala I mentioned in a previous issue of the BLAB. Norwood has an excellent music series, and I know I’ll be going back for future offerings.

 photo[3]

 

Who Do We Think We Are?

There was an interesting op-ed in the Sunday New York Times by Maureen Dowd, entitled “Who Do We Think We Are”, talking about how the United States has changed in its viewpoint of itself, after recent hard times. She asks: “Are we winners who have been through a rough patch? Or losers who have soured our sturdy and spiritual DNA with too much food, too much greed, too much narcissism, too many lies, too many spies, too many fat-cat bonuses, too many cat videos on the evening news…Are we still the biggest and baddest? Or are we forever smaller, stingier, dumber, less ambitious and more cynical? Have we lost control of our not-so-manifest destiny?

It’s a good question to ponder on the 4th of July. If you listen to the news, especially the various talking heads on TV, it would be easy to conclude that Americans are at each other’s throats, politically able to agree on absolutely nothing, unable to deal with the important issues of the day, and that these problems are unique in our history. All the talking heads seem to be concluding that things have never been worse.

It’s true that many things have changed in the past 100 years, some for the good and some not so much. America is more globally engaged than ever before, though we have somewhat less of the monopoly of power and influence we did at the end of World War II. The oceans are no longer the impassable barriers they once were, and we face threats in the virtual world as well as in the physical world. America is far more diverse than ever before, and sadly, some Americans are uncomfortable with this. American society has higher levels of equality than ever before, though many old problems persist at disturbing levels. There seems to be less willingness to compromise, and less willingness to believe we can do great things. We’ve come out of a huge recession, and the recovery has been agonizingly slow.

I think a large part of the issue is that we’re not very good in history, and tend to forget how hard it was to arrive at where we are. We tend to look at the American Revolution and much of the past as being a period when everyone was united in a magnificent common cause, but of course, it was never actually like that. In the book “Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, a Revolution”, author Nathaniel Philbrick put it really well:

They weren’t better than us back then; they were trying to figure things out and justify their behavior, kind of like we are now…From the beginning to the end, the Revolution was a messy work in progress. The people who we hold up as paragons did not always act nobly but would then later be portrayed as always acting nobly. It reminds you of the dysfunction we’re in the middle of now…We’re not destined for greatness. We have to earn that greatness.

To me, that’s the true greatness of America—we’re a messy work in progress, always striving to be better, always disagreeing on the path that will get us there, always innovating and trying new things, and always (though in fits and starts) expanding the boundaries of who is a “real” American. Our ingenuity and diversity as a nation are our strengths, and allow us to constantly reinvent ourselves. As long as this continues, our future remains bright.


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s trivia challenge was the first produced at SUNY-Canton, and appropriately enough, had all answers featuring the word “first”. Our winner was David Guccione from SUNY-Canton. Others getting all five included Robin Gittings, Marcy Randy, Rhonda Rodriguez, and Alexander Lesyk. The top SPSU scorer was Jamie Garrett, with 4.5 correct. Here are the correct answers:

  1. It prohibits the making of any law regarding establishing of religion, or abridging freedom of speech and of the press. First Amendment to the Constitution.
  2. When you’re sixteen, you obsess as to whether you should kiss on this. First Date.
  3. Traditionally, the bride does this with her father. First Dance.
  4. Three parter expression of firsts about Washington. First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.
  5. Performed by Christiaan Barnard on Louis Washkansky on December 3, 1967. First heart transplant.

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Today’s trivia challenge focuses on the word “second”, since this is my second week living up in Canton.  I promise to come up with a non-numerical theme next week! No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL to president@canton.edu, since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. A common cause of cancer, even if you don’t use cigarettes.
  2. Love is lovelier then, according to the song.
  3. You share a grandparent with them.
  4. Musical expression meaning “to play a subsidiary role”.
  5. The entropy of the universe or any other isolated system never decreases.
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June 27, 2014

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 9, Issue 1 – June 27, 2014

 

Driving North

On Monday, it was goodbye Georgia as I loaded up the car and headed north. It probably would have been smarter to have looked at a map before I left and to determine what the shortest route between Marietta and Syracuse was, but guy that I am, I didn’t do that. I dropped Jill and Mark off at Target (they’re staying behind in Georgia until I get settled in), stopped by my office at SPSU to drop off the missing volume I found of Compton’s Precyclopedia that I had given away (the set is now complete!), said a few good-byes, and I was off.

I drove on I-285 east to I-85 north, which I took into North Carolina. The drive was very pleasant—not too sunny, not too cloudy, not too much traffic. I’m not sure why, but gasoline is much cheaper in South Carolina than anywhere else—I paid only $3.27 a gallon, and it was like that throughout the state. I hit Charlotte by noon, stopped for a quick lunch, and was approaching Greensboro when I decided that I didn’t really want to go on I-85 all the way to Richmond, because I didn’t want to hit the traffic in DC and in Baltimore. I began to think: “Should I have taken I-77 back in Charlotte?” I pulled over, pulled out the atlas, and saw the I could take US 220 north up to Roanoke, and pick up I-81 there, which goes all the way to Syracuse. US 220 is an interstate-in-the-making (I think it will become I-73), and there was lots of construction on both sides of it. US 220 was a two lane road in some parts, so the going was slow there, but most of it was four lanes through some very pretty southern Virginia countryside, so I was glad I went that way. I hit Roanoke about 4:00 PM, swung onto I-81 north, and by the time I got to Lexington, VA, decided I had driven enough for the day.

Lexington is a cute touristy town with a nice downtown area and a couple of colleges located there. I had turkey dinner in a local restaurant, the kind of place where they don’t take credit cards, the waitresses all wear starched uniforms, and they all tell you their first names. The food was great, and I stayed the night in a local motel called the Red Carpet Inn, which had a very friendly manager who was from India. We talked about where the good local Indian restaurants were and about the World Cup. In the morning, I had a couple of doughnuts and a cup of coffee, refilled the tank ($3.57 a gallon now) and was off again.

Virginia is a fairly long state along I-81, which runs from the southwest toward the northeast. It was about a two hour ride to Winchester, the last city in the state, and it was a lovely ride alongside the Shenandoah Valley and passing a number of sites (Natural Bridge, Luray Caverns) that I had only previously seen in View-Master reels. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to stop at any of them, but it’s on the list of stuff to do in the future. The highway then goes through a little piece of West Virginia (Martinsburg) and a little piece of Maryland, and before you know it, you’re in Pennsylvania. There was some construction around Harrisburg, but nothing too serious, and it was then up into the Allegheny Mountains.

Many years earlier, while I was still in grad school at the University of South Carolina, I remember having driven from Columbia, SC to Syracuse. Things were going well and I was making good time, so young and cocky guy that I was, I decided to not stop and spend the night in Virginia, and to go straight through to Syracuse. Everything was fine until I passed Harrisburg and started the climb into the mountains, and that’s when the fog rolled in. You couldn’t see 20 feet in front of you, and to make matters worse, the highway had just been repaved but hadn’t been striped yet, so you couldn’t see where the side of the road was as it began to get dark. Under the circumstances, I slowed down to 25-30 mph. Whenever a truck passed me, I’d try to follow it, figuring that if it went over the side of the highway I’d have enough notice so that I could stop, but I’d lose my nerve after a few miles and have to start creeping slowly again. After a couple of hours (which seemed like longer), I pulled off the road to get a bite to eat and to ask when would the fog lift. The folks at the local diner laughed, said they got a lot of business that way, and said that the fog would lift in Hazleton, just a few miles up. Sure enough it did, and I was off and racing up to Binghamton, NY where there was construction for the next 45 miles in a heavy rain. We got to Syracuse at 5:00 AM and crashed into bed, but my Aunt (who lived two doors down at the time) saw our car and called at 7:00 AM to invite us over to breakfast.

Anyway, this time there was no fog, though there was a bit of construction, and I hit Hazleton PA at about 1:00 PM, and stopped for lunch. I got some fried chicken at the Turkey Hill convenience mart and gas station, which was located at the highest point in Hazelton, and ate at a picnic table there, enjoying the nice sunny day and strong cool breeze. When I paid, the clerk asked if I had a convenience card so that I could get points for my purchase. When I told her I didn’t, because I was from Georgia, she noted that the store was a division of Kroger and their card would work equally well. Sure enough it did, and I even got a discount on my gasoline purchase, bringing the price down to $3.75.

The drive from there to Binghamton was fine, except for some construction around Scranton, where the concrete Jersey barriers were disturbingly close together—I don’t know how trucks could fit between them, but they apparently could. After passing Binghamton, sure enough—more construction between there and Cortland, in pretty much the same places that I had seen 35 years earlier! Fortunately, there was no rain this time, and I was in Syracuse a little after 4:00. For interested Civil Engineers, the junction between I-81 north and I-690 east in Syracuse is as badly designed a road as I can think of. There are two lanes of traffic merging in from the right that you have to cross to reach the one lane turning off to get onto I-690, with only a short distance to make the crossover. The traffic wasn’t too heavy so it really wasn’t that big a deal, but I can only imaging the mess that must occur every rush hour.

I spent the night in Syracuse, and on Wednesday morning, my parents and I piled into the car at 6:45 AM and we went up to Canton. The weather was really lousy most of the way—lots of rain, getting worse in the usual locations where you get the lake effect snow. Things began to improve north of Watertown, and by the time we got to Canton, it had stopped raining though it was still very cloudy and humid. We unloaded the car at the college’s Alumni House, had a little breakfast, and met the real estate agent at 9:00 AM to look at a few more houses.

photoThe Alumni House, SUNY-Canton, from the back

photo(1)View of the Grasse River from SUNY-Canton’s Alumni House

After lunch, I went into the college to say “hi” and went to a reception for a candidate for an open position for Director of Admissions, and then interviewed the candidate. That evening, my parents and I drove the 18 miles to Ogdensburg to have dinner at a nice Italian restaurant I had eaten at during my last visit, the Little Italy, and the food was excellent once again. Ogdensburg is where the nearest bridge into Canada is, and it’s only 45 miles to Ottawa (the nearest big city to Canton) from there.

Thursday, I slept in and went to the college in the afternoon. I had lunch and a nice conversation with the public relations staff at the college, and then met up with Michaela Young (who is my Assistant to the President) to get my official ID card, sign up for my parking permit, and to pick up my new president’s car—very nice. It’s pretty cool to park in the spot marked “Reserved for President”, though I’ll only get to do it for one day, because construction on that lot will begin on Monday.   Dinner with my folks was at Josie’s, a local pizza shop, and the food was excellent. And that brings me up to date—I’m settled into my new office, and typing this first SUNY-Canton issue of the Weekly Blab on my new computer.

I’d like to thank several folks who have helped make the transition so smooth. Interim President Joe Hoffman did a great job at Canton over the past year, and filled me in on upcoming issues and provided me with a strong background of the college’s history. He was a wonderful host on my visits to campus. Michaela Young, Assistant to the President, has done a great job in seeing to the thousands of details involved in making the transition, getting my computer, etc. The folks from Alumni Affairs have been so helpful in making sure I have everything I need at the Alumni House, and in making sure my parents are comfortable, and the folks from computer services have done a fine job in having everything ready and waiting for me. Thanks to all!

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s trivia challenge was the last produced at SPSU, and appropriately enough, had all answers featuring the word “last”. For the first time, our winner, also appropriately enough, was from SUNY-Canton—Terry Clemmo from the Career Services Office. Others getting all five right were mostly from SPSU (except as indicated), and included Sam Beadles (CE), Bob Brown (IT), Kit Trensch (Dir. Of Development), Alan Gabrielli (Dir. U-Teach), Michael Thackston (Physics), Diane Payne (Public Relations), Tom Nelson (Dean, A&S), Marietta Monaghan (Architecture), Jamie Garrett (Admin. Asst. to the President), Bill Prigge (U-Tenn College of Pharmacy), Ginny Bennett, Mark Vickrey (SIS) and my sister, Drorit, who is off in the wilds of Texas. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Final meal between Jesus and his Apostles. The Last Supper.
  2. A procrastinator always waits until this. The last minute.
  3. 1972 X-rated movie starring Marlon Brando. “Last Tango in Paris”
  4. Debut single by the Monkees in 1966, it reached #1 on November 5 of that year. “Last Train to Clarksville”.
  5. 1826 historical novel by James Fenimore Cooper. “Last of the Mohicans”.

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Today’s trivia challenge focuses on the word “first”, since this is my first week living up in Canton.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL to president@canton.edu, since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. It prohibits the making of any law regarding establishing of religion, or abridging freedom of speech and of the press.
  2. When you’re sixteen, you obsess as to whether you should kiss on this.
  3. Traditionally, the bride does this with her father.
  4. Three parter expression of firsts about Washington.
  5. Performed by Christiaan Barnard on Louis Washkansky on December 3, 1967.
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June 16, 2014

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 8, Issue 34 – June 16, 2014

 

It’s Been A While…

It’s been a while since the last BLAB, and I can only point to endless packing as an excuse. My office is pretty much emptied out (with one heavy box yet to drag home), and most of my stuff in the house is now packed up. I’m using predominantly U-Haul small boxes, which are about 1x1x1.5’ in size—they’re perfect for records, CD’s, books, and lots of other stuff. It’s amazing how many boxes it takes to hold everything. I thought it would take a lot of boxes to hold the CD’s (and it does), but it wasn’t as many as I thought since you can fit a lot of CD’s in a box. It’s the books that take up lots of space, especially the National Geographic hardcovers and the various books about comics I’ve accumulated over the years.

We’ve dropped about 50 bags of clothing and toys at Hope House (one of Jill’s favorite charities), and there will probably be at least 25 more before we’re done. I’ve given a bunch of stuff away at SPSU to the first person responding to random emails, and there will probably be a bit more yet to come. Boxes are everywhere in the house, though with so much now packed, it’s amazing how big the house turns out to be.

I’ll be going up to Canton in a little more than a week. The drive takes two days, with an overnight stop in Virginia and another in Syracuse to see my parents. I still don’t have a house up in Canton, but that’s OK, since I have two choices of places to stay there, as well as the family homestead in Syracuse.   I’ll try to finalize a house when I get there. Jill and Mark are staying in Marietta until I get settled in, with the plan being for them to join me in about six months.

I officially start my new life as President of SUNY-Canton on July 1, though I’m planning on going in a few days early just to get set. I’ve gotten a lot of letters and emails welcoming me to Canton, so I’m sure settling in will go well.

I’ve said this several times before, but people keep asking, so—Yes, I will continue writing the BLAB, with this being the last issue of Volume 8. Volume 9 will start when I get there, telling the tale of my trip and no doubt other fascinating things. SPSU friends who want to be competitive for the weekly trivia quiz should sign up to follow the blog, since I won’t be sending announcements to the “academic affairs” list any longer. Of course, you can always find it at zszafranblog.wordpress.com.

 

New Leadership

By now, most people know who the new interim leadership at SPSU is going to be. Ron Koger (former VP for student and enrollment services) is the interim president. Richard Cole will be the interim VPAA, while staying as Dean of Architecture and Construction Management. Karl Staber will become interim Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services, and Jim Herbert will be interim CIO. Julie Newell will be the interim Dean of Arts & Sciences, while Becky Rutherfoord will be the interim Dean of Computing and Software Engineering. There will be new interim chairs in ETCMA, Math, SIS, Computer Science, and Information Technology too, but I’m not sure they’ve all been finalized, so I’ll hold off on announcing them.

The coming year will be very challenging, between the normal academic issues, the consolidation, dealing with SACS, and an ABET visit for the ET programs. Ron, Rich, Karl, Jim, Julie, and Becky are all eminently qualified to lead these efforts, and I’m confident that they will do a great job.

 

More Parties!

Last Tuesday at 3:00 PM, we had a very nice party to give our best wishes to Dean Tom Nelson (Arts & Sciences) and to Dean Han Reichgelt (Computing and Software Engineering) who are leaving SPSU for their new positions as Dean of Arts and Sciences at Metropolitan State University (Minneapolis, MN) and as Regional Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at the University of South Florida—St. Petersburg, respectively. Special thanks to Debbie Patrick, who did most of the work of arranging for the venue and ordering the food. The party drew more than 100 guests, quite a good turnout for this time of year with so many folks away on vacation or at conferences. We had our usual “roast” of the honorees, with several folks coming forward to speak. I decided that our departing deans also needed appropriate parting gifts, so Tom got a heavy hooded SPSU sweatshirt for those cold Minnesota days, and Han got an SPSU T-shirt and visor cap as he basks in the tropical sunshine and tries to avoid the hurricanes. After the party broke up at 5:00, we still had some energy left, so it was off to Rocco’s with the Deans Council to down a couple of cold ones.

On Wednesday, I went to my last Rotary meeting, taking Rich Cole with me as a guest. I was asked to say a few words, so I told the membership about my new position and upcoming move, and got a nice round of applause and lots of good wishes. When I get up there, I’d like to join the Canton club (if they’ll have me!), which its website tells me meets for lunch at 12:15 every Monday at the Best Western University Inn. The Canton club was founded in 1937 (a bit younger than Marietta) and has some 45 members. It is part of District 7040, made up of clubs in western Quebec, eastern Ontario, and northern New York. I better remember to pack my passport!

Also on Wednesday, a party was held at the Architecture Gallery for me and the people I’d worked most closely with in academic affairs. Special thanks to Russ Hunt, Nikki Palamiotis, and Debbie Patrick for organizing the festivities. Jill and Mark were able to come, and Mark had an especially fun time flirting with all the women there! I got some very nice gifts—a framed drawing of SPSU’s campus, and a very warm fur hat for those cold New York winters. I’ll post a picture in the BLAB the first time I wear it.

Khalid Siddiqi also kindly gave me what he termed a “survival kit”—a bag of Indian seasoning packages and instructions on how to make some of my favorite Indian dishes. Khalid had heard from me that there isn’t an Indian restaurant in Canton, so he wanted me to be well-prepared. I’ll let everyone know how my Indian cooking turns out! Several other people have given me thoughtful going away gifts, so I’d like to take this opportunity to say thanks to all for their kindness.

 

World Cup Mania

In between packing boxes and catching up with back episodes of the British TV series “Sherlock” (on Netflix—check it out if you haven’t already—it’s great!), I’ve been watching several matches in this year’s World Cup. Unlike the World Series, the World Cup actually does involve the whole world, with nations from each continent (except Antarctica) comprising the final 32 slots. The Cup is being held in Brazil, which makes it convenient to watch the games live, since Brazil is on more or less the same time zones as we are in the USA.

The first set of matches is called the “group stage”, with the 32 countries competing in eight groups of four (A-H) playing a round-robin of three games each. The top two countries in terms of points (3 for a win, 1 for a draw, highest goal differential if there’s a tie) from each group move on to the “knockout stage”, which is single elimination until only the winner remains. The Cup began on Thursday, with Brazil coming back to win its first game 3-1 against Croatia. Three games were held on Friday, with Mexico beating Cameroon 1-0, Chile defeating Australia 3-1, and in a huge upset, Netherlands trouncing Spain 5-1. Han must be in 7th heaven. Spain had been one of the favorites to win the World Cup, so this was quite a shocker.

I watched the England-Italy game on Saturday, with Italy winning 2-1 and England sadly underperforming as usual. It was a pretty good game, though a bit conservatively played. England had several opportunities to tie things up in the second half, but couldn’t convert. One unusually bad play was a corner kick by Wayne Rooney (from hated Manchester United) that missed the field entirely, going into the stands behind the goal.

Later on Saturday, I watched the Ivory Coast Elephants (the team I’m rooting for) defeat Japan 2-1. Japan took a 1-0 lead in the first half with a terrific goal by Honda in the 16th minute. In the second half, things looked bleak until the great Didier Drogba was substituted in at the 62nd minute. This stretched out Japan’s defense (since you never know quite what Drogba might do) and inspired and set up the Elephants to promptly score twice, in the 64th (by Wilfried) and 66th (by Gervinho) minutes. If Ivory Coast continues to do well, it will be the first time it makes it to the knockout round. In other action, France defeated Honduras 3-0, Costa Rica shocked Uruguay with a 3-1 win, and Colombia wiped out Greece 3-0.

Sunday, I watched a surprisingly close game between Argentina (another major contender for the Cup) and Cinderella team Bosnia-Herzegovina. The game started badly for Bosnia, with an own goal in the 3rd minute by Kolasinac. Bosnia hung tough, though, and the half ended 1-0 Argentina. In the second half, Argentinian soccer great Messi scored in the 65th minute making it 2-0, but Bosnia got one back in the 85th minute on a pretty intricate play. Unfortunately, that’s all Bosnia could manage, making the final score 2-1. Without the own goal, it would have been a tie, so there are some worried folks in Argentina tonight.

The US plays its first game on Monday night against Ghana in a tough group also containing Germany and Portugal. Unless there’s a big upset, the US doesn’t have much of a chance to advance to the knockout round—Germany and Portugal are both powerhouses. You never know though, as the Spanish team can testify.

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all involving the word “party”. Our winner was Jonathan Lartigue. Others getting all five right included Rich Halstead-Nussloch, Bob Brown, Jeanne Bohannon, Tom Nelson, Jamie Garrett, and from SUNY-Canton, Teresa Clemmo. Here are the correct answers:

  1. 1773 event featuring colonists dressed as Native Americans. Boston Tea Party.
  2. In the UK, the major ones are Labor, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats. Political Parties.
  3. Someone who spoils the festivities. Party Pooper.
  4. Main catchphrase on Wayne’s World. “Party Time—Excellent” or “Party On”.
  5. 1963 movie starring Annette and Frankie. I have an autographed poster of it in my office. Beach Party.

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This is the final BLAB quiz written at SPSU, so all answers feature the word “last”.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO zszafran@spsu.edu, since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Final meal between Jesus and his Apostles.
  2. A procrastinator always waits until this.
  3. 1972 X-rated movie starring Marlon Brando.
  4. Debut single by the Monkees in 1966, it reached #1 on November 5 of that year.
  5. 1826 historical novel by James Fenimore Cooper.

 

 

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May 28, 2014

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 8, Issue 33 – May 28, 2014

 

Bridging Between Two Places

The world is full of funny coincidences. When I left New England College back in 2005, one of the places that offered me a position was Manhattanville College, just north of New York City. When I went down there to interview, they were in the midst of their league’s final in hockey, and guess who they were playing? Yep, it was New England College, for both men’s and women’s hockey! I don’t remember which game went which way, but Manhattanville won one final and NEC won the other. I was at the men’s game, and had a hard time deciding who to root for, so I decided to root for both.

Well, it’s happened again. I knew that both SPSU and SUNY-Canton had made the national Student Steel Bridge Competition finals, and I was rooting for them both. I just got the results of the national competition and SPSU acquitted itself quite well, coming in 14th, beating such unknowns as the Univ. of Central Florida; Michigan State Univ.; Univ. of Puerto Rico; Kansas State Univ.; Milwaukee School of Engineering; UT-San Antonio; Washington State Univ.; Clemson Univ.; Univ. of British Columbia; Texas A & M – College Station; Univ. of Michigan; Arkansas State Univ.; University of Connecticut; Univ. of Missouri Science and Technology; South Dakota School of Mining and Tech.; Worcester Polytechnic Institute (my undergraduate alma mater); California Polytechnic, Pomona; Univ. of Virginia; The Citadel; and Minnesota State Univ., Mankato.

Who came in 13th, just ahead of SPSU? SUNY-Canton! In fact, in several of the sub-categories, SPSU and SUNY-Canton were also neck and neck.

The national winner was University of California-Davis, who had won previously in 2005. MIT came in 2nd, and UC-Berkeley (national winner in 2008, 2012, and 2013) came in 3rd. For you history fans out there, the university that has won the nationals the most is North Dakota State, winning in 1995, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2010. SPSU hosted the competition way back in 1993. Who won the national in 2009?   SUNY-Canton.

Congratulations to the students, faculty, and advisors involved with the teams on both campuses! I’m predicting that one of us will win it all next year and that the other will come in 2nd, but I’m not saying which one is which.

 

Time to Party!

One of the nicest events I’ve had the pleasure to attend was the party for President Rossbacher last Friday, celebrating her 16 years at SPSU as well as her many accomplishments. The food was great (love the shrimp and Mexican rice), the band was excellent and played the kind of music I like, and the ambiance was perfect—the fountain’s water was dyed bright green, as was Dean Rich Cole’s hair. Even Lisa had colored one tress of her hair green. I had considered doing it myself, but ultimately settled on wearing a green tie.

1Dean Rich Cole proves it’s not easy being green.  Picture by Alana Kyriakakis

One of the highlights was the serving of margaritas mixed with Tang (a Tangorita, named after Lisa’s dog)—not something I ever would have thought of doing, but they tasted very nice. On top of it all, the weather was beautiful too. The party was so pleasant, I think we should have one every Friday!

2Zvi paying off his gambling debt to Lisa, while Mark gives him the kangaroo ears.  Picture by Alana Kyriakakis

Jill and Mark really enjoyed the festivities, with Mark doing his usual thing of going around to the various ladies on campus he knows and hugging and kissing them all. It was wonderful seeing several friends from outside SPSU too, including Margaret Venable, David Hornbeck, and various faculty and staff’s husbands and wives.

It was great seeing everyone, but bittersweet knowing that so many of us are scattering to the four winds. Most everyone was aware of my impending move to Canton, and it was tough saying goodbye to so many people, but it was wonderful to get so many good wishes. I’m hoping everyone will make a real effort to stay in touch.

 

Contact Information

A lot of people have asked me for my contact information up in Canton, so here’s what I know so far, courtesy of my new business card!

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 10.25.08 AM

What’s on the back of the card? Glad you asked:

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 10.25.19 AM

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all involving the word “disc”. Our winner was fast-fingered Rich Halstead-Nussloch. Others getting all five right included Bob Harbort, Jamie Garrett, Jonathan Lartigue, and from up at SUNY-Canton, David Norenberg, Julie Parkman, and Teresa Clemmo from the Career Services Office. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Another word for conversation. Discussion.
  2. You throw it in an Olympic track and field event. Discus.
  3. He spins stacks of wax. Disc Jockey.
  4. Medical condition where a tear in the outer fibrous ring of a vertebra allows the soft central portion to bulge out, causing much pain.   Ruptured, bulging, or slipped disc.
  5. Usually made of cast iron (though sometimes made of composites), it was first patented by Frederick William Lanchester in 1902. Disc brakes.

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

In honor of last Friday’s festivities, this week’s trivia challenge has all answers involving the word “party”.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO zszafran@spsu.edu, since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

 

  1. 1773 event featuring colonists dressed as Native Americans.
  2. In the UK, the major ones are Labor, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats.
  3. Someone who spoils the festivities.
  4. Main catchphrase on Wayne’s World.
  5. 1963 movie starring Annette and Frankie. I have an autographed poster of it in my office.
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May 20, 2014

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 8, Issue 32 – May 20, 2014

 

Hello Canton, Part 2

The previous WEEKLY BLAB covered the first part of my trip to Canton (May 4-9). Here’s the rest of the story.

On Thursday (May 8), the day began with a tour of the campus provided by Acting President Hoffman via a small electric vehicle called a GEM car. In order to be “certified” to drive it, he had to get special training, but it was worth it because it was pretty cool. We had a beautiful, sunny spring day to go around in, and I got to see the various buildings and some interesting history of the campus. Among the interesting highlights were the Newell Veterinary Technical Center (perhaps named after some relative of Julie’s?), the old gymnasium with its very high ceiling braced by beautiful wooden arch beams, the library (which contains a Starbucks coffee shop—I’m sure Jill will be visiting often), a very attractive building designed and constructed by Canton’s Construction Management students which is now used to teach sustainability classes (powered by solar panels, naturally), and the older residence halls (pretty nice, with new furniture coming in for the lounges).

The building that houses Canton’s Advancement Office was especially interesting, since it has pictures from throughout the college’s history (it was founded in 1906) hanging all along the broad stairway walls. Just like SPSU, the head of SUNY-Canton wasn’t always a president—earlier leaders were deans and directors and there have been some interims and acting presidents, so it turns out that officially, I will be the 4th president.

After the tour, it was off to see a few more houses. President Hoffman came with me and the realtor to lend moral support. The first house we saw was a very pretty cape, which had a surprising amount of room in it, since the previous owners were determined to use every inch of space in it, including up in the rafters. Thus, the upstairs had two good-sized bedrooms, a bathroom, and a third smaller room that was used as a study. In the back of the study, there was a door leading to a medium sized semi-finished storage room, which then led to another storage room that was a little smaller. The first of the storage rooms also had a door to the side, which when I opened it, surprised me be being the entrance to a 20 foot-long, 9 foot wide “man cave” room, with the chimney in the middle. A woodstove came off the chimney, and one of the long walls had a 3-foot high, 4-foot wide pedestal running along it, with nice shelves above that. I’m not sure why the pedestal was so wide—it would make reaching the shelves difficult unless you climbed up on it. There was a steep set of stairs coming down from that room to a little wood storage room on the first floor, which was also where the house’s well was. It was a pretty interesting house!

We then went to see some condos that had recently been built near the intersection of US 11 and Main Street, on the second floor of a brick commercial building, right next to the Grasse River. The condos were just beautiful—brand new, gorgeous wooden floors, bay windows with a river view, new appliances, the works. They were pretty roomy for a two-bedroom condo too.  The taxes and condo fee were quite reasonable–under $3,000 for the taxes and about $150 for the condo fee.  I am also told that the heating costs are extremely low.  The people who live there must love them!  I’ll likely be making a decision about where I’ll be living in the next few days—there are a lot of nice choices, so it’s tough to make up my mind.

Thursday afternoon was taken up with several more meetings, including with Jondavid DeLong, one of the Deans; Randy Sieminski, the Director of Athletics; and a wrap-up with the president’s staff. On Thursday night, I attended the President’s Gala, which is where Canton announces their larger awards, and many emeritus faculty are invited. One nice surprise was that a retired faculty member who was a chemist came up to talk to me, and he had done his research on boron nitrogen compounds. We obviously had an interesting talk! The Gala was a lot of fun, with the Randy Sieminski acting as the master of ceremonies, and it included a slideshow of some of the funnier moments from the previous year narrated by President Hoffman. That’s a tradition I know I’ll be maintaining. There was a jazz trio playing through the dinner, and they were quite good. The trio consists of three faculty—two from SUNY-Canton and one from Clarkson and they were kind enough to give me a CD of their music. The one from Clarkson (Bill Vitek) is a philosophy professor who is interested in sustainability, so I’m looking forward to talking to him about microscale chemistry, and to all three about jazz.   I got a chance to reconnect with some people from the college’s Board that I had met during the interview process, and to meet lots of new people as well.

On Friday morning, I packed up and drove back to Syracuse, getting there a little after 11:00 AM. The drive was pleasant enough, except for when I hit Gouverneur, NY, where the main street was still torn up and had lots of delays for construction equipment. The flight back to Atlanta was uneventful, and I got onto campus at 4:00 just after the rehearsal for graduation had ended.

 

And Speaking of Graduation…

Graduation this year was especially poignant for me, since it will be my last one at SPSU. I haven’t missed any during my time here, even when I had to take the red-eye back from Portland, OR one year, arriving in Atlanta at 6:00 AM on graduation morning—I just drove to campus, put on my robe, and was off to the races—so I wasn’t about to miss this one. As anyone there can tell you, the morning half was the biggest turnout of all time at an SPSU graduation. The place was absolutely packed, with the graduating students filling almost the entire floor area. Normally, the back floor section is for family and friends, but given the huge number of graduating students, we had to ask a bunch of them to get up from their seats and move so that the students had a place to sit. It was also darned hot, so I was sweating up a storm under my cap and gown after putting the medallions on the first 50 graduates—I had to toss my cap aside to keep going. The graduation speaker, Randy Brown Jr., was the first student every to be the commencement speaker, and he did a great job delivering his speech, even taking off his shoes to do so. The event was even nicer because former Regent Willis Potts also came—it was great to see him again. The afternoon session was a little smaller but still quite large. The highlight came when Dean Jeff Ray mangled one of the students’ name, and when he asked: “did I say that right?” the student took the mic and pronounced it himself to the cheers of the entire audience.   It was a wonderful event, and I’ll be keeping a copy of the group photo that was taken of the senior staff, and of the video of the graduation itself for posterity.

 

Home Doings

At this point, my home life is filled with packing boxes, since I’ll be moving in about a month. The comic books are the easy part—they’re already in boxes, so I don’t have to do anything to them.   I know exactly how to pack CDs, DVDs, and blu-rays into the U-Haul small sized box so that they can’t move and don’t get crushed, and I’d saved the boxes from when I moved to Georgia, so it’s recycle and reuse time. I’m packing the ones I’m figuring on not using in the next 30 days first, all in alphabetical order of course so that unpacking will be easy. I’m hoping the new place has lots of shelf space, or at least space for me to put up a bunch of CD racks, and lots of dry open space for the comics. That rumble you’ll hear is Marietta’s elevation rising three feet (and Canton’s dropping the same amount) when my stuff goes on the road.   True story—when the truck hauling my stuff from NH to Georgia back in 2005 missed its exit to stop for night in New Jersey, the driver decided to cut across one of those crossing lanes meant for the police on the NJ Turnpike. The weight of the truck and my stuff was so heavy, they wound up damaging the turnpike and got a $5,000 fine!

And One Final Word…

Go Hornets!  Win that World Series!

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions having to do with words that begin with the letter “J”. Our winner was Bob Brown, getting all five right, but taking two emails to do it since the last answer only hit him after he had sent the first one. Others getting all five right included: Tom Nelson and Mark Stevens. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Roman emperor and play by Shakespeare. Julius Caesar.
  2. Double “J” expression that you do when you’re really happy. Jump for joy.
  3. First settlement in Virginia. Jamestown.
  4. Double “J” girl in song by Donovan. Jennifer Juniper.
  5. According to the 1969 movie title, Krakatoa is east of here. Java. The ironic part is that Krakatoa is actually west of Java (it is east of Sumatra, all being islands of Indonesia). So much for geographical accuracy!

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

In honor of what I’ve been packing all weekend, this week’s trivia challenge has all answers involving the word “disc”.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO zszafran@spsu.edu, since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Another word for conversation.
  2. You throw it in an Olympic track and field event.
  3. He spins stacks of wax.
  4. Medical condition where a tear in the outer fibrous ring of a vertebra allows the soft central portion to bulge out, causing much pain.
  5. Usually made of cast iron (though sometimes made of composites), it was first patented by Frederick William Lanchester in 1902.

 

 

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May 7, 2014

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 8, Issue 31 – May 7, 2014

 

The Brunch

Thanks to everyone who came last week to the brunch, with special big thanks to President Lisa Rossbacher for throwing the party for Sam Conn and for me. The party was wonderful, and will leave me with lasting memories, not least of which will be the first grits bar I’ve ever seen (and possibly the last!). I appreciate the gifts of the SPSU cap and the “I Love NY” cap—a perfect touch. I love the gift of the brick that will be in the Legacy Walk thanking me for my service. It means a lot.

img_1973Picture of Sam Conn and me, stolen from Rich Cole’s Blog.

Special thanks also to Rich Cole (Dean, Architecture and Construction Management) and to Alan Gabrielli (former Dean of Arts & Sciences and Director of the UTeach Program) for their “roasts” of my time at SPSU. You both made me laugh and brought a tear to my eye. Jill and Mark loved it too.

It was bittersweet to get all the “good luck” wishes, mixed with the “we’re sorry you’re leaving” comments. Yes, I’m looking forward to the opportunities up in New York (more about that below), but it’s very hard to leave such fine colleagues as I’ve had at SPSU, and to leave all the things we’ve built together behind. I’ll never forget my many friends and colleagues at SPSU, and I hope that many of you will stay in touch, both by continuing to follow the BLAB and by emailing me at my new address of president@canton.edu.

You’re not quite rid of me yet—I’ll see everyone at graduation on Saturday, and will be around until the third week of June or so, when I make the permanent move up north.

 

Hello Canton

Last Sunday, I left for a one week visit to SUNY-Canton, my soon to be new home. This issue of the BLAB is written while I’m there.

The flight to Syracuse, NY left at 9:00 AM, and for a change, was only about half-full. I had one of those extra-legroom coach seats and there was no one next to me, so things were pretty comfortable. I had also been TSA pre-checked, so getting on the flight was easy and pretty pleasant. The flight is about 2 hours, which isn’t too bad. Syracuse has a medium sized airport, so one can get through it in a hurry.

I picked up the rental car (a Dodge Viper—very nice, except that the previous user had been a smoker, so I could still smell it), and took off for the north in a light drizzle. Just north of Syracuse, I saw a sign for “The Castaways”, a restaurant that my family and I used to go to fairly frequently when I was a teenager. Since it was lunchtime, I had to give it a shot, even though I hadn’t been there in about 40 years. My memory of it was that it was pretty upscale, but things have changed and it is more of a family type place now. They used to be known for red snapper, but that wasn’t on the menu anymore, so I ordered pasta with prime rib and shrimp over it, and it was quite good. After finishing, it was back to the car and up Interstate 81 to Watertown (still drizzling), and then up US 11 the rest of the way. The ride was uneventful, except when we got to Gouveneur, a town halfway between Watertown and Canton, where the main road had been ripped up and was under repair—potholes filled with water everywhere! Carefully navigating through town so as not to lose an axle, the rest of the trip was smooth and I was in Canton a little before 3:00 PM. I have been staying in the College’s Alumni House, a really nice place that has nice views of the Grasse River as well as beautiful meeting spaces, nice rooms to stay in, and a great kitchen. At about 4:30, Acting President Joseph Hoffman picked me up and we went off to dinner at The Club, a Canton restaurant, for a nice meal.

Monday morning was taken up by house hunting with a local realtor. I saw a few nice houses and the prices are a little bit lower than one would find in Marietta, but when it comes to taxes, if you’re in the village of Canton, they’re triple what we have in East Cobb. Taxes on a $200,000 house are about $7,500-$8,500, and it’s all relative, since that’s low compared to Long Island or New York City. The taxes drop when you get out of the village limits, and I’m seeing a nice house tomorrow that is maybe 5 miles from the college, where the taxes are only $3,100.

The rest of the day was taken up with meetings with several vice presidents and Deans, including Shawn Miller (Acting VP for Administration and CFO), David Gerlach (VP for Advancement), and Courtney Bish (Dean of Students). Graduation is on Saturday, just like at SPSU, so the faculty and students are still around. It’s really amazing how similar SUNY-Canton and SPSU back when I started are—many similar programs, and facing many similar issues. The faculty and staff are great—devoted to the college, very student-focused, and strong believers in applied learning.   Dinner was on campus with three staff colleagues (Randy Sieminski, Director of Athletics; Molly Mott, Dean of Academic Support Services; and Courtney Bish) in Canton’s version of the Executive Dining Room. It was quite excellent, and reminiscent of meals that I’ve had in SPSU’s eX.

On Tuesday, it was more meetings including with Ronald O’Neill (the Chair of the College Council), and a Deans Council meeting. At Canton, it has become customary for the president to come to the Deans Council meetings, a practice I intend to continue whenever possible. It’s a great group, and I enjoyed being part of the discussion, though I had to ask a lot of questions since (just like at SPSU), they use a lot of abbreviations and acronyms, and many are different than ours. Lunch was with faculty from the Canino School of Engineering Technology (which also contains Math and Physics). We talked about some future strategies, and had a very engaging discussion. From there, it was on to meet the press—the Watertown TV station, several radio stations, and a newspaper reporter. They asked some interesting questions about future directions for the college, and we had some laughs reminiscing about radio and TV in Syracuse when I was growing up.

Soon after, the college had a reception to welcome me in their new CARC athletic complex. It was great meeting so many new people—lots of faculty, staff, and students from the college, as well as alumni, college council members, the mayor of Canton, representatives from the state house delegation, and many others. The athletic faculty is magnificent—an indoor hockey arena, an indoor swimming pool, and lots more. It’s quite a bit larger than our rec center, and was constructed a few years ago at a cost of some $39M. Then it was off to Ogdensburg (a small city15 miles away) with President Hoffman for a nice dinner at the Little Italy restaurant, followed by a tour of Canton and its surroundings.

Wednesday (today) had yet more meetings, including a morning meeting with student leaders, lunch with faculty from the School of Science, Health, and Criminal Justice, meetings with Dean Michael Newtown (Canino School of ET) and Dean Kenneth Erickson (School of Science, Health, and Criminal Justice) and more meetings in the afternoon. Dinner was with Lenore VanderZee (Executive Director for University Relations) and Michaela Young (Assistant to the President) at Maxfields, a very nice restaurant in Potsdam, (a small city about 10 miles away) that overlooks the Racquet River.

Tomorrow, I’ll be looking at a few more houses, having a campus tour, more meetings, and in the evening, the President’s Gala. More about this in the next BLAB!

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions having to do with the word “red”. Our winner was Carl Snook (SIS), with Rich Halstead-Nussloch also getting them all. Here are the correct answers:

  1. She learned why you shouldn’t go through the forest to visit your grandmother. Little Red Riding Hood.
  2. They put it out at the Oscars for the stars, at fancy hotels, as well as trainside on the 20th Century Limited. The Red Carpet.
  3. Famous oil well fireman. Red Adair.
  4. Terrific British TV comedy involving a garbage collecting spaceship, a hologram named Rimmer, a slacker named Lister, and an evolved cat. The Red Dwarf.
  5. Popular 1935 song by Jimmy Kennedy and Hugh Williams. It’s about a yacht that Kennedy saw off the northern coast of Ireland. Versions were recorded by Bing Crosby, Guy Lombardo, Montovani, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Big Joe Turner, Paul Anka, the Platters, the Beatles (at the Star Club, in Hamburg), Fats Domino, the Searchers, Connie Francis, Dean Martin, Dave Brubeck, and Englebert Humperdinck. Wow! Red Sails in the Sunset.

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s trivia challenge has all answers being words that start with the letter “j”.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO zszafran@spsu.edu, since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Roman emperor and play by Shakespeare.
  2. Double “J” expression that you do when you’re really happy.
  3. First settlement in Virginia.
  4. Double “J” girl in song by Donovan.
  5. According to the 1969 movie title, Krakatoa is east of here.
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