July 27, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 17

July 27, 2017

 

 

 

Summer Hurtles By

I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but we’ve had a very odd summer.  On the one hand, it has been extremely wet—the rivers are running high, some people’s basements have flooded, and we really haven’t had any sustained length of normal sunny summer weather.  Usually, it’s been a nice day followed by a cloudy day, followed by a downpour, then a day of rain tapering off, and repeat.  In other words, it feels a bit like April or October, only 10 degrees warmer.  The rain has been good for everything growing—I have lovely flowers of all different colors in the back yard, and the new tree we planted in honor of my mother is doing very well.

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Just this week, we had a pretty nice Saturday, a cloudy Sunday, and a weather report that said after rain on Monday it would be clear sailing until Friday.  We actually got almost the opposite of the weather report, with torrential rain on Monday, tapering rain on Tuesday, and spotty showers predicted until Friday, when its supposed to be nice all weekend.  We’ll see.

On the other hand, the summer has been going by really quickly.  June went by in an eye blink, and my birthday on July 15 shot by soon thereafter.  July is now nearly over, and everyone is talking about all the work that needs to be done before the students return at the end of August.  Sheesh!

I hope we get out of this weather pattern soon, or else this is going to be one snowy winter.

 

 

Summer Events

I took the week of July 4 off for vacation, and actually managed to stay away from work type things for almost all the week, save for an off-campus lunch with Doug Scheidt, our provost, to discuss a few things.  We didn’t really do too much during the week other than hang around the area and relax.  I barbequed two of the nights on our nice patio and we drove over to Brockville Ontario (a nice small city of about 25,000) one day to eat Indian food at the Tandoori Mint restaurant, and to go along the river and do some shopping there.   

On the 4th itself, we went up to Norwood for their annual 4th of July parade.  This is something I’ve gone to every year since I’ve been up here.  For a village of less than 2000 people, they put on a great parade—small town America at its best.

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There were several marching bands (including one from Canada with bagpipes), lots of fire engines, and multiple floats (not the super fancy kind you see on Thanksgiving, but rather ones that look like real people made them) on the theme of “Christmas in July”.  The people in the fire engines and on the floats threw candy to the crowd, and all the little children at the parade ran to scoop it all up.  A few people I knew were marching in the parade, and they stopped to say hi, shake hands, or get a hug.   Afterwards, we drove into Potsdam for some lunch, and that was about it, other than lazing around the rest of the day.

On Thursday, July 6 we got some terrible news—there had been a motor vehicle accident on Route 11 and four people had been killed.  Bad as that was, I found out I had connections to two of them.  One was the uncle of my son Mark’s best friend.  The other was Greg Williams, whose wife, Anne Williams, had recently retired after working at SUNY Canton for 38 years, most recently as Secretary to the Vice President for Advancement.

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Greg was well known and well-loved throughout the North Country area.  He had served in the Navy from 1977-1982, and was a member of the reserves from 1983-2000.  He worked as an engineer at SUNY Upstate Medical Center, SUNY Canton, the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, the Department of Corrections in Ogdensburg, and retired as Plant Superintendent at Riverview Correctional Facility.  He then worked part-time as an ambulance driver for R.B. Lawrence Ambulance in Canton.  He was a sports fan (especially of the Philadelphia Flyers, Ottawa Senators, and New York Giants), traveling across the state to watch his son play basketball in college, and supporting his daughter and son-in-law as they competed in truck pulling with “The Hulk”.  I had the honor of attending his funeral and burial on July 10, and both were filled to overflowing with family, friends, neighbors, and people who had benefitted from the many things Greg did for the community.  Rest in peace, Greg.

On Saturday July 15 (my birthday!), a team from SUNY Canton competed in the annual Dragon Boat Races, supporting Claxton-Hepburn Hospital in Ogdensburg.  The races were held at Waddington Beach, and some 18 teams competed.  If you’ve never seen a dragon boat, they’re long and narrow, holding a drummer up front, followed by ten pairs of rowers, and finally someone steering the tiller at the back.  Old man that I am, I was the drummer.

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We set up two tents with food (potluck!) and soft drinks, and several people came from the College to cheer us on and watch the fun.  The day started out cloudy with a wet mist, but soon cleared up and wound up being sunny and a bit hot.  How’d we do?  Well, to be honest, not too well in the first race, but we pulled it together and hit our stride, winning our second race by a little more than one second.  Everyone had a good time, and I’m going to see if our engineering technology students will have any interest in building us our own dragon boat, so we can get in some practice before next year’s race.

 

Meanwhile, Back on Campus

On Sunday, July 16, students began arriving back on campus for our summer Jump Start Program.  People began arriving early on Sunday morning, and several of us were there at Rushton Hall to help greet them and help unload the cars.  It was very nice meeting the students and their parents, and it was fun to see how differently people packed—some students came with a few large suitcases of clothing and other stuff, while others came with a full car of goods—TV sets, microwave ovens, coffee makers, gallons of laundry detergent, and so on.  I saw them again (and lots of additional students) at an orientation session on Monday in our Field House, where I got to tell them about what they can expect from us and what we expect from them in that partnership we call college.  The stands were packed, and it looks like the incoming class will be larger than last year’s, as well as being highly motivated to succeed.  I’m looking forward to a great year.

  

Engineering Summer Camp

On Friday, July 21, SUNY Canton’s Engineering Summer Camp held its RC Competition, featuring radio-controlled cars that the participants had built themselves.  It was a cool event, with the first round consisting of speed trials down a parking lot, around a cone, and back to the starting line.

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There were lots of wheelies which resulted in a few cars flipping upside down, a collision or two, high speeds, and lots of fun.

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Round two was a very tough obstacle course, where the car had to go around a circular track hemmed in by a rubber pipe, then up a stairway avoiding (or jumping over) wooden blocks, down a straightaway and around a cone, down a water hazard, and back to the starting line.  This round turned out to be a bit of a demolition derby, with a few cars losing vital parts as they tried to jump uphill or slam downhill.  The students and spectators all enjoyed it, and it goes to show that engineering not only teaches lots of skills, but can be a real blast as well! 

 

TRiO

On Monday, July 24, I attended an advisory board meeting for the College’s TRiO program.  TRiO is a federally-funded grant program that provides enhanced academic advising, tutoring, and counseling assistance to students who are first-generation college students, come from low-income families, or have documented disabilities.  Successful TRiO students can even earn scholarships.

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It’s a wonderful program, and a very successful one—graduation rates for students participating in TRiO are amazingly high—well above national average graduation rates!  We’re now looking for ways to extend similar kinds off support to all students to try to replicate this success.  The folks in our TRiO Office do a fantastic job mentoring and supporting our students, and it was wonderful meeting all of them and learning how the program works.

 

Challenge Coins

Something we’ve gotten some publicity for in recent days is giving out challenge coins to our students.  When I first arrived at SUNY Canton, a member of our Veterans Association gave me a challenge coin to encourage me as I assumed the presidency of the College.  I liked the idea so much that I decided to give them to students at the end of each fall semester who had completed enough credits and gotten a high enough GPA.  I asked the Veterans Association if they would mind if I did this, and they agreed, so I wound up buying several hundred first year coins from them (our mascot Roody on a white background on the front, our college seal on the back) to distribute.  We then ordered additional coins for the second year (green background), third year (blue background), and fourth year (gold background—it’s gorgeous!).  This coming year will be the first year that students can earn the fourth coin and complete their set, so we’ve also bought little display cases to give those who have all four to keep them in.

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It’s always nice when the students come by to get their coin after receiving an email from my office telling them they’ve won it.  They’re often quite excited, and I’ve seen lots of postings on Facebook and the like where they show their coin and tell their friends and family how it’s going to motivate and inspire them to keep moving forward and complete their studies.

 

  

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “W”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Rebecca Blackmon, Janel Smith, Jacob Yaeger, Lenore VanderZee, and Karen McAuliffe.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Others getting all five right included Jesse Clark-Stone, Anne Drake, Terri Clemmo, Patrick Hanss, Carmela Young, Ben Thompson, Joel Canino, Christina Lesyk, and DianeMarie Collins. Here are the correct answers:

  1. First president of the United States.  Washington.
  2. Superheroine whose secret identity is Diana Prince. Wonder Woman.
  3. The tennis championships are held here, in England, this July.  Wimbledon.
  4. If one of these grocery stores opened in St. Lawrence county, people would die of sheer happiness. Wegman’s (Whole Foods was also acceptable).
  5. Mozart’s first name.  Wolfgang.

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Almost at the end our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words starting with the letter “X”.  The first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a 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. Video game console brand made by Microsoft.
  2. Superman’s vision of this type is blocked by lead.
  3. The original Marvel comic team consisted of the Angel, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Marvel Girl. Wolverine and a whole bunch of others joined later.
  4. Duplicating machine company (two x’s in this one!)
  5. Drug used to treat anxiety disorders (two x’s in this one!)

Bonus Question:  The element under Krypton on the Periodic Table of the Elements.  Its name comes from the same root as in the word for “fear of strangers”.

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June 27, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 16–June 27, 2017

 

Yes, It’s Been a Long Time

Things have been busy with the end of semester activities and the Weekly Blab has been a casualty—two months without a new issue?  How have we all survived without it?

Summer is finally here and we seem to be alternating between nice warm sunny days and heavy rain, sometimes several times within the same day.  It has been an unusually wet season.  You may have read about flooding all along Lake Ontario, and the water level has been quite high along the St. Lawrence River as well.  Lots of people ask why the locks on the river haven’t been opened more, but that would cause flooding in Montreal and other downstream places.  We went down to the waterfront when we were in Ogdensburg on Saturday and the small pavilion that juts out into the river as a viewing area was closed due to the high water level.  There were also a small number of sandbags along the water’s edge.

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It was (on and off) a nice day—quite breezy though and the water was a bit choppy.  As a result, there were only a few boats out and about—much fewer than normal.

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Back at home, I bought some Cambridge Soundworks speakers for the TV an music system in our master bedroom.  I’ve always liked Cambridge Soundworks stuff and have a set of their speakers hooked to the super audio system in the Music Room downstairs.  Unfortunately, the company seems to have mostly gone under.  You can buy used speakers, of course, on eBay at this point, so I bought a set of five small speakers at a cheap price, figuring if they were no good I could always throw them out.  As it turns out, the speakers were fine but the subwoofer was of the passive variety, so I ordered a new Polk Audio subwoofer on Amazon.  It showed up last Wednesday, so I hauled it upstairs (it turned out to be much larger than I thought) and hooked it up.  The subwoofer makes a real difference with a small speaker set-up, and the sound is now quite good.  I liked it so much that I ordered a second one for the Living Room downstairs, where I have another passive subwoofer that I think was working when I was down in Georgia, but isn’t working up here (or at least I can’t figure out how to bring it back to life).

Speaking of stuff I bought online, I had picked up a volume of the Anchor Bible commentaries a few weeks ago, since I had gotten interested in the apocryphal book of Judith after listening to the Vivaldi opera on the same subject (Judith Triumphant).  The book turned out to be really interesting, with a good translation and lots of interesting footnotes, clarifying comments, as well as good discussions of the evidence for and against the historicity of the Judith story, and the strong use of irony within it.  All the Anchor Bible commentaries are like that.  They’re meant for the interested non-specialist, and are well written and well regarded by experts.  The series began being produced way back around 1965, and is only nearing completion now (though new volumes by new authors of books already released are being produced, so the series will likely go on forever).

Long story short, I decided to buy more of them.  Looking once again to eBay, I found a person down in Louisiana who wanted to sell a 50-volume collection of these commentaries, and we agreed at a reasonable price.  He shipped the books in two big boxes, the first of which showed up on Friday.  The box contained most of the volumes from the Old Testament, and I’ve started reading the one on Genesis, which is also very interesting.  The second box showed up yesterday, and Jill and I hauled them all upstairs, where they’re lined up in order, waiting to be read.

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The Starfish and the Spider

Speaking of new books, SUNY’s new chancellor, Kristina Johnson, who starts this September, sent me (and all the SUNY presidents) a copy of the book “The Starfish and the Spider” by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom.  It’s a rather short book, subtitled “The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations” that has been a best-seller on the business book list for quite some time and has garnered lots of good reviews.

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The basic idea here is that some organizations and companies are like spiders—they stand on multiple legs (the various divisions in the company) and are controlled from a central “head” (usually by a president and senior staff, located at the corporate office).  Such companies have certain advantages, such as centralized control, uniformity, and consistency, but also certain disadvantages: most notably, they are relatively easy to disrupt by targeting their leaders and central office.  An example of this was the original version of Napster.  The various record companies shut Napster down pretty quickly, by launching lawsuits against its leaders and corporate office, saying that it was engaged in illegal practices.

Other organizations and companies are like starfish—they are decentralized, and if one part of the organization is cut off, the rest of the organization can still function without it.  In fact, if you cut off a leg of a starfish, the starfish will grow a new one (and in some cases, the leg you cut off will grow a new starfish).  Such organizations are much harder to disrupt—just like the mythological hydra, if you cut off one head, 10 more will take its place.  When Napster was shut down, several other file-sharing enterprises replaced it, the most prominent today being e-Mule, which has no apparent president nor central office—the e-Mule software is downloaded on to people’s computers, which then operate as a diffuse set of servers for the files being shared.  Since there’s no president or central office, there is no one to sue to shut it down.  Of course, there are no profits either, since the software is free and you don’t have to pay to use it or to share the files.

The main point of the book seems to be that “spider” type organizations are unstable in the long run, especially now that the internet allows the easy disruption of many major market sectors.  They would be better served, the author argues, by becoming more starfish-like—not necessarily by going all the way (and having no president or central core), but adopting a hybrid model where the various “legs” would have much more autonomy, input, and decision-making authority, but would be held accountable for their results.  In the hybrid model, the “head” would still have the final say, but would normally function in a more open and advisory capacity—keeping the focus on major goals, helping define general principles, seeing if progress is being made, and holding the divisions accountable.

The major take-aways from the book are:

  • Large companies and organizations used to be dominant, but today, small decentralized ones are more flexible and better able to compete.
  • Adding members to a network make existing members more valuable [each new seller or buyer added to eBay adds value to the existing sellers and buyers—there are more things to buy and more people to buy them].
  • If you want creativity, you have to accept some chaos, since creative people don’t like to be controlled.
  • Knowledge is (and should be) distributed across the organization, not kept secret or concentrated at the top.
  • Give people in the organization an opportunity to contribute—they want to, and will often do it for free [Look at the number of people who write articles for Wikipedia or product reviews for Amazon, all for free].
  • Catalysts are important [They help things happen because they believe in them, but then step away and allow others to take charge].

It will be interesting to see what the Chancellor has in mind from this.

I’m also interested in your opinions—I hope everyone would agree that SUNY Canton is a hybrid system, where the various divisions have a lot of autonomy and there are some opportunities for people to contribute ideas and strategies, but are we starfish-like enough?  Are there some changes we need to make that would give people more buy-in, encourage creativity, and still let us set and reach critical goals?  Let me hear from you, and I’ll print the replies in a future Blab [I’ll withhold your name if you want me to].

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “V”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Lenore VanderZee, Debbie Flack, Patrick Hanss, Christina Lesyk, and Kirk Jones.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Common white-colored flavor of ice cream.  Vanilla.
  2. He was the bad guy in Star Wars, who turned out to be Luke’s father. Darth Vader.
  3. You better give your sweetie a gift on this February day. Valentine’s Day
  4. I’ll bet you think this Carly Simon song is about you. You’re So Vain.
  5. The kind of dinosaur causing trouble in the movie Jurassic Park.  Velociraptor.

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “W”.  The first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a 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. First president of the United States
  2. Superheroine whose secret identity is Diana Prince.
  3. The tennis championships are held here, in England, this July.
  4. If one of these grocery stores opened in St. Lawrence county, people would die of sheer happiness.
  5. Mozart’s first name.

 

 

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April 26, 2017

I’m Sick of Rain…

The weather has warmed up a bit and Spring is finally here.  Rain washed the last bits of snow away and the ground thawed, but there was so much rain that it led to some local flooding, including in my basement.  There were leaks where I’ve never seen water before, which led to some panicky moments when water was leaking out of the bottom of the box where the power lines come into my house—apparently, water had seeped into the conduit pipe.  I opened the box to make sure water didn’t accumulate, called the plumber (who said I had done the right thing), and had the folks from National Grid look at it the next day (who agreed I had done what could have been done).  Anyway, I have a masonry guy fixing the wall where the main leak was, and I’ll have him look at the other places too.  Ultimately, the water didn’t cause very much damage and the basement is dried out now.  There’s still rain on and off this week, but the ground is now capable of absorbing most of it, so barring a hurricane or something, I should be good for the rest of the season.  The weather was really nice Sunday, and our patio furniture is now outdoors again.  I’ll put the grill out this weekend, and may do a little cooking on it first chance I get.

 

 

New Chancellor

SUNY has just appointed Dr. Kristina Johnson as the new Chancellor, taking office in September.

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Dr. Johnson has significant prior experience as an educator and in higher education administration, as well as significant achievements in applied research and in the private sector.  She previously served as Undersecretary of Energy in the Obama administration, as provost at John Hopkins, as dean of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke, and as professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder.  She is a strong advocate for women in leadership and for STEM, both of which bode well for SUNY Canton.  I’m looking forward to meeting Chancellor Johnson—she sounds like a fascinating and accomplished person.

 

 

Scholarship Celebration

I was pleased to attend last week’s Scholarly Activities Celebration, which began on Monday evening with a talk by renowned bird expert and author David Sibley.  Prior to the talk, Mr. Sibley signed copies of his best-selling field guides (of which he has written several) for a never-ending line of admirers. The talk was very well attended and very interesting.  Afterwards, there was a very nice dinner and lots of interesting conversation.

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Poster Session

On Tuesday at noon, lots of students presented posters on their research projects.  I was one of the judges, but was only able to evaluate half of the posters before I had to leave for another meeting, so I think they used my “votes” as tie-breakers.  The students all did a very good job, were poised and had prepared well.  The top nine posters (by Samantha Schramp, Lakeesha Perera, Courtney Cotter and Jessen Swider, Sean Marciano, Jessica Fischer, Dalton Moore, Joseph Butera, Zach Baxter, and Poornima Nanayakkara) were selected as “Featured Student Poster Series” displays that will be installed around campus.  Sarrah Williams was selected for a prize for her Early Childhood Education tri-fold Counting Baby Ducks.

Later that evening, I attended a series of oral presentations.  These covered a wide range of topics including building a mechatronic skateboard, building a windmill in Peru, and sects in Islam.  The session I attended even included an original song composed for guitar, and a love poem told in chemistry terms (by Prof. Rajiv Narula, of course)!  The two oral presentation prize winners were Jessica Fischer and Rebecca Burns.

Congratulations to everyone who helped plan and participated in the Scholarly Activities Celebration!

 

 

Student Specialty Awards

I’m always happy to be part of the Student Specialty Award Ceremony, which was held last Wednesday evening.  Our Vice President for Student Affairs, Courtney Bish, organizes the event, which recognizes students not only for academic achievement, but also for having overcome adversity and challenges.  It’s always a wonderful ceremony, filled with emotion and excitement.

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The SUNY Canton EMS Squad won an award

It’s not only students who are honored—awards are also given to faculty and staff who support our students.  This year, well-deserved awards were given to our Director of Financial Aid, Kerrie Cooper (receiving the North Star Award), and to Melissa Lee (receiving the Dean of Students Specialty Award for Faculty).

 

 

Center for Diversities and Inclusion

Last Thursday featured the official opening of SUNY Canton’s Center for Diversities and Inclusion, located in the Miller Student Center.  The opening ceremony began with a prayer delivered by Tom Porter, spokesman and spiritual leader of the Mohawk community of Kanatsiohareke, reminding us that we are all people of the Earth and need to thank our “mother” for all that we have.  Also speaking were Carlos Medina (Vice Chancellor and the Chief Diversity Officer at the State University of New York), Louise McDonald Herne (Mama Bear, Condoled Bear Clan Matron of the Akwesasne Nation), SUNY Canton’s co-Chief Diversity Officers Bill Jones and Lashawanda Ingram, and me.

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L-R: Bill Jones, Tom Porter, Doug Scheidt (Provost), Carlos Medina, me, Louise McDonald Herne, Mike Dalton (Mayor of Canton), Courtney Bish (VP for Student Affairs), Lashawanda Ingram, Anne Sibley (VP for Advancement)

A special thank you to our State Senator Patty Ritchie, a great friend to SUNY Canton, who helped secure the funding to refurbish the space for the Center.  Senator Ritchie was represented at the opening by Jim Reagen.

 

 

SUNY Plenary

As if all that wasn’t enough, SUNY Canton also hosted the Plenary for all the SUNY University Faculty Senate on Friday and Saturday.  The Plenary was held in our beautiful field house, giving the 100 or so participants plenty of room to conduct their business.  While this was the 176th plenary meeting (three are currently held each year), it was the first time that it was ever held at SUNY Canton.

From all accounts, the Plenary went very well, and the senators enjoyed true SUNY Canton hospitality.  We gave each participant a small Amish gift basket filled with North Country treats, as well as a special SUNY Canton recipe book specially prepared for the occasion.  The recipe book was Assistant to the President Michaela Young’s idea, and she did a great job gathering the recipes and getting the book produced in relatively short order.  Event Coordinator Diane-Marie Collins did her usual great job handling the logistics for the Plenum.

It was nice to meet many of the senators, one of whom was a fellow chemist who (unbelievably) has the same research specialty as me back in the day—Boron Hydride chemistry!  I had the pleasure of presenting Chancellor Nancy Zimpher a thank-you gift from our campus, a beautiful vase made by a local craftsperson, which she quickly noted was colored beautiful SUNY blue.

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L-R:  Marc Cohen (SUNY Student President), me, Chancellor Nancy Zimpher

At the dinner on Friday evening (excellent as always, thanks to our superb College Association Food Service), I also had the pleasure of giving a gift to outgoing Faculty Senate President Peter Knuepfer, and Executive Assistant Carol Donato, who is retiring after this meeting.

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “U”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Carmela Young, Christina Lesyk, Marcia Sullivan-Marin, Tony Beane, and Patrick Hanss.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Here are the correct answers: 

  1. Mom always said you should wear clean ones of these, in case you got into an accident.  Underwear.
  2. In this Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, it grew up to be a swan. Ugly Duckling.
  3. Let a smile be your this, and you’ll get wet teeth.  Umbrella.
  4. New kind of taxi company where you can be the driver.  Uber.
  5. The Mormon Tabernacle is in this US state.  Utah.

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “V”.  The first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a 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. Common white-colored flavor of ice cream.
  2. He was the bad guy in Star Wars, who turned out to be Luke’s father.
  3. You better give your sweetie a gift on this February day.
  4. I’ll bet you think this Carly Simon song is about you.
  5. The kind of dinosaur causing trouble in the movie Jurassic Park.
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April 7, 2016

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 14–April 7, 2017

 

Into Each Life…

Back in 1944, the Ink Spots (featuring Bill Kenny and Ella Fitzgerald) sang the song “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”, and the weather up here has done its best to live up to it.  The snow is nearly gone (though there might be a flurry this weekend), and has been replaced by a lot of, well, you know.  We have a “hairline” crack in our wall in the basement and some water is seeping in.  I have a few towels on the floor arranged so that the water is wicked toward the sump pump, so the wet area is confined at the moment to a small area in the corner, but the area is expecting some flooding today from the rain, and hopefully things won’t get worse.  I have someone lined up to repair the wall when the rain stops and the ground has defrosted, so the problem will be gone in a few weeks (I hope!), but in the meanwhile, it’s time to keep the fingers crossed.  If you’ve never heard the song, just click on the link below. 

 

 

Fire Hose

I know I’m not the first one to mention this, but time is moving so quickly on campus that it’s like drinking from a fire-hose.  The term is just blasting by, and we’re already looking at commencement and recognition day.  Is time really moving faster, is it the constant media barrage about crazy things, or is this a function of being old?  Probably all three.

I’ve been off campus a lot lately, traveling around the state for several important reasons.  On Monday and Tuesday March 19-20, I was in Albany for legislative visits.  The main topic is the proposed Excelsior Scholarships, which have become a major topic of discussion.  As of this writing, there have been some significant disagreements between the Assembly, the Senate, and the Governor, and I talked to our legislative colleagues about how the proposal would affect our campus and SUNY in general.  Part of the problem is that a lot of the details aren’t known at this point, so there are lots of news reports and many rumors, many of which contradict each other.  The matter is supposedly close to resolution, and we may hear what the result is as soon as today.

I flew home on Tuesday night, but then turned around and on Wednesday morning, drove down to Auburn, NY, for a visit with Carl Haynes, the president of Tompkins Cortland Community College.   On Thursday morning, I met with Cayuga Community College’s president, Brian Durant, grabbed a quick lunch, and then drove to Canandaigua to meet with Finger Lakes Community College’s president, Robert Nye.  Finally, on Friday, I drove to Syracuse to meet with Onondaga Community College’s president, Casey Crabill.  All four meetings went very well, with us discussing some of the new degree programs we have recently had approved, and ways that we can work more closely together.

The following Tuesday (March 28), I was off again, this time to Watertown to meet Jefferson County Community College’s president Carol McCoy.  Again, we talked about ways JCC and Canton could work more closely together.  President McCoy will be retiring at the end of the year, after many years of accomplishment at JCC.

On the way home, I stopped in Watertown to meet with College Council member Joe Rich, who I had promised to get together with for quite some time.  We had a nice lunch together, whereupon I found out that pretty much everyone in Watertown knows him, because he has been so active for so long in the community.  After lunch, we visited Channel 7 in Watertown, where he had worked for many years, and I had a chance to tour their extensive facilities and meet with several of their excellent directors, anchors, news, and sportscasters.  We also went to the Disabled Persons Action Organization’s Drop in Center.  The DPAO is a not-for-profit organiztion that Joe Rich started in 1974, offering services to developmentally disabled children, adults, and their families; and now employing more than 150 full- and part-time employees serving Jefferson and Lewis counties.

On Thursday March 30, I was off again, this time to SUNY Farmingdale (a Long Island college that is part of our Colleges of Technology sector in SUNY), for the inauguration of their new president, John Nader.  Farmingdale is not easy to get to from Canton.  I had to take the 7:30 AM flight from Ogdensburg to Albany, take a taxi from the airport to the Amtrak station, take a train from there to Penn Station in New York City, and finally take the Long Island Railroad from there to Farmingdale, finally arriving at about 3:30 PM.  There was a breakfast at 8:00 AM the next morning, and the robing started at 10.  The ceremony began at 11, and was very nice, and included a small band and a chorus.  Candace Vancko, formerly president of SUNY Delhi when he was the provost gave a humorous background history of the new president, and then it was time for John to get his official medallion of office and to give his inaugural address, which was quite good.

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President John Nader (left) and SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall (right)

The reception afterwards was very good too, but I had to rush off to do the trip back to Canton in reverse, staying in Albany overnight.  I was afraid my morning flight was going to be cancelled because 8 inches of heavy snow was predicted, but the bad weather never came, and there was no problem.  By a nice coincidence, while getting my boarding pass for the morning flight, the family behind me had come up from New York City and was also going to Canton.  I asked what they were going there for, and it turned out it was for SUNY Canton’s Accepted Students Day program!  They were very surprised when I told them I was the president, and we had a chance to talk while waiting for the flight, and after landing, I gave them a ride to campus and introduced them to our Admissions folks.

  

Chancellor’s Award Winning Students

My only trip this week was yesterday, down to Albany for the day for the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence ceremony.  The ceremony is always quite nice, as it celebrates all kinds of student accomplishment across the SUNY system.  SUNY Canton had two winners this year, who I happened to run into just as I walked into the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, where the ceremony was held—quite a coincidence since we had traveled separately!

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Our first winner is Poornima Rathika Balasubramaniam Nanayakkara, who is a Sri Lankan student majoring in Health and Fitness Promotion.  Poornima works as a tutor in several subjects, as a health advocate for our Davis Halth Center, and as an RA.  In Fall 2016, she was awarded the “Break a Leg Award”, recognizing her as a devoted RA who was able to accomplish all her tasks while overcoming a severe injury, and was still needing to use a crutch during the ceremony.  Poornima complete two research papers in Fall 2016 and is completing a third one for our upcoming honors presentation.

Our second winner is Sarah Nuss, a Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology major from Wyantskill, NY.  Sara is vice president of our American Society of Civil Engineering student chapter, a member of Tau Alpha Pi National Honor Society (which recognizes academic achievement in Engineering Technology), and an active member of six campus organizations including the ASCE Steel Bridge Team, which regularly competes at the national level. 

A total of only 256 students across all of SUNY won this award.  Congratulations to Sarah and Poornima on their fine accomplishments!

 

And, Speaking of Congratulations…

SUNY Canton’s own Student Activities Coordinator Kashonda M. Watson was named Campus Event Planner of the Year from Power Performers, a celebrity entertainment resource company. Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students Courtney B. Bish and Director of Student Activities Priscilla Leggette recognized Kashonda on March 22 at a division meeting.

There are a lot of great activities taking place in SUNY Canton’s School of Business and Liberal Arts.  On Monday April 24, the Financial Literacy Center will be presenting a College Planning Seminar at 6:30 PM in the Campus Center, Room 212.

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They are also hosting the annual Mock Trial Tournament, which runs until tomorrow on campus, and has its final trial at 5:30 PM at the St. Lawrence County Court House.  Students in the tournament argue both sides in a fictitious civil trial.  The program is co-sponsored by the New York State Bar Association, the New York Bar Foundation, and the Law, Youth, and Citizenship Program. Thanks to all who are involved with these activities!

mock-trials

A big thank you to Edward Bedell (’69) who spoke as part of our Excellence in Leadership Program on March 29.  Ed is the owner and president of COP Construction, a leading company that specializes in bridges, dams, concrete structures, and sanitary sewer and storm drain utilities and treatment plants.  The company has operations in Montana, Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho, and employs more than 200 full-time personnel.  His presentation was very interesting, focusing on his own pathway to executive leadership.  The series is sponsored by Corning, with logistics handled by SUNY Canton’s Office of Advancement. 

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Edward Bedell (’69)

I was on the road that day, but I hear that SUNY Canton’s 7th Annual Law Enforcement Day, focusing on “Investigative Perceptions”, held on March 27, went very well.  The event featured new crime scene investigation methodology, a session on Victim-Centered Death Investigations presented by noted authority Dr. Laura Pettler, and the presentation of the documentary “Officer Involved”, with the director, Patrick Shaver, providing the introduction and leading a discussion afterwards.  Thanks to everyone who helped plan and offer the events!

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Dr. Laura Pettler

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “T”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Geoffrey VanderWoude, Jennifer Church, Lenore VanderZee, Tony Beane, and Patrick Hanss.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Others getting all five right included Kathleen Mahoney, Christina Lesyk, and Ronald Tavernier.  Here are the correct answers: 

  1. In a children’s game, what you say before “You’re It”.  Tag.
  2. Art that you wear on your skin.  Tattoo.
  3. Book that answers the question, “What’s another word for that?”  Thesaurus.
  4. Larval stage for a frog or a toad.  Tadpole.
  5. Beautiful mausoleum in Agra, India. It’s one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  Taj Mahal.

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “U”.  The first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a 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. Mom always said you should wear clean ones of these, in case you got into an accident.
  2. In this Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, it grew up to be a swan.
  3. Let a smile be your this, and you’ll get wet teeth.
  4. New kind of taxi company where you can be the driver.
  5. The Mormon Tabernacle is in this US state.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

March 14, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 13–March 14, 2017

 

So Much For Spring

Sadly, as everyone suspected, winter was not done with us yet.  As I’m typing this, New York is in the midst of a blizzard, and a state of emergency has been declared for most of the State.  The North Country (at least for now) is an exception—while non-emergency employees everywhere else in the state are allowed to stay home without using leave, the six northernmost counties are not included in this and are required to go to work, or use leave time if they stay home.  On the plus side, this is also Spring Break, so there are essentially no students and faculty affected.  At the moment, it is snowing very lightly, but things are supposed to get heavier this afternoon. 

Due to the weather, Doug Scheidt (Provost) and I left Washington DC a day early.  We had been at the annual ACE Conference, but as the blizzard was headed north, airlines started calling attendees to try to get them out before it hit so that they wouldn’t be stuck there.  The ever-intrepid Michaela managed to get us seats on a flight on Monday afternoon, so we flew from DC to Toronto without any incident, other than National Airport being quite crowded with people who had the same idea.  When we landed in Toronto, the visibility was dropping and there was light snow.  We got into the terminal without any delays, but soon thereafter, they started keeping jets in the air waiting for the visibility to improve and the wind to die down.  Our connecting flight to Ottawa was delayed by a little over an hour, but once it took off, all was fine and the weather in Ottawa was clear and dry.  Followers of the BLAB will already be aware that Ottawa is the nearest big city to Canton, so we often fly out of its airport, which is only about an hour and a quarter away.  The drive back to Canton was fine—no snow on the road—so we timed things just about perfectly.

The prediction is for anything between six inches and 24 inches of snow from today to tomorrow afternoon.  My guess is that we’ll be on the low side of that total, but you never know.

 

 

Catching Up

It’s been a busy few weeks, so here’s a brief recap of what’s been happening.

SUNY Canton hosted another of our Excellence in Leadership Series, with Mark Bondoni (’82) being the speaker.  Mark has worked at Ford for 32 years in a series of important positions , including Luxury Car Manager (for the Lincoln division), Parts and Service Operations Manager (in Puerto Rico!), Ford NASCAR Motorsports Manager, Regional Manager for the Customer Service Division, Global Warranty Manager, Fleet National Service Manager, and his current position as Global Remanufacturing and Core Supply Manager (in Dearborn, MI).  That’s a lot of leadership!  Mark has also served on the advisory board of our Automotive Technology program for the past 18 years.  The talk was well attended and very interesting, tying in with Engineers Week on campus.

There were several other great events held on campus for Engineers Week (February 27-March 3).  On the 28th, there was an all-day Engineering Career Fair, sponsored by the Career Services Office.  I had a chance to pay a visit, and it was great to see the many interested students there, as well as representatives from more than 30 companies, many of whom were our own alumni.  Later that evening, our 3rd annual Engineering Open House was held for the community, featuring lots of demonstrations and hands-on opportunities for visitors, showcasing our engineering facilities.  We had a bit more than 200 attendees ranging from K-12 as well as their families, with the highlight being a zipline race competition where participants could win prizes (3rd to 8th grade division) and scholarships (9th to 12th grade division).  Each pair of students had 20 minutes to build a zipline racer from wooden blocks, pipe cleaners, and a balloon.  Everyone had a good time, and you can read more about it here.  A big thanks to everyone who participated in and planned these events.

I wasn’t able to attend the Engineering Open House because SUNY Canton was also hosting the annual Associated Colleges Presidents and Spouses Dinner at the same time.  It was nice to see my colleagues from Clarkson University, St. Lawrence University, and Paul Smith’s College (Kristin Esterberg from SUNY Potsdam was away and couldn’t make it), and we had some interesting conversations on the changing landscape for higher education in New York.  It’s always a challenge to try to find a day that we can all get together, and this was the only evening that we could even get four out of the five of us in the same place!  The dinner, catered by our SUNY Canton food service, was excellent as always.

On March 1, I hosted the Agriculture Subcommittee of the St. Lawrence County Economic Development Planning Group.  The meeting was from 5:00-6:30, and we had a very interesting conversation about year-round greenhouses and looking into interacting with the Canadian market.  Afterwards, I dashed home to pick up Jill, came back to campus, and popped in to the Out in the Country Student Activities event.  There was a very good country band playing there, as well as lots of booths with food and fun events.  We were only able to stay for a few minutes, because we were then off to a rather important basketball game.  SUNY Canton’s men’s basketball team won the first ever ACAA conference championship, and were then invited to participate in the ECAC Championship, for which we hosted the first round.  It was an exciting game.  SUNY Canton got off to a slow start, being behind as much as 15 points, but caught up before the half and took a small lead.  The second half was much tighter, with our lead growing as much as 12 points and shrinking to a tie shortly before the close.  Our players gritted it out and ultimately won, 90-86, defeating Pine Manor.  Unfortunately, we lost the next round to Penn State Behrend in another close one, by a score of 68-65.  Congratulations to our team for an outstanding season.  Congratulations also to our Women’s Ice Hockey team for their outstanding season, making it into the league quarterfinals!

Another Engineers Week event was held on March 2nd, namely an Industry Dinner for representatives of local engineering firms, to come visit and learn about SUNY Canton and to see our facilities.  The dinner was great, and there were lots of attendees including several student guides from the engineering technology programs.  A very nice video was prepared showcasing our facilities in Neveldine Hall, which you can see here:

 

The next week began on Monday with a quick hop to Albany for some legislative visitsI did another legislative visit on Tuesday morning, followed by my evaluation by SUNY (which went well) on Tuesday afternoon.  The main message was we’re doing the right things at the College, and we need to move forward aggressively to do them and to let the world know about them.  Thank you to everyone who participated in the 360° feedback.  I flew back to Canton that evening.

Whenever you’re away from campus, the meetings accumulate for when you get back, and that’s what Wednesday-Friday of last week were like.  On Thursday night, I also attended the Open House for the new St. Lawrence Health System Medical Campus that just opened in Canton—it’s a very impressive facility, and promises much improved local care in a number of vital areas.  On Friday, I had my most fun event:  I guest-lectured in Kirk Jones’ Comic Books as Literature class, giving a history of comic books and bringing in a bunch of items from my own collection, including a copy of Batman #25 (from back in the 1940’s), some original art used in making comics, and some comics from other countries.  The class was a lot of fun, and hopefully the students enjoyed it too.

On Saturday, March 11th, Doug and I flew to D.C. for the abovementioned ACE Conference, flying out of Ottawa.  The flight down was fine, and the conference had some interesting moments that I’ll be talking about on campus in the next few weeks.  The main topics of discussion centered on several recent freedom of speech issues that have arisen on campuses (such as the well-publicized protests at Berkeley and Middlebury), topics related to diversity, and public perception of higher education (hint: a lot of it isn’t good and is based on false information).

And that brings us back to the present!

 

Mascot Madness

It’s time for SUNY Mascot Madness once again.  Last year, our own Roody Roo did very well, getting into the quarter finals before losing out to Stony Brook’s Wolfie.  This year we’re determined to win it all.  Roody has been training hard for the competition, and you can see his regimen in the video below: 

You can vote for Roody in Round 1, where his opponent is SUNY Broome’s Stinger the Hornet.  You can read more about the mascots in our Region 2 competition here.  Voting starts today, and you can vote every 12 hours from every email account you have at this url: http://blog.suny.edu/mascot-madness-2017/.  So vote for Roody—the world’s greatest Kangaroo!

 

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “S”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Patrick Hanss, Megan Warren, Jennifer Church, Alice Reed, and Martha Cole.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Others getting all five right included Marcia Sullivan-Marin, Terri Clemmo, Tony Beane, Christina Lesyk, and Kevin Elliott.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Children’s playground ride where one side goes up as the other goes down. See-saw.
  2. Seattle football team.  Seahawks.
  3. Neutral country in central Europe, known for its mountains.  Switzerland.
  4. You pay into it each paycheck so you’ll have money when you retire. Social Security.
  5. The General Sherman, the tallest tree in the world, is one of these.  Sequoia.

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “T”.  The first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a 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. In a children’s game, what you say before “You’re It”.
  2. Art that you wear on your skin.
  3. Book that answers the question, “What’s another word for that?”
  4. Larval stage for a frog or a toad.
  5. Beautiful mausoleum in Agra, India. It’s one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

February 24, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 12–February 24, 2017

 

Happening ’17

Maybe it’s the thaw in the weather, and maybe it’s all the good stuff going on here on campus.  I’m feeling quite optimistic about things up here at SUNY Canton and in the North Country.

In the words of Paul Revere and the Raiders on their classic rock album Happening ’68,

People, something’s happening
Something in the air
Listen to the sound now
Come from everywhere.

You know you’ve got to hurry
You don’t want to be late
But people don’t you worry
What’s happenin’ is great.

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As you will see below, two of our new degree proposals have been approved by State Ed, and will be offered beginning this Fall.  We’ve gotten good publicity and a lot of good comments about them, and I’m confident that they will be well received and attract new students SUNY Canton, thanks to our crack admissions team.

We’re seeing strong legislative support for what we’re doing, and I’m hearing lots of folks in the economic development sector telling me how critical SUNY Canton is to the success of our region, and how we’re moving in the right directions.  Our alumni are increasingly engaged, and they like what they’re hearing.

Our students are doing well, and are in high demand when they graduate.  Our Student Government is active, and a number of initiatives that they wanted to propose tie in perfectly with ideas we have had and are working to implement.  Several will be going to DC next month to advocate for higher education in general, and student empowerment in particular.  Our student athletes have done well, beating the local competition and some teams we’ve never beaten before by solid margins.

Every time I turn around, I hear about another faculty member who has won an award, is working on a book or has published a paper, or is doing something innovative in the classroom to support our students.  Our new Center for Diversities and Inclusion is planning a strong set of programs, and has started a weekly “Soup and Solidarity” series, that will feature free soup, music, and good conversations on a variety of topics.

There are lots of cool events coming up soon (including the annual Snow Ball this weekend) in the Student Life area, thanks to the hard work of our colleagues in those areas.  The campus has never looked better, and there are plans that will soon be implemented to take us to the next level with Dana  and Chaney Halls.

There’s still a lot to do to bring all of the above to fruition.  Like all good kangaroos, we need to keep a hop ahead and keep moving forward.  But like I said before, things are happening, and SUNY Canton just keeps getting better and better.

 

New Degrees!

We’ve gotten final approval lately about new degrees that we will be offering at SUNY Canton.  Getting a new degree approved is a long process–it can take more than a year to write the proposal up, get it approved on campus, send it to SUNY, respond to other colleges that may comment on it (or not want you to offer it), get approval from SUNY, and get approval from the NY State Department of Education.  It can get quite complicated, but we have some good news to announce.

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Our first new degree is in Game Design and Development.  This is a 4-year Bachelor of Science degree that will focus on the design and production of modern video games.  Students enrolling in the program will learn how to design and program these games on multiple computer platforms and for different kinds of devices, and will get lots of hands-on experience creating video games for commercial, educational, and medical audiences.  Video games are a multi-billion dollar industry, and a major hub of video game manufacture is nearby in Montreal.  The program will be offered starting this coming fall semester.

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The second degree approved is in Agribusiness.  This is a 4-year Bachelor of Business Administration degree that will focus on the management side of modern farming.  As many of you may know, SUNY Canton began its history way back in 1906 as a College of Agriculture.  Many of our most successful graduates in St. Lawrence County and across the state began their careers in the college’s agriculture programs.  Over the years, most of these programs were phased out, so offering this program is a way for us to tie in to our original roots.  Students in this program will learn principles of accounting, finance, marketing, strategy, operations, human resources, economics, ethics, and communications, and learn to apply them to agriculture.  We will also be partnering with local agricultural enterprises to provide internship opportunities for students.  The Agribusiness program will be offered starting this coming fall semester.

Several other degrees have been approved by SUNY, and are awaiting final approval from State Ed.  The most recent of these is a B.S. in Technological Communication.  The A.S. and A.A.S. in Business and the A.A. and A.S. in General Studies are awaiting approval from State Ed. to be certified as online degrees.

A big thanks to all the faculty who have worked hard to develop these degree proposals and to create the new courses that will be part of them.

 

New Athletic Conference!

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I’m happy to report that SUNY Canton is now part of an athletic conference, namely the American Collegiate Athletic Association.  We just heard this past Tuesday that the ACAA has been given conference membership in Division III of the NCAA.  SUNY Alfred is also a member of this conference.   This conference is a good step forward for our athletic programs, and will provide our students an opportunity for post-season play.

 

Top 100 in Online Programs Again!

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SUNY Canton’s online programs are in the top 100 nationally, for the third time, according to US News and World Report.  Only three SUNY schools have this distinction!

 

Top in Pet-Friendliness Again!

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I’m also happy to report that SUNY Canton was named as one of the 25 most pet-friendly colleges in the country, coming in at #13, and was 1st in New York, and the only SUNY on the list.

 

Visit to SUNY

While some people got chocolates and flowers on Valentine’s Day,  SUNY Canton got to celebrate with a visit to Albany for our Campus Visit, which was an opportunity for us to speak with folks at the systems office about how we’re doing on campus relative to our performance improvement plan; what our current vision is for the College; what we think the College could be in 2025 if money weren’t an issue; what we think our strengths,  weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are; and to propose some areas that we’d like some funding from SUNY for.  A group of 11 of us participated in preparing our responses, including me, the vice presidents, our student government president Nikki Zeitzman, our associate provost, our co-chief diversity officers, our Faculty Assembly moderator (who got sick and wasn’t able to attend the meeting), and our UUP local union president.

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We left Canton at about 7 AM for the drive down to Albany and fortunately the weather cooperated, so we had a pleasant ride.  We got there just in time for a quick lunch, and then went over to SUNY for our 1 PM meeting.

By all accounts the meeting went well, and I think our colleagues at SUNY now have a stronger understanding of the many great things going on at SUNY Canton today, and the even greater things we are planning and working toward for the future.  Hopefully, they’ll invite us to submit  proposals for funding on some of the ideas we presented.

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “R”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Megan Warren, Patrick Hanss, Carmela Young, Christina Lesyk, and Douglas Scheidt.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Others getting all five right included Kevin Elliott and Bruce Hanson.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. You can rent a dvd from this in front of Price Chopper, Walmart, and many other places.  Redbox.
  2. Fairy tale female with very long hair that was locked up in a tower.  Rapunzel.
  3. Best known boxer from Philadelphia, better known as Sylvester Stallone.  Rocky.
  4. City that’s home to Eastman Kodak.  Rochester, NY.
  5. Small streaming TV and media player—it’s either a separate box or may be part of a smart TV.  Roku.

 

  

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “S”.  The first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a 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. Children’s playground ride where one side goes up as the other goes down.
  2. Seattle football team.
  3. Neutral country in central Europe, known for its mountains.
  4. You pay into it each paycheck so you’ll have money when you retire.
  5. The General Sherman, the tallest tree in the world, is one of these.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

February 10, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 11–February 10, 2017

 

This Just In

Our new degree programs in Game Design and Development (B.S.) and Agribusiness (B.B.A.) have now been fully approved!  More on this next issue.

 

Welcome Back

We’re well into the Spring Semester, though it really doesn’t look a lot like spring.  There’s a little bit of snow on the ground and it has gotten a bit cold at times, but nothing too serious.  All in all, it has been a mild winter up until now.  Hopefully, February and March won’t go the other way, though some snow is predicted for the weekend.

As anyone who lives up here knows, the weather can vary tremendously in just a few miles.  I just returned from an alumni visit trip in Florida (more on that below) and when I landed in Syracuse, I was surprised to see that there was no snow whatsoever on the ground.  When I drove onto I-81, after a few miles I saw an electronic warning sign saying “heavy snow between exits 34 and 40.”  For those who don’t know, these exits correspond to the Tug Hill region between Parish and Adams NY, where the wind comes whipping in from Lake Ontario, often bringing lake effect snow with it.  Sure enough, a mile after exit 34, the weather instantaneously changed from clear to very fine (but heavy) snow, and it got worse quickly.  At first the road stayed clear, but soon it was covered and the plows hadn’t come out yet.  I had to slow down to 35 mph since it was a bit slippery.  The snow was sometimes lighter for a time but it always came back to heavy, until about one mile from exit 40 where it stopped as suddenly as it started.  I stopped in Watertown for dinner at the new Indian restaurant there, and had an easy ride up to Canton thereafter.

 

Happy Birthday!

It’s birthday time in the Szafran household.  My father Daniel just turned 90 on February 8, and son Mark turned 33 on February 9.  True story:  When wife Jill was pregnant with Mark, my father was hoping that he’d be born on February 8 so that they could celebrate their birthdays together.  When February 8 came, Jill hadn’t gone into labor, so I called my father and told him that it looked like he wasn’t going to get his wish.  Just as we were preparing to go to bed, Jill came over to me and said “It’s time”, and sure enough, she delivered Mark at about 3:00 AM on February 9.  When I told my father he had just missed having his wish granted, he said “What are you talking about?  I was born in Poland—there’s a 7 hour time difference between here and there, so you made it!”  So, for many years, they indeed always celebrated their birthdays together.

 

Long Trip

The trip I got back from was a long one, starting on January 17th and running to the 29th.  Leg one had me driving from Canton down to Syracuse to catch a flight there on American Airlines to go to Nashville for the NCAA National Convention.  SUNY Canton became a full member of NCAA Division III this past year.

The drive down was mostly fine, though it rained as I got closer to Syracuse.  The temperature had dropped to 29°, but it never turned to snow.  The flight took off on time for Chicago, where I was changing planes, and was uneventful.  My connecting flight was only three gates away, so that was very easy, and we got on the Nashville flight right on time.  After taxiing out from the gate, we sat there for about 45 minutes (which the pilot initially said was due to heavy traffic), and were then told there was a mechanical problem—fuel wasn’t being pumped to one side of the plane’s tanks.  The plane returned to the gate, we sat there a bit longer while a repair crew looked things over, and were then taken off the plane.  After about an hour or so, they announced that we would be going onto another plane in a short while, and after about 45 minutes, we did.  I arrived in Nashville about 2.5 hours late, and by the time I took the bus to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, all the restaurants were closed so I had to content myself with a pretty dismal pre-packaged sub.

For those who have never been there, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel is a pretty impressive place—they say it’s the biggest hotel in the US that doesn’t have a casino associated with it.  After checking in, I had a rather long walk from one area of the hotel complex to where my room was, involving a couple of escalators, a sky bridge, and two elevators before I got there.  The hotel reminded me of San Antonio’s Riverwalk—there are several “rivers” inside (you can even take a boat ride on one of them) with restaurants alongside, and the skywalk was over a “jungle” area with lots of exotic plants.  My room was quite nice, with a TV that also provided internet access, so I connected to YouTube and watched a few episodes of What’s My Line from 1953 while eating my sub.

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The next day I registered for the conference, ran into several people I know, and the first big event was the NCAA Honors Celebration.  The Honors Celebration is really something, showcasing students who have overcome great adversity or challenge to excel both scholastically and athletically.  There were also others who were chosen on the 25th anniversary of their graduation.  The Theodore Roosevelt Award for Astounding Accomplishment went to Beth Brooke-Marciniak, who was a great basketball player who went on to become a business leader at Ernst and Young and is now their Global Vice Chair of Public Policy, serves on the Women’s Advisory Board of the World Economic Forum, is the co-chair of the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership, and was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the world’s 100 most powerful women.

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Other sessions during the week focused on the Fair Labor Standards Act, social justice in in college sports, and the usual business meetings.  Our own Courtney Bish (VP for Student Affairs) was selected to attend the Athletics Direct Reports Institute at the NCAA Conference, one of only 43 selected nationwide from Division III.

On Saturday, I got to look around the area a little bit, including a walk down to the Grand Ole Opry.  Unfortunately, they were doing renovations there and the concerts were downtown, but it was still a cool place to see.

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I left Nashville on Sunday morning, taking an early United Airlines flight to Washington DC.  By an odd coincidence, the person sitting next to me on the flight was Skip Sullivan, president of Alfred State College, and a friend from back in Georgia days.  My connection time in Washington was supposed to be an hour, but after getting on the plane to Albany, we had to get off because of mechanical problems.  This time the delay was five hours before they could get us on another plane.  The airport was filled with women who had participated in the National Women’s March the previous day and were returning home.  It was interesting to hear their stories about the March, and how excited and energized they were to get more politically involved.  The flight finally took off at about 5:30 PM, and was otherwise uneventful.  I got into Albany, checked into my hotel, and went down to Jack’s Oyster House for a great seafood meal.  While there, I got a news announcement on my phone—all domestic flights on United had been cancelled due to a computer malfunction, so I had barely made it onto the flight on time.

On Monday morning, I went over to the Egg in Albany to attend a breakfast honoring SUNY’s Chancellor, Nancy Zimpher.  Chancellor Zimpher will be leaving her position at the end of the academic year, so this was our chance to say “thanks” for everything she has done and to wish her well in the future.  The breakfast was followed by the Chancellor’s annual State of the University Address, where she talked about two new initiatives.  The first, the SUNY Impact Foundation, will be created to raise funds to support degree completion and student success on all campuses.  The second was the creation of the SUNY Center for Systems Change, which will focus on continuous improvement within the system.  There were several pictures of SUNY Canton in her presentation, thanks to the good efforts of our PR folks.

Following the Address, I joined Lenore VanderZee (Executive Director for University Relations) to speak with our own State Senator Patty Ritchie.  Senator Ritchie is a strong supporter of SUNY Canton, and is especially interested in our efforts in agriculture, nursing, and economic development.  She noted: “Centers of learning—like SUNY Canton—are key to helping people have bright futures, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work together to improve higher ed opportunities for students.”

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We then met with Deborah Glick, the Chair of the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee.  Assemblymember Glick is a strong supporter of SUNY, and of higher education in general.  We discussed some of the new initiatives we are taking at the College, as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new Excelsior Scholarship initiative.  Our third meeting was with members of State Senator Kenneth LaValle’s staff on the same issues, and they were strongly supportive.

That evening, we attended the Business Council’s Legislator’s Reception, where we met several colleagues from other SUNY campuses and several business leaders, including one I found out was our own alumnus—Tom Landry (no, not the football player, though he’s met him!), who works at blueRock Solar.

On Tuesday morning, I met with our local Assemblywoman, Addie Jenne.  I’ve met with her many times, both at formal meetings and at various events around the region, and I always enjoy hearing her viewpoints.  She is also a strong supporter of the College and is interested in several of our new initiatives.  From there, it was down to SUNY Central to meet with Gloria Lopez, who is the System – wide Affirmative Action Officer in SUNY’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and a Fulbright scholar.  We chatted a bit about world music, and then went to lunch at LaZeez (an Indian restaurant) where we talked about some of the initiatives we are planning that will increase diversity on our campus.  Gloria has lots of interesting ideas that I look forward to sharing with our Executive Diversity Council.

After lunch, I checked out of the hotel and went to the airport for the third leg of my trip—visiting alumni in Florida.  The flight was a non-stop on Jet Blue, which is a pretty nice airline with above average legroom.  There was no one in the middle seat (which is unusual these days), so I was able to stretch out a bit.  They also have free wi-fi on the flight, and also had those little TV screens that gave access to three movies and some 60 TV channels.  Unfortunately, the wi-fi was wonky and never really worked, and the TV conked out from time to time.  Still, the flight was fine and I arrived in Orlando on time.  The moment I walked out of the terminal, Peggy Sue Levato from our Advancement Office was there, having correctly guessed which door I’d emerge from.  We went to the Courtyard Marriott, which was a nice enough hotel, but it had a really strange room numbering scheme—there were two wings on the second floor, but they don’t connect anywhere.  I made the mistake of taking the elevator to the second floor on the wrong side, and the room numbers ended at a number lower than the number on my key.  I called the office to tell them I had the wrong room number, but they laughed and told me I had to go back to the first floor, go around to the other side of the hotel, and go up to the second floor there.

On Wednesday we got together with Bob Raymo, his wife Kathy, and some friends of theirs for a very nice fish dinner.  Bob was the Director of Development for 10 years at SUNY Canton and is a Foundation Board member.  On Thursday, we drove to New Smyrna Beach and met with Carol Roche for lunch.  She has a lovely home painted in pastel colors, with an office area that opens out to an indoor porch and then an enclosed pool area.  I loved the layout of the place, and may try to do the same enclosure thing on our patio at home.  Carol is an accountant who has a thriving business in Florida.  We then checked into the Best Western, which is right on the beach.  My room had a very nice beach view and even had a small balcony.

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I joined up with Peggy Sue and we went to Norwood’s for an alumni gathering.  The gathering was well attended, and I was very happy to see former SUNY Canton President Joe Kennedy and his wife Dine there, as well as foundation board members Gil White, Bob Raymo, and Chris Gray.  I gave a short presentation updating everyone about what’s going on at the College, and they all were very pleased at our progress on multiple fronts.

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On Thursday, we drove down to the Villages, a new and very large city that has been established near Leesburg.

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On the local news, they reported there had just been an incident that was all over the local press (but I never saw in the national news) about some local middle school students who had gotten guns and intended to carry out a Columbine-style massacre at their school that morning, but had been caught at the last minute when other students who had heard about it said something to the right people. Pretty shocking!

We met with Rosella Valentine (’68) and her husband John at a very nice restaurant.  It’s always nice to see them—Rosella is a long-time member of the foundation board (I learned it was her 40th anniversary of service on the board!) and John and I share a love of classical music and opera.  On Saturday, we went to another alumni gathering, this time in Summerfield.  Joe and Dine Kennedy had made the trek out to be at this meeting too, and it was another well-attended gathering.

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Afterwards, it was back in the car for the ride up to Orlando, to stay at the Airport Fairfield Inn.  We left Orlando on Sunday, getting to Syracuse at about 4 PM, and after a stop in Watertown for dinner, I finally got home at about 8 PM.  The next morning?  Back to work on campus for a bunch of meetings that had stacked up in the 12 days I was gone.

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

There was none.

 

  

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “R”.  The first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a 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. You can rent a dvd from this in front of Price Chopper, Walmart, and many other places.
  2. Fairy tale female with very long hair that was locked up in a tower.
  3. Best known boxer from Philadelphia, better known as Sylvester Stallone.
  4. City that’s home to Eastman Kodak.
  5. Small streaming TV and media player—it’s either a separate box or may be part of a smart TV.

 

 

 

 

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