March 22, 2015

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 9, Issue 31– March 22, 2015

 

  

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In case you have nothing better to do, I’m also now on Twitter. If you want to follow my posts, you can find them at @SUNYCantonPrez.

  

CONTEST! Why SUNY Canton is the Greatest Place on Earth

Since the last BLAB was during spring break, I thought I’d repeat this item in case you missed it. We’re starting a contest called “Why SUNY Canton is the Greatest Place on Earth”. It’s obvious to all of us that SUNY Canton is the greatest, but we need to capture the story to prove it to the rest of the world!

I’m sure you’ve seen multiple examples of this—a great student project. A transcendent moment in the classroom or lab. A beautiful spot on campus. A great on-campus event. A winning moment in athletics. Cool students, faculty, and staff. Something funny or touching that captures the SUNY Canton spirit.

We want you to submit a picture (or short video clip) capturing part of our story, along with a suggested caption. We’ll number and post the good ones, credited to the people who submitted them, on our new website at http://canton.edu/greatest/. You can see a few samples there now to give you an idea of what we’re looking for. The very best submissions will be saved for “milestone” numbers (#50, #100, and so on) and will win big prizes. There’s no limit to the number of pictures and ideas you can submit.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there with your camera and your imagination and start submitting. Just click on “submit a photo” to learn how, and you’re ready to be a part of history.

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Save Students Money–Consider Open Textbooks

In these times of rising tuitions and stagnant salaries, it’s always a good idea to think about ways that can save our students some money.  One way is to consider using an open textbook.  SUNY maintains a list of open textbooks which can be found here.  A much larger list can be found at MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching).  To access MERLOT’s list, click here, and scroll down to the section with the headline “How Can I Find Open Textbooks? Easy!”.  More than 2500 open textbooks are available in every discipline.

You will, of course, want to review the quality of the open textbook in exactly the same way you’d review a commercial text.  So give it a look, and perhaps you can help our students make college a little more affordable.

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ACE Conference

Last week was a busy one, as it involved a lot of travel and meetings. It started on Friday, March 13, when I flew down to Washington DC for the American Council on Education (ACE) conference. I know lots of first-rate people who are ACE members (and a few who became ACE fellows), and they had a series of sessions for new presidents, so I decided it was high time I attended one of their conferences. I was glad I did. The conference started on Saturday and I was there until Monday.

I got to DC without incident at a little after noon and took a taxi to my hotel. On the drive in, I noticed a very nice Indian restaurant, so after checking in, I took a walk there and had lunch. The weather was so nice that I took a walk to the National Zoo, where I enjoyed seeing the pandas and various other exhibits.

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One session dealt with the major education initiatives from the federal government:

  • The Department of Education plans to implement a Ratings Project, which would give ratings to every college in the country on access, affordability, and outcomes.  Whether there will there be three ratings or a composite rating for each college is unclear.  The target date for implementation is August, and no commitment has been given that there will by any peer review of the proposal.  There is some possibility Congress will block this project.  There is a risk to colleges that a bad rating might harm their reputation, based on flawed data and a poor process.
  • The President wants to make community colleges free across the country, based on a model implemented in Tennessee.  Questions have been raised about “why not fund first two years of 4 year colleges”? It’s thought that the proposal won’t get far in Congress, since it will cost $70B over 5 years.
  • Work is also being carried out regarding teacher preparation regulations. The idea is to have states figure out how to do this, basing it on how students progress using a pre-test, post-test model.  How well teacher did (“the value added”) would be used to rate the education program at the college the teacher graduated from.  Final regulations have not yet been issued and will phase in. It would be 4-5 years before there are any consequences.

A session dealt with the Campus as a Safe Learning Environment. Among the major points raised were:

  • Colleges have to be intentional about diversity and embed it in the classroom.  Faculty should be given training on how to teach diverse students.
  • Sexual assault and binge drinking are not problems to be solved—we can’t make them go away.  They are issues to be managed.  We need to be prepared to answer the question “What have you done to manage this, and need a campus plan.
  • Anything bad that happens on our campuses is immediately amplified by social media, often before we’re ready to begin talking.  We need a rapid response plan.  We must have good relations with religious leaders in our community.
  • Have Community Forums to get diverse opinions and to engage the community. Use social media to bring in the community.
  • In every communication, say what you’re trying to achieve.  You can’t communicate enough.  There’s a perception in the public that college presidents only react to crises—they don’t expect you to be ahead of issues.  There’s skepticism about what we say, and that we only tell half-truths.

Another session discussed the Next Generation of Equity. Major points raised there included:

  • Defining equity is complex, and should depend on what’s important to the institution defining it.  Institutions must grapple with what it means to them.  It depends, in part, on institutional mission.
  • Campuses should have metrics that measures progress, broken down by individual groups. Equality is different from equity—you can have same outcomes, but not everyone starts in the same place.
  • Lots of communities have a precise definition of equity, only it’s not always the same one.  One school developed an equity scorecard as a way to start. This allowed looking at measures without tightly defining equity. Belief follows practice.
  • Equity has to be something that everyone owns and has to operationalize.  Too often, diversity and equity are little checkboxes that are off in some corner and don’t really affect the institution as a whole.
  • Too much focus is given to avoidance of risk, rather than achievement of equity.  What else is a presidency for except to take some risks to do the right things?

A really interesting session dealt with the Presidency in the 21st Century. I’m out of room, so I’ll try to talk a bit about it in the next issue of the BLAB. 

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Mike Hawthorne of New York Air Brake to Speak

Mike Hawthorne, the president of New York Air Brake, will visit SUNY Canton on Tuesday, March 24. He will be speaking from 5:45-7:15 PM in Neveldine North, room 102. All faculty and staff are invited to attend, and should encourage their students to attend as well. In addition to providing an overview of his company and its products and services, Mr. Hawthorne will describe his career path and the challenges and opportunities he encountered in becoming President.

Hawthorne

Prior to becoming the President and CEO in July 2012, Mr. Hawthorne was responsible for all technical and operational functions of the company in Watertown, NY, Texas, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ontario.  He joined NYAB in 1995 as an Electronic Control System Engineer, advancing to Managing Team Leader for LEADER Products in 1996 and TDS Division Director in 2001. He was named Vice President and General Manager of NYAB in January 2012.  Aside from his 18 years at NYAB, Mr. Hawthorne has also worked as a Control System Engineer at Raytheon in Boston, where he was a Miccioli Scholar and member of the Seeker Design Team.  He is innovator with an established track record of identifying opportunities and converting concepts into profitable product offerings.  He is also the recipient of the 2012 Knorr Excellence Award.

Mr. Hawthorne received a B. S. in Electrical Engineering from Clarkson University, an M.S. in Control Systems/Singal Processing from R.P.I., and the M.B.A. from Syracuse University.  He holds more than 23 patents in train control and simulation.

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The SUNY Canton Shout-Outs Continue!

Mock Trial

For the past two weeks (March 2-18), SUNY Canton’s Legal Studies program hosted area high school students competing in the St. Lawrence County Mock Trial Tournament. Six St. Lawrence County schools, coached by local attorneys, argued a civil case involving the alleged embezzlement of funds. Participating local high schools included Hammond Central School, Heuvelton Central School, Madrid-Waddington Central School, Morristown Central School, Ogdensburg Free Academy, and Potsdam High School.

Professors Alex and Christina Lesyk organized the event with the assistance of Professor Bill Jones. Dean J.D. DeLong judged the first night of the competition and other attorneys and judges from the local legal community served as judges for the other nights of the competition. Congratulations to everyone who was involved in this rather large effort. I can hear Sam Waterston applauding from here!

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Roo-preneurship at Its Best!

Our Business Department recently hosted the 1st Annual Roo-preneur competition at SUNY Canton.  The contest, organized and facilitated by Professor Charles Fenner, drew seven teams and consisted of a redesign of the Raquette River Gift Company’s website, and recommendations for further expansion of the company.  In addition to team prizes, one student, Andrew Lang, was designated as the competition’s best speaker and will represent SUNY Canton in the individual speak-off competition at the 3rd Annual Free Enterprise Marathon at SUNY Plattsburgh on March 6th. The best students from the competition will form SUNY Canton’s team along with Andrew to the Free Enterprise Marathon Product Redesign Competition.

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SUNY Canton Wins Award

SUNY Canton received an award last week for increased giving in the State Employees Federated Appeal (SEFA) campaign. Over the past year, we raised $8,013 vs. a little over $5,000 last year.  A breakfast was held at The Best Western Inn for area agencies, and Nancy Rowledge, Associate Director of Human Resources, accepted the plaque for SUNY Canton.  Tina Flanagan was also present and will be working on the SEFA program in the future.  A big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed!

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Don’t Forget the Social

Don’t forget to sign up for the wine and cheese social on April 29, from 4:30 to 6:30 PM, in the Mezzanine of the Roo’s House. It’s a chance for faculty and staff to have a casual chat on any issue with me and Presiding Officer of the Faculty Assembly Liz Erickson, or just to hang out! It’s limited to 25 people, so please contact Colleen Sheridan at sheridanc@canton.edu or at x7870 as soon as possible (not later than April 24).

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Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia contest dealt with words that start with the letter “Z”. Our winner was Renee Campbell. Others getting all five right included Robin Gittings, Christina Lesyk, my sister Drorit Szafran, Rhonda Rodriguez, Janel Smith, Anne Williams, Barry Walch, and Brett Furnia. Here are the correct answers:

  1. They’re actually black with white stripes, not the other way around. Zebras.
  2. Introduced in 1963, they replaced zones in addresses for mail. Zip Codes.
  3. There are twelve, including Gemini, Cancer, and Pisces. Signs of the Zodiac.
  4. Song from the Disney movie “Song of the South”, the second line is “My, oh my, what a wonderful day.” Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.
  5. African country formerly known as South Rhodesia, its president is Robert Mugabe. (No credit for Zambia, which was formerly Northern Rhodesia).

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This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge deals with children’s rhymes. 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. Why Jack and Jill went up the hill.
  2. It keeps (or sends) the doctor away, according to the rhyme.
  3. What Little Miss Muffet ate.
  4. The boy who kissed the girls and made them cry.
  5. They “Sailed off in a wooden shoe—Sailed on a river of crystal light, Into a sea of dew”.

 

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March 12, 2015

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 9, Issue 30– March 12, 2015

 

Faculty Member Wins Chancellor’s Award

Congratulations to our own Jill L. Martin, who has won the 2014-2015 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching. Jill teaches English and has been at SUNY Canton since 2000. While she has had many successes, one of the more interesting things she has done is to incorporate volunteer service components in her courses, giving students the opportunity to learn through community engagement. There is plenty of research indicating that being able to apply what one has learned through community engagement leads to deeper learning and greater engagement than classwork by itself.

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Jill and Terry Martin

Prior to coming to SUNY Canton, Jill taught high school for 34 years, giving her a firm understanding of the students’ high school to college transition needs. She also created an Adjunct Mentorship Program and authored the College’s first adjunct handbook to help new adjuncts acclimate to our campus.

The Chancellor’s Awards are recognition for “consistently superior professional achievement and to encourage the ongoing pursuit of excellence”. Chancellor Zimpher, during the announcement ceremony, said: “Adjunct teachers across the SUNY campuses provide consistently excellent instruction and are a key component of our faculty as we seek to increase access, completion, and success among students. Those honored with this year’s award have demonstrated extraordinary dedication to their students and an exceptional commitment to quality teaching.

Congratulations, Jill!

 

CONTEST! Why SUNY Canton is the Greatest Place on Earth

As mentioned in the BLAB two weeks ago, we’re starting a contest called “Why SUNY Canton is the Greatest Place on Earth”. It’s obvious to all of us that SUNY Canton is the greatest, but we need to capture the story to prove it to the rest of the world!

I’m sure you’ve seen multiple examples of this—a great student project. A transcendent moment in the classroom or lab. A beautiful spot on campus. A great on-campus event. A winning moment in athletics. Cool students, faculty, and staff. Something funny or touching that captures the SUNY Canton spirit.

We want you to submit a picture (or short video clip) capturing part of our story, along with a suggested caption. We’ll number and post the good ones, credited to the people who submitted them, on our new website at http://canton.edu/greatest/. You can see a few samples there now to give you an idea of what we’re looking for. The very best submissions will be saved for “milestone” numbers (#50, #100, and so on) and will win big prizes. There’s no limit to the number of pictures and ideas you can submit.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there with your camera and your imagination and start submitting. Just click on “submit a photo” to learn how, and you’re ready to be a part of history.

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SUNY Canton Now Part of Coast Guard’s Auxiliary University Program

Students at SUNY Canton can now gain nautical education, operational training experiences, aviation studies training, leadership development opportunities, advanced maritime safety studies training, and homeland security training by participating in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Auxiliary University Program (AUP).

Coast Guard Auxiliary (2)

This non-credit bearing course of study will provide SUNY Canton students with service learning, internship, training, and Officer Candidate School opportunities with the active duty U.S. Coast Guard. Students who participate in this program will have no service obligation, but will receive free training while adhering to the U.S. Coast Guard core values of Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty. Those who successfully complete the program will be designated as Auxiliary University Program (AUP) graduates.

Congratulations to Dr. Brian Harte for helping establish this program at SUNY Canton. Want more information? Just contact Dr. Harte at harteb@canton.edu.

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Invest in SUNY

INVESTinSUNY

As many of you are aware, March is heavy budget time for our state government. Governor Cuomo has released his proposed state budget, and it’s now time for the State Assembly and Senate to weigh in with their proposals. Negotiations ensue, resulting in a final budget being passed, ideally by March 31. As a result, March is also the time that agencies, organizations, and individuals, all try to speak to members of the legislature and to the press regarding their needs and wants.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been involved in editorial writing, press conferences, and meetings with key legislators to tell the SUNY Canton story, including our role in supporting economic growth in the North Country (and beyond), our students’ successes, and our needs going forward. My fellow SUNY presidents and I have also been advocating for the state to Invest in SUNY, to provide the necessary additional funding for us to meet ambitious goals of increasing both graduation rates and the number of SUNY graduates (from 90,000 to 150,000 annually by 2020).

The main points of Invest in SUNY are:

  • Establishing a SUNY Investment Fund, which would include a five-year performance funding plan, allowing SUNY to support evidence-based programs such as:
  • “Finish in Four” completion guarantee programs
  • Expansion of online programs through Open SUNY
  • Improved remedial pathways
  • Improved coordination and advisement in high school and college
  • Increased opportunities for applied learning and internships
  • Expansion of the Educational Opportunity Program, where we have 30,000 applicants annually for only 2,500 available seats
  • Establishing a Master Innovators Program, which would enable SUNY to successfully recruit and retain high-profile professors who generate the greatest research, development, and commercialization opportunities.
  • Extending the Rational Tuition program to 2020.
  • Providing additional capital dollars to build and maintain infrastructure, as part of a multi-year capital plan.
  • Providing adequate support for the State’s teaching hospitals.

To support the Invest in SUNY effort, I wrote an editorial titled “State Must Invest More in SUNY, Students” that was published as a letter to the editor in the Watertown Daily Times and in North Country This Week (you can see it here). On March 5, several of us traveled to Watertown for a press conference. I joined Jefferson Community College’s president Carol McCoy and Jefferson County Local Development Corp.’s David Zembiec in advocating for Invest in SUNY, and we received a lot of press: in newspapers (here), on TV (here), and on the radio (here). SUNY Canton has also established a website to support Invest in SUNY (which can be found here).

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Trip to Albany

From Monday to Wednesday, Lenore VanderZee (our Executive Director of University Relations) and I were down in Albany, talking to key members of the Assembly and Senate and their staff about Invest in SUNY and about SUNY Canton’s major needs. Our needs include renovation of Dana Hall, supporting the development of critical new majors in Agriculture and Mechatronics, and increased funding for TAP (so that the “TAP Gap” can be eliminated).

The trip started at 11:00 on Monday, with us driving down to Albany through the Adirondacks. It was a beautiful day, sunny and relatively warm (28°F, warmer than it has been) and the roads were almost totally empty. After a stop for a bite and to gas up midway, we got to Albany about 3 PM and checked in to the hotel. We were at the airport Hampton Inn, because all the hotels downtown were booked solid by other people down to see the legislature. It’s about 7 miles from there to the legislative office building and the capitol with no simple route going there, so going back and forth to the hotel was a little bit of a pain.

Our first meeting was with John Bojnowski, Legislative Director for Speaker of the Assembly Carl Heastie, at 4:30 PM. It was a very pleasant meeting, telling him about our college in general and that many of our students come from the Speaker’s home district in the Bronx. Speaker Heastie has recently advanced a new initiative to help students from needy backgrounds be able to afford to go to college. Many SUNY college presidents (including me) signed on to support this initiative.

After the meeting, we went to dinner. I drove over to my favorite Indian restaurant in Albany, but couldn’t find a parking place anywhere near it. I finally found a place a few blocks away and as it turned out, there were two other Indian restaurants just across the street. One was named Lazeez, and since VanderZee, Szafran, and Zvi all have z’s in them, I decided it was an omen and we should go there instead. As it turned out, the food was great and it was a good choice.

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On Tuesday, we saw our own Assemblymember Addie Russell (Chair of the Task Force on Food, Farm, and Nutrition Policy) and had an interesting discussion about stronger linkages between the high schools, BOCES, and the college; and creating career pathways as a way of improving graduation rates.  Addie is a strong supporter of SUNY and its role in the economic development of the North Country.

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Lenore VanderZee, Assemblymember Addie Russell, and Me

We also saw Assemblymember Deborah Glick (Chair of the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee), and Franklin Esson (Director of the Higher Education Committee for Senator Kenneth LaValle, Chair of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee).   Both were very familiar with SUNY Canton and supportive in our discussion.  That evening, we attended the SUNY Legislative Reception, held at The Egg, where it was a pleasure to see Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and lots of people we know from the SUNY central office, from the Board of Regents, and from other SUNY campuses, as well as several other legislators.

On Wednesday, we saw out our own Senate member Pattie Ritchie (Chair of the Agriculture Committee).  Senator Richie is a strong supporter of SUNY Canton, and was very interested in the Agriculture programs we are developing and the important role they could play in supporting the economy in the North Country.

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Me, Senator Pattie Ritchie, and Lenore VanderZee

Our final meeting was with Robert Mujica (Chief of Staff for Senator Robert Skelos, the Majority Leader of the Senate) who we were pleased to see was already familiar with SUNY Canton and what we are trying to accomplish.  It was extremely gratifying to see the strong support SUNY Canton (and SUNY in general) has in the Legislature—everyone was aware of the  high quality of our graduates and was supportive of our role in the economic development of our region.

On Wednesday, I also represented the Technology College sector in the Chancellor’s Invest in SUNY press conference on Wednesday, which you can read about here.  The Chancellor, several members of the Board of Trustees, and several SUNY presidents all made the case for why investing in SUNY is a smart move for the future of our students and for the state, and that we can do even more great things with some additional funding in key areas.

We finished up at about 12:00, and drove back up to Lark Street to make another attempt at the original Indian restaurant, the Jewel of India. This time I found a parking place right on State St. a little before Lark. When we got out of the car, there was a big protest going on involving hundreds of young schoolchildren, carrying signs and chanting for better school funding. The restaurant was excellent as usual, and we got onto the highway at about 1:30, reaching Canton at 5:30 after another beautiful ride on a sunny day in the Adirondacks.

This morning, I traveled to Ogdensburg for a 7:30 AM interview on YES-FM about (you guessed it) Invest in SUNY. You can hear the interview in all its splendor here.

 

Adirondack Challenge

Last Sunday (March 8), Jill, Mark and I headed down to Lake Placid to enjoy Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Adirondack Winter Challenge.  I had previously attended last summer’s Adirondack Challenge, so I knew that it was going to be a good time.  The trip to Lake Placid was a little iffy with snow squall breaking out periodically and NY 458 needing a bit of repair from this past winter.  Nonetheless, we persevered, arriving in Lake Placid in the early afternoon.

There were lots of people participating in winter sports–bobsledding, downhill skiing, ice fishing, the luge, and many others.  Lake Placid is a pretty town with lots of nice stores too–I only wish we had gotten there earlier to get in some shopping time!

The festivities ended with a cocktail party and a dinner.  As soon as we went into the social hall, I was happy to see Joe Rich and his lovely wife Carol.  Joe is a member of SUNY Canton’s College Council, and he and Carol are among the nicest people you’d ever want to meet.  We all sat down for dinner and after finishing, the program began.  Governor Cuomo talked about the importance of tourism in the North Country economy, and posed for pictures with the winners of the various Adirondack Challenge events.

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Afterwards, Governor Cuomo shook hands with the crowd.  My son Mark shook his hand and then offered him a bottle of Coke.  The Governor smiled, and then handed it back saying “I think you’d like this better”.  It was clear that Mark had become a lifelong Cuomo supporter!

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Receiver, Redux

Thanks to Amazon and its two-day free shipping (if you’re an Amazon Prime member, which I am), the new receiver arrived Wednesday and upon returning from Albany (see above) I immediately installed it. It’s another Onkyo and this one comes complete with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so one can stream internet radio and sync an iPhone to it. With all that, it doesn’t cost more than the previous one did—amazing! I immediately put in an SACD and sat back to enjoy the great sound. There’s nothing like great music in SACD format on a good system. Ahhhhhhh…

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Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia contest dealt with “capitals” or words that sound similar. Our winner was Lenore VanderZee and there was only one other entrant–my sister Drorit.  What happened to everyone else?  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Albany.  Capital of New York.
  2. Building in Washington DC that the Senate and House of Representatives are in. Capitol Building.
  3. Founded by Johnny Mercer, its stars included Nat King Cole, the Beatles, and Katy Perry. Capitol Records.
  4. If you make a profit on selling a stock or other asset, you have to pay this on your taxes. Capital Gains Tax.
  5. Book written by Karl Marx, laying the foundation for communism. Das Kapital.

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

In honor of the Albany Indian restaurant, this week’s challenge deals with words starting with the letter “Z”. 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. They’re actually black with white stripes, not the other way around.
  2. Introduced in 1963, they replaced zones in addresses for mail.
  3. There are twelve, including Gemini, Cancer, and Pisces.
  4. Song from the Disney movie “Song of the South”, the second line is “My, oh my, what a wonderful day.”
  5. African country formerly known as South Rhodesia, its president is Robert Mugabe.
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March 5, 2015

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 9, Issue 29– March 5, 2015

 

 

Receiver, RIP

So what happened to the Onkyo receiver that had water drip on it from our ice dam (see last week’s BLAB for details)? Despite heroic attempts by our EET faculty and staff to revive it, was too far gone. Two circuit boards needed replacement and there was no guarantee that it would work even then. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I get to buy a new receiver, which will no doubt have all kinds of new things I can’t live without.

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Say Ni Hao to Sugar

Sheng Tang, a visiting scholar from Guangdong Women’s Polytechnic College in Guangzhou, China, is here at SUNY Canton, co-teaching courses in the business communications area in our School of Business and Liberal Arts. Sugar (as she likes to be called) is also doing all kinds of interesting kinds of outreach to the community, including sharing Chinese traditions with two 3rd grade classes up in Norwood and Norfolk. You can read an article about it here. She will soon be presenting at the Canton Rotary Club, as well as at the Canton Free Library.

On our own campus, Sugar will be giving a cultural presentation called “Mysterious China” on March 17, from 12-1 PM in the Campus Center, Room 218. Light refreshments will be served. When you see Sugar on campus, be sure to say “Ni Hao” and “Huan Ying” to her—that’s “hello” and “welcome” in Chinese.

Sheng Hong-Tang_ 

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The SUNY Canton Shout-Outs Continue!

There have been lots of good things happening involving SUNY Canton faculty, staff, and students. Here are just some of them:

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Cool Donation

SUNY Canton graduate Gil White (Class of ’68) donated a 1956 Lincoln Premiere 2-door coupe to our Automotive Technology program last week. Peggy Sue Lovato, Keith Rosser and Brandon Baldwin went to Gils’s house to get it, and a cool car it is. I love the black color and art deco look, not to mention the white sidewall tires. Gil is a strong supporter of the college. I had the pleasure of visiting his house a few months back and quite a house it is, with its own movie viewing studio, not to mention a room that replicates a ‘50’s style soda shop. Gil and I share a taste for various types of music, so we’ll be getting together at some point soon to enjoy some vintage tunes.

What’s going to happen to the car? We’ll probably auction it off for the benefit of the Automotive Technology program, so get your money ready because you know you want it! Thanks Gil, you’re the coolest.

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l-r: Keith Rosser, Gil White, Brandon Baldwin

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Criminal Caught, Cow Identified

I’m pretty sure you won’t read this story anywhere else. Criminal Justice students at SUNY Canton do a lot of interesting things in their degree program. For example, every so often, you’ll see yellow tape around a “crime scene” on campus, with our CJ students clustered around it trying to analyze what happened and solve a murder.

OK—students in lots of CJ programs probably do that. Well here’s a different one. Not only do students in JUST 301, Latent Prints and Impressions learn to take fingerprints and the like under all kinds of situations, but they also learn to take muzzle-prints of cows. You see, just like no two persons’ fingerprints are identical, no two cows muzzle-prints are identical either. Who knew that? Anyway, the real point is to show that there are lots of different ways to use physical evidence to identify either a perpetrator or (if you’re a farmer or rancher) your property . So, if you’re ever suspicious that a cow may have been behind a crime, or if your cow has been stolen and you want to identify it, you know what to do. Congratulations to Liz Erickson (the prof in this course), Mary Loomis (for letting us use her space) and Julie Parkman (for bringing the calf to campus).

Shanique

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Rotary Vocational Award Winner

At the Rotary Club meeting on Monday, I had the pleasure of joining with the Club to give a vocational award to Serena Cline, a high school sophomore. Serena is currently taking and enjoying courses in culinary science, and is interested in pursuing a career in the health professions. I didn’t fail to mention that she could find several excellent examples of such programs at SUNY Canton. Congratulations Serena!

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l-r: Lance Rudiger (President, Rotary), William Gregory (Canton Central School Superintendant), Diane Guyette (grandmother), Tessa Guyette (mother), Serena Cline, Janet Favro (Vocational Comm. Chair), me, and Suzanne Creurer (Vocational Teacher).

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Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia contest dealt with the word “sun”. Our winner was John Jodice. Others getting all five right included Andre Lynch, Christina Lesyk, Kerrie Cooper, my sister Drorit Szafran, and Brett Furnia. Here are the correct answers:

  1. According to the saying, there’s nothing new there. Under the Sun.
  2. Huge song hit for the Animals, about a place in New Orleans that’s been the ruin of many a poor boy. House of the Rising Sun.
  3. Film festival started by Robert Redford, located in Utah. Sundance Film Festival.
  4. Major petroleum company, headquartered in Philadelphia.  Sunoco.
  5. Romantic comedy set in Italy, it starred Diane Lane as a writer whose life takes a turn when she finds her husband has been cheating on her. Under the Tuscan Sun.

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This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge deals with capitals (or words that sound similar). 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. Albany.
  2. Building in Washington DC that the Senate and House of Representatives are in.
  3. Founded by Johnny Mercer, it’s stars included Nat King Cole, the Beatles, and Katy Perry.
  4. If you make a profit on selling a stock or other asset, you have to pay this on your taxes.
  5. Book written by Karl Marx, laying the foundation for communism.
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

February 26, 2015

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 9, Issue 28– February 26, 2015

 

 Officially a Northerner

On Sunday, we drove down to Watertown to do some shopping. It was a nice sunny day in Canton with a temperature of 30°. It’s amazing how quickly your mindset changes so that 30° is now warm. Anyway, we did our shopping and drove home, and when I went into the jazz music room in the house, I heard a dripping noise. I thought I had left my stereo receiver on, and when I looked to see what was causing the noise, I saw we had a leak. The room has a nice bay window, and the stereo system sits on its ledge. The leak was coming from the “ceiling” of the bay window and dripping right into the receiver and also all over the ledge and onto the floor.

We quickly got a small bucket to catch the drops and I took the receiver off the ledge and put it on the floor upside down, hoping it would drain out. I suspected that the leak was from an ice dam on the roof a story above the bay window. For you non-northerners, this is caused when the ice on the roof (formed from the heat of the house melting the bottom layer of snow) is blocked from being able to expand, and goes under the shingles. When it melts again, it now leaks into the house. I went outside with my snow rake, and knocked as much snow and ice from the roof as I could, even going into the bathroom on our second floor, taking out the screen, opening the window and leaning out, and using a hammer to get rid of as much ice as I could.

That, and perhaps the dropping temperature, caused the leak to slow down and after about an hour, stop entirely. We called a roofing company who came by this morning and went on the roof, shoveled it out and removed the ice dams. When I set the stereo up again, the receiver wouldn’t power on, so the water may have killed it. I’ll try to fix it (and may ask our EET folks to see if there’s anything they can do), but it may be dead. I hope not—I really liked that Onkyo, though this may be an opportunity to upgrade the next new thing, whatever that is.

 

 

Contest Coming Up!

It’s obvious that SUNY Canton is the greatest, but we need to capture the story and prove it to ourselves and to the rest of the world. I’m sure you’ve seen multiple examples of this—a great student project. A transcendent moment in the classroom. A beautiful spot on campus. A great on-campus event. A winning moment in athletics. Cool students, faculty, and staff. Something funny or touching that captures the SUNY Canton spirit.

We’re working out the details of a contest we’re going to run, called “Why SUNY Canton is the greatest place on Earth”. Basically, how it’s going to work is we’ll invite members of our campus community (faculty, staff, students, alumni, everybody) to send in a picture (or short video clip) that illustrates some aspect of what makes us great along with a caption of a few words. We’ll post the good ones and award prizes for the very best ones. Obviously, the more people who participate and the more pictures that are sent in, the better the outcome and the more prizes will be awarded.

So, start thinking about what makes us great and how you can capture the story in a picture or short video clip. Start capturing the story. We’ll be sending out information on how to submit them and what the prizes will be in the next few weeks.

 

 

More SUNY Canton Shout-Outs

There have been lots of good things happening involving SUNY Canton faculty, staff, and students. Here are just some of them:

 

Student Athletes Get Great Grades

At the Faculty Meeting last Thursday, our Director of Athletics, Randy Sieminski, announced that our student athletes had an average GPA of 2.99, which is quite excellent. The men’s team with the highest GPA was Ice Hockey, with an impressive 3.181.

MHOC

The highest women’s team was also Ice Hockey, with an unbelievable 3.350.

WHOC

Congratulations to the students on both teams, and to all our student athletes for their fine academic performance.

 

Engineers Week

This week is Engineers Week and to celebrate, our engineering and physics faculty held a series of events showcasing what they do, in the various labs in Neveldine Hall on Tuesday, February 24. The events began at noon, with a CEO Panel Discussion, followed by a Career Fair from 1 to 5 PM. At 5, the Open House began, open to the entire community. The Panel Discussion drew an enthusiastic crowd of 75 students, and the Open House drew well over 100 participants, who got to see very cool demonstrations that included our award winning steel bridge team, Lego Mindstorm robots, 3D topographical mapping, a massive wood splitter, smashing concrete cylinders, digital wrenches, using strobes to measure rotational speeds, laser communicators, and many other great things. As a chemist, I have to give a nod to the excellent water chemistry lab demonstrations that were done by CET students, though the Van de Graaf accelerator and various power-sport vehicles were definitely cool as well. Our mascot, Rudy ‘Roo, was there adding to the fun.

Engineers Day 2015-5

Our cool Power Sports lab

The big event for the Open House was a competition to see who could build the tallest free-standing structure out of spaghetti and tape, with a marshmallow at the top. There were some 20 teams with kids from 5-17 years old competing. The highest structure was a 28” tall, winning a $500 scholarship to Canton for everyone on the team. There were lots of other prizes, and all participants got a T-shirt and a water bottle.

Engineers Day 2015-10

This was a great event, and congratulations go to Dean Mike Newtown, our engineering and physics faculty, and the many student volunteers who staffed the exhibits, registered the visitors, and helped watch the youngest children.

 

Road Trip to Massena

OK—Massena isn’t the farthest place I’ve traveled to, but last Thursday, I went on a road trip there to be at an alumni gathering along with VP of Advancement David Gerlach and Destiny Petty, the new Advancement intern. Alumni Development Associate Joe Carbone was already there doing the setup at Coach’s Corner, a pretty cool pub where the gathering was held. I got a chance to meet a number of alums and tell them about what’s new at the college, as well as hear about their own experiences when they were students. Even though it’s only been a few days, several of the alums have already volunteered to work with the college in several ways that will be very beneficial.

 

Canton Idol!

After the alumni visit to Massena, we had to rush back to Canton so I could pick up wife Jill and son Mark to go to the Canton Idol Finals Competition. We got there just in time! Just like American Idol on TV (though ours was better!), the four top contestants competed in two rounds of finals, judged by a panel of faculty, staff, and student judges. The two emcees (Amanda DaCosta and Devine Pearson) were great, and the judges (Mike McGilligan, Katie Kennedy, Nikki Zeitmann, and Danesha Williams) offered good advice and encouragement.

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The four finalists were quite excellent, with the winner slated to go head to head with SUNY Potsdam’s winner in the near future.

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The four finalists were:

Grand Prize Winner: Noelle Murray (3d from left)

2nd Place Winner: Moriah Cody (left)

3rd Place Winner: Kasey Cunningham (2nd from left)

4th Place Winner: Daniel Neuroth (right)

Congratulations to everyone who participated and to our winners!

 

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Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia contest dealt with weather—each answer had a weather word in it. Our winner was Rosemary Phillips. Others getting all five right included Christina Lesyk, Jesse Clark-Stone, Rhonda Rodriguez, Patricia Todd, and Ron O’Neill. Lots of others got four correct, but question #3 did them in. Here are the correct answers:

  1. What you save for. A Rainy Day.
  2. Someone who only supports you when things are going well. Fair-Weather Friend.
  3. Buried by too much work. Snowed under (or snowed in).
  4. What the band plays when the President walks in. Hail to the Chief.
  5. In Carly Simon’s song “You’re so Vain”, what follows the lines: But you gave away the things you loved, and one of them was me. I had some dreams, they were . Clouds in my coffee.

 

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This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge deals with the sun—each answer has the word “sun” somewhere in it. 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. According to the saying, there’s nothing new there.
  2. Huge song hit for the Animals, about a place in New Orleans that’s been the ruin of many a poor boy.
  3. Film festival started by Robert Redford, located in Utah.
  4. Major petroleum company, headquartered in Philadelphia.
  5. Romantic comedy set in Italy, it starred Diane Lane as a writer whose life takes a turn when she finds her husband has been cheating on her.
Posted in Uncategorized

February 19, 2015

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 9, Issue 27 – February 19, 2015

 

 Brrr….

I was looking on Facebook on Sunday and was amused to see a video taken in Marietta, GA. It seems they just had a dusting of snow there and the video showed some parents pulling children around on plastic sleds. School was cancelled due to the weather Monday in many parts of Georgia, though I don’t know why—the forecast was for a high of 48°F with rain. Ever since the ice storm last winter (which shut everything down for three days), politicians have been very antsy about the weather and close everything down at the drop of a hat. To be fair, they really don’t have the means for dealing with cold weather, with only a relative few snowplows and the like. One thing that has impressed me up here in the North Country is how quickly and effectively they clean the roads—even while the snowfall is occurring.

For those who live outside the area, we apparently had the coldest weather in the country here from Sunday into Monday—the low was -18°F here, with a wind-chill of more like -35°F. Some locations with wind-chill reached the point where the Fahrenheit and Celsius temperatures are the same (I remember solving for that on an engineering exam when I was a freshman—it’s a favorite problem for engineering professors). In case you want to know how to solve for that, remember that the conversion formula from °F to °C is

°C = (°F -32)(5/9).

Since we’re looking for the point at which the two temperatures are equal, °C = °F, and:

°F = (°F – 32)(5/9)

(9/5) °F = °F – 32

(9/5) °F – °F = -32

4/5 °F = -32

°F = (5/4)(-32) = -40

 

Get Involved in This Effort to Save Financial Aid

Perkins Student Loans have been an important part of student financial aid for 57 years. Unless Congress acts quickly, the student loan program will expire, and it will be much harder for students to finance their educations. Perkins loans are really useful to students because they don’t have to be paid back until 9 months after leaving school. You don’t need a credit history to qualify for them, and the loans can be forgiven under certain circumstances. About 500,000 students benefit from Perkins loans every year. At SUNY Canton, 450 students get Perkins loans, to the tune of $450,000 each year. Please watch the video below, and if you agree with it, sign the “Save Perkins Now” petition at www.change.org. Share the video with your friends—this is something we want to go viral.

SUNY Canton Shout-Outs

There have been lots of good things happening involving SUNY Canton faculty, staff, and students. Here are just some of them:

SUNY Canton Senior’s Clothing Line is a Hit in the Hip-Hop Community!

Danesha Williams, a senior in Graphic and Multimedia Design, is the cofounder of the clothing line Riotte Latimore with SUNY Canton grad Christina Thomas. Currently working out of her off-campus apartment, Danesha is producing cut-and-sew designs on hooded sweatshirts, shirts, and pants, which are then manufactured in China. An article on her success recently appeared in the Watertown Daily Times, and can be seen here. Her clothing was recently worn by hip-hop artist Dej Loaf at her concert in Toronto, and a number of items on her website (here) are sold out. Danesha is also managing Michael Wallace, a SUNY Canton senior who recently won a rap music competition and is flying to Los Angeles, under her independent record label Empire the Nation Records. Clearly, SUNY Canton students and graduates are taking over the fashion and music industries, which is obviously as things should be.

Athletics

SUNY Canton athletes have been active in supporting several worthy causes during half-time of their games. On February 6, during halftime of the men’s ice hockey game against Cortland (which we lost 6-5 in an overtime heartbreaker), the women’s ice hockey team played a challenging game of sled hockey against members of the Wounded Warriors.

On February 7, on their way to beating Albany Pharmacy 82-46, our men’s basketball team hosted the North Country Region Special Olympics Shamrocks basketball team. Coached by Lesley Thompson, the Shamrocks played a well-received exhibition at half-time.

Also on February 7, our women’s basketball team hosted the Canton modified 7/8th grade girls basketball team for a 4 on 4 game to celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day. At both games that evening, members of the seven different SUNY Canton women’s teams (basketball, cross-country, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, and volleyball) were honored.

rp_primary_NGWSD

Congratulations to all who were involved in these activities, and especially to our female athletes!

CSTEP

On January 31, several SUNY Canton students attended the Annual CSTEP Regional Career Exploration Symposium, hosted this year at Clarkson University and attended by CSTEP students from all four of the Associated Colleges.  The two keynote speakers were Calvin Mackey and Don Asher.

Dr. Calvin Mackie is an award-winning mentor, acclaimed author and motivational speaker, and a successful entrepreneur. He has won numerous awards including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, which was presented in a White House ceremony. Donald Asher is a nationally known speaker and writer on the topics of careers and higher education and the author of 12 books, including “Cracking the Hidden Job Market”, “Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn’t, and Why” and “From College to Career”.  He is also a contributing writer for The Wall Street Journal.

The Symposium also offered various workshops and panels in several of the STEM, Health and Licensed professions. Pierre Nzuah, a senior Engineering student, represented SUNY Canton as our Senior Speaker this year.  Pierre told his story about growing up with 15 siblings in a poor family in Africa, to becoming a successful Engineering student who’ll be attending Clarkson’s Master’s program next year.

It was a fun and educational day for all who attended.  The students enjoyed the speakers, the workshops, the dinner, and especially networking with CSTEP students from the other universities.

Love Your Library Day

Thursday, February 12 was “Love Your Library” day, with heart-shaped cookies, punch, and a drawing for an iPad on feature at SUNY Canton’s Southworth Library. Students were asked to fill out a brief survey on what they thought the library’s most useful features were, as well as what they’d like to see added. They could also double their chances of winning by doing a brief library search to find a particular book. Adding to the festivities, Dean Mollie Mott was dressed for the occasion as the Queen of Hearts, posing for pictures with the many folks stopping by. This is just one of the many cool outreach efforts by our library, which is a fantastic student-centered resource for our entire community.

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Title IX Poster Competition

I was one of four guest judges in a poster competition by Canton Central High School students to design a poster to celebrate Title IX and how it has led to more equal gender participation in sports. The winner of the contest was Hailey Leonard, a student in Grade 12. The winning poster is below. Congratulations Hailey!

 IMG_5644

Me, Amanda Rowley, and the winning entry

Firing Faculty Over a Blog

There was an interesting article recently in Inside Higher Education about how Marquette University is moving to revoke a professor’s tenure and fire him stemming from comments he made in his blog. You can see the full article here. An earlier article (before Marquette decided to fire him) provided more detail in the sequence of events that happened and can be found here. While this has nothing whatsoever to do with anything at SUNY Canton, the situation has attracted in a lot of attention nationally, as it touches on issues of freedom of speech, unfair use of power (in more than one way), academic freedom, and gay marriage.

Bear with me here as I lay out the background, because the story is complicated. The more or less undisputed parts are as follows.

  • A graduate teaching assistant, Cheryl Abbate, was teaching a philosophy course, “Theory of Ethics” and talking about philosopher John Rawls’ equal liberty principle (which states that everyone has the right to all basic liberties that don’t conflict with another’s liberties). She asked students to name any violations of this principle that they were aware of. A student named the ban against gay marriage as an example.
  • Abbate listed the example on the blackboard and went on to discuss other examples. A second student (or perhaps it was the same one—the accounts don’t make this clear) approached Abbate after class (and taped their conversation without telling her he was doing so), telling her he was upset that she hadn’t considered the gay marriage example more carefully. He had seen data suggesting that the children of gay parents do worse in life and said that the topic was worth discussing further.
  • Abbate questioned the data, and noted that gay marriage and parenting are two different things. As reported in Inside Higher Education (which says they have a copy of the tape), the student said “It’s still wrong for the teacher of a class to completely discredit one person’s opinion when they may have different opinions”. Abbate said “There are opinions that are not appropriate, that are harmful, such as racist opinions, sexist opinions, and quite honestly, do you know if someone in the class is homosexual? And do you not think it would be offensive to them, if you were to raise your hand and challenge this?” When the student said it was his “right as an American citizen” to challenge the idea, Abbate said he didn’t “have the right, especially [in an ethics class], to make homophobic comments or racist comments.
  • Abbate said the student could have whatever opinions he liked, but that her policy was that homophobic, racist, and sexist comments wouldn’t be tolerated in her class. She said he could drop the class if he disagreed with her policy. She then asked the student if he was recording the conversation. At first the student said “no”, but admitted he was when Abbate asked to see his cell phone. Their conversation ended at that point. The student subsequently dropped the class.
  • A tenured political science professor, John McAdams, wrote a post in his blog ‘Marquette Warrior’ based on the student’s recording, accusing Abbate of shutting down the conversation in class on the basis of her own political beliefs. McAdams said that Abbate was “using a tactic typical among liberals,” in which opinions they disagree with “are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed ‘offensive’ and need to be shut up.” He wrote that Abbate “invited the student to drop the class”.
  • McAdams’ blog was picked up by several other conservative blogs. Some of the comments on those blogs made threats against Abbate and she received a number of emails harshly criticizing and threatening her, as well as some supporting her.
  • Abbate decided to discuss the gay marriage issue the next class period, noted that the article saying that children of gay parents do worse in life had been largely discredited, and said that there wasn’t time in a class to discuss every controversy of interest.

Whew! Got all that?

As the story spread, Marquette University decided to review the situation and concluded that McAdams had acted in an unprofessional manner and had misled the public about what happened. A letter was sent to McAdams from his dean, Richard C. Holz, saying the university was initiating a process to fire him. Holz wrote:

Tenure and academic freedom carry not only great privileges but also vital responsibilities and obligations…In order to endure, a scholar-teacher’s academic freedom must be grounded on competence and integrity, including accuracy ‘at all times,’ a respect for others’ opinions, and the exercise of appropriate restraint. Without adherence to these standards, those such as yourself invested with tenure’s power can carelessly and arrogantly intimidate and silence the less-powerful and then raise the shields of academic freedom and free expression against all attempts to stop such abuse.

Holz went on to say that graduate student instructors:

“…should expect appropriate and constructive feedback in order to improve their teaching skills. Multiple internal avenues of review were available to you if you believed a situation had occurred between a graduate student instructor and an undergraduate student that called for a corrective response. Instead, you chose to shame and intimidate with an Internet story that was incompetent, inaccurate, and lacking in integrity, respect for other’s opinions, and appropriate restraint.”

With regard to the student dropping the class, Holz wrote:

As you knew or should have known…, the student told the university three days after withdrawing that he had done so because he was getting an ‘F’ at mid-term. He further specifically agreed that his grade fairly reflected his performance and had nothing to do with his political or personal beliefs. Similarly, by leaving out any reference to Ms. Abbate’s follow-up class discussion in which she acknowledged and addressed the student’s objection to gay marriage, you created a false impression of her conduct and an inaccurate account of what occurred. You either were recklessly unaware of what happened in the follow-up class, or you elected not to include these facts in your Internet story.”

McAdams is fighting the firing and disputes the university’s account of what happened. He’s written several postings on the subject, the most relevant of which can be found here and here. He argues that the graduate student was the faculty member of record in the course and thus isn’t immune from criticism, and the university has no right to restrict his free speech:

Campus bureaucrats hate controversy, since it makes trouble for them. Thus the most ‘valuable’ faculty members are the ones who avoid controversy, and especially avoid criticizing administrators. In real universities, administrators understand (or more likely grudgingly accept) that faculty will say controversial things, will criticize them and each other, and that people will complain about it. They understand that putting up with the complaints is part of the job, and assuaging those who complain the loudest is not the best policy. That sort of university is becoming rarer and rarer. Based on Holz’ actions, Marquette is certainly not such a place.”

Abbate has now left Marquette and is pursuing her graduate degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She writes her own blog and has written two responses to the situation (which can be seen here), and believes that McAdams is at least partially responsible for the threatening emails she has received. She disputes McAdams’ version of events, and views him as a bully. She says that the articles that have characterized McAdams as being fired over a single blog post are untrue:

The attempt to fire McAdams is not about a “one time act of misconduct” on his part. From what I can tell (from reading the Dean’s letter), the attempt to fire McAdams is about his history of attacking vulnerable members of the Marquette community and his repeated lies about me on his blog (that he has also repeated, on a number of occasions, to various news sources).

What can one make of this complex story? I think there are problems aplenty throughout this whole scenario, not least of which is that the usual political players have responded to the blogs on the expected sides, though there have been some thoughtful comments too.

Let’s start with the student who taped his conversation with Abbate. Most people would agree that it is morally wrong to record a conversation without someone’s knowledge (a police sting, properly executed, being an exception). Why did this student do it? Judging by subsequent actions, the student wanted to catch Abbate in a “gotcha”. He subsequently went to the department chair and dean on this issue and after getting no satisfaction there (from his perspective), brought the matter to McAdams’ attention. McAdams is identified in some articles on this subject as the students’ advisor (and McAdams is accused of hiding that). That Abbate listed the example on the blackboard but then chose to move on to other points hardly seems like a motive or justification for surreptitious taping. The most obvious explanation is essentially “conservative student wanted to trap liberal professor as being too politically correct”.

Moving on to Abbate, it seems that she fell into the trap. The snippets of the conversation available online do seem to imply that she wouldn’t have welcomed a conversation opposing gay marriage in her class. Several reasons are offered by her supporters—that it would be off-topic, that her conversation was completely misconstrued, or that she was trying to live up to (or enforce) Marquette’s anti-harassment policies. I haven’t read those anti-harassment policies, but I would hope that they wouldn’t restrict any speech that might possibly offend someone—I can’t think of any debate on a controversial subject that wouldn’t offend at least someone. While she was clearly uncomfortable discussing the issue of gay marriage in her class, she ultimately did discuss it the next class period. The real point here is that while she was in charge of the class, she was still also a graduate student learning her craft. Part of learning is making mistakes and learning from them.

As to McAdams, despite his (correct) point that Abbate was the instructor in charge of the class and was therefore functioning as a teacher and not a student, he was well aware that she was a graduate student, not yet having been awarded her degree and never having been appointed even as a part-time faculty member. If McAdams thought Abbate’s actions were inappropriate, he could have alerted her department chair. Even if he thought that it was necessary to blog about her to make some larger political point, calling her out by name in his blog was not only highly inappropriate, but also unnecessary. Exactly the same political points he made in his blog could have been made by identifying her as simply “a graduate instructor teaching a philosophy course”. Some posts called what he wrote a form of cyberbullying, given the power differential between Abbate and himself. McAdams’ willingness to use the tape is also highly questionable—did he ask the student if she knew she was being taped and if the student had Abbate’s permission to use it? Even if McAdams asked and the student lied, McAdams could have easily contacted Abbate and confirmed that it was OK, and asked her for her side of the story. McAdams says that he did contact her (via email on a Sunday), but when she didn’t reply, he posted the blog nine hours later. Do I really need to say that giving someone nine hours to reply, on a Sunday, is hardly a sufficient attempt to verify facts or to get the other side?

Finally, we come to Marquette’s response. Taking each of Dean Holz’s main points, did McAdams act irresponsibly? Certainly. Did he breach academic norms by publically criticizing a graduate student by name in a blog? Yes. Did he misrepresent what happened in the classroom and subsequent discussion? That seems to be debatable—his account and Abbate’s differ, but the available evidence doesn’t significantly contradict McAdams’ blogged version of events. Did McAdams try to “shame and intimidate” Abbate and act with a “lack of restraint”? I’d say so. From the looks of things, McAdams is one of those people who is so filled with the righteousness of their cause, he can’t see where he himself crosses the bounds of propriety and is guilty of the very things of which he accuses others.

The ultimate question, though, is whether McAdams deserves to be fired for what he did. While I don’t pretend to have all the information that Marquette has, based on the charges in Holz’s letters and the facts presented in the articles I don’t see how the answer could be “yes”. McAdams’ blog, whatever you may think of it, says clearly in its masthead: “This site has no official connection with Marquette University. Indeed, when University officials find out about it, they will doubtless want it shut down” indicating he is clearly blogging as an individual, not as a representative of the university. This, of course, doesn’t remove his obligation to observe academic norms, protect the privacy of a graduate student who was still learning the ropes, and to not act like a bully. While some form of sanction might be appropriate, not all crimes are capital crimes. Many people have questioned Marquette’s seeming lack of due process in this case, as well as the lack of documentation regarding the alleged other prior acts that Holz alludes to. By moving for removal of tenure and firing, Marquette seems to be guilty of the same “lack of restraint” they accuse McAdams of and give credence to his claim that what they actually want is to get rid of an annoying critic.

I’d be interested in hearing other people’s opinions on this case.

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia contest dealt with advertising slogans. Our winner was Nellie Lucas. Others getting all five right included Rhonda Curtis, Christina Lesyk, Stacia Dutton, Marcia Sullivan-Marin, Will Fassinger, Rajiv Narula, Terri Clemmo, and my sister, Drorit Szafran. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Things go better with ________. Coca Cola.
  2. Plop, plop. Fizz, fizz. Oh what a relief it is. Alka-Seltzer.
  3. The quicker picker upper.  Bounty.
  4. Let your fingers do the walking. The Yellow Pages.
  5. Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t. Almond Joy and Mounds.

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge deals with weather—each answer has a weather word in it. 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 you save for.
  2. Someone who only supports you when things are going well.
  3. Buried by too much work.
  4. What the band plays when the President walks in.
  5. In Carly Simon’s song “You’re so Vain”, what follows the lines: But you gave away the things you loved, and one of them was me. I had some dreams, they were _________.
Posted in Uncategorized

February 9, 2015

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 9, Issue 26 – February 9, 2015

 

It’s Flu and Cold Season

With all the cold weather we’ve been having lately, it has become cold and flu season too. I caught a mild cold on Monday and I was pretty much rid of it on Wednesday. My wife Jill and son Mark picked up a more severe version of it on Wednesday and are only coming out of it now. It seems everyone at the College and in town has gotten it or currently has it.

It’s been cold and unusually snowy lately. Last Monday, we were only supposed to get 3-4 inches of snow, but it turned out to be 6-7 inches, and with the wind, there were drifts of 1-2 feet in places. Things were calm on Tuesday and Wednesday, but when I woke up on Thursday, there were an unexpected additional 5-6 inches on the ground, and my windshield wipers were totally frozen to the car. I had to take off my gloves to warm the wipers enough to pry them loose. Later that day, it was sunny enough to melt some of the snow from the roof, which ran down the windshield, froze, and formed two thick icicles! I had to let the car run for a while until they softened up enough to use the scraper to take off!

Yesterday, as I was driving back from Potsdam in the morning, we had something new—freezing drizzle. It was cold enough so that it would freeze as soon as it hit the windshield. Even with the blowers going full blast, they were only able to stay even with the icing. Several people pulled over to the side of the road to scrape their windshields down. This morning, there was a layer of ice on the windshield that wouldn’t scrape off, and it took 10 minutes of idling the car with the blowers on full blast to soften it enough to scrape it. We were supposed to get several more inches of snow today, but now it looks like that won’t happen. Hopefully, Wednesday’s predicted snow will also fail to appear.

 

 

Thanks to Our Donors to the Canton College Foundation

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the many donors to our Canton College Foundation this past year. From our full time folks, the participation rate was a respectable 39%. By way of comparison, the participation rate in the federal government for the Combined Federal Campaign is 21%, so we did almost twice as well. With your donations, the Foundation is able to do to many important things to support our students, faculty, and facilities at the College. Your support is critical.

I’d like to encourage everyone to support the Canton College Foundation in the coming year. You can make an unrestricted donation (in which case it will be used where the need is greatest) or you can give to any specific fund. It’s not hard—you can make a one-time donation, or you can use payroll deduction. Any area that has 100% participation this coming year will get special recognition for their efforts.

To thank the folks who donated last year, we had a “Thank You” luncheon last Friday. Almost 100 people were able to attend, and our Food Service did their usual wonderful job on the meal—it was absolutely delicious.

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Admissions Efforts

I’ve attended two interesting admissions efforts in the past two weeks that I thought you might want to hear about.

On Saturday morning, January 31, SUNY Canton hosted 35 young men (and 6 chaperones) from New York City who are enrolled in a student success program that highlights academic greatness. The young men are all either homeless or wards of the state, but through their hard work and participation in this program, are all strong academic achievers. Their visit was part of a bus tour of several campuses, because part of the emphasis of their program is to give them exposure to college life.

Due to the cold weather, their bus broke down, just across the street from Clarkson. A convoy of cars (including mine) was quickly assembled, and we ferried them over to campus, where doughnuts and coffee were waiting. As a result, the program started a little late, but all went well from then on and they were able to enjoy a hands-on lab experience in the Canino School of Engineering Technology, dinner, and a basketball game.

Last Thursday, we hosted a group of high school counselors who were here for National School Counselors Week. Mike Newtown spoke to them about our upcoming set of activities for Engineering Week, and invited them to have their students participate. He also talked about how important it was for students to learn about STEM areas early. He said: “Even if they’re just in Kindergarten, bring them—we’ll find something for them to do that they’ll enjoy.” I also spoke to the counselors about some of the new programs we’re developing, as well as how our programs all lead to jobs and help economically develop the North Country. Our message was well received by the counselors, and is part of a broader effort to engage more strongly with our local schools that Melissa Evans (our new Director of Admissions) is encouraging.

 

 

Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?

There was an interesting article in the National Geographic this month entitled “Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science”, written by Joel Achenbach. You can read the article in its entirety here.

cartoonThe article starts by quoting some lines from the movie Dr. Strangelove, where General Jack D. Ripper is showing his paranoid worldview by ranting about fluoridation: “Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face?” The movie came out in 1964 and being against fluoridation was pretty out of the mainstream then, but more than 50 years later, there are still some locations that don’t fluoridate their water, despite overwhelming evidence that it is beneficial to do so.   Portland, Oregon, for example, voted not to fluoridate in 2013.

Achenbach notes that the word is full of real and imaginary hazards, and telling them apart isn’t easy. The recent panic over the Ebola virus is a good example. Despite the fact that it is only spread by direct contact with bodily fluids, there are lots of people who are afraid that it will somehow mutate into an airborne super plague, despite the fact that no virus has ever been observed to completely change its mode of transmission in humans.

Marcia McNutt, editor of the journal Science, says: “Science is not a body of facts. Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not.” The article goes on to say that the scientific method doesn’t come easily or naturally to most of us. Even people who understand and accept scientific theories still cling to their intuitions. In a recent study by Andrew Shtulman of Occidental College, he found that even students with advanced science education still hesitated when asked to affirm or deny that humans are descended from sea animals or that the Earth goes around the sun. Even when they marked these questions as true, they took longer to do so than when they answered questions about whether humans are descended from tree-dwelling creatures or whether the moon goes around the Earth (more intuitive responses).

Lots of people rely on personal experience and anecdotes, rather than science and statistics. We constantly think that coincidence is the same thing as causality, and see patterns where none exist. We’re all prone to “confirmation bias”—the tendency to only look for evidence that supports what we already believe, and to ignore everything else.

Politics, of course, has made this much worse. We’re now able to live in a world where we can filter any idea that we don’t want to hear, and only let in those views that we already believe. There are lots of people (and politicians pandering to them) who believe that global warming is a hoax, and that there is a scientific conspiracy to mislead the public. The news media tends to focus on the kooks who will give them an exciting story, instead of the more boring people who are actually doing the research.

A research study by Dan Kahan of Yale University found that higher scientific literacy was associated with stronger views on climate change—on BOTH ends of the spectrum. More literacy led to more polarization of views, not more consensus. He concluded that this is because most people use scientific knowledge to reinforce beliefs they already hold through their worldview and politics, and ignore facts that would force them to question their own beliefs. While science appeals to our rational brain, our beliefs are formed through our emotions, and our strongest emotion is to belong and fit in to our “group”. “We’re all in high school. We’ve never left high school,” says Marcia McNutt. “People still have a need to fit in, and that need to fit in is so strong that local values and local opinions are always trumping science. And they will continue to trump science, especially when there is no clear downside to ignoring science.”

McNutt says that scientific thinking has to be taught, and sometimes it’s not taught well. That has certainly been my own experience. I taught General Chemistry for many years, and one of the first things covered in the class is the scientific method. Most students have encountered it before, in high school and in other science classes, and should have been familiar with it. Yet, almost invariable, students think that a scientific law is something of a higher order of certainty and importance than a scientific theory. Part of this is because the way we use words in science is different than the way we do in everyday speech. In everyday language, a theory is something that is uncertain, whereas a law is set in stone. In science, a law is a statement that summarizes experimental results (without needing to explain why those results occurred), and a theory is an explanation for what happened that has held up to rigorous testing (but that those tests could have proven to be false).

Very few students are aware of how difficult it is to conduct a proper experiment, and the way that our biases can affect what we perceive the results to be. Almost no students are aware of the strongest defenses science has against error—the peer review and publication process. Science journals require scientists to publish exactly how they carried out their experiments in a way that allows anyone else to repeat them. Some journals actually have testers repeat the experiments to see if the same results were obtained. The article is reviewed by other scientists in the same area to make sure that the methods followed made sense, and that the conclusions drawn are reasonable based on the evidence presented. Even after publication, other scientists will reproduce and test the experiments and results, trying to disprove or extend upon them. In science, new things are proven and older things are disproven all the time. It is this constant testing and revision that allows science to “march on”.

Very few of us would like our lives and ideas subjected to the scientific methods continuous testing. Can you imagine a world where political ideas were subject to this kind of rigor? As the article concluded, “We need to get a lot better at finding answers, because it’s certain the questions won’t be getting any simpler.”

 

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia contest dealt with winter. Our winner was Rhonda Rodriguez. Others getting all five right included Christina Lesyk, Janel Smith, and Melinda Miller. Here are the correct answers:

  1. They were held in Sochi (Russia) in 2014, and in Vancouver in 2010. WINTER Olympics
  2. Christmas song that begins “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?  In the lane, snow is glistening.” WINTER Wonderland.
  3. Title of the most recent Captain America movie. Captain America: The WINTER Soldier.
  4. American comedian, he co-starred in the show Mork and Mindy and in the movie It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.  He had 11 grammy nominations for best comedy album, and was the voice of Papa Smurf in the 2011 Smurfs movie.       Jonathan WINTERs.
  5. 2014 movie about a burglar who falls for an heiress as she dies in his arms. When he learns that he has the gift of reincarnation, he sets out to save her. WINTER’s Tale.

 

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge deals with advertising slogans—I give you the slogan, you tell me the product. 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. Things go better with ________.
  2. Plop, plop. Fizz, fizz. Oh what a relief it is.
  3. The quicker picker upper.
  4. Let your fingers do the walking.
  5. Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t.
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February 3, 2015

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 9, Issue 25 – February 3, 2015

 

Deep in the Heart of Winter

January is over and good riddance, though truth be told, it really wasn’t that bad. There wasn’t much snow and even though the temperature dropped to -18 a few times, it never stayed below zero very long. The days are getting longer, though they probably won’t be getting too much warmer until mid-March.

Yesterday (Monday) was the first real snow we’ve had. The weather report predicted a high of 6° and 3-5” of snow for Canton, but the temperature never got above zero that I saw, and there seemed to be more snow, especially with the wind causing lots of 2-3 foot drifts. We’re not supposed to get any significant snow for the next week, so that’s something anyway.

 

 

Florida Trip

I spent last week in Florida doing alumni visits. It’s a tough job, but I sacrificed myself to fly down to Orlando and meet up with Peggy Sue Lovato, driving to The Villages and then south of Tampa. The weather was reasonably nice the whole time—in the 50’s and 60’s.   One morning, as I was headed out from the hotel, the clerk said “be careful out there—it’s really cold”. Of course, it was actually 50°, which is cold for there.

I drove down to Syracuse on Sunday afternoon and caught the 7:35 PM flight on Jet Blue to Orlando. Jet Blue supposedly has more legroom than any other airline and that seems to be true—I felt much less crammed in than I do on other airlines. There are some seats with even more legroom than the standard ones, but you have to pay $40 extra to get them. One odd thing—when the plane took off, they wouldn’t let people move into any of the empty extra legroom seats, unless they paid the $40. My experience has been that other airlines are OK with “upgrading” at no cost if any extra legroom seats are available when the plane takes off.

The flight landed at 9:45 and the ever efficient Peggy Sue was there to pick me up and drive me to the first hotel, located at Orlando’s Airport. She had arranged for a few snacks to be available in my room in case I was hungry, but I mostly just wanted to get to sleep.

The next morning, we drove up to a place called The Villages, somewhat near Ocala. I’d never heard of The Villages before, but there are now around 100,000 people who live there, most of whom seem to be retirees. There are three villages currently built (and a fourth one going up as we speak) with a nice town square in the middle of each one. The town square has a couple of streets of stores (mostly restaurants and boutiques, as well as doctors offices with practices focused around the elderly) and a nice park in the middle, where they play concerts every night.

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Each village has lots of events for its residents, but you have to live there and pay a fee to participate. One interesting thing—a lot of folks who live there seem to have ditched their cars, and get around on golf carts. One problem is that some of the golf cart drivers seem to think they’re Mario Andretti, and forget just how flimsy a golf cart can be if there’s a crash.

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At the hotel, I saw someone was hauling a Jaguar XKE on a car trailer, so I asked Peggy Sue to take a picture of me with it, framing it so you couldn’t see the trailer. I’ve wanted to own a Jaguar XKE since I was 10 years old, and this is probably the closest I’ll ever get.

FullSizeRenderMy first alumni visit was with John and Rosella (Todd) Valentine. We were meeting at Ricciardi’s Italian Table restaurant, but we ran into a small problem—the street it was on wasn’t on the iPhone map—it was too new! Peggy Sue knew about where it was and by the time we got there, I had called up the Google Maps app on my phone, which apparently had been updated more recently, so we were able to find it without any real problem. The waiter mentioned that the restaurant was celebrating its one-year anniversary and gave each of us a little gift bag. When Peggy Sue said “happy anniversary”, the waiter said “For saying that, you win a glass of champagne each, and 10% off your dinner”.   Nice touch!

IMG_0202John and Rosella Valentine are really delightful people and I very much enjoyed talking to them. I asked if John gave Rosella a rose every Valentine’s day, and Rosella smiled and said “No—he gives me a dozen”. She said some people had even asked if they got married because of how well their names fit together. Rosella graduated from SUNY Canton in the class of 1968 with a degree in Business Administration. She enjoyed a 31-year teaching career, and was New York State’s first Teacher Ambassador for Occupational Education. She has served on our Canton College Foundation, and is a former president of our Alumni Association. She received Heuvelton Central School’s first Alumni Hall of Fame designation, and was a board member at the Remington Museum of Art. Currently, she is active in the Lake County (Florida) League of Women Voters. Her husband John taught music for many years, and we had a nice conversation about favorite operas, which tenors are underappreciated, and which is the hardest aria to sing (we both agreed it was “A mes amis” from Donizetti’s La Fille de Regiment). It was amazing about how similar our tastes were and I was kidding Rosella that she didn’t know her husband and I were clones of each other.

The next morning, we had breakfast at Denny’s with John and Lorraine Henderson. John graduated from ATI (as we were then known) in the class of 1952, with a degree in Drafting. He was responsible for an addition to the science building, expansion of athletic facilities, and the creation of a facilities master plan at Jefferson Community College, where he worked for many years. He’s a strong supporter of the college, and told me about a number of pleasant memories he had of the time he was here.

IMG_0222[2]John Henderson and Gordon Myers

That afternoon, there was a gathering at Franco’s Ristorante for alumni who live in The Villages, with about 25 people in attendance. It was nice meeting with many alumni I’d never met before (as well as the Valentines once again), and a good time was had by all. I gave a short talk about some of the new programs we’re planning at SUNY Canton, and the alumni were happy about the directions we are pursuing. As has happened so often, I got to hear stories about how SUNY Canton had made all the difference in setting up their careers.

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On Wednesday, we drove down to Sarasota, checked into the hotel, and then drove to Cape Coral to meet Bob and Margaret Rogers for lunch. Bob graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology in 1960 and was a member of one of the most successful basketball teams in Canton’s history, helping lead the Northmen (as we were then known) to a 34-6 overall record in his two years. He went on to play Division 1 basketball at New Mexico State, and went on to work in the elevator industry for 41 years. He recently made a generous scholarship gift to the college honoring Hall of Fame Coach Stanley Cohen that will provide future students the opportunity to achieve their educational goals.

When we got back to the hotel, I tried to call a friend of mine, Sandra Stone, who is the new Regional Chancellor (which is what they call presidents of branch campuses in Florida) for University of Southern Florida—Sarasota-Manatee. Sandra had been the president of Dalton State College in Georgia, so I knew her very well. Another Regional Chancellor is also a friend of mine—Han Reichgelt at USF-St. Petersburg, who was my Dean of Computing and Software Engineering at SPSU. Unfortunately, Sandra was tied up in new president meetings the next two days, so we weren’t able to get together. Maybe next time.

That evening, I wanted to try and find an Indian restaurant, and fortunately, there was one at the next shopping center over. We decided to walk there, because it wasn’t very far, but as it turned out, the sidewalk didn’t go the whole way (making us walk on the shoulder of a busy highway), and there was a fence that needed to be climbed over to get to the road without having to backtrack quite a ways. Still, we persevered, and the restaurant was quite good.

Thursday for lunch, we met with Bernie Regan at Gecko’s, a south-west themed restaurant. Bernie graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology in 1965, and went on to serve in the US Army. He then worked for UPS in their corporate domestic and international engineering groups. He established the Bernard C. Regan Family Endowed Scholarship, and built the Regan Flag Station at the front entrance to our campus. He is on SUNY Canton’s College Foundation Board of Directors, and serves on the executive committee. Among other things, we talked about how to get more people to consider making unrestricted gifts to the college—most people want to restrict them in one way or another, making them less flexible in what they can be used for. We also talked about that afternoon’s gathering in Sarasota, at a different Gecko’s. About a dozen alumni and supporters came to the gathering, which again was very pleasant.

IMG_0270That night, we drove back to Orlando and stayed at the airport Hyatt Regency (quite a place—you can take the elevator to the 3rd floor, which is where the gates to the airlines are). I was able to change onto an earlier flight going to NYC at 9:40, and change there for Syracuse. I got to Syracuse about 1:00, got the car, and was back in Canton by 4:00.

 

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia contest dealt with military ranks. Our winner was Terri Clemmo. Others getting all five right included Bill Prigge, Sean O’Brien, and Robin Gittings. Here are the correct answers:

  1. This Marvel super-hero carries a shield. Steve Rogers is his secret identity. Captain America.
  2. Steven Spielberg movie about the WWII D-Day invasion, and the search for the last surviving brother of four servicemen. Saving Private Ryan.
  3. Longest running American soap opera still in production, it premiered in 1963. As of January 23, 2015, it had 13,229 episodes. General Hospital.
  4. 1958 movie about a backwoods rube who is drafted into the army. It launched the careers of both Andy Griffith and Don Knotts. No Time for Sergeants.
  5. The character’s name for the Stalag 13 commandant in Hogan’s Heroes. Colonel Wilhelm Klink.

 

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

In honor of our first “big” snow this year, this week’s challenge deals with the word “winter”–every answer has that word in it. 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. They were held in Sochi (Russia) in 2014, and in Vancouver in 2010.
  2. Christmas song that begins “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?  In the lane, snow is glistening.”
  3. Title of the most recent Captain America movie.
  4. American comedian, he co-starred in the show Mork and Mindy and in the movie It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.  He had 11 grammy nominations for best comedy album, and was the voice of Papa Smurf in the 2011 Smurfs movie.
  5. 2014 movie about a burglar who falls for an heiress as she dies in his arms. When he learns that he has the gift of reincarnation, he sets out to save her.
Posted in Uncategorized