February 19, 2019


Volume 13, Issue 12–February 19, 2019


One of My Less Favorite Job Responsibilities

There are various things that come with the job of being president, many of them pleasant (such representing the College at lots of events) and some less pleasant.  One of the jobs I like least is deciding when to delay or cancel classes due to the weather. It’s a no-win situation, in that there is a strong contingent that thinks that we should cancel if there is the slightest chance that someone might slip or skid on snow or ice, and another strong contingent that thinks “Hey—this is the North Country—we should be used to snow and ice, so why cancel?”

The way we actually make the decision is that our Chief of Police, Al Mulkin, checks out the situation across the county and on campus and calls me early in the morning to make the decision.  After we tentatively decide, we call our P.R. team of Travis Smith and Greg Kie, who add their perspective and make the final decision on the message to send out.

The most recent weather closing challenge was the big storm that was supposed to hit Canton last week.  As it turned out, for some, it was a bit less than predicted—we got about six inches in Canton.  St. Lawrence County is a big place though and there were several areas that got quite a bit more than that.  The snow was supposed to begin at 1 PM on Tuesday, but the conversations began at about 6:00 AM that morning, since most of the elementary schools announced they were closing by noon to make sure that the busses could get the kids home safely. Other places cancelled evening programs and at least one college announced it was delaying its start on Wednesdayuntil 10 AM.  We decided to wait and see what was actually happening and agreed we would review the situation at about 2 PM.  One o’clock came and went without any snow, which began around 2:30 PM.  It wasn’t doing much, so we decided to not cancel classes.

As it happened, we had an exit interview with a business accreditation team that afternoon.  I was seated opposite the windows in the room and about halfway through the meeting, at about 4:00, it seemed like it was a white-out and I began to wonder if we had made the right call not to cancel classes.  It stopped after a few minutes and when the meeting ended and we left to go home a little after 5, it was snowing moderately had only accumulated an inch or so.  When I got home, it started to snow harder at about 5:30, but then it stopped again at 6:15 and stayed clear until 9 PM.  It started to sleet at 9:30 and kept that up on and off for a while, turning to snow again at 11 PM.  So, all in all, I think we made the right call for that evening.

Wednesday morning, I got a call at 5:00 AM to let me know that the back roads in the county and on the campus we still slippery and some were unplowed, so it would be wise to delay opening until 10 AM.  We sent out that message and I went back to sleep. When I got up and went outside at 7:30, there was about five inches of snow, but it was pretty powdery and it brushed off of the car easily.  There was also a thin veneer of ice on the windshields, but since it had warmed up to about 30°, it softened quickly from the defrosters and I was scraped off and ready to go.  It was still snowing lightly but the roads were clean and I got to campus with no trouble or delay, which made me think we might have over-reacted and shouldn’t have delayed opening.  As other people arrived, I heard that it wasn’t quite so easy where they lived—many were trapped in their driveways and had to shovel their way out, and the roads in many places were still badly plowed.  Almost every school in the area was closed, so lots of people had to make accommodations for childcare as well and appreciated the extra time the delay gave them.  It snowed on and off most of the day, ending later than predicted, but the road crews were able to keep up with it.  So, all in all, I think we made the right call for the delay as well.  Your mileage may vary.


And Even More Travel

In the last issue of the BLAB, I told about my two trips to Florida in January, but my travel for that month wasn’t done yet—there was one more trip to Albany for the Chancellor’s State of the University System speech.  We had also been asked to present a showcase about our eSports program during the breakfast time before the speech, but when we asked if a monitor would be available for our use so that we could show a video, we were told we’d have to rent one. Since that was pretty expensive, we decided to bring our own and drive down instead of flying.

Lenore VanderZee (Executive Director for University Relations) and I left campus a little before noon, having loaded the car up with the computer and large monitor (pretty heavy), as well as stickers, brochures, and little tins of mints with SUNY Canton’s logo on them to give away.  The drive was fine for the first hour—sunny with clear roads.  When we stopped in Tupper Lake for some lunch it had begun to snow very lightly.  We had a nice lunch at a little sandwich shop called “Well Dressed Food” on the main street, but by the time we finished, it was snowing very hard.  As we headed out of the village near the lake, it was full white-out conditions and we thought we might have to stop and wait for things to clear or to cancel entirely.  I decided to keep going but to drive slowly and a few miles later things improved—the snow got much lighter and the roads had at least been plowed a while back, so you could still see some asphalt where previous cars had gone.  It was pretty much like that all the way across the Adirondacks—better in some places, worse in others—until we reached Interstate 87 in Pottersville.  The interstate was reasonably well plowed and the snow had stopped, so we had an easy ride from there.  It was very cold in Albany—about 7° at 5 PM when we arrived—and we decided to go straight to a restaurant for dinner so we wouldn’t have to go out again.  After a nice dinner at Lazeez (an Indian restaurant as you’ve probably guessed), we drove to the hotel, checked into our rooms, and I was done for the night, going to sleep soon after.

After meeting for breakfast at the hotel, we went to the Albany Capital Center and set up our showcase, finishing at a little before 9 AM.  People began to arrive and we got a lot of traffic from people who were interested in what we are doing in eSports.  Some other campus presidents were interested in setting up their own programs and various people from SUNY wanted to know how well we were doing with it.  Several other SUNYs also had showcases of various initiatives on their campuses, including a couple that had interesting environmental projects.

Chancellor Johnson’s speech started at 11 AM and was very good, highlighting how higher education is a necessary path to employment, social mobility, and the American Dream.  She said: “Increasingly, higher ed is the only path to opportunity” and noted that people with college degrees earn 80% more than those with a high school degree.  She focused on four key themes: individualized education, innovation and entrepreneurship, sustainability, and partnerships, which are areas that we’re focusing on at SUNY Canton as well.  Some of the new initiatives in SUNY for 2019 will include PRODI-G(Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion and Growth), a plan to enable campuses to hire and retain up to 1000 new faculty to increase diversity; SUNY Online, a system-wide initiative to increase opportunities for exclusively online learners through campus partnerships; SUNY Achieve, to expand remedial support and improve retention through student-centered pathways; and a SUNY Green Revolving Fundto provide loan funds for projects what will reduce carbon footprint and energy use.  The loans will be paid back through energy savings realized on campus.

One of the most moving moments of her speech came when she spoke about her own grandmother leaving behind everything she knew 110 years ago and immigrating to the United States, because “That’s where she wanted to live [as she paused for a moment, her voice choking up] and raise her family.  It was a dreamland of infinite opportunity, this New York.” She spoke about how excited she was to find her grandmother’s name on the ship’s manifest (which she showed in a slide) when she visited Ellis Island. It brought a tear to my eye as well, because that’s the story of my own family as well, as it is the story of so many other New Yorkers and Americans.

She ended by saying “We want every single New Yorker to understand if they enroll at SUNY and work hard, they too can achieve their dreams.  At SUNY, we enable equality of opportunity, as the most important work in the world, and I know that every single one of the 91,000 employees understands that, and we all take great pride in it.  As you make the effort this year to realize the ambitions I’ve outlined today, I know that you also understand that we are working to restore the essential promise of America, in the state which first welcomed so many of our ancestors from distant shores,” Chancellor said. “I am so delighted to be able to join forces with our students, our faculty, our staff, our campus leadership, Governor Cuomo, the legislature and the citizens of New York State to underscore that New York remains what it always has been—a beacon, an inspiration, and a place of shining hope for all.”

You can see the entire speech below.


After the speech, some last-minute discussions, and goodbyes, we loaded the car back up and headed up Interstate 87 at about 12:30. We stopped at an Indian buffet in Half Moon (just south of Saratoga) where the food was good, but a bit on the lukewarm side.  The rest of the ride up I-87 was fine, with sunny weather and a clean road.  That all changed when we got off the highway in Pottersville, with the clouds rolling in and a light snow beginning.  The roads had been plowed some time earlier but got worse as we went through Newcomb and got to Long Lake.  They were downright lousy from there through Tupper Lake to Sevey Corners, where we turned north on NY 56.  Two miles later, we were above the snow area and the sun came out in time for us to enjoy a nice sunset and clean roads the rest of the way to Canton. What a difference even a few miles can make in the Adirondacks.


Winning Weekend

This past weekend was a really good one for Roo sports fans.  SUNY Canton hosted six games: two each in men’s and women’s hockey and one each in men’s and women’s basketball.  Overall, we finished undefeated, with five wins and one tie.

On Friday at 4 PM, our women’s hockeyteam defeated Becker College 4-1, with goals being scored by Noelle Niemiec, Sarah Kosnaskie, Kelly Leathem, and Hannah Brady.  Jessica Pele had three assists, and goalie Brooke Susac made 24 saves on 25 shots for her 10thwin this season.

The second game against Becker was on Saturday at 2 PM and ended in a 3-3 tie.  Both teams scored once in the first period (ours by Ashley Gillies), but Becker took the lead in the second period, scoring twice.  SUNY Canton countered in the third period, with Noelle Niemiec scoring at 5:12.  With less than two minutes to go, a Becker player drew a penalty for slashing, giving Canton a power-play opportunity.  The Roos pulled Brooke Susac from the goal for an extra attacker, and Noelle Niemiec got her second goal with only 27 seconds to play.  The overtime period was scoreless, so the score ended in a tie.  This finished the regular season for the Roos, who qualified for the Colonial Hockey Conference playoffs, playing home against the University of New England on Saturday, February 23 at 1 PM.

On Friday at 7 PM, our men’s hockeyteam defeated Buffalo State 4-3.  Buffalo State started the scoring with a goal in the first period and added one more 21 seconds into the second period, but Canton responded at 7:46 with a goal by Kyler Matthews.  Four minutes later, the score was tied when Kyler passed to Joe Deveny, who picked up his 34thcareer goal.  Canto took the lead at 13:14 with a second Joe Deveny goal.  Buffalo State tied it up again in the third period, but Canton’s Sean David scored the winning goal soon after.  Michael Cerasuolo was the winning goalie.

The second game, Saturday at 5:30 did not start well for the Roos, with Buffalo State scoring in the first period and adding two more for a 3-0 lead at 14:05 in the second.  The Roos responded with a goal at 14:37 by Anthony Filoso, and another three minutes later by Kyler Routledge on a power play.  Halfway through the third period, the Roos tied it up on a second Routledge goal, and Filoso scored the game winner at 12:45. Austin Washkurak was the winning goalie. The Roos finished their season at 14-9-2, their best ever since joining the NCAA Division III.

On Saturday at 1:00, our men’s basketballteam defeated University of Maine—Presque Isle in the NAC quarterfinals. Canton took an early lead but UMPI caught up and took the lead 36-34 at the half.  The game was tied at 57-57 in the second half with eight minutes to play, but the Roos exploded for 28 more points, running away with an 85-63 win.  Scoring leaders included Robert Holliday Jr. with 24, Brandon Adkisson with 17, and Jordan Stewart with 15.  Andrew Fitch got his 6thdouble-double, with 10 points and 11 rebounds.  The Roos advance to the NAC semifinals against Husson on Friday, February 22 at 7:30 PM away at Maine-Farmington.

On Saturday at 3:00, our women’s basketballteam defeated Thomas College (Maine) 78-47.  The Roos took an early lead, finishing the first quarter 20-7, and had a 21-9 lead in the second period, for a 41-16 lead at the half. Thomas played even in the third period at 15-15, but the Roos dominated 22-16 in the fourth for the solid win. Top scorers included Breanna Cullers with 20 points, Antanasia Chambers with 15, Tyberia Wallace with 11, and Autumn Watkins with 9.  The Roos advance to the NAC semifinals against Maine Maritime Academy on Friday, February 22 at 7:30 PM away at Husson College.

The Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) announced its 2018 Esports All-Academic Honorson February 4th, and SUNY Canton had 12 student-athletes on the all-academic team.  These included Yvan Vladimir Tchounga and Elisah Byrd on FIFA; Maelea Mercado, Zachary Lawrence, Tyler Henderickson, and Frederick Given on Hearthstone; Alec Knowles, Tyler Johnson, and Logan Coggins on League of Legends; Kal-El Key and My Dang on Overwatch; and Dylan Santiago on Fortnite.

Congratulations to all our outstanding athletes and their coaches!


Last Time’s Trivia Contest 

Last time’s challenge had to do with holiday songs, and our fastest winners being Terri Clemmo, Kevin Elliott, Robin Gittings, and Sara Hartman.  Just come up to the President’s Office on the 6thfloor of MacArthur Hall to pick up your prize.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Anti-school song by Pink Floyd, whose lyrics start with “We don’t need no education”. Another Brick in the Wall.
  2. Sam Cooke song also done by Art Garfunkel, James Taylor, and Paul SImon, that includes the line “Now, I don’t claim to be an “A” student/ but I’m trying to be. For maybe by being an “A” student, baby/I can win your love for me.” What a Wonderful World.
  3. School song by Timbuk3, where you have to put sunglasses on at the end. The lyrics start: “I study nuclear science, I love my classes/I got a crazy teacher, he wears dark glasses.”  The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.
  4. Taylor Swift song that starts “You take a deep breath/and you walk through the doors/ It’s the morning of your very first day.” Fifteen.
  5. Beach Boys classic song that begins “When some loud braggart tries to put me down/and says his school is great/I tell him right away/Now what’s the matter buddy/Ain’t you heard of my school/It’s number one in the state.” Be True to Your School.


This Time’s Trivia Challenge

To celebrate our great weekend athletically, this issue’s challenge has to do with sports.  The first five entries with the most correct answers win a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, as well as the admiration of their peers. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edusince if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Winner of this year’s Super Bowl.
  2. Which of the Williams sisters has won the most tennis grand slam titles, Venus or Serena?
  3. How many NBA championships did Michael Jordan win with the Chicago Bulls?
  4. Romanian Olympic gymnast who was the first to score a perfect 10.
  5. In 1964, Cassius Clay (Mohammad Ali) gained his first heavyweight boxing title by defeating who?
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February 6, 2019


Volume 13, Issue 11–February 6, 2019



Travel, Snow, Travel, Snow, Travel, Snow

Everyone is now back from winter vacation and busily engaged in their jobs.  The holiday season was quiet for the Szafran family.  We stayed in Canton aside from a few shopping trips to nearby cities.  The weather was a bit warmer than normal around Christmas and New Year’s Day, with only a few sub-zero days once we got into January.  More recently, we’ve had several storms sweeping the country and having at least a small effect up here.

January is always a busy travel month, with a lot of alumni visits and other things on the schedule.  My travel saga began on January 7, with a trip to Florida and California.  I took the early morning flight out of Ogdensburg to Albany, which left at 7:30 AM.  The roads were clear and the weather was fine, so the flight took off and landed at 8:40 with no problems.

My connection was a 9:30 flight on Frontier Airlines, which I had never flown before, taking me non-stop to Orlando. Their gate is in the tiny C wing of the Albany airport that I had never used before.  I knew that Frontier is a discount airline, but they carry it to an extent that I haven’t encountered before.  The night before, I got an email letting me know that I could check in, so I did and the first thing I had to do was select a seat.  Every seat carried an additional charge of at least $19.  I’m not sure what would have happened if I didn’t select a seat—perhaps I would have had to stand up the whole flight, or perhaps I would have gotten whatever seat was left over without having to pay for it.  Anyway, I paid whatever it was for the seat I chose, and the app then asked me if I was going to check or carry on any baggage, letting me know that there would be the same charge either way, which I think was $40.  Apparently, the only baggage you can take on the plane for free is something that can fit under your seat.  This $62 in additional fees exceeded the price of my original one-way ticket, which was $9.30 for the fare (no, that’s not a misprint) plus $38.90 tax and fees.  Overall, the ticket was still quite affordable, but this is a weird way to charge for things.

The plane itself was brand new and had the thinnest seats I’ve seen, though they were reasonably comfortable.  I assume that’s so they can cram in another row or two. They don’t call it an Airbus for nothing!  When they came around with the food cart, there was nothing that was free—not even water or a soft drink.  The flight itself was great—takeoff was very smooth, there was little turbulence on the way, and the landing was as smooth as I have ever seen.

Peggy Levato from our Advancement Office had arrived in Florida about an hour earlier out of Syracuse, had picked up a rental car, and was ready to pick me up as soon as I exited the terminal.  Our first stop was at Airport Marriott, where we checked into our rooms and were supposed to meet an alumnus for dinner.  Unfortunately, he had to cancel at the last minute, but that was actually good for me since I had managed to pick up a stomach virus a few days earlier and I really wasn’t in the mood to eat very much.  Peggy played “mother hen” for the next few days to make sure I didn’t eat anything I shouldn’t, so that the bug would finally go away (which it did—thanks Peggy!).

The next morning, we drove down to Ocala to have lunch with Carl and Betty Wenner, who I was meeting for the first time.  We had a nice lunch at a seafood bar and grill where I talked to them about the College and the various initiatives we are working on.  After lunch, it was back to the car to drive down to The Villages (a city of about 100,000 that spreads over many miles), where we stayed at the TownePlace Suites, a nice hotel we’ve used in previous years.

Dinner was with John and Rosella Valentine, who I always love seeing.   John and I share very similar tastes in classical music (though we differ on the relative virtues of vinyl vs. super-audio cd’s), and Rosella is one of our nicest and most active alumni.  John, I have some news that will shock you–I’ve just bought the first vinyl record I’ve bought in 20 years!

The next day we had a lunch gathering with 22 alumni and friends at Ricciardi’s Italian Table, located in a different part of The Villages.  Attendees included Lou and Evelyn Harmin, John and Lorraine Henderson, John and Rosella Valentine, Chandler and Josie Smith, Joe and Connie Parisian, Fred and Jan Snizek, Ron Premo, Eugene Christopher, and Bud and Edith PearsonWe had gotten together there last year as well, so it as nice to see so many of them again and catch up on what was new.

That evening was free of meetings, so I was able to get together with a close colleague from my first college, Mohan Singh. Mohan and I co-wrote five books and dozens of papers together with a third colleague, Ronald Pike, and the three of us were co-directors of the National Microscale Chemistry Center for many years.  Mohan now lives at The Villages during the colder months, so I try to get together with him every time I go to Florida in the winter.

The next morning, we drove down to New Smyrna Beach.  It was only in the 40’s there with a stiff wind, so no one was out on the beach at all, but it sure looked pretty.

We joined alumna Carol Roche for a brunch meeting at a very cool South American omelet place.  Carol is a loyal alum who’s always fun to see and talk to.

That afternoon, we had a large gathering at Norwood’s Eatery & Treehouse Bar, with some 30 alumni and friends of the College.  People there included Lewis and Janice Baduria (both Class of ’61), Mr. and Mrs. Harley Burger (both Sr. and Jr.!), Bert and Peggy Cordwell, Gloria and Dale Gardner, John and Anne Goetze, John and Chris Gray (Chris is on the Foundation Board), Dr. Joseph and Dine Kennedy (Joseph was the 3rd President of SUNY Canton), Wayne and Sue Lincoln, Richard and Marisia McCormick (the parents of Mike McCormick, our campus’ Director of Facilities), Sigrid Reichert, Jill Ruitberg, Pam Scalise Roth and Neil Roth, Ken and Sue Wurster, Gordon and Conny Myers, Gil White, Bill and Joanne LaPierre, and Bill CollinsThe event was a huge success with more people coming than were originally scheduled, and everyone had a wonderful time.  For those of you who are jealous of me getting to enjoy the warm Florida weather, we actually had to move the gathering indoors because it was rather chilly out.

At the end of the gathering, I was “handed off” to Geoffrey VanderWoude for leg two of the trip.  I moved my suitcase into his rental car, as we headed back to Orlando.  We flew out the next morning (January 11) at 10 AM (Eastern Time) to Los Angeles on Delta, arriving at 12:34 (Pacific Time)—a 5 ½ hour flight.  We got the rental car and checked into the hotel in Sherman Oaks.  You can see the typical L.A. scene from my hotel window below.

We were picked up by Rick Patri (Class of ’91) a few hours later to go to dinner at a very cool (and popular) French restaurant.  We talked to Rick about the current status of our entrepreneurship accelerator and some roles he might play within that effort.

The next day, we drove into Hollywood to see Amoeba Music, the largest record/cd store in the world—it occupies an entire downtown city block!  You’d think this place would be Heaven on Earth for me given my music collection mania and the place was great (I picked up a few things for my collection), but it was so big it was actually unnerving, making it almost impossible to decide what to look for.  I would have needed a few weeks to see it all.

For lunch, we looked for a nearby Indian restaurant and Siri directed us to a place that turned out to be a small, almost hole-in-the-wall, Indian-Mexican fusion restaurant—a combination I’ve never seen before.  As is often the case with places like this, the food was quite good.

We then drove west to Camarillo, which should normally take about an hour.  The roads were a bit congested (it is Los Angeles, after all) and during the first part of the trip, we moved steadily along.  We passed a small city named Calabasas along the way which made me laugh, since on the old Jack Benny radio show, a regular bit involved Benny running into a hick farmer from Calabasas, who always insisted on calling Benny “rube”. Calabasas is now grown into a small city in a very built up area, but there were lots of farm-type stands and greenhouses, even on its main streets.  Just past Calabasas, we hit a massive traffic jam that stretched for miles, forcing us to get off the highway and take back roads.  Just getting onto the side road took another hour!  We finally got to Camarillo and had dinner that night with Robert Mucica (Class of 1956), who is retired now but was the Director of Power Systems for Boeing, and possibly the first student from SUNY Canton who was directly recruited to work on the west coast.  Robert is quite a gardener and orchardman, and gave us each a small bag of his produce.

The next day, we reversed direction, driving to Rancho Palos Verdes, which is a bit south of Los Angeles Airport.  It was a nice ride and since we were getting there a bit early, stopped at Hermosa Beach to look around.  It wasn’t a particularly warm day so there weren’t many people in the water or playing volleyball, but there were a lot of people on the pier watching the waves come in and we did that too.  The waves were pretty strong and you could feel the pier shake when they hit.  A particularly big one sent up a lot of spray which almost got us.


We then drove to Ed Ralbovsky’s house in Rancho Palos Verdes.  The city is set on the side of a hill, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and on clear days, you can see almost 100 miles from there.  Ed taught at SUNY Canton in the Automotive Program and has a nice house that has some excellent views of the ocean.  We had a wonderful dinner with him and his wife, daughter, brother and brother’s wife, starting with some great wine and good beer, leading to barbequed steaks and various side dishes.  It was a very nice evening.

I was originally scheduled to leave for Albany the next day for the Chancellor’s State of the SUNY System address, but we had gotten an email on Friday saying that the date was rescheduled to January 31 because the Governor had changed the date for his annual budget speech, thereby bumping the Chancellor.  We quickly changed plans, cancelling the Albany trip and rebooking to fly to San Francisco, where we met with Rick Dzwonczyk and his family for a very nice dinner at an excellent Chinese restaurant. It was a rainy day, and the flight was delayed for about an hour while we waited for a rainstorm to pass through San Francisco.

We left San Francisco for home on Tuesday morning, with my passport having been overnighted to San Francisco (thanks Anne!) since we were flying into Montreal with a change of planes in Detroit.  The flights both got off on time, we retrieved Geoffrey’s car from the parking lot, and we drove back into the US with a brief stop in Cornwall, Ontario for dinner at a shwarma restaurant we both like. Geoffrey drove me to Ogdensburg so I could get my car, and my first odyssey ended on the 15that about 10 PM that night.

I was on campus from Wednesday to Friday for the meetings that had piled up in the nine days I was away.  On the Sunday, the 20th, it was time to travel again, back to Florida for more alumni meetings and for the national NCAA Convention.  Our flight was scheduled to leave Ottawa at 3:30 PM, but as most people are aware a snowstorm had come through the North Country along with some very cold weather.  We only got about six inches of snow with some ice underneath, but it was much worse further south, bad enough so that the Governor closed all interstate highways to bus and truck traffic.  At the College, we opened our residence halls the previous Thursday to returning students, so that they wouldn’t have to travel through the storm. We weren’t sure we’d be able to leave on Sunday, but it looked like the storm would end at noon on the weather map, so we decided to chance it and left at 11 AM to drive to Ottawa.  It was definitely cold and windy with a fair amount of snow blowing at us, but things calmed down a bit by the time we hit Ogdensburg.  Crossing the international bridge was no problem, but the 416 Highway (a Canadian Interstate) wasn’t all that well plowed so we had to go somewhat more slowly to stay in the tracks from preceding cars.  We got to the airport at about 1:30, got some lunch, and our flight took off at 4:30 having been delayed a bit for weather.

The flight down to Fort Lauderdale was extremely bumpy, since we were flying down the backside of the storm.  After landing at about 8:30, we got the car and drove over to our hotel in Coconut Grove.  After checking in to the hotel, we were both hungry and found a local pizza place that was still open for a late-night meal.

On Monday, we met with Ron Blanchard (Class of ’68)a strong friend of the College.  He showed us around the arts section of Miami and we then went to his house. Ron has an extensive record collection and one of the best and most nicely laid out stereo systems I’ve ever seen. We were doing some listening comparisons of the relative merits of super audio and vinyl—he likes both, though I think he leans toward vinyl—and he showed us some of the highlights of his music collection.  After seeing his system, I know I have some work to do to on my own stereo layout.  I invited him to check out my collection the next time he is in the Canton area.  That evening, we went out to a nice Indian restaurant in the area.

On Tuesday evening, we got together with Glen and Sue Goodelle (both Class of ’68) at a restaurant called Jetty’s (in Jupiter, Florida) to bring them up to date on things at the College, and they told me about some of their experiences at the College back in the ‘60s.  They’re a very nice couple and it was great to see them again. On Wednesday, we drove up to Boynton Beach to meet with Jim (Class of ’60) and Grace Parks.  We did some reminiscing about Jim’s time at the College, and what he’s been involved in since.  They are strong supporters of our College.

We then drove from Boynton Beach to Orlando, where on Thursday, I attended the Presidents’ Sessions of the national NCAA Convention, which was held at the Caribe Royale hotel, which has really beautiful grounds.

One of the other sessions I attended was on the topic of e-Sports, and there were some 500 people attending that! At this point, if the information presented was correct, there are some 80 colleges that have varsity e-Sports teams and lots more that have club teams.  There was an NCAA Association-wide Business Session that evening on a somewhat controversial topic—adding five outside commissioners—which ultimately passed.

Friday morning began with the Division III Issues Forum, from which I had to check out and go to the airport to catch my flight home. I was a bit concerned on two counts—first, it was supposed to be super-frigid in Chicago (they were talking about wind chills of as low as -50 F) where I was connecting to go to Ottawa, and I was afraid the flight might be cancelled.  Secondly, the government shut-down was still in effect and larger numbers of air-traffic controllers and TSA agents were calling in sick, so I was concerned that lines would be very long.  As it turned out, this wound up stopping all flights at LaGuardia Airport for a period that day.  It turned out that it was good that I gave myself some extra time at the airport, because as I checked in, the machine asked if I wanted to book myself onto an earlier flight going through Washington DC for an extra $75.  I quickly accepted.

The flight from Orlando to DC went off without a hitch.  When I landed in DC, the plane came into Terminal D but my connecting flight was in Terminal A.  To get there, I had to walk to the opposite end of the terminal and get on the people mover thing, which went every five minutes or so.  It slowly took us to Terminal A at gate A5, which was a good thing since my flight was leaving from gate A1.  As I approached the gate, I heard an announcement saying “If Zvi Szafran is in the terminal, come to gate A1 immediately.”  I ran over there and the gate agent said “show me your passport”, which I handed to her.  She promptly led me out the door and to the plane, which was waiting for me as I was the very last passenger and occupying the very last seat!   It took off a few minutes later and I got to Ottawa right on time, as did my suitcase!  The ride home was uneventful—cold, but the roads were well plowed, getting me home at 9:00 PM.


And Even More Travel

There was yet one more trip in January, to Albany for the Chancellor’s State of the University System speech, but I don’t have time to write it for this issue.  Stay tuned for the next BLAB.



Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s challenge had to do with holiday songs, and our fastest winners being Rebecca Blackmon, Janel Smith, Kelly DeHaut, Megan Royce, and Elizabeth Madlin.  Just come up to the President’s Office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to pick up your prize.  Others getting all correct included Kimberley Wise and Terry Clemmo.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. The Crystals sang a great version of this classic, which starts with the lines: “You better watch out.  You better not cry.” Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
  2. Nobody ever sang this song better than Ella Fitzgerald, which includes the lines: “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?  In the lane, snow is glistening.” Walking in a Winter Wonderland.
  3. Song from the movie “Meet Me In St. Louis”, where Judy Garland sang: “Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.  Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.” Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
  4. Mariah Carey sang this modern Christmas classic, which includes the lines “I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need.  I don’t care about the presents, underneath the Christmas tree.” All I Want for Christmas is You.
  5. Elvis sang this sad Christmas lament, which included the verse: “Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree, won’t be the same dear, if you’re not with me.” Blue Christmas.



This Time’s Trivia Challenge

In keeping with the beginning of the semester, this issue’s challenge has to do with songs about going to school.

The first five entries with the most correct answers win a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, as well as the admiration of their peers. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edusince if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Anti-school song by Pink Floyd, whose lyrics start with “We don’t need no education”.
  2. Sam Cooke song also done by Art Garfunkel, James Taylor, and Paul SImon, that includes the line “Now, I don’t claim to be an “A” student/ but I’m trying to be. For maybe by being an “A” student, baby/I can win your love for me.”
  3. School song by Timbuk3, where you have to put sunglasses on at the end. The lyrics start: “I study nuclear science, I love my classes/I got a crazy teacher, he wears dark glasses.”
  4. Taylor Swift song that starts “You take a deep breath/and you walk through the doors/ It’s the morning of your very first day.”
  5. Beach Boys classic song that begins “When some loud braggart tries to put me down/and says his school is great/I tell him right away/Now what’s the matter buddy/Ain’t you heard of my school/It’s number one in the state.”
Posted in Uncategorized

December 19, 2018


Volume 13, Issue 10–December 19, 2018



Why It’s Late

This issue of THE WEEKLY BLAB was supposed to come out on December 11.  Why the delay?  It’s a long story, but I’ll give you the condensed version.

Last Sunday, after eating breakfast, I felt a little queasy.  Jill, Mark, and I drove down to Watertown, where I dropped them off for some shopping. I then headed over to Fort Drum, where I had been invited to a holiday reception.  The reception was very nice, with their Christmas tree being decorated to illustrate various aspect of pollination.  I ate a few hors d’oeuvres, sang the 10thMountain Division’s favorite Christmas Carol (you should be able to guess which one—ok, it’s The Little Drummer Boy), and left to pick up Jill and Mark.  Mark wanted to get a grilled cheese sandwich, so we stopped at Sonic and I got a hamburger.  So far so good.

Halfway on the drive home, I suddenly got a sharp pain in the center of my back.  By the time I got home it really hurt and I couldn’t find a comfortable position to sit down in.  Jill made some pasta for dinner, but I could hardly get any down—it felt like I had a ball in my stomach.  Over the next 12 hours, I vomited several times getting rid of the food and the pain in my back went away.  I decided to take Monday off as a sick day, since I still wasn’t feeling quite right, but I thought things would get better through the day.  They didn’t, but they didn’t exactly get worse either.  At about 7 in the morning on Tuesday, I still didn’t feel right, so I decided to text my doctor’s wife (with whom I sit on the Synagogue Board) and ask if he could see me that morning.  He called me a few minutes later and when I told him my symptoms, said I needed to go to the Emergency Room.

They took me right in to be examined, drawing blood and then a cat scan.  The doctor then came to speak to me, letting me know that my gallbladder needed to be removed—it was 2/3 dead and getting gangrenous.  He said that they’d try to schedule me for surgery that afternoon if I agreed, saying that he thought they would be able to do it laparoscopically if we moved quickly.  Needless to say, I agreed, called Jill to update her, and by 2 PM I was prepped and wheeled into surgery.

The surgery went well and I awoke in a recovery room, feeling a bit dizzy as the anesthetic wore off.  They wheeled me into a hospital room and I spent the next two days recovering, going home on Friday at noon.  I’ve spent the next few days resting up and getting my strength back. At this point, I’m in no pain (though the incision by my belly-button tickles a bit) and am able to function normally.

The moral of the story?  If you don’t feel right, don’t put things off.  Contact your doctor immediately.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.


Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone enjoyed the Holiday Reception on December 7th.  As always, our food service did a great job in decorating the rooms and the food was fabulous.


The band was fabulous too, led by our own Dan Gagliardi (Math).

Our public relations team did their usual great job with the Holiday Cards this year, and we sent them out just in time for Christmas Card Day (December 9, in honor of Sir Henry Cole of England who created the first Christmas card way back in 1843).

 As a little thank-you gift for faculty and staff on campus, we also included a sheet of refrigerator magnets, designed by our Publications Coordinator Matt Mulkin, starring the world’s greatest kangaroo, SUNY Canton’s mascot Roody!  There are two different sets, so everyone can have fun trading magnets with their colleagues if they got the other one.


Our annual Giving Tree drive to provide clothing and toys for local children was very successful, thanks to the generosity of the SUNY Canton community and the hard work by Amber Baines and Sidei Clouden.


I’m pretty sure l won’t get another issue of the BLAB out before the break, so in case I don’t, let me wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah (which just ended), Joyous Kwanzaa, Delightful Winter Solstice,and Happy New Year. 

Speaking of Chanukah, on December 1 the local synagogue in Potsdam had their annual Food Festival and I was promoted from bread bagger to cashier this year.  As the name implies, the Food Festival is a chance to get some good Jewish home cooking, with SUNY Canton’s own Laini Kavaloski (Prof. of English) being one of the organizers this year and Dan Gagliardi (Prof. of Mathematics) making the falafel (deep fried chick peas shaped into balls the size of small meatballs, added to vegetables and placed in a pita) each year.  Since I’m always a fan of falafel, Dan decided I needed a “presidential size” falafel ball this year, and after eating it, I was definitely fela-full!


If those holidays aren’t enough to fill your schedule, other more minor December celebrations to make the season more festive include Poinsettia Day (the 12th), Ice Cream Day (the 13th), Bill of Rights Day (the 15th), National Maple Syrup Day (the 17th), Oatmeal Muffin Day (the 19th), Go Caroling Day (the 20th), Crossword Puzzle Day (the 21st), Boxing Day (the 26th), and if you’ve eaten too much, National Bicarbonate of Soda Day (the 30th). For the Scrooges among us, we also have Humbug Day (the 21st) and Festivus (the 23rd), where all grievances can be aired and shared!


New Partnership—Buffalo School of Law!

A newpartnership with the University at Buffalo’s School of Law will allow SUNY Canton students to earn botha bachelor’s degree and a law degree in six years, instead of the usual seven, saving a full year of costs. The program requires three years of undergraduate study in Legal Studies or in Applied Psychology at SUNY Canton and an additional three years at UB School of Law. To qualify, students must maintain at least a 3.5 GPA, complete the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) with a score at or above the median for the School of Law’s previous year’s enrolled class, and apply to the UB School of Law during their junior year.  Upon successful completion of the first-year law school curriculum, the students’ credits will be back-transferred to SUNY Canton to fulfill the College’s bachelor’s degree requirements.

J.D. Delong (Prof. Legal Studies) noted: “With a significant number of our Legal Studies students already enrolling in law schools, the accelerated program allows them to become attorneys sooner and at a substantially reduced cost.”  Barat Wolfe (Prof. Applied Psychology) added: “The combination of these two degrees (Applied Psychology and Law) is an outstanding fit for anyone interested in the law as it pertains to mental health, witness and jury behavior, juveniles and family, and understanding the larger social systems and resources that help people in need.”

Students may begin the accelerated program as early as Fall 2019.


World of Athletics

Basketball—So Close!

On December 4th, I hosted President Kristin Esterberg from SUNY Potsdam for the Canton vs. Potsdam basketball. When she arrived, I presented her with a SUNY Canton baseball cap, and not to be outdone, she gave me a SUNY Potsdam ski hat!  President Esterberg wore her new cap throughout the game (complementing it with a SUNY Potsdam shirt), and what a great game it was!

The match began with SUNY Canton taking an early lead, reaching 12 points with a 26-14 lead halfway through the first period. At one point, the lead reached 14, but SUNY Potsdam fought back with a 21-5 run to take the lead 37-35.  SUNY Canton recaptured the lead, and the half ended 40-37 Canton.  The lead changed back and forth several times, with SUNY Canton still in the lead 65-64 with seven minutes remaining.  Potsdam took eight straight points, gaining a lead of 72-65, but the Roos tied it up again 74-74 with less than a minute to play.

After Potsdam’s Serigne Kane hit a jumper with 26 seconds left giving Potsdam the lead, the Roos set up to run down the clock and go for a three-pointer but turned the ball over with 2 seconds left. After a quick foul, Kane split two free throws, and Canton’s half-court shot with 0.5 seconds left didn’t got tangled in the ropes above the court, and Potsdam won 77-74.

While all true Roos would have preferred that we won, it was an excellent game, with the lead changing no less than nine times. Roos player Robert Holiday Jr. scored a game high 23 points, and Jordan Stewart added 17 more.  Potsdam had been on a tear lately, handily defeating both Clarkson and St. Lawrence, with this being their toughest challenge of the year.

In NAC conference play, SUNY Canton is 2-0, having defeated Thomas College 76-68 and 77-71 on November 30 and December 1, respectively. The next conference games are at home, on January 4-5, vs. Maine Maritime Academy.  The Roos played Paul Smith’s College on December 14 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, winning that game 76-61.


Hockey—National Team of the Week!


In women’s ice hockey, Roos senior captain Noelle Niemiec earned a slot on the D3hockey.com National Team of the Week. On November 30 and December 1, Noelle scored in each game during a pair of 7-1 and 6-2 road wins against Wilkes University, bringing their CHC Conference season record to 4-2, after splitting with Salve Regina and Nichols.  Noelle also only allowed one goal in in a 1-1 overtime tie against Potsdam on November 27. This brought on-ice rating to an excellent +7.  This is the third time that Niemiec has earned D3 National Team of the Week honors, the previous two being on January 9, 2018 and February 8, 2017.

The next CHC conference games are away at the University of New England, though a non-conference pair against New England College on January 11 and 12.


eSports—Conference Champions!

The Roos won the ECAC championship in both FIFA Soccer and in Overwatch on November 29.  This is even more remarkable when you consider that this is the first year in which our teams have competed!  Our FIFA Soccer team includes four players from our “traditional” men’s soccer team, and won four out of five matches against Texas Wesleyan University.  The matches are played one-on-one in a soccer simulation where each player picks a professional team to play.  The five scores were 2-6, 2-1, 4-1, 3-1, and 1-0, giving us the title. The team was undefeated during the regular season.


Also undefeated throughout the season was SUNY Canton’s Overwatch team.  The championship was broadcast on our Twitch Channel and can be seen here. Overwatch is played in a six-member team to try to capture points the other team is defending in an action-based scenario, with the total points at the end of the match determining the game winner.  The match is a best of five games, each using a different map.  The first game was initially tied, but closed with a Canton win, and the Roos swept the second game, which included a “Play of the Game” honor for Shane Girard.  Opponents Marist College rallied to take the third map, but SUNY Canton took the fourth, securing the necessary total to win the conference championship.

Our eSports season isn’t finished yet—our Hearthstone and Fortnite teams are currently waiting to be seeded in their post-season play!  Congratulations to all our players, coaches, and advisors!  You’ve had an unbelievable season!


Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s challenge had to do with holiday movies, and our fastest winners being Kelly DeHaut, Elizabeth Madlin, Rebecca Blackmon, Terri Clemmo, and Nan Gabrielli (down in Georgia).  Just come up to the President’s Office on the 6thfloor of MacArthur Hall to pick up your prize.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Cartoon about a snowman that comes to life.  Frosty the Snowman.
  2. A new movie about this character that wanted to end Christmas in Whoville is now playing at theaters.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
  3. Movie from 1947 starring Edmund Gwenn and a young Natalie Wood about an elderly gentleman named Kris Kringle who claims to be the real Santa Claus and proves it in court.  Miracle on 34th Street.
  4. Movie from 1942 starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, and Virginia Dale that introduced the song “White Christmas”.  Holiday Inn.
  5. The ultimate holiday classic from 1946, starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, about a man who sees what his town would be like if he had never been born.  It’s a Wonderful Life.



This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing with the holiday theme, this issue’s challenge has to do with holiday songs.

The first five entries with the most correct answers win a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, as well as the admiration of their peers. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edusince if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them

  1. The Crystals sang a great version of this classic, which starts with the lines: “You better watch out.  You better not cry.”
  2. Nobody ever sang this song better than Ella Fitzgerald, which includes the lines: “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?  In the lane, snow is glistening.”
  3. Song from the movie “Meet Me In St. Louis”, where Judy Garland sang: “Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.  Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
  4. Mariah Carey sang this modern Christmas classic, which includes the lines “I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need.  I don’t care about the presents, underneath the Christmas tree.”
  5. Elvis sang this sad Christmas lament, which included the verse: “Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree, won’t be the same dear, if you’re not with me.”


Posted in Uncategorized

December 4, 2018


Volume 13, Issue 09–December 4, 2018



In Between the Holidays

I had hoped to get another issue of the BLAB out before Thanksgiving, but it just wasn’t meant to be.  It’s now December, and I’ll try to get at least one more out before the end of the term.

Catching up on the home front, out generator at the house is now fully installed and functioning.  Interestingly enough, the day after the installation was complete, we had a power outage in our part of Canton that lasted about a minute or two. I woke up because my c-pap stopped providing me with air and asked Jill what happened.  She looked at the clock, saw it was flashing, and said the power must have gone out.  Just as she did, the generator kicked in and the power came on.  About a minute later, it shut off as the power was restored. So, all in all, it wasn’t much of an outage, but we know everything is working as it should be.

My father’s trip back to Las Vegas had a small complication.  I drove him to the airport on November 12 as planned, but his first flight, to Chicago got there late.  He only had a 45-minute connection time, so he didn’t make the Chicago-Las Vegas leg. He did, however, get the airline to put him up at the airport Hilton and book him on the first flight in the morning, so all ended well.  He’s now re-engaging with his friends there, as well as trying to get his electric hybrid vehicle working again, and getting into the swing of all the holiday parties.

Weather-wise, we seem to have gotten into a pattern of having a moderate snowfall (3-6 inches), having it melt off or be washed away (due to weather in the low 40’s), having everything clear for a day, and then getting more snow.  Today is the third time for the cycle and it’s currently snowing very lightly, with some mixed rain and snow turning to snow tonight.  It’s not supposed to add up to much and we’re significantly better off than California has been with their fires and then heavy rain, the South with their heavy rains, or the New England coast with their small Nor’Easters. Hopefully things will quiet down across the country for a while after this.


Funeral for a Friend

I was originally planning to take Tuesday through Friday off for Thanksgiving, but we got a very unpleasant surprise when we found out that a member of our College Council and Foundation Board, Chloe Ann O’Neil, had been killed on November 15 in an automobile accident.  She was driving to visit a family member when someone failed to yield at an intersection and hit her car, causing it to roll over and killing her.  This was even more of a shock because I had just seen Chloe Ann at a College Council meeting two days earlier.


Calling hours were at the Garner Funeral Home in Potsdam on November 19 and the funeral was held at St. Mary’s Church in Potsdam on November 20.  It was a beautiful service, filled with loving memories of Chloe Ann, who had been a civic leader in the North Country for many years.

Chloe Ann was actually born in Watseka, Illinois and her family moved to Syracuse in 1952, where her father worked for General Electric.  She earned her B.S. and M.S. at SUNY Potsdam and taught at Parishville-Hopkinton Central School for many years, where she was much loved by all her students.

Chloe Ann married John G. A. O’Neil, a college professor, in 1966.  They had two children, Beth Ann and John.  Her husband ran for the New York Assembly and won, serving from 1981 to 1992. Chloe Ann was an aide to her husband and then was nominated by the Republican party to run in the special election that was held when John was killed in a car accident in 1992.  She was elected and served in the Assembly from 1993 to 1998.  More recently, she was an active community member and civic leader across the North Country, including volunteering at Canton Potsdam Hospital and serving on SUNY Canton’s College Council and Foundation Board.

Parishville Town Supervisor Rodney Votra, said that Chloe Ann had served as a role model throughout his life, as well as having been his 6thgrade teacher.  “It is a huge loss for the community.  She was a mentor for me, in my current position as supervisor she always stayed in contact.  I was very comfortable calling her when I had questions and needed advice or guidance, and she was always there.  And if I wasn’t calling her, she was calling me saying, ‘Hey kid, what’s going on now?’ She’s going to be missed.”

Rest in peace, Chloe Ann.  You did so much for our community and will be missed by all who knew you. 



I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving break and had their fill of turkey and all the fixings.

Jill decided that she didn’t want me to make a turkey this year, since we always have so much left over and I get tired of it after a few days.  Instead, she suggested that we go over to Brockville Ontario and have some good Indian cuisine there at a restaurant we all like.  It didn’t take much to convince me!  The Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving earlier in the year (the second Monday in October), so it was just a normal workday and the restaurant was open and all was well.  The traffic was quite light, since there wasn’t much cross-border traffic due to the holiday on the American side, and it only took about 50 minutes to get there, including crossing the border.  The food was excellent as always.

After eating, we did a little shopping since there were a number of sales that had started up for the pre-Christmas season.  I even found a new comic book store that had opened on the main street, though they didn’t have anything I really wanted. That’s the curse of having a collection as big as mine—it’s very rare that I find something I want at a price I’m willing to pay and so many of the “rare” comics on the display board are ones that I bought at the time they originally came out for cover price.  Comics associated with upcoming movies usually skyrocket in price (for example, copies of Ms. Marvel #1 are now jumping in price to $100 or more, due to speculators anticipating a price rise with the upcoming Captain Marvel movie [in the Marvel comic universe, Ms. Marvel has become Captain Marvel]).  I paid 50c for a mint copy back in the ‘90’s and there were many more of them sitting in the box, since the comic wasn’t particularly popular at the time). Mark found a few books and a DVD he wanted, and it was back to the USA in time to watch some holiday movies.


Presidents Meeting

I attended a Presidents Meeting last week, which was held in Syracuse.  I left campus on the afternoon of the 26th, and the ride down was a bit annoying because it was raining pretty hard and it was foggy as well.  As it got dark, the visibility got even worse so the trip took a little longer than normal.

The meeting was held at the Marriott, which is located in the former Hotel Syracuse in the middle of downtown.  The Hotel Syracuse originally opened in 1924 and was quite the place back then, featuring 600 guest rooms, retail stores at the street level, and tennis courts on the roof.  It even included an emergency hospital!  Lots of major events in Syracuse were held in its Grand Ballroom and on the Persian Terrace. Visitors at the hotel included Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, Elvis, Bob Hope, and John Lennon.  The hotel joined the Hilton chain of hotels in 1980, left in the 1990s, and closed in 2004 after fighting off bankruptcy for several years and being sold to several new owners.  Various plans to turn it into condominiums and apartments were implemented and almost completed in one of its three towers (Symphony Tower), which according to Wikipedia is still unoccupied due to litigation.  The remainder of the hotel was restored in a massive $75M project, much of which was to modernize and rebuild the guest rooms to a larger modern standard. The hotel reopened in 2016 with 261 rooms as part of the Marriott chain.


I checked into my room, which was quite large (two queen size beds, a desk in the middle of the room, and a couch and chair at the other side) and well appointed.  The meeting began at 6:00 with a small reception, which gave me a chance to catch up with some of the other SUNY presidents.

The main part of the meeting was the next day, where the Chancellor went over her main objectives for the future, which parallel nicely with what we’re doing here at SUNY Canton: Individualized education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Sustainability, and forming Partnerships.  She is also focused on building a SUNY endowment, expanding online offerings, exploring artificial intelligence and quantum computation, and moving toward 100% clean electricity within the system.  Another initiative, called PRODI-G, is to recruit 1000 diverse faculty over the next 10 years, with SUNY paying 100% of the 1styear salary and 50% of the 2ndyear.  A sustainability loan fund is also being established to fund projects that can be completed within two years, with the payback to happen over 10 years. Later in the meeting, we separated into sectors to discuss and give feedback on issues related to budget and advocacy.

Originally, I was supposed to stay over in Syracuse a second night for an alumni event.  The event was cancelled due to a winter storm coming in from the west. The weather was supposed to turn ugly in the late afternoon, so I left the meeting a little early and got on the road at 2:30.  It had begun snowing in Syracuse, but as soon as I got a little way outside the city heading north on I-81, the snow got lighter and changed to rain as it fell. As I approached Watertown, the weather improved further and I didn’t even need my windshield wipers unless a truck passed by and splashed water from the road.  Route 11 was fine too, with only some intermittent rain, and I got to Canton a little before five, just as it was getting dark.  The snow held off until 8 PM up here, though it got to Syracuse earlier and I hope that my colleagues heading west didn’t have too hard a time of it.  Ultimately, we got about 5-6 inches of snow in Canton that night, which melted and washed away over the next two days.


Holiday Celebrations Begin—Children’s Holiday Party

The December holiday season has begun at SUNY Canton and there are lots of events as usual.  The first, on December 1, was the Children’s Holiday Party for children and grandchildren of faculty and staff.  Our Early Childhood Education programs organize and offer this party each year, and this year’s theme was “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” with lots of crafts and games associated with the various lines from the well-known poem.


The Rendezvous in the Miller Student Center was beautifully decorated and laid out for the party.  Jill, Mark, and I arrived at 12:30, a little before the party began at 1, with some bags of toys, stuffed animals, and DVDs to give to the children.  We put on our reindeer antlers and went over to the welcome table, and promptly at 1, children and their families began to arrive.

Overall, almost 100 children came, enjoyed the crafts and games, enjoyed cookies, ice cream and juice, filled goodie bags, and at about 2:30, lined up for a visit with Santa Claus.

The party ended at about 3:30, with lots of parents stopping to tell me how much they enjoyed it.  A big thanks to faculty members Maureen Maiocco, Christina Martin, Christina Leshko, and Kelly DeHaut, and all our student volunteers for putting on such a fine event!


There are several more events this week, including the judging of the Holiday Door Decorations, the Student Holiday Dinner, the R.A. Banquet, and on Friday, the President’s Holiday Reception.  I hope everyone will be able to come to one or more of these.


It’s Also FAFSA Time

Something that would be very helpful is for faculty and staff to remind our students that the upcoming holiday break is also the perfect time for them to sit down with their parents, significant others, caretakers, etc. to work through the 2019-2020 FAFSA application process.

The College’s preferred deadline is January 1 to ensure applications are considered on-time for potential eligibility for some sources of aid (like SEOG, Work Study, and some institutional scholarships).  Meeting the deadline doesn’t mean the student is guaranteed additional aid, however, it does place them in the best possible position for eligibility.

The One Hop Shop can assist them with the FAFSA.  Simply call the One Hop Shop at 315-386-7616 or email them at finaid@canton.edu if assistance is needed.  It is important to make they have their FSA ID all set and ready to go (parents must have their FSA ID also if the student is a dependent student).  Remember that the 2019-2020 FAFSA uses their 2017 Tax information.

They can also complete their 2019-2020 FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov online.  The FAFSA can even be completed on their mobile device.  The MyStudentAid app can be downloaded from Google Play or from the Apple App store.



Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s challenge had to do with abbreviations, and our fastest winners being Kelly DeHaut, Janel Smith, Megan Warren, and Robin Gittings.  Just come up to the President’s Office on the 6thfloor of MacArthur Hall to pick up your prize.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. DIY—Do it Yourself.
  2. VIP—Very Important Person
  3. BOGO—Buy One, Get One (Free).
  4. IRS—Internal Revenue Service (or Inland Revenue Service in England)
  5. PDQ—Pretty Darn Quick


This Time’s Trivia Challenge

In keeping with the holiday theme, this issue’s challenge has to do with holiday movies and television programs.

The first five entries with the most correct answers win a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, as well as the admiration of their peers. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edusince if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Cartoon about a snowman that comes to life.
  2. A new movie about this character that wanted to end Christmas in Whoville is now playing at theaters.
  3. Movie from 1947 starring Edmund Gwenn and a young Natalie Wood about an elderly gentleman named Kris Kringle who claims to be the real Santa Claus and proves it in court.
  4. Movie from 1942 starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, and Virginia Dale that introduced the song “White Christmas”.
  5. The ultimate holiday classic from 1946, starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, about a man who sees what his town would be like if he had never been born.


Posted in Uncategorized

November 9, 2018


Volume 13, Issue 08–November 9, 2018


Has It Been That Long?

It’s been almost a month since the last BLAB.  How have you all lived without it?  I offer my usual excuse—it has been so busy, I just haven’t had the time to get to it.

On the home front, we’re in the process of getting a generator installed the house and it’s a complicated procedure.  The generator was delivered about a week ago, and yesterday, the transfer switch was installed in the house and wired in. The transfer switch is the thing that detects when there’s a power outage and turns on the generator to provide electricity to the house.  When the power comes back on, it switches back and turns the generator off.  I’m told that the process takes less than a minute each way.  The person installing the transfer switch noticed another smallish electrical box in the basement and asked me what it was supplying power to.  I had no idea.  At first, he thought it might be a stove, but when the box was disconnected, the stove still worked.  The same was true about our dryer, whirlpool bath, and most of the attic.  However, when in the attic, I noticed that the lights in the “man cave” there (where we keep our DVDs, books, and view-master collection) no longer would switch on.  He went down to the wood room underneath the man cave and lo and behold, there was a switch box down there that I never knew about.  It may also be supplying power to the separate garage building that I don’t even own (it was sold to someone else at some point before I bought the house), but I’m not sure if that’s true.  Anyway, mystery solved.  The people who will hook the generator up to the gas are coming today, and hopefully the job will be complete.

My father will be returning to his winter home in Las Vegas on Monday, so I’ll be driving him up to Ottawa that afternoon.  His flight has only one stop, in Chicago and a short layover.  He usually stays in Las Vegas between November and May, coming back to Canton when the weather gets too hot.  He always has a good time up here, playing basketball and exercising in the CARC most mornings, giving talks about his history, and being with friends in the area. Not bad for someone who’s 91 years old! In fact, he, my wife Jill, and I attended the moonlight madness event for our basketball team last week, and while waiting for it to begin, he decided to try to throw some 3-pointers.


He missed the first few by a little but then got one in, and the folks who had gotten there a little earlier began to applaud.  He missed two more but then sank the second 3-pointer, and everyone in the crowd cheered. I guess he felt that he had accomplished enough, so he waved his hat and sat down.  The whole Moonlight Madness event was a lot of fun.  I had been invited to judge the slam-dunk competition (with three other judges), and it was great, with a lot of fancy moves.


Visit from the Chancellor

On the afternoon of November 6th, Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson visited SUNY Canton for the first time.  Her visit began with a brief one-on-one with me in my office, where we talked about the College’s goals and how SUNY could help. I also shared that we had something in common that she didn’t know about—we had both been featured in comic books, her as a super-hero when she was elected for membershipin 2015 to the National Inventors Hall of Fame for her work on Polarization-Control Technology.

Chancellor Johnson’s National Inventors Hall of Fame Photo

We then drove down to Nevaldine South, where she was immediately pleased when she noticed the electric vehicle charging station there.  Since our Chancellor is an environmental engineer, naturally our first stop was to visit Dr. Adrienne Rygel’s class in the Environmental Engineering lab.

We proceeded from there for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the esports Arena, where Chancellor Johnson was interviewed by local media, presented with her own esports jersey, and took the time to talk to several students about how participating in esports also helps them with their studies.

From there, we walked past the various awards SUNY Canton has won for its Steel Bridge Team, including our first place in the nation finish in 2009.  We will be hosting the national competition next year.

The next stop was in the Southworth Library, where Chancellor Johnson met with student representatives.

A selfie of our student leaders with Chancellor Johnson

Then, in the Miller Student Center, she met with representatives of our faculty and staff.  From there, she came to Cook Hall where she toured our Early Childhood Education classrooms and saw several exhibits of our students’ project work, and was greeted by a visiting delegation from Xi’an, China.

We then walked by the Business program’s Trading Room and the Chapel for our Funeral Services Administration program’s lab and Chapel.

The final meeting was in the MacArthur Hall Conference Room, where we had a nice discussion about what makes SUNY Canton a unique institution, critical to the economy of the North Country.  Chancellor Johnson was presented with a monogrammed laboratory coat (with her name and a picture of our mascot, Roody), safety glasses, and a decorative bag of North Country goodies for her trip home. 

As she left, Chancellor Johnson told me that she had thoroughly enjoyed her visit and was very impressed by what she saw and the many people she met on campus.  A report about her visit and her impressions appeared in the Watertown Daily Times and in the Courier Observer, which you can read here.


Community Solidarity

As everyone is all too aware, there have been a series of horrible events across our country indicating that racial, religious, and political hatred are still all too common.  In the last week in October, two African-Americans were murdered at a Kroger grocery store (after the killer had tried unsuccessfully to break in to the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, a predominantly African-American church); eleven Jewish worshipers were murdered at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh while attending services; and pipe bombs were sent by mail to more than a dozen political critics of the President.  Several other murderous incidents have taken place since, including 12 murdered at a dance club in Thousand Oaks on November 7.

There have been many ways that our local community has come together to express solidarity with the victims of these horrible events.  Many local churches offered prayers, sermons, and held discussions.  Memorial prayers and a moment of silence were offered at the Aviva Chernick concerts held at Temple Beth El in Potsdam on October 29 and at SUNY Canton on October 30.  Non-Jewish members of the community joined in services (which were organized by the Four-College Hillel group) at Temple Beth-El on November 2 to show support.  The Hillel students also held a vigil at SUNY Potsdam on November 4.

On November 3, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Canton held a vigil entitled “We Will Arise” to remember the victims and to raise funds for HIAS (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the charity organization that was targeted on social media by the Pittsburgh Synagogue gunman).  The ceremony was beautiful and meaningful, involving religious leaders of many faiths and members of the community of many backgrounds.

It was quite moving to see so many people turn out in our small village, joining together to pray, sing songs of solidarity, light candles for the victims, and lay down stones in their memory.  The Jewish prayer for the dead, El Maleh Rachamim (G-d, Full of Mercy), was recited, which goes:

“G-d, full of mercy, who dwells in the heights, provide a sure rest upon the Divine Presence’s wings, within the range of the holy, pure and glorious, whose shining resemble the sky’s, to the souls of the departed for whom charity was pledged to the memory of their souls. Therefore, the Master of Mercy will protect them forever, from behind the hiding of his wings, and will tie their souls with the rope of life. The Everlasting is their heritage, and they shall rest peacefully upon their lying place, and let us say: Amen.”


Open Forums

As promised, we have been holding some open forums to get faculty and staff opinions about our push to incorporate Industry 4.0 at SUNY Canton as well as how to make our financial position at the College even stronger.  Three have been held for faculty and staff, and a third session with our Campus Leadership group was held last week.  The discussions have been interesting, with lots of good ideas being shared.  I’d like to thank everyone who has attended and participated—I think this will be an excellent opportunity for our College and graduates and am looking forward to seeing how it progresses.


Open House

We had another wonderful Open House on October 20, with excellent attendance of students and parents.  Thanks to our terrific Admissions team and the many faculty and staff who participate, Open House is always a good time and it’s great to talk to the prospective students and parents.  When I spoke to the whole group and told them about our Student Opinion Survey results, the audience spontaneously burst into applause!


Speakers and Performers on Campus

SUNY Canton has hosted a number of visitors speaking or performing on campus recently.

  • On October 16, Jennifer Stevenson (Class of ’88), the owner of Blue Heron Realty in Ogdensburg, spoke as part of our Excellence in Leadership Series.Jennifer is a loyal friend of the College who also regularly co-sponsors alumni events.
  • On October 22, Casey McCue (Class of ’92), Director of the Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services for the NY Department of Agriculture and Markets spoke as part of our Excellence in Leadership Series.He serves on multiple state-wide and national committees associated with milk and agricultural production.
  • On October 23, Ricky Richard Anywar, the inspiration for the novel “Soldier Boy” gave a short talk about his experiences as a child soldier in the Lord’s Resistance Army during the Ugandan Civil War as part of our Living Writers Series. He subsequently founded the charity Friends of Orphans to help other LRA Children. He was joined by Keely Hutton, the author of the novel, who had spoken on our campus earlier in the year.
  • On October 30, Aviva Chernick, a Canadian singer from Toronto who performs in Ladino (a Spanish/Herbrew mixture) and Hebrew gave a concert of songs about love, exile, and home in the Cyber Café.  She was accompanied by Joel Schwartz on guitar.  The concert was great!
  • Also on October 30, Mary Karr, award winning poet and best-selling memoirist, spoke as part of our Living Writers Series. She read selections from her recent poetry collection “Tropic of Squalor”.  She is also the author of “Lit”, “The Liar’s Club”, and “Cherry”, which were best-sellers.
  • On November 4, Bart Tuttle, Plant Manager at Corning, spoke as part of our Excellence in Leadership Series. One interesting fact is that both his parents worked at Corning as well—his mother as a secretary (working for them even before the Canton location opened), and his father in production.  Thus, there has been a member of his family working at Corning in Canton throughout its entire history!


SBDC Trip to Plattsburgh

On Friday October 26, I drove over to Plattsburgh for the ribbon-cutting for SUNY Canton’s second Small Business Development Center, located on the campus of Clinton Community College.  As everyone should know, we have hosted an SBDC on our campus for many years which provides services to businesses and entrepreneurs across the North Country, helping them establish themselves, develop business plans, expand, and transition. It’s a vital link in the economic development chain.

The ride to Plattsburgh was beautiful—it was a lovely sunny day, with the only problem being that the sun was always in my face the entire way.  Clinton Community College has a beautiful setting right on Lake Champlain, which could easily be seen from the room in which the ceremony took place.

The event went very well, with several local government leaders telling me how glad they were that SUNY Canton had stepped up to operate the Plattsburgh SBDC.

President Ray DiPasquale

A nice article about the event appeared in the Press-Republican, entitled “Big Effort Gives Rebirth to Business Assistance Organization”, which you can read here.

While at Clinton, I had the opportunity to tour their recently opened Institute for Advanced Manufacturing, which has excellent engineering facilities. CCC’s President Ray DiPasquale and I also spoke about ways our two colleges can work together even more closely in the future.

L-R:  Dale Rice (Director of SUNY Canton’s SBDC), Tammy Mooney (Asst. State Director of  the SBDC, me, Brian Goldstein (Director of  the State SBDC), and Angela Smith (Asst. Director of the SUNY Canton SBDC at Clinton Community College)


Aerial view of Clinton Community College’s Institute for Advanced Manufacture


Hurrying Back to Canton That Afternoon for Trunk or Treat

I had to hurry back to Canton right after the Plattsburgh ribbon cutting to pick up Jill and Mark to participate in “Trunk or Treat”, a really fun Halloween activity.  For those who don’t know, Trunk or Treat means that you park your car to a particular location (French Hall, in this case), open the trunk, and give out candy from there.  The event was organized by SUNY Canton’s Early Childhood Program, whose faculty and students put on a wonderful variety of events throughout the year for the local community.   

Many of the people participating dressed in costumes for the occasion and many decorated their trunks in Halloween themes.  I had to leave (see below) after setting up, but Jill and Mark stayed on for the fun and enjoyed themselves thoroughly.  We gave away candy, of course, but also children’s DVDs and toys. About 300 children from Canton came by, and a wonderful time was had by all.

Jill in her witch’s hat giving out candy

A big thanks to the Early Childhood faculty, Maureen Maiocco and Christina Martin for organizing the event.


Hockey Night!

I had to hurry away from Trunk or Treat because I was double booked—there was also an Alumni Hockey gathering at exactly the same time.  I walked down from French Hall to the CARC (SUNY Canton’s beautiful Athletics Facility) where the gathering was being held in the mezzanine. I enjoyed meeting the many alumni who had been members of our Hockey team in the past, as well as parents of current players, and friends of the program.  It was a nice event, and SUNY Canton won the game that followed, beating Wilkes University 6-4.  Go Roos!



Last Time’s Trivia Contest

There was none!


This Time’s Trivia Challenge

This issue’s challenge has to do with yet more abbreviations.  I give the initials, you tell what they stand for or what they mean.

The first five entries with the most correct answers win a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, as well as the admiration of their peers. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edusince if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. DIY
  2. VIP
  3. BOGO
  4. IRS
  5. PDQ


Posted in Uncategorized

October 16, 2018


Volume 13, Issue 07–October 16, 2018


Welcome to the New Revolution, Part 2

In last week’s issue of the BLAB, I wrote about how we are entering a new industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, which is characterized by the leveraging of internet technologies by industry. We’ve all seen multiple examples of this, ranging from the innocuous (thermostats that can hook to the internet and be programmed from your smart phone) to major disruption of industries (streaming of music drastically reducing cd sales).  A 2017 Pew Research Poll found that 72% of Americans are very (or somewhat) worried about a future where robots and computers are capable of performing human jobs, 76% are concerned that automation would make economic inequality worse, and 75% believe that the economy will notcreate new, better-paying jobs for displaced workers.

Note that the results of the previous three industrial revolutions (see last week’s BLAB for some history) were positive overall, leading to a higher standard of living and increased longevity for most people. Still, revolutions (including industrial revolutions) are disruptive by their very nature.  In each case, millions of people lost their jobs and had to find new ones, often in different industries and in different locations.  In the United States in 1870, some 50% of the population worked in the agricultural sector, but today, less than 2% does.  For non-farm employment, the following table (data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) compares the percentages of people working in various sectors in 1910 and 2015:

  1910 2015
Forestry and Fisheries   1.0%  0.0%
Mining   4.1%  0.5%
Manufacturing 32.4%  8.7%
Construction   9.1%  4.5%
Transportation and Public Utilities 12.6%  3.8%
Wholesale and Retail Trade 13.3% 23.0%
Finance and Real Estate   2.0%   5.7%
Educational Services   3.5%   9.7%
Other Professional Services   3.0% 28.9%
Domestic Service   8.5%   0.0%
Personal Service   6.0%   1.0%
Government not elsewhere classified   2.1%   8.3%
Other   2.3%   5.9%

The table shows that there have been major changes in various sectors, both downwards (mining, manufacturing, construction, transportation, domestic service, personal service), and upwards (wholesale and retail trade, finance, educational services, other professional services, government).  Similarly, there has been a major shift of where people live and work, from rural areas to cities and suburbs.  One other major difference is in the nature of the jobs in the same category—for example, the mining job that may have required a grade school education in 1910 might have required a high school education in 1950 and a college degree today, due to the need to use and understand the advances in mining technology appropriate to the job.

Given these changes, it is quite reasonable that the public is concerned about what jobs will still exist, what jobs will be created in the future, and what skills and education they will require.

There is a well-known quote about how changing technology affects education, attributed to former Secretary of Education Richard Riley: “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist…using technologies that haven’t been invented…in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”  A viral video, “Did You Know” (originally called “Shift Happens”), is well worth watching (but see the caveat below) and makes some startling projections:

One of the closing slides in the “Did You Know” video reads: “By 2060, artificial intelligence will be capable of performing nearly all jobs currently done by humans” and shows a sequence of people being replaced by robots.  This is quite scary, but it’s also misleading.  Similarly to what has happened in previous industrial revolutions, the following is highly likely to occur:

  • Technology will continue to advance, so…
  • This will disrupt some current industries and cause loss of some jobs, and…
  • Job requirements will continue to change and will require a greater ability to use and understand technology and data, so…
  • People, by using that technology, will augment their own abilities and increasingly form communities of practice where data and analyses are shared, and…
  • These augmented abilities and communities of practice will lead to new insights, new discoveries, new opportunities, and the creation of new industries and jobs.

The set of skills we’re told that graduates need to be conversant with to be prepared for Industry 4.0 looks quite intimidating.

  • Writing and Communications Skills
  • Organizational Skills
  • Customer Service Skills
  • Planning Skills
  • Entrepreneurial Creativity
  • Analytical Problem Solving
  • Continuous Improvement and Lean Practices
  • Sensors and Edge Computing
  • Digital Automation and Controls
  • Robotics and 3D Manufacturing
  • Data Analytics
  • Simulation/Creation of Digital Twin
  • Cloud Computing and Cybersecurity
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Business Intelligence and Digital Services
  • Digital Enterprise vs. Digital Thread (how to get the right information to the right people at the right time)

As a College of Technology, looking at the list a little more closely, we can see some familiar ideas.  Writing and communications skills are embedded in our core requirements and are emphasized in many courses and most programs.  Our applied courses usually also emphasize organizational and planning skills.  Many programs have at least one course that emphasizes analytical problem solving and make use of data analytics.  Several of our programs make extensive use of simulation (Nursing with its animatronic patients and model hospital, Early Childhood Education with its resource room, and Engineering with its 3D modeling are three examples).  Our new degree programs (Cybersecurity, Game Design, Mechatronics Technology, etc.) are often directly focused on one or more of these skills.

In order for SUNY Canton to respond appropriately to Industry 4.0 and the rapidly changing future job picture, our College and each of our degree programs will need to answer the following questions:

  • Which of the skills are already incorporated in each of our programs? Do we need to update what we do regarding those skills?  What additional resources will be needed to do update them?
  • Which of the skills not currently incorporated in each of our programs should be added? What resources do we need to do this?  [I’m sure you’ll all agree that not all the skills need to be incorporated into all degree programs!]
  • Some skills may be delivered better in core courses than within courses specific to a major. Which ones?  Will we need new core courses, such as in ethics?  Do we need to update what we do regarding those skills?  What additional resources will be needed?
  • Almost all jobs will require a greater ability to use and analyze data than they do now. What does “data literate” mean today and tomorrow?  What do all graduates need to know about mathematics, statistics, and computing?
  • Almost all jobs will require a greater ability to work together with an increasingly diverse group of colleagues. How do we incorporate this skill?
  • In the future, we will likely need to have the skills to create our own opportunities and to market ourselves. How do we give our students the skills to do this?
  • What effect will enhanced technology and artificial intelligence have on the way we should deliver student services? What additional resources will be needed?
  • What is the best way to ensure that all students at least have the opportunityto become conversant with all the skills and to understand the rapidly changing future?
  • What is the best way to ensure that our alumni can become conversant with these skills?

It’s a big set of issues to deal with, but who in SUNY is better equipped to take a leadership role on this than us?  I’m looking forward to our open forum discussions in the next few weeks.


Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest had to do with things related to the Comic Strips.  Our fastest five winners wereJohn Jodice, Geoffrey VanderWoude, Kerrie Cooper, Robin Gittings, and Elizabeth Madlin.  Others getting all five right (but no disc for you) included Janel Smith, Carmela Young, Kevin Elliott, Terri Clemmo, Kelly DeHaut, and Debbie Flack.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prize—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. SUNY.  State University of New York
  2. ASAP.  As Soon As Possible
  3. CFO.  Chief Financial (or Fiscal) Officer
  4. ROFL (on the internet). Rolling On the Floor Laughing
  5. P.S. Post Script


This Time’s Trivia Challenge

No time to write it. The Trivia Challenge will come back next issue.

Posted in Uncategorized

October 11, 2018


Volume 13, Issue 06–October 11, 2018


 Welcome to the New Revolution

With the rise of increasingly sophisticated technology, robots, and computing, many people are getting concerned that the world is passing them by.  There’s a fear that technology is reaching the point where it will replace people and eliminate jobs.  A 2017 Pew Research Poll found that 72% of Americans are very (or somewhat) worried about a future where robots and computers are capable of performing human jobs, 76% are concerned that automation would make economic inequality worse, and 75% believe that the economy will notcreate new, better-paying jobs for displaced workers.

These concerns are also impacting higher education. Parents are concerned about the high cost of college and want assurance that their children will be well prepared for tomorrow’s economy.  Colleges increasingly focus on STEM (and less so on liberal arts and citizenship) and on preparing students for jobs.  The future is increasingly murky, and many people question whether anyone has the answers of how to deal with it.  “What will the working world look like in five, ten or twenty years?” is the overarching question behind many concerns.  More specific questions include:

  • “Will my job be outsourced or replaced by a computer?”
  • “Can people work alongside increasingly sophisticated technology, artificial intelligence, and cyber systems?”
  • “How will ethical issues be addressed in an increasingly technological world?”

Are these concerns misguided?  Past history would largely argue “yes”.  While many people see this as a new phenomenon, it is actually something we’ve seen several times before, because we’re entering a fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0 for short). In each of the previous three industrial revolutions, even as the population rose, more jobs were created than lost, and wealth was more broadly distributed than before.


The first industrial revolution (Industry 1.0, 1760-1840) was characterized by the advent of water power, steam power, and mechanization. Like most things, it had both good and bad outcomes. People ultimately benefitted from a rising standard of living and increased life expectancy, but the use of machinery also resulted in throwing large numbers of farmers and agricultural workers out of a job, forcing many to move to the cities and become factory workers, where they often lived in squalid conditions.  Lack of work, low wages, and the high cost of bread led to riots, uprisings, and massacres. In England, one of the most extreme of the riots was in the textile industry, where workers (known as Luddites, 1812-1817) destroyed weaving machinery in protest of mill owners replacing skilled weavers with cheaper, less-skilled workers.  The army was called in, Parliament passed laws against “machine breaking” (with punishments up to execution), and the rebellion was suppressed.  In the United States, the Civil War can be seen as a moral struggle against slavery, exacerbated by an increasing divergence of regional interests between a North that had entered the industrial revolution and a South that was still largely agrarian.  Even with all the disruption that occurred due to the industrial revolution, the good far outweighed the bad and people were generally better off as a result.

The second industrial revolution (Industry 2.0, 1870-1935) was characterized by rising availability of steel, oil, and rubber, as well as wider access to transportation, electricity, communications, sewage systems, gas, and water. Together with the concept of interchangeable parts, this resulted in assembly lines and mass production, as well as a burst of technological innovation including the internal combustion engine, electric lighting, the telephone, movies, and radio.  The standard of living for most people improved once again, since greater productivity and more efficient transportation lowered the costs of most goods.  However, these same lower prices led to many business failures and major economic depressions.  In agriculture, greater mechanization also led to higher unemployment and further migration to cities.  The negative aspects of Industry 2.0 were described in most forms of popular media. The movie Metropolis (1927) was one of the first films showing the deleterious effects of mass production on the human spirit, and the book Brave New World (written by Aldous Huxley in 1931) was a critical look at a “utopian” world where people were engineered in the womb, sorted by intelligence and labor, and kept happy through a drug called soma.

The third industrial revolution (Industry 3.0, 1945-2000) was characterized by the rise of computers and spread of automation.  As computers grew in memory, they shrank in size and cost and spread from companies and offices across industry and then into homes. Computers were used for a wide variety of automated tasks.  This led to greater quality control and higher efficiencies, but also led to loss of jobs and disruptions of major industries.  The rise of computers was frequently satirized in movies such as Desk Set (1957), and the idea that computers and robots might become intelligent enough to take over was a common theme in all forms of popular fiction (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, 2001:A Space Odyssey, The Matrix), though some saw the rise of computers and automation as mostly positive (The Jetsons, Star Trek).

The world is now said to be entering a new industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, characterized by the leveraging of internet technologies by industry, colloquially called the “internet of things”.  The term originated in Germany from a ten-point high-tech government strategy developed in 2006 for higher education, research, and industry.  The German government would develop a consistentinnovation policy that removed legislative obstacles, prioritize research funding, and expand investments in the future with tax incentives.  They would also work with higher education and industry to strengthen cooperation and increase the number of graduates prepared for research and development careers.

Germany’s 2020 High-Tech Strategy (developed in 2010) is a continuation of the 2006 strategy in which Industry 4.0 is only one of ten key projects, others of which include improving the environment (by creating CO2-neutral, energy-efficient and climate adapted cities; using renewable biomaterials instead of oil, and restructuring the energy supply), better healthcare (by treating diseases more effectively using personalized medicine, promoting targeted prevention and optimized diets, and supporting independent living into old age), sustainable mobility, and issues related to online commerce (creatingweb-based services by businesses and securing identities).

So—what skills do our graduates need to be conversant with to be prepared for Industry 4.0?  The best list I’ve seen includes the following items.  Note that many of our current programs already incorporate some of these skills, and several of our new and planned programs are directly focused on them:

  • Writing and Communications Skills
  • Organizational Skills
  • Customer Service Skills
  • Planning Skills
  • Entrepreneurial Creativity
  • Analytical Problem Solving
  • Continuous Improvement and Lean Practices
  • Sensors and Edge Computing
  • Digital Automation and Controls
  • Robotics and 3D Manufacturing
  • Data Analytics
  • Simulations and Creation of a Digital Twin
  • Cloud Computing and Cybersecurity
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Business Intelligence and Digital Services
  • Digital Enterprise vs. the Digital Thread

The current issue of Educause Reviewis devoted to the effect of Industry 4.0 on higher education and the IT industry. It is well worth reading.  It contains the following articles (links provided):

  • Smart Machines and Human Expertise: Challenges for Higher Education (click here)
  • The Future of the IT Profession and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (click here)
  • Scenarios, Pathways, and the Future-Ready Workforce (click here)

I’ll be discussing some thoughts about these articles in the next issue of THE WEEKLY BLAB.  As I mentioned in the State of the Campus Address, we’ll be holding some open forums to discuss how SUNY Canton can best respond to Industry 4.0 in late October and early November, so you may want to read and think about the articles before then.  I hope you can all attend and will share your thoughts and ideas as we move forward.


There’s No Place Like Home…

There’s lots of evidence that students learn best when they have a “sense of place” at their college—somewhere that they can hang out with friends or interact in an informal setting with their instructors and others in their major.  Spaces that give students a sense of place can include their residence hall rooms and lounges, library study areas, departmental locations set aside for students, and mingling places such as cafés and outdoor picnic tables.

While SUNY Canton students rate us very highly on our campus facilities (we were rated #1 in SUNY for study areas, #1 for classroom facilities, #1 for course-related laboratories, and #3 for athletic and recreational facilities), we’re not resting on our laurels—we want our student facilities to get better and better.  Here are some examples of new spaces that have recently opened on campus:

A new lounge for students in our Applied Psychology B.S. program has just opened in Wicks Hall 201.  The room includes individual couchettes, a hi-top meeting table and chairs, a large-screen TV, storage cubes for backpacks, and three computer stations.  It’s nicely decorated and very inviting for department meetings, student organization meetings, studying, and hanging out.


Another new lounge for students in our various Criminal Justice related programs, has just opened in Payson Hall 126.  The room includes individual couchettes, small tables, a large-screen TV, storage and four computer stations.



In Payson Hall 128 and Nevaldine North 113, we have opened two new flexible modality classrooms.  Flexible modality means that the course is offered simultaneously face to face and online, both synchronously and asynchronously.  This format is ideal for adult learners who may have a job, be deployed in the military, and/or have children, and need to be able to switch back and forth between modalities due to work or child care needs.  It’s also an excellent format for anystudent, since face to face students can access the online materials as supplements to review or extend their learning, and online students can access the course lectures either through livestreaming or by watching it as a podcast.



Some additional new facilities I’ve mentioned before include our new eSports Arena, which has gotten a lot of press, and our beautiful new Cyber Café, where students can get food later in the evening and also enjoy small-venue concerts.

Even more is underway.  Coming up in January: the opening of our new Chaney Dining Hall, which will contain several fabulous new features.  More on that in future issues of THE BLAB!


SUNY Canton in the News

SUNY Canton continues to be in the news lately, about a lot of good things.  Here are some examples:

The Ford Motor Company donated a late model Ford Focus to our Automotive Technology program.  “The donation gives our students hands-on access to some of the latest advancements available on the motor vehicle market” said Assistant Prof. Brandon J. Baldwin, who is the curriculum coordinator for the program. This was covered in the October 2 Courier Observer. 

SUNY Canton was rated 26thin the “Regional Colleges—North” rankings in U.S. World’s report on best colleges.  This appeared in North Country Now on September 21.

New York’s governor has called upon all SUNY colleges to have a food pantry on campus.  We’ve actually had one for some time, but we’re looking at various ways we might expand it.  The governor’s plan appeared in North Country Now on September 20.

As part of our eSports effort, a partnership between SUNY Canton and Extreme Networks and Alienware was announced and covered by ESPN.

An article about how SUNY Canton is “Expanding the Ranks of Student Athletes with E-Sports” was featured in a video on ZDNet, featuring Kyle Brown (CIO), Molly Mott (Associate Provost and Dean of Academic Support Services and Instructional Technologies), and Randy Sieminski (Director of Athletics).

An article on how, “For College eSports, Competition is Only as Good as the Tech Behind It” appeared onventurebeat.com on September 4, referring to SUNY Canton as a case study in how to do it.

The NAC athletic conference’s websitenamed SUNY Canton student athletes Josh Marshall Rookie of the Week in Golf, Allison Wakefield Defensive Player of the Week in Soccer, Marissa Ixtlahuac Player of the Week in Volleyball, and Peyton Robinson Defensive Player of the Week in Volleyball.


Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest had to do with things related to the Comic Strips.  Our fastest five winners were Carmela Young, Kelly DeHaut, Elizabeth Madlin, Jennifer Whittaker, and SPSU’s Alan Gabrielli.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prize—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository. Others getting all five right included Greg Kie, Lori Gagnon, Robin Gittings, and Jeffery Stinson.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. He’s five and a half years old, and always getting in trouble with Mr. Wilson.Dennis the Menace.
  2. Originally, Charles M. Schulz wanted to call this strip he created in 1950 “Li’l Folks”, but the syndicate overruled him. Schulz hated the name they used, writing: “It’s totally ridiculous, has no meaning, is simply confusing, and has no dignity—and I think my humor has dignity.”   Peanuts.
  3. This strip is named after a cat with an insatiable appetite for pizza and lasagna.  Garfield. 
  4. This strip began in 1930, about the adventures of a poor young flapper girl and her boyfriend Dagwood Bumstead, who was heir to a railroad fortune. His parents disowned him when he married her.   Blondie
  5. This strip began with its lead character as a college student, but he soon joined the army and has been goofing off there ever since.  Beetle Bailey.




This Time’s Trivia Challenge

This issue’s challenge has to do with abbreviations.  I give the initials, you tell what they stand for.

The first five entries with the most correct answers win a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, as well as the admiration of their peers. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edusince if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. SUNY
  2. ASAP
  3. CFO
  4. ROFL (on the internet)
  5. P.S.
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