April 18, 2014

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 8, Issue 30 – April 18, 2014

 

Q &A Time

As my time at SPSU begins to wind down, I thought I’d answer a couple of questions that people have been asking me.

Yes, I plan to continue writing the Weekly Blab when I go up to SUNY-Canton. Naturally, a lot of the stuff in it will relate to my new university and life in northern New York, but some of it will still be the usual nonsense about topics in higher education, music, the English Premiere League, and whatever else happens to cross my mind. The one thing that will change is that I won’t be sending out the notices whenever a new issue is up. If you want to know right away so that you’ll be competitive in the trivia contest, you’ll have to sign up as a follower for the blog. Just click on the word “follow” in the blog’s menu bar at the top. I promise to mail you a CD if you win.

My last day on campus will likely be around June 20, which also happens to be Jill and my 38th anniversary. I will be going to Canton periodically before then, and will be less available as time goes forward. I intend to get everything done before I leave, so if you have anything you need me to work on, let me know and I’ll do my best. The next time I will be away will be the week of May 4, when I’m going up to Canton to meet the faculty, students, and many others associated with the college, as well as to look for a house.

Yes, I know where my winter coats, gloves, and boots are. I never got rid of them, and I trust they’ll get some renewed use next winter. No, there won’t be any snow by the time I get there, although earlier this week, it was 81° in Canton on Monday, and it snowed on Tuesday. Of course it got really cold here, too.

No, I don’t know who is going to be the interim VPAA after I’m gone. I don’t know who the interim president is going to be either. Presumably an announcement will be made as the date gets closer.

Yes, I’ll miss you all (well, mostly all) when I go. I hope you’ll stop by for a visit if you’re up that way. Canton is a very nice town, and the Thousand Islands region of New York is quite beautiful, with Adirondack State Park and Lake Placid nearby, as are Ottawa and Montreal. It’s worth the trip. SUNY-colleges seem to do inaugurations, so if you follow the Blab, I’ll let you know when it will be assuming we have one. You’re all invited.

 

Blood Moon

On Tuesday, Jill came running upstairs, saying “you have to come outside and see the moon”. I’m glad she did, because I’ve never seen the moon quite so bright before, and I felt obliged to take a picture of it. The picture below was taken on my Canon SX-20, which has a superzoom lens, allowing an 80X magnification. I didn’t use a tripod, so you should be impressed how steady my hands are. Of course, I’m not showing you the six other shots I took first that were quite blurry.

Moon Photo

It turns out that there will be four so-called blood moons this coming year—the others coming on Oct. 8, April 4, 2015, and Sept. 28, 2015.   Since all these dates are also Jewish holidays, there are several preachers who are saying that this is a big giant omen, and indicates G-d is communicating with us by sending these signals. There are several books on the subject, the best known being one by John Hagee called “Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change”. In it he says that these four blood moons predict the destruction of Russia, Iran, Germany, and several other countries as they try to invade Israel (the Gog-Magog war), a worldwide economic collapse, and the Second Coming, pretty much all in this time period. There are other ministers who think Hagee couldn’t be more wrong, one of them being Dr. Joel McDurmon, the Director of Research for American Vision (who lives in Dallas, Georgia). You can read his rather interesting repudiation of Hagee (which also works in a dig at President Obama) here. As for me, I’m not taking sides in this debate, but I figure that if things are going to be peaceful anywhere, Canton NY has as good a shot at it as any.

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions having to do with the word “green”. Our winner was Rich Halstead-Nussloch, getting all five just a few minutes after the Blab was posted. Fast work, Rich! Others getting all five right include: Tom Nelson, Mark Stevens (who admits he owned a 45 of Green Tambourine), Carl Snook, Paul Howley, Barry Szafran (my cousin!), Denise Tucker, Mark Vickrey, and Bob Brown. I guess these weren’t as hard as I thought.

  1. Wisconsin-based football team. Green Bay Packers.
  2. Television show set in the fictional town of Hooterville, starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor. Green Acres.
  3. Book featuring the character Sam-I-Am, it is the 4th best-selling children’s book of all time and contains only 50 different words. Green Eggs and Ham.
  4. Science fiction movie from 1973 starring Charlton Heston, about a wafer that’s supposedly made out of plankton (but we ultimately find out isn’t). Soylent Green.
  5. Song by the Lemon Pipers, some credit it as the first bubblegum #1 pop song. Green Tambourine.

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Just to be fair and balanced, this week’s trivia challenge has all answers involving the word “red”.  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. She learned why you shouldn’t go through the forest to visit your grandmother.
  2. They put it out at the Oscars for the stars, at fancy hotels, as well as trainside on the 20th Century Limited.
  3. Famous oil well fireman.
  4. Terrific British TV comedy involving a garbage collecting spaceship, a hologram named Rimmer, a slacker named Lister, and an evolved cat.
  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!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

April 7, 2014

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 8, Issue 29 – April 7, 2014

 

A New York State of Mind…

Last Wednesday, after teaching my 8:00 AM Inorganic Chemistry class, I made a quick trip into New York City last week for the official vote of the State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees. Every time I’ve flown recently, I’ve run into snowstorms, so I was wondering what would show up this time. As it turned out, nothing for me, but I heard that it had snowed in Canton over the previous weekend. The flight from Atlanta to NYC-Laguardia was uneventful. It left on time and I had one of those extra legroom seats. We landed on time, I hopped into a taxi, and 30 minutes and almost $50 later, I was in midtown Manhattan at the Hilton.

A small group of folks from SUNY-Canton had driven down for the official vote and to lend support: Dr. Joseph Hoffman (the interim president), Michaela Young (the assistant to the president), Karen Spellacy (interim provost), and Lenore VanderZee (director of university relations). I had met them previously during the campus interview, and it was nice seeing them all again and having a chance to talk to them further. Later that evening, we all went out to Remi, a nice Italian restaurant nearby.  The risotto was excellent!

On Friday, it was breakfast at Lindy’s with Dr. Hoffman. Lindy’s is a pretty well known breakfast place in Manhattan, where the Broadway crowd goes to eat. All the breakfasts there are named after famous people. I had the “Ray Romano”, which is two eggs, bacon, hash browns, and a big waffle, along with orange juice and coffee. Having watched Everybody Loves Raymond throughout its run, I would have expected it to include some lemon chicken, but whatever. After breakfast, I had a set of meetings with Michaela, Karen, and Lenore, just to get to know each other a little better. Afterwards, we all walked over a few blocks to SUNY’s Global Center on East 55th Street.

The open trustees meeting began with Chancellor Nancy Zimpher saying a few words about me and my background, followed by the board of trustees’ secretary calling for the official vote (which was positive). They then called on me to come to the podium and say a few words. Chancellor Zimpher then gave a similar introduction for Dr. Kristin Esterberg, provost of Salem State University in Massachusetts, who was then voted in as the new president of SUNY-Potsdam, a college that’s 10 miles away from Canton. The trustees wanted to introduce and vote in both north-country presidents at the same time, and up to that point, who had been selected for the Potsdam position had been a secret. The Canton-Potsdam area actually has four colleges there, namely the two SUNY’s and two private universities, St. Lawrence University, and Clarkson. The four presidents and colleges work closely together to support development in northern New York. In the small-world department, the interim president at SUNY-Potsdam, Dennis Hefner, was someone I knew, since he was the former president of SUNY-Fredonia, and I had interviewed there and met him back in 2005, at the same time as I interviewed for the VPAA position at SPSU.

After the vote, we walked to Michael’s, another nice restaurant for lunch. I tried to stay true to Georgia by ordering a pizza with mushrooms and Vidalia onions.  We all then checked out of the hotel, and Dr. Hoffman was kind enough to give me a ride back to Laguardia. We left the hotel at 4:00, and with the Manhattan traffic I didn’t think I was going to catch my return flight, which was leaving at 5:20. We got to the airport at 4:50 PM, and fortunately, Laguardia has separate security check-in’s for each of its buildings, and I was TSA Pre-checked. Thus, it only took me three minutes to go through security and my plane was leaving only two gates away. When I got there, they were loading zone 1 (which I was in), so I just walked right onto the plane. Another nice surprise—when I got to my row, the person in the aisle seat offered to switch seats with me, since she was friends with the person in the window seat, and wanted to talk to her. The return flight was otherwise uneventful, other than having to wait a little while after landing since there wasn’t an open gate for us to go up to. We still arrived on time, and I was home by 9 PM. Friday, it was back full circle, teaching Inorganic Chemistry at 8:00 AM.

 

Everything’s Better in 3-D

I’ve seen a couple of good movies lately, which I’d like to recommend to the few of you who haven’t already seen them.

First up is Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. We’d picked up the 3D-DVD a few weeks ago, but this was the first chance I’d had to watch it. Gravity got very good reviews and it was easy to see why. The special effects were first-rate and reminded me of the 3D IMAX documentary about the Space Station that I’d seen a year earlier. In fact, some of the scenes seemed to be taken directly from the documentary. The acting was also excellent, and the plot kept us riveted throughout. The basic story is that an accident occurs when the Russians destroy a defunct satellite of theirs, and the debris from the satellite winds up destroying the space station. Ultimately, Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) has to make her way to a Chinese space station to get back to Earth, with the clock ticking against oxygen loss and several other perils. The movie takes place in “real-time”—it lasts about 90 minutes, and covers about 90 minutes of time in Dr. Stone’s life. Pretty cool, and a big thumb’s up from both Jill and me.

Another good 3D film is Thor: The Dark World, continuing a pretty good run of films based on characters in Marvel Comics. I’ve always liked Thor, having bought the comic since 1966 or so. The movie is pretty true to the comic, with a few updates from the 60’s comics that don’t do any harm to the stories. The special effects are excellent. Chris Hemsworth is very true to the comic book personality and action orientation of Thor, and Natalie Portman is a somewhat updated version of Jane Foster, Thor’s earthly love interest. In the comic books, Thor was originally Donald Blake, a lame doctor who finds a walking staff that if he strikes it on the ground, turns him into Thor. Jane was his nurse. In the movie, the Don Blake storyline is dropped, and Jane is an astrophysicist of sorts. The plot of the movie has the dark elves wanting to take over the universe when the nine worlds (which are the Norse mythological worlds, not the nine planets) move into an alignment called the convergence. It provides lots of opportunities for grand battle scenes and lots of destruction, both of Asgard and of Greenwich, England. Jill and I enjoyed it as much as The Avengers, and I’d put it among the top of the list for this type of movie.

Finally, Jill and I both enjoyed a fairly obscure older movie (from 1942) called I Married a Witch, starring Veronica Lake. The story begins with Jennifer and her father Daniel being burned to death back in 1672 for being witches by puritan Jonathan Wooley. Somewhat surprisingly, it is quickly revealed that they actually were witches and somewhat nasty ones at that. As she is burned, Jennifer puts a curse on Wooley that he and his descendants will never find happiness in love. The puritans plant an oak tree over their bones so that they won’t be able to come back to life, but in modern times, a lightning bolt hits the tree, releasing their spirits. Jennifer then goes off to find the Wooley’s descendant (played by Frederic March), who is running for governor and engaged to be married the next day to a rather irritating society woman (Susan Hayward). Jennifer wants to really give him trouble by giving him a love potion so that he’ll fall in love with her instead, but as these things usually go, things don’t go exactly as planned. It’s a pretty funny movie of the screwball comedy type, and the wedding scenes are especially funny. The television show Bewitched is clearly based on several elements of this movie. Also of interest is that the two stars, Lake and March, absolutely detested each other in real life. The DVD is on the Criterion label, which means it is of really nice quality.

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with the word “horn”. Our winner was Marietta Monaghan, first to get all five right. Also getting them all were Joel Fowler, Ronny Richardson, Marka Ormsby, Patrick McCord, and Mark Stevens. Here are the correct answers:

  1. SPSU’s mascot. Hornet.
  2. He stuck in his thumb, and pulled out a plum. Little Jack Horner.
  3. The giant rooster-like Looney Tunes cartoon character who spoke with a southern accent, for example: “You gotta—I say, you gotta keep on your toes. Toes, that is.” Foghorn Leghorn.
  4. To bamboozle.  Also professional wrestler Dylan Postl in the WWE. Hornswoggle.
  5. Britt Reid, who fought criminals and drove a car named “the Black Beauty”. The Green Hornet.

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s trivia challenge has all answers involving the word “green”.  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. Wisconsin-based football team.
  2. Television show set in the fictional town of Hooterville, starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor.
  3. Book featuring the character Sam-I-Am, it is the 4th best-selling children’s book of all time and contains only 50 different words.
  4. Science fiction movie from 1973 starring Charlton Heston, about a wafer that’s supposedly made out of plankton (but we ultimately find out isn’t).
  5. Song by the Lemon Pipers, some credit it as the first bubblegum #1 pop song.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

March 26, 2014

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 8, Issue 28 – March 26, 2014

 

Go North, Young Man

As most of you have already heard, I have been nominated by the SUNY Chancellor, Nancy Zimpher, to be the next president of SUNY-Canton. The official final vote from the SUNY trustees comes next week. Plans are that I’ll officially be starting in that position on July 1, so I’m still around for some time yet.

SUNY-Canton is a college with 3600 students, located in northern New York roughly halfway between Montreal and Syracuse. The closest big city is actually Ottawa, Canada’s capital. Loyal readers of the BLAB will know that Syracuse is where I grew up, went to elementary, middle, and high school, and my parents still live there for half the year. SUNY-Canton was founded in 1906, offers both 4-year and 2-year degrees and much like SPSU, focuses on hands-on instruction in technological fields, producing graduates that can hit the ground running. The faculty, staff, and members of the College Council I met there were strongly engaged, forward-looking, and very welcoming. It’s a great opportunity, though leaving SPSU will be bittersweet.

I’m amazed and touched by the many congratulatory emails, calls, and personal messages I’ve received since the news came out, both from people at SPSU and from others I have met in other places. I appreciate the kind thoughts that so many of you have expressed (though enough with the long underwear jokes!).

 

NAAB

SPSU’s Architecture Department recently hosted members of the National Architecture Accreditation Board (NAAB) for an accreditation visit. I met with the visiting team last Monday at the beginning of their visit, but wasn’t there for the exit interview because I was away on a SACS accreditation visit out of state, leaving Monday afternoon and returning on Thursday. I have heard from those who were there that things went very well, and the department was well prepared. Jim Fausett, an emeritus professor from the program that many of you will remember, wrote “I have had the opportunity to serve on NAAB teams and can testify that the comments made yesterday to you, your faculty and your students were some of the most complimentary that I have heard.”

As nearly everyone at SPSU knows, preparing for an accreditation visit requires a massive amount of work, over several months time (not to mention the ongoing work needed to keep a program healthy). Congratulations to Tony Rizzuto (Department Chair), Rich Cole (Dean), and the entire Architecture faculty on a job well done.

 

Blowing the Whistle

Last Thursday, as part of the Business Administration Department’s all-day 3rd annual Accounting Conference, SPSU was host to Cynthia Cooper, former Vice President of Internal Audit at WorldCom. She was an accountant who was part of a team of auditors who in 2002 discovered the biggest corporate fraud ever to that point–$3.8 billion. Cooper has won numerous awards from accounting and auditing professional bodies, and was named as one of Time Magazines People of the Year in 2002.

Speaking before a rapt audience of about 150, she told the story of how good people were pushed and cajoled into making bad decisions. WorldCom accountants were asked to cook the books “just this once—it’s an error that we’ll fix” at the beginning. The lies then became larger and more frequent due to the need to cover up. Several of the key individuals wanted to quit rather than carry out the first false entries, going so far as to write up their resignation letters. Unfortunately, they didn’t send the resignation letters, since jobs were scarce and they needed to support their families.   In the end, thousands of people lost their jobs and several went to jail. This story is now used in business ethics course case studies around the country, posing a true ethical dilemma: what do you do if telling the truth will cost you your job, harm your family, and possibly destroy your company? Most people know what the morally correct answer is, but how many would be willing to pay the price for doing the right thing? A quick glance at any daily newspaper reveals the answer: not many.

The talk was quite interactive, with Cooper asking the audience lots of questions and fielding their questions as well. She has written about her experiences in a book, Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower, and did a signing after the talk.   Profits from this book are donated to ethics education. Thanks to Don Ariail (Accounting), I am now the proud owner of an autographed copy.

A big thanks to Don and the rest of SPSU’s accounting faculty for putting on the conference and arranging for such an important speaker.

 

Science Olympiad

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of giving out the awards at the annual Georgia regional Science Olympiad. After many individual competitions during the day, the students and their teachers assembled in the SPSU gymnasium to find out who won. It was a large and excited crowd, and there were tons of medals to give out to the winning teams at both the high school and middle school levels—each event had 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place medals, usually involving teams of two or three students. The schools take this ultra-seriously, with lots of teachers keeping “score” to make sure no mistakes were made. Since Georgia has so many students and schools participating, the top two schools in each division get to go to the national competition. In many states, it’s only the top one. The winners this year were J.C. Booth Middle School (Fayette county) and Dodgen Middle School (Cobb County); and Brookwood High School (Gwinnett County) and the Gwinnett School of Science, Math, and Technology.

Putting on a competition like this is literally the work of hundreds—lots of faculty, staff, and students donating their time to support this important event. Lance Crimm (Electrical Engineering) has led this effort for as many years as anyone can remember—I think it has been 15 years now. He is ably abetted by Susan VandeVen (Information Technology), who has been a member of the Science Olympiad Executive Committee for many years. Lance and Susan tell me that the staff from SPSU’s Development Office, the faculty and lab managers from the Chemistry and Physics programs, and the students from Theta Chi all deserved special thanks for the many things they did.

 

Upcoming Cross-Cultural Events

At 6 PM on April 10 in the Design II Auditorium (Building I-2) as part of SPSU’s International Issues Series, Consul General Christoph Sander of the Federal Republic of Germany will speak on “Relations Between Germany, Georgia and the United States”.  A reception will precede the talk.

At 6PM on April 14 in the Student Center Theater, we’ll be showing the film Nowhere in Africa.  This film won the 2003 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, as well as five major awards in the 2002 German Film Awards including “Outstanding Feature Film”.  The film tells the story of the a middle-class German Jewish family that flees anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany by having the father take a job as a plantation manager in Kenya.  Each member of the family adjusts to life in Africa in a different way, while war swirls around them.

From 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM on April 18 in the Student Center Ballroom, the Office of International Programs and the Department of Social and International Studies at SPSU and the University of Pittsburgh Asian Studies Center are sponsoring a faculty development-curriculum enrichment Conference on Globalizing the Future:  Infusing International Perspectives on Contemporary China Across the Curriculum.   If you are interested in attending this conference, please contact Raj Sashti at 678-915-3266.

More details can be found at the Cross Cultural Conversations BLOG, here. Please encourage your students to attend these events, and come by yourself.

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with judges. Our winner with all correct was Mark Vickrey (SIS). Also getting all five correct was Norine Noonan (Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs) from University of South Florida—St. Petersburg.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick Jr.  Judges on American Idol.
  2. 1961 movie having to do with the Nazi War Trials following WWII, starring Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster.  Judgment at Nuremberg.
  3. She wears a doily on the neck of her robe on her TV show.  Judge Judy.
  4. Tagline originally introduced by Pigmeat Markham, later used by Flip Wilson on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.  “Here come the judge.”
  5. Carrying his lawgiver and riding his lawmaster, he is the law.  Judge Dredd.

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s trivia challenge has all answers involving the word “horn”, probably indicating that I’m finally running out of new topics for the trivia challenge.  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. SPSU’s mascot.
  2. He stuck in his thumb, and pulled out a plum.
  3. The giant rooster-like Looney Tunes cartoon character who spoke with a southern accent, for example: “You gotta—I say, you gotta keep on your toes. Toes, that is.”
  4. To bamboozle.  Also professional wrestler Dylan Postl in the WWE.
  5. Britt Reid, who fought criminals and drove a car named “the Black Beauty”.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

March 20, 2014

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 8, Issue 27 – March 20, 2014

 

Time is Speeding Up

We all learn that time is constant in school—one minute is the same as any other minute in duration.  Of course, we know that isn’t true—some minutes are much longer than others.  As Einstein once said about relativity, “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute.”

In the spring semester, time speeds up dramatically, so much so that it’s very hard to get everything done.  On the positive side, the promotion, tenure, and reappointment documents are all done; papers are all graded; notes up on D2L for the next chapter; and I even got the OWG reports I was doing in on time.   On the negative side, I’m off on a SACS accreditation visit this afternoon and won’t be back until Thursday, assuming the weather doesn’t interfere (and as of my typing this, it looks like it might).  I can only imagine what will be waiting on my desk for me to do.

One problem with the time speed-up is that there isn’t time to watch or listen to all the cool stuff I run into and have to buy.  You’d think I’d be smart enough to know how to compensate—slow down the buying as time speeds up—but no, when I see it compulsive me still has to have it.

This past weekend, I picked up the 3D DVDs of the movies Gravity and Thor: The Dark World, and DVD sets of the 3rd and 4th seasons of the Gene Autry Show and the complete run of Firefly.  I already had the 1st and 2nd seasons of Gene Autry and they’re excellent 1950’s fun, so I’m looking forward to the newer seasons.  I’ve never seen an episode of Firefly, but since it’s created by Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame), and is Sheldon’s (on the Big Bang Theory) favorite TV show, it must be great.  Firefly is #5 on the TV guide list of “shows that were cancelled too soon”.

Music-wise, I continue to accumulate super-audio CDs whenever I spot them.  What’s nice is that I’m buying a bunch (just because they’re SACDs) by musicians I otherwise wouldn’t have given a try, and many of them turn out to be quite good.  Some recent examples include:

  • The Persuasions Sing the Beatles:  The Persuasions are an a cappella group who with no accompaniment do a variety of Beatles songs—their version of “Imagine” is especially good.
  • Dark Clouds by Stu Goldberg & Cassius Khan:  This is a pretty and exotic world-style jazz album, done on piano, table, percussion, with limited vocals. 
  • Britannia, performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conducted by Donald Runnicles:  A very nice recording of well known British classical music by Elgar (Pomp and Circumstance Marches 1 and 4) and Britten (Sinfonia da Requiem), as well as some by lesser known composers such as Turnage (Three Screaming Popes) and Peter Maxwell Davies (An Orkney Wedding).  All are beautifully played, though some compositions are (ahem) better than others.
  • All Around Man by Bottleneck John:  This is a collection of Mississippi blues sung by a Swedish (!) musician using bottleneck slide technique on (usually) a metal guitar.  I’m not sure why I find a Swedish blues player so unusual—after all, there are certainly enough Swedish jazz musicians.  In any event, this 2013 release seems to be his first and only album, and it’s first-rate.

That’s not to mention the six long boxes of comics accumulated since January just waiting for me to read them.

 

OWG News

In OWG 22 (the one dealing with promotion, rank, and tenure), we’re making good progress in reviewing the P&T process.  The main items discussed were regarding outside letters and whether someone could get tenured without simultaneously getting promoted to associate professor.  With regard to letters, the committee decided to recommend that beginning in Fall 2015, outside letters be required (which is a change from KSU’s current practices), with a minimum of three letters required for promotion from assistant to associate professor, and of five letters from associate to full.  Comments will only be solicited on scholarly work and on professional activity, and the writer cannot be a co-author or a previous research advisor (which is a change from SPSU’s current practices).   No one will be “grandfathered” from this requirement.  The committee also voted to recommend that promotion must be earned prior to or simultaneously with tenure.

These recommendations have generated a lot of comments and concerns up at KSU, and some here at SPSU.  To address some of the comments I’ve seen:

  • Why should the outside letters address only research and professional service?  Why not teaching?  Generally, that IS what outside letters address.  An outside reviewer generally is not familiar with your teaching (how could they be?), and would only be interpreting your SIR results, or perhaps saying something like “I saw Dr. Jones give a talk at a conference.  The talk was good, so I’m sure he/she is a good teacher.”  Obviously, not very helpful.  Outside people will be more likely to be familiar with your scholarly work or professional service, and thus have something useful to say about it.
  • Who will choose who writes the outside letters?  No formal recommendation on this yet, but a common method is that the faculty member proposes five names, and the chair chooses three of them, or something like that.
  • Why exclude outside letters from co-authors?  The committee argued about this one.  Some members felt that we should allow one of the letters to be from a co-author.  Others felt that co-authors couldn’t be objective reviewers—they’d be reviewing (in part) themselves.  The latter view had the majority of votes on the committee, but we’ll revisit the issue at our meeting tomorrow.
  • Why not grandfather current faculty from this requirement?  This type of comment came mostly from KSU faculty, since SPSU already requires outside letters.  If we don’t require them for KSU faculty, we’ll have two different systems at consolidation, which would be unfair.  In any event, everyone on the committee felt that this wasn’t an increase in any expectation for scholarly work or service, it was merely asking some people to comment on the current expectations.  Thus, since there was no increase in expectation, there was no need to grandfather.  No doubt this will be discussed again too.
  • Since published papers have already gone through a rigorous review, what is the point of the outside letters?  Not every faculty member has journal publications as part of their package, so not every faculty member will have gone through a rigorous review in this way.
  • Three letters (associate) and five letters (full) are too many.  I personally argued for less, but this was the consensus of the committee.  Again, we’ll discuss this again at our next meeting.

If you have any comments regarding these recommendations, please contact me or one of the other SPSU members of the OWG (Al Churella, Tom Currin, Adrienne King, or Becky Rutherfoord).

 

Upcoming Cross-Cultural Events

The big event for March comes on Thursday, March 20, at 6:00 PM in the Student Theatre.  Cynthia Cooper, the accountant who was VP of Internal Audit at WorldCom and discovered a $3.8 billion fraud there in 2002, will be speaking and here for a book signing.

More events are scheduled for March and beyond.  A full list can be found at the Cross Cultural Conversations BLOG, here.  Please encourage your students to attend these events, and come by yourself.

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with the word “West”.  Our winner and the only person to get all five right was Mark Vickrey, continuing the SIS Department’s dominance of this contest.  Diane Payne and wife Jill got four correct.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Great television show starring Robert Conrad, later a rotten movie starring Will Smith.  Wild Wild West.
  2. Well known sex-therapist and radio/TV personality, born in 1928.   Dr. Ruth Westheimer.
  3. Originally the major telegraph company, it’s now a way to send money electronically.  Western Union.
  4. Major US manufacturer of home electronics, its motto was “You can be sure if it’s                        ”.   Westinghouse.
  5. Only Elton John album with “west” somewhere in the title, released in 1975.  Rock of the Westies.

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

To prove that the BLAB is always fair and balanced, this week’s trivia challenge has all answers having to do with judges.  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. Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick Jr.
  2. 1961 movie having to do with the Nazi War Trials following WWII, starring Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster.
  3. She wears a doily on the neck of her robe on her TV show.
  4. Tagline originally introduced by Pigmeat Markham, later used by Flip Wilson on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.
  5. Carrying his lawgiver and riding his lawmaster, he is the law.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

March 12, 2014

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 8, Issue 26 – March 12, 2014

 

Spring Break?

Spring Break has now come and gone, and it certainly went by in a flash.  Things were a bit quieter on campus, so I was able to catch up on a bunch of projects that had been piling up in pre-break crush.  Then on Thursday, it was off to Las Vegas for a short visit with my family.  As I’ve mentioned in previous BLABs, my parents, my uncle Nathan, and my aunt Shirley live in Vegas.  They’ve now been joined by my cousin Karen, who recently moved there from Maryland along with her three dogs Angelo, Ginger, and Jack.

The trip to Vegas was uneventful.  Something unexpected and great that has happened is that I’ve somehow gotten on the pre-screened list for the last four flights I’ve taken, which means that I don’t have to take off my coat, shoes, or belt as I went through security.  I didn’t have to take out my computer or toiletries from my carry-on suitcase either, though I still had to empty my pockets.  It’s amazing how such a small thing can change the complexion of a flight.  Unfortunately, Jill and Mark had no such pre-screened classification, so they had to do the full security drill.  Anyway, we got on the plane and it was packed as usual—one almost never sees any significant number of empty seats these days.  We were way in the back in row 44, and Mark spent the flight flirting with the stewardess who flirted right back and plied him with cokes and pretzels.  After a four-hour flight and another hug from Mark to the stewardess, we arrived, called the folks, were picked up, and were off to their apartment.   We talked for a few minutes and promptly went to sleep.

The visit was mostly staying home and vegging out, the only exceptions being a little shopping (gotta check out the CD/DVD stores after all), and going to see Karen’s new house and meeting her dogs.  As soon as we walked in the door, WOW!  These are the friendliest dogs I’ve ever seen, jumping up and licking us like long lost friends.  Mark just loved it, and wanted us to know he wanted a dog of his own just like Angelo.  One of the dogs, Jack, is a pit bull (which is a bit disconcerting considering the bad press that the breed gets), but extremely laid-back and friendly.  It goes to show you that there’s good and bad in all things, and you should never prejudge.

mark_NEWMark and the dogs

The house itself is really nice—it’s in the Spanish style that’s popular in Las Vegas, all on one level, with a swimming pool and Jacuzzi in the back.   It was wonderful to see Karen as well—I only get to see her once or twice a year most of the time.

The visit was all too short, and on Sunday afternoon we took the 5:30 PM flight back home.  The plane was absolutely packed—not an empty seat on it, but the good news was that we left slightly early and arrived in Atlanta at midnight, about 15 minutes ahead of schedule.  We got our bags, took the shuttle to the off-airport parking, and drove home, arriving at 1:30 AM.  It was off to bed quickly, because I had to wake up at 6:00 AM to get ready for my 8:00 Inorganic Chemistry class.  Another OWG meeting only added to the jet-lagged post-Spring Break fun.

 

RACAA

As promised in the last BLAB, here are some of the highlights from the recent Regents Advisory Committee on Academic Affairs (RACAA) meeting.

The group endorsed a new proposal allowing for substitution of Math core courses for students with learning disabilities.  Note that the math requirement isn’t being waived—each university is required to have policies in place that allow students in non-math intensive majors to take alternative courses that meet comparable quantitative learning outcomes.  Since most of SPSU’s majors are math intensive, this policy does not apply to most of our departments.  My question was “if the alternative course meets comparable quantitative learning outcomes, why wouldn’t it be an acceptable course to meet the math requirement for all students, regardless of disability?”  The best answer I got was that the proposal’s main purpose was to push departments to identify such courses.

The Affordable Care Act is causing some changes in the way we hire part-time faculty.  Anyone working more than 20 “clock hours” per week is entitled to the first level of benefits, and anyone over 30 hours per week is entitled to full benefits, which includes health care.  The trick is converting from credit hours to clock hours, and a standard formula has now been put forward: for every in-class hour, it is assumed that there is an additional 1.25 hours of preparation time and 0.5 hours of meeting time.  Thus, someone teaching 9 credits on a part-time basis is working 9 x 2.75 = 24.75 hours, which makes them eligible for the first level of benefits.  For this reason, some campuses are restricting part-timers to no more than 6 credits (16.5 clock hours) in a term, which would keep them under the benefits threshold.  Labs and studios count in the same way as in-class hours, even though they don’t carry the same credit value.  Thus, someone teaching 3 credits of lecture and two 3-hour labs is also eligible for the first level of benefits, exactly like the person teaching 9 credits of lecture.  This isn’t a big change for us—we’ve been paying benefits for part-timers teaching larger numbers of credits for us for some time now—it just better defines when benefits are required.

A push is on to encourage faculty to make sure that all of their courses (especially online courses) are accessible to students with disabilities.  This means that if you use a video as part of the class, a transcript or close-captioning must be available.  If you have a math formula in the materials, the formula must be text-tagged so that visually-impaired students will know what it is.  If you link to outside websites or use outside software, they also have to be accessible.  This policy applies regardless of whether you have any students with disabilities in your courses or not, so please modify your courses accordingly.

Some moderately good news is there is some $12 M in the USG’s proposed budget for equity adjustments to salaries and to allow universities to retain key faculty.  While this is not a general salary merit increase, it is at least positive to see some new money going towards salaries in the budget.  If the funds are distributed pro-rata (and I have no idea if they will be), SPSU’s share would be roughly 1% of this total, $120,000.

As has been discussed previously, performance funding for the universities will begin to be modeled next year, and will be implemented for FY 16.  The model will reward universities for improving numbers of students meeting key benchmarks (30 credits, 60 credits…) and graduating, rather than being based on enrollment.

The USG is going to be pushing to make eCore more widely available, and its cost will be lowered significantly (and will include the cost of textbook type materials).  There is also $2.5M in the governor’s budget to support driving down of textbook costs.  An additional $1.25 M is in the budget to support a campaign called “Go Back, Move Ahead” to encourage adult students to return complete their degrees.  There will also be more of a push for the “15 to Finish” initiative (to encourage students to take at least 15 credits per term) and to support reverse transfer.

Among student life type issues, student insurance will be getting more expensive, impacting international students and some others.   The cost should be going up some 20-25%, in order to meet necessary minimum coverage aspects of the Affordable Care Act.  The BoR is also expected to ban the use of tobacco on all campuses at its March meeting, with presidents being responsible for enforcement.  A look is also being taken at campus alcohol policies—there must be a policy stating that if someone has drunk too much, one must stop serving.  Liability also applies to off-campus parties involving alcohol—the host still has this responsibility.

 

Upcoming Cross-Cultural Events

At 12 Noon on Tuesday, March 18 in the Design II Auditorium, the SIS International Forum series is hosting “Crisis I—Venezuela”, with a talk given by former SPSU faculty member Dr. Juan Carlos Guzman.

The big event for March comes on Thursday, March 20, at 6:00 PM in the Student Theatre.  Cynthia Cooper, the accountant who was VP of Internal Audit at WorldCom and discovered a $3.8 billion fraud there in 2002, will be speaking and here for a booksigning.

More events are scheduled for March and beyond.  A full list can be found at the Cross Cultural Conversations BLOG, here.  Please encourage your students to attend these events, and come by yourself.

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with the word “East”.  Our winner and the only person to get all five right was Gerald Pierce (SIS).  Nikki Palamiotis, Bill Prigge, and Ronny Richardson all got four correct.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection.  Easter.
  2. He starred in “The Rookie”, “Unforgiven”, “The Bridges of Madison County”, “True Crime” and Gran Torino, among many others.  Clint Eastwood.
  3. The Beach Boys say they’re “hip and I really dig those styles they wear”.  The East Coast Girls (in the song California Girls).
  4. Movie starring James Dean in 1955, based on a novel by John Steinbeck.  East of Eden.
  5. National anthem of the People’s Republic of China.  The East is Red.

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

To prove that the BLAB is always fair and balanced, this week’s trivia challenge has all answers involving the word “west”.  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. Great television show starring Robert Conrad, later a rotten movie starring Will Smith.
  2. Well known sex-therapist and radio/TV personality, born in 1928.
  3. Originally the major telegraph company, it’s now a way to send money electronically.
  4. Major US manufacturer of home electronics, its motto was “You can be sure if it’s                        ”.
  5. Only Elton John album with “west” somewhere in the title, released in 1975.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged ,

March 3, 2014

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 8, Issue 25 – March 3, 2014

Everything is Piling Up…

Between the snow days, catching up with my Inorganic class, giving and grading an exam, and endless OWG meetings, something had to give—last week’s BLAB!    I didn’t catch up until today, so this week’s BLAB will be a little late going out too.

 

Good News?  We Got It!

It’s spring, and that means it’s time for the annual update on how SPSU’s Speech Team did.  This year, the 20th Georgia Intercollegiate Forensic Association State Championship tournament was hosted at SPSU on the 22nd.  Our SPSU team did themselves proud, coming in second place overall.  Sophomore Physics major Logan Britt placed in the top three in three events: Editorial Impromptu Speaking (2nd), Extemporaneous Speaking (3rd), and Impromptu Speaking (3rd).  Logan was also elected to serve as GIFA Student President for 2014-2015, the third year that an SPSU student has served in that position.  Others winning awards included Peter Desio (Mechatronics), Ayana Reyes-Howell (Architecture), Nathan Highsmith (Mechanical Engineering), Trevor Polston (Civil Engineering), Chris Gilbert (Systems Engineering), Josh Van Meter (Computer Game Design), and Tajruba Khan (Business Administration).

02_22GIFATeam_Web

GIFA also honored Mark Stevens with a Distinguished Service Award, for his 10+ years of dedication to competitive speech in Georgia.  Congratulations to the entire team and to Mark, and also to Misty York, the team’s faculty advisor.

 Congratulations also to Iraj Omidvar (ETCMA, and Director of the Honors Program) on the publication of his 2-volume magnum opus “Muslims and American Popular Culture”, published by Praeger.  The book is about mass media representations of Muslims, which are often negative and one-dimensional.  Its 40 chapters look at a broad range of topics in popular culture, including jihad; the hejab, veil, and burka; Islamophobia; Muslims in the media; and mosque burnings.  Iraj was kind enough to give me a copy, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Congratulations as well to Al Churella (SIS), on being interviewed on the PBS program “American Experience” on February 18.  The program was about one of the “greatest architectural achievements of its time”, the construction of Pennsylvania Station, torn down after just 53 years.  You can see the program by clicking here.

 

OWG Updates

IN OWG 18 (Retention, Progression, and Graduation), the majority of the discussion was devoted to comparing KSU and SPSU’s Complete College Georgia submissions and updates.  There were many similarities, and we will be working to grid the two plans side by side, and indicate for each item whether they should simply be consolidated (if both of us had a version), continued (if only one of us had this item) or eliminated.  We also began a brief discussion of textbook policies and how we might try to lower the overall cost of textbooks for students.

I wasn’t able to attend OWG 20A (Faculty Credentials and Rosters) because I was at RACAA (see next week’s BLAB for details), so I’m taking this update from the notes.  A discussion was held on who maintains faculty data (tenure dates, contracts, offer letters), and on both campus it is handled in Academic Affairs, with benefits handled by HR.  The group will recommend that this separation of duties should continue.  KSU uses a Faculty Information System, which the committee will look at, as well as how transcripts are held and how often cv’s should be updated.  Hiring at KSU is done entirely electronically (no paper!)  and we will recommend that be the process for both universities.  Another OWG is recommending using HireTouch for staff hiring, so a decision between that and PeopleAdmin will need to be made.  We will be working together to generate a consolidated faculty roster for SACS purposes, as well as to compare the kind of contracts both institutions use.

In OWG 20B (Salary and Workload Equity), the meeting was at KSU (on a Friday afternoon!).  The main topic was trying to define how load is determined on both campuses, and if a common basis for comparison could be identified, and thereby changes from it costed out.  We decided that there would be a single workload model for all faculty at the consolidated university—there would not be one on one campus and another on the other campus.  We talked about a goal of the new university becoming a DRU (Doctoral/Research University).  For the next meeting, we will be looking at the current distribution of faculty workloads on both campuses.

In OWG 21 (Faculty Honors and Awards), the meeting was at SPSU.  We discussed the progress KSU’s Proposed Faculty Awards proposal was making on their campus.  A few of the awards had their amounts reduced a bit, and the proposal will be heading to their foundation for review next.  We received a summary describing the forms of faculty leave on both campuses, and concluded that more funding needed to be made available in this area, to allow for more faculty to be able to participate.  We also received a spreadsheet of the various faculty professional development awards on both campuses and reviewed them.  We talked about the role played in faculty development by CTE (called CETL at KSU) and will share materials related to how they operate on both campuses.  For the future, we’ll also be looking at outside awards for which we may want to come up with consolidated procedures for nominating faculty.

In OWG 22 (Evaluation, Promotion, Rank, and Tenure), we met up at Kennesaw. KSU recently had a taskforce looking at whether requiring external letters in promotion and tenure cases was a good idea (we already require it at SPSU), so we’re going to look at the data they gathered.  We discussed the general areas of the promotion and tenure process, and decided to recommend that the consolidated university have three categories for faculty performance:  (1) Teaching (similar to now), (2) Scholarship and Creative Activity (with the view that the scholarship/activity must be out there for peer review), and (3) Service.  SPSU’s fourth area, Professional Growth and Development, would become part of the other three categories, depending on what the activity was.  For example, the various CTE workshops and activities related to improving teaching and advising would go into the Teaching category, while presentations of papers at conferences and the like would go into Scholarship and Creative Activity.  KSU’s fourth area, Administration and Leadership, would go into service.  We also looked at using rubrics to help faculty understand how the areas would be evaluated, and will look at SPSU’s engineering rubric as an example of what each college might be expected to produce.  We’ll be looking at similar rubrics from other schools/colleges.  Future conversations will look at how to define and measure quality and significance of performance.

 

Upcoming Cross-Cultural Events

On Monday, March 10 at 6:00 PM in the Student Auditorium, the International Film Series is sponsoring the film “Ghost in the Shell”, a very cool piece of Japanese anime.

Then at 12 Noon on Tuesday, March 18 in the Design II Auditorium, the SIS International Forum series is hosting “Crisis I—Venezuela”, with a talk given by former SPSU faculty member Dr. Juan Carlos Guzman.

The big event for March comes on Thursday, March 20, at 6:00 PM in the Student Theatre.  Cynthia Cooper, the accountant who was VP of Internal Audit at WorldCom and discovered a $3.8 billion fraud there in 2002, will be speaking and here for a booksigning.

More events are scheduled for April and beyond.  A full list can be found at the Cross Cultural Conversations BLOG, here.  Please encourage your students to attend these events, and come by yourself.

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with the presidents.  Our Winner was Tom Rotnem (SIS).  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Alleged to have chopped down a cherry tree.  George Washington
  2. Tallest president, also the first with a beard.  Abraham Lincoln
  3. Only president elected twice, but not in consecutive terms.  He was also the last president to never have attended college.  Grover Cleveland
  4. Youngest man to become president, although he wasn’t the youngest man to run for president and win.  Teddy Roosevelt
  5. The only president to have the national debt completely paid off during his term.  Andrew Jackson

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Today’s trivia challenge have to do with the word “East”.  All answers will have the word “east” in them, in one way or another.  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. Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection.
  2. He starred in “The Rookie”, “Unforgiven”, “The Bridges of Madison County”, “True Crime” and Gran Torino, among many others.
  3. The Beach Boys say they’re “hip and I really dig those styles they wear”.
  4. Movie starring James Dean in 1955, based on a novel by John Steinbeck.
  5. National anthem of the People’s Republic of China.
Posted in Uncategorized

February 17, 2014

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 8, Issue 24 – February 17, 2014

 

Winter, Redux

It’s unusual enough for Georgia to have one ice/snow storm let alone to have two, but of course that’s just what happened.  The truly weird part is just a few days before the second one, it was more than 60°, and just a few days later it hit 60° again.  Because the weather report predicted a serious snow, everything shut down on Tuesday, but nothing really happened until 11:00 PM.  Freezing rain, followed by snow made the shut-down on Wednesday quite legitimate—the weather was a bit ugly, and the roads were truly slippery.  Thursday, we were still shut down, even though it was in the mid-40’s and most of the ice had melted away.  Driving was fine, and we hit the grocery store and a few other places, just to get out.  Friday, SPSU had a delayed opening at 10:00 AM, so that’s now four classes I have missed.  Just before I went in, Jill went out to get the newspaper and managed to find the one little patch of ice still remaining on our driveway.  Sure enough, whoop!  Down she went, hitting the pavement and scraping her nose.  There was a bit of blood but after a few minutes, some cleaning, and an ice-pack, she was laughing about it.

I spent part of the time off and more time on the weekend preparing voice-over-PowerPoint presentations.  I’d never used the animation functions before, but it’s pretty straightforward and I’ve got several in the can on the subjects of “Molecular Orbital Theory Basics”, “Predicting Molecular Shapes with MO Theory”, “Ionic Solid Crystal Structures”, “Metal Packing in Crystal Structures”, and “Holes in Crystal Structures”.  I have to admit I enjoyed making them—they bring out my creative side, such as it is.  I’ll be using them to add some “hybrid” sessions to my Inorganic Chemistry class to make up for the missed meetings.

Even though we were closed, that didn’t stop me being involved in meetings.  On Wednesday, I was part of a conference call about an upcoming SACS visit I’m participating in.  Anyway, I know several of the other team members, so the visit should be very busy, but also a pleasant chance to catch up.  On Thursday, I was part of another conference call, this time to set the agenda for the upcoming RACAA meeting, which is on February 26.  Combine that with several emails that needed to be answered and some OWG work as well, and it kept me busy.

Other weekend fun included getting the flooring replaced on all three of our bathrooms at home.  The floors had been covered with this wood veneer stuff that the humidity had caused to separate a bit, so every time I went in, I got irritated at the gaps that had developed in the flooring.  A few weeks ago, Jill and I went to Home Depot and picked out some tile (a nice Florence Italy pattern), and on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the workman came by to install it.  All went well other than having to cut down the bathroom doors a little (since the tile is higher than the previous flooring was), and the result looks great.  The price was quite reasonable too, and I’ll gladly be using Home Depot’s services again.

 

Open House

Also on Saturday, SPSU had its first Open House of the Spring.  The weather was a bit cold at first, but it didn’t keep anyone away and for the umpteenth time, we had a full house, and the students and parents seemed very appreciative of the program and of the faculty they had met.  For those who haven’t seen it, SPSU has one of the best Open House programs around, and lots of people come back wanting to see it again, because it’s a lot of fun.  The format is always the same—the program opens with the faculty-staff band doing a few numbers, which then leads into our own version of the David Letterman Show, with Jim Cooper playing Letterman.  Guests include President Rossbacher, an alumnus, a current student, and an admission counselor.  As usual, I sat in with the band doing the rhythm guitar bit and did the closing philosophical allegory/joke.   We’ve been doing this for a long time—so long, in fact, that half of the band has now retired—Barry Birckhead, Dave Cline, Alan Gabrielli, and Steve Hamrick, though they all returned to play the gig.  David Stone, our former bass player, has gotten a new job in Pennsylvania, so we had a new member, Justin Grech from UITS.

Cooper posted several pictures on Instagram and Facebook, one of which was of the band.  One person commented: “I love Zvi”, obviously displaying some questionable taste.  Still, at the ripe old age of 58, it’s good to have a fan.  A copy of one of Jim’s pictures is below.

Band 

Consolidation Report

With the snow closings, we only got in one consolidation meeting, this time of OWG #21, Faculty Honors and Awards.  As a first meeting, the purpose was meet each other and to lay out a general agenda.  Maureen McCarthy from KSU is my co-chair.  There are a couple of interesting things that came up.  For one, KSU is more generous with their awards than us, and has more of them.  There’s a proposal generating some new awards (and increasing the size of several awards) currently being looked at by KSU, with the top award, for University Distinguished Professor, being $20,000.  The others are smaller, but still substantial.  It didn’t take long for the SPSU folks to say “We agree we should use yours as the model!”

KSU also has a program of faculty leaves, similar to what SPSU does with folks who have gotten a Fulbright or a similar prestigious award, namely coverage of the full salary for one semester, or half salary for the year.  Some number of these are available each year, though faculty have to submit a pretty hefty application to be considered for one.

The other interesting topic that came up was about the possibility of establishing awards for part-time faculty.  Currently, part-timers aren’t eligible for awards on either campus, and one member of the committee (who is a part-time faculty member) raised the reasonable point that we should consider establishing such an award.

Our next meeting will be in two weeks, assuming we don’t have a late blizzard.

 

Upcoming Cross-Cultural Events

On Wednesday, February 19 at noon in the Design II Auditorium, the SIS Department is sponsoring an International Forum, Crisis I—Cuba, a talk given by KSU’s Dr. Ernesto Silva.

Then at 6:00 PM on February 20 in the Student Center Ballroom, we’ll be hosting Great Britain Consul General  Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford as part of our International Issues series.  There will also be a reception at 5:30 PM, and you’re invited to come to that too.

Major writer Adrian Miller, the author of “Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time”, will appear at SPSU at 6:00 PM, February 27, in the Student Theatre.   His book describes the history, influences, ingredients, and innovations that appear on the soul food plate.

More events are scheduled for March and beyond.  A full list can be found at the Cross Cultural Conversations BLOG, here.  Please encourage your students to attend these events, and come by yourself.

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with the Beatles, in honor of the 50th anniversary of their coming to America.  In fact, this Sunday’s New York Times Crossword was on that subject too (a pretty easy one—I did it in ink with no problems).  Our winner and the only person to get all five right was Carl Snook (SIS).  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Popular name for the frenzy that the Beatles caused.  Beatlemania.
  2. Ringo’s real name.  Richard Starkey.
  3. Names of the two “live” movies that the Beatles starred in.  “Help” and “A Hard Day’s Night”.
  4. Last original album from the Beatles.  “Let It Be”.
  5. King Curtis, followed by The Discotheque Dancers, Cannibal and The Headhunters, Brenda Holloway, and Sounds Incorporated.  The opening acts for the Beatles in their only Atlanta, GA concert.  Things were different then—the Beatles’ entire set only lasted about 30 minutes, a typical length for then.

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

In honor Presidents’ Day, all the questions or answers to today’s trivia challenge have to do with presidents.  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. Alleged to have chopped down a cherry tree.
  2. Tallest president, also the first with a beard.
  3. Only president elected twice, but not in consecutive terms.  He was also the last president to never have attended college.
  4. Youngest man to become president, although he wasn’t the youngest man to run for president and win.
  5. The only president to have the national debt completely paid off during his term.
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments