November 15, 2016

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 8–November 15, 2016

 

So Many Thanks

Words can’t describe how much I appreciate how everyone rallied around my family last week after my mother, Simona, passed away.

The funeral was held in Syracuse on Sunday, October 30, at the Sisskind Funeral Home.  My father had flown in on October 27 from Las Vegas, and stayed in Syracuse with some family friends.  My sister Drorit had handled most of the arrangements from her home in Houston, and flew in with her partner Susanne on the 28th.  By 1:00 PM, the funeral home’s hall was packed—all the seats were taken and there were many people standing.  Several family members from Israel and Las Vegas weren’t able to come in person and skyped in through an arrangement my cousin Assaf (who flew in from Seattle) had set up.  Family flew and drove in from around the country, some making it to the funeral and others during the week where we sat Shiva. So many people came from Syracuse, where I grew up and my parents lived for so many years.  They included some of their oldest friends, many of the teachers and students (past and present) from the Syracuse Hebrew Day School where my mother had taught for so many years, and many other friends and neighbors.  Several people drove down from Canton representing the synagogue and the College.  Please forgive me for not individually listing those in attendance, as I’m sure I’d unintentionally miss someone.  Our deepest thanks to everyone who was able to come.

The service was officiated by Rabbi Yaakov Rapoport (from Syracuse University Hillel, who also did the benediction at my inauguration at SUNY Canton) and Rabbi Evan Shore (from synagogue Young Israel-Shaarei Torah).  Syracuse Hebrew Day School principal Barbara Davis spoke about what a fine teacher my mother had been for so many years, and how she never gave up on any student—she was determined that each one would be able to succeed.  I gave the eulogy, and my sister Drorit shared some remembrances and read a poem called “Letter from Heaven”.

My father Daniel then spoke, about how he and my mother had first met and dated, and how they were married after only three months.  He spoke about their early life together, how we moved to the United States, and how he surprised her by signing her up to take her first college classes, ultimately resulting in her getting her associates degree from OCC, and her bachelors and masters degrees from SUNY Cortland.  She originally agreed to teach at the Hebrew Day School for one year, which then turned into 26 years.  He talked about how close she was to my son Mark, and how proud she was at his bar-mitzvah.  He ended by saying even near the end, she would hold his hand in the hospice, and clap along to music.

After the burial, we drove back to Canton for the Shiva—the traditional seven-day mourning period—that was held in the College’s Alumni House.  So many people from the College and the community came by to pay their respects that I couldn’t possibly list them all, many bringing food for the mourners.  So many others sent sympathy cards and posted their condolences on Facebook.  Our deepest thanks to everyone for lending us support in this trying time. 

Some specific things we’ll never forget include Prof. David Penepent and all the Funeral Services Administration students who came by to give their condolences; our Student Government officers and all the students who drew and signed the beautiful angel poster—we’ll always treasure it; and the many kindnesses extended by Michaela Young, Peggy Levato, Sue Law, and Sean Conklin in going so far out of their way to meet the needs of my family during the mourning period.

My family and I feel extremely blessed to have such wonderful family members, friends, colleagues, and students to lend us support.  We’ll always remember how you were there when we needed you.

 

Presidential Inauguration

Congratulations to Dr. Margaret Venable, a good friend, a fellow chemist, and one of the best people I know, on her inauguration as president of Dalton State College in Georgia.  I flew into Chattanooga on October 20 (and it’s not easy to get there from Canton—Ogdensburg to Albany, Albany to Atlanta, and finally Atlanta to Chattanooga), arriving at about 10:15 PM, getting a rental car, and then driving the 30 miles or so from the airport to Dalton.  Dalton is a small city of 33,000 residents, and the hotel wasn’t hard to find as it was alongside the college.

The next morning, I drove onto campus and went to the administration building, hoping to be able to have a few minutes to chat with Margaret before the festivities began.  Fortunately, she was free and we were able to talk over old times—Margaret had been an ACE Fellow on the SPSU campus several years earlier, with President Lisa Rossbacher and me acting as her mentors.

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The inauguration ceremony was preceded by a nice luncheon, where I ran into lots of Georgia friends, including Dr. Al Panu, another fellow chemist and ACE Fellow, who I learned was now the president at University of South Carolina—Beaufort.  Congratulations Al!

The inauguration itself was quite nice.  It had rained the previous day (good, because Dalton was experiencing a severe drought) and there was some concern it might rain again, but instead it was quite windy, which kept the temperature down—especially good since I was wearing my regalia.

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There were the usual greetings and best wishes from various campus constituencies, and Margaret gave a very good speech.  And just like that, it was over and she was Dalton State’s first female president.  Congratulations Margaret!

 

 

In My Mind, I’m Going to Carolina

The next day, I drove from Dalton to Raleigh, NC for some alumni visits.  It’s a long ride, but the weather was good and the traffic was relatively light.  Since there are no good west-east roads in northern Georgia, the fastest way to go is to head southeast on I-75 until reaching the Atlanta beltway, then around on I-285, before heading northeast on I-85 through South Carolina and Charlotte.  I stopped for lunch at, you guessed it, an Indian restaurant there, and arrived in Cary, NC (a Raleigh suburb where we were staying) at about 4PM.

I was joined there by Director of Individual Giving Amanda Stopa and later by V.P. of Advancement Anne Sibley, whose flight in had suffered several breakdowns and delays.  While there, we had a very nice gathering of about 25 alumni who now live in North Carolina at the Tribeca Tavern in Cary, followed by several individual visits with alumni:  Louis Shaheen (’76), Lea-Ann Berst (’82), and Bill Blasko (’99), all of which went very well.

I left on the morning of October 25th, driving to Columbia, SC, where I was speaking at the Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).  On the way down, I stopped for lunch in Florence, SC, which I was pleased to find had an Indian restaurant that I quickly located and enjoyed.  The ride from there to Columbia is only a few hours, but when I got there, I was surprised to find that I hardly recognized the city at all.  I had been there for graduate school between 1976 and 1981, and had visited a few times since, but relatively recently, they had totally redeveloped the area where the Seaboard railroad station and tracks used to be.  It was now an area composed of upscale restaurants and clubs, several new hotels, and a new Alumni Center and Convention Center for the University of South Carolina.

The ACS meeting featured a symposium in honor of Dr. Jerome D. Odom, my research professor when I got my Ph.D., and I was delighted to have been invited to speak there.  Jerry and I got together for breakfast, and we then proceeded to the symposium where I was happy to see two other professors I had taken during my time at USC, Drs. Paul Ellis and Dan Reger, as well as several of Jerry’s other graduate students.  It was also wonderful to see Dr. Tom Moore, who had been a grad student in Jerry’s group at the same time I was there, and his wife Marcia.  Tom went on from grad school to teach at Lander College and then to become the president of the University of South Carolina—Upstate before retiring recently.  The symposium was a lot of fun, with lots of interesting chemistry and funny stories about when things had gone less than well in the lab.  After the symposium, we all went out to lunch where we joined Jerry’s wife Toni, who in a long convoluted way, I was responsible for his having met many years ago!

 

New York Frame of Mind

I left the lunch at about 2:00 PM, because I had to drive out to the airport, drop off the car, and catch the 4:15 PM flight to New York City, where I was attending SUNYCON, an annual SUNY conference that focuses on issues affecting higher education.  The flight actually got there a little early, but I quickly lost the time waiting in line for a taxi to take me into Manhattan.  The traffic was extra heavy the whole way, and I didn’t arrive in Greenwich Village until 7:45, where I was staying at Jill’s sister Ellen’s apartment.

The next morning (October 27th), I took the subway up to Times Square where SUNYCON was held and joined up with Doug Scheidt, Lenore VanderZee, Greg Kie, Lorrette Murray, and Travis Smith who were also there for the meeting.  The sessions were interesting with some good speakers (you can see the agenda here, and of course we ran into lots of people we know from around SUNY, including former acting president Joseph Hoffman.

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After the sessions ended for the day, I walked crosstown in some miserable weather (fortunately, I had an umbrella) to join up with Megan Panek, the Director of Academic Advancement (Engineering) from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) for dinner.  WPI was my undergraduate college, and on the 40th anniversary of my graduation back in 1976, gave me their Goddard Professional Achievement Award.  Unfortunately, the WPI award ceremony had been back in June at their Alumni Reunion, which fell on the exact same day as SUNY Canton’s Alumni Reunion!  Needless to say I couldn’t attend theirs since I was at ours, and this was the first time we were able to meet up so they could give me the actual award—a very nice framed citation, and a very heavy obelisk made of green marble that has my name carved on one side and the award name on the other.

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The conference ended on the 28th, and I took a taxi crosstown to meet two representatives of the Korean Consulate for lunch, Consul Hyun-joo Kim, and Director/Education Attache Yong Hak Lee.  As many of you will recall, Korean Consul Yunju Ko had visited our campus last year as part of our Excellence in Leadership series.  The talk he gave then was excellent and well-attended.  He contacted me a few weeks ago, asking if we could arrange for him and the Korean Consul-General, Gheewhan Kim, to come up and speak on campus again this year.  I told him we’d be delighted, but there was one small problem—I’d be in NYC at the time they’d be at Canton!  It turned out that was fine—Consul-General Kim gave a very good talk on campus, then drove back to NYC that evening, and we met at the Consulate the next afternoon after lunch!  The meetings went very well, and we’ll be signing some articulation agreements with several Korean universities in the near future, which will bring in some new students and provide some exchange opportunities for faculty.

After the meetings, I took the subway to Penn Station and caught the 4:20 train to Albany where I spend the night before flying up to Ogdensburg on the first morning flight.

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

  1. President of the United States. Barack Obama.
  2. TV show where the host gave everyone a car. Oprah!
  3. Newspaper listing about someone who died.  Obituary.
  4. Japanese art of paper-folding.  Origami.
  5. Ancient Greek epic poem attributed to Homer—it’s the sequel to the Iliad. The Odyssey.

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “P”.  The first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Head of the Catholic Church.
  2. Flightless bird found in the Antarctic.
  3. Germany invaded this country in September 1939.
  4. Poet who wrote “The Raven”.
  5. Someone who does something exceptionally well, often at a young age.
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November 2, 2016

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 7–November 2, 2016

 

In Memorium

As many of you have heard, my mother Simona Szafran passed away last week, on October 23, 2016 at 3:00 AM Pacific Time in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This issue of the BLAB is dedicated to telling her life story, and we’ll return to the more usual contents next week.

She passed away at the Nathan Adelson Hospice, receiving wonderful care from my father and from the Hospice’s dedicated staff.  She died peacefully and without pain.  My father, Daniel, had been giving her loving 24-7 care for more than the past year, and had brought her back from death’s door more than once.  On October 23, her time to rejoin her parents came.

My mother was born on May 3, 1935, in Bucharest, Romania.  She was the oldest daughter of Bernard Dulzer, a well-known singer of Romanian folk songs (under his stage name of Bela Chitaristul—Bela the Guitarist) and Clara (Lupu) Dulzer.

My grandfather’s recording of Nunta Tiganeasca, a Romanian song

She is survived by her older brother, Reuven Avihai and her two younger sisters, Shulamit Ronen and Dina Rubin, as well as by husband Daniel, children Zvi and Drorit, and grandson Mark.

As a girl, Simona was an excellent student in many subjects, but she always especially loved languages.  It was an almost impossible time to be a student—she was four years old when World War II began.  Soon thereafter, King Carol II abdicated and the country came under the rule of Ion Antonescu and the anti-Semitic Iron Guard.  The family was caught up in the whirlwind of the Holocaust.  There was hardly any food, the family had to go into hiding at times, her father Bernard was forced to become a slave laborer (which he barely survived).  Her mother Clara kept the family together in a small unheated flat where they often had to subsist on soup and grain made from lobodiza, a local thistle/weed.

She attended the Tarbut School in Bucharest, which was where she learned Hebrew.  At the height of the war, the school had to go underground.  When the children wanted to quit school due to the hardships and danger, Clara would have none of it—she insisted that they keep studying.  When the children said “We may die tomorrow”, Clara said “Then you’ll die educated.”  Even in these most horrible of times, my mother told us of the goodness of strangers—while there were some who closed their eyes to the suffering of those around them, there was a also a family that hid them when things were at there worst, and there was a woman—a stranger—who bought her a winter coat when she saw her shivering in the winter cold.

After the war, she did well enough on an entrance exam to win a scholarship to the Chemical Technical High School in Bucharest, where her older brother Reuven had previously gone (Reuven went on to become a chemist as a profession).  When I first started studying chemistry many years later, my mother would sit down with me and tell me what she remembered from what she had learned so many years earlier, and what the various chemical terms and names were in Romanian.

The communists took over the Romanian government after the war, but a few years later, allowed Jews to leave the country.  Her family took the opportunity to emigrate to Israel in 1950.  Simona lived on a kibbutz for two years, and in 1953, while at a small party, met Daniel Szafran, my father.  Daniel was a Auschwitz survivor who had immigrated to Palestine after World War II, who had joined the underground army and fought in Israel’s War of Independence.  He asked her out on a date, but while she was reluctant since she knew Daniel would be leaving the country in a few months, she agreed.  After a whirlwind courtship, three months later on August 9, they were married.  They were the most loving couple ever, in a romance that lasted 63 years.

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They went to Germany (where my father studied heavy machinery mechanics and his brother Nathan, also an Auschwitz survivor, was part of the American military occupation force) for two years.  When my mother got pregnant, they traveled by train and boat to Israel in the summer of 1955 to give birth to me.

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My mother holding me, at 4 weeks old

Two years later, my sister Drorit was born in 1957.

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L-R:  back:  My uncle Yosef Ronen, Daniel, my aunt Shulamit, Simona.  Front: my cousin Aviram, me, and standing, my sister Drorit.

In 1959, our family moved to Syracuse, NY so that my father could be together with his brother Nathan, who had settled there.

We lived in apartments on Clarendon Street and then on Judson Street in Syracuse before my parents bought the house they still own on Hazelwood Avenue, where we grew up.  Nathan lived two houses down with his family—my aunt Shirley and their two children Karen and Barry.  It was more like one big family—we literally did everything together, seeing each other multiple times every day.

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Visiting New York City:  (L-R) Me, Drorit, my mother, and our cousin Charles Meltzer

As we grew up, Simona was primarily a mother and a housewife, but when I became a teenager, she returned to school, earning an Associates Degree from Onondaga Community College.  I remember quizzing her as she was taking a class in Botany and trying to memorize the various phyla and genera of plants.  After graduating, she continued her education, taking a bus from Syracuse to Cortland early each morning to take her classes, and taking the bus back in the afternoon so she could be back as we returned from school.  She earned her Bachelors Degree (cum laude) in Modern Languages from SUNY Cortland in 1969, and then her Masters Degree in Secondary Education from Cortland in 1971.  I remember how proud I was at each of her graduations.

Simona taught French in the Syracuse public schools at Blodgett Junior High School for a year, and then taught Hebrew at various schools for many years.  The longest tenure was at the Syracuse Hebrew Day School teaching 1st and 2nd grade, where she taught from 1975 to 2001, when she retired.  I remember visiting her beautifully decorated classroom dozens of times over the years, listening to her describe what she was doing in her classes and telling me how much she loved each and every one of her students.  Whenever I would visit Syracuse, I’d always run into several people who told me she was their teacher when they were little.  She leaves a legacy of more than 1000 students who adored her.

Over the years, Simona’s greatest pride came from seeing her children complete their educations and start their careers.  She was so proud when Drorit became a social worker and devoted her life to helping others.  When I completed my doctorate in 1981, she was certainly proud of the chemistry work I had done, but even prouder when I was able to pass the foreign language requirement in French on the first try, since languages were her forte, not mine.  She spoke English, Hebrew, Yiddish, German, Romanian, French, Spanish, and Russian, and could also understand Italian and some Polish.  When we were growing up, whenever my parents wanted to keep something private from us, all they had to do was speak in German or Yiddish. When I started to teach at colleges, earned tenure, and rose up the ranks and became a dean and then a vice president, we would always talk about teaching strategies and she would want to be sure that I was providing support for my faculty.

Simona’s only grandchild, my son Mark, was born in 1984.  She and my father came to Salem, NH to see us a few days after the birth.  From the minute she and Mark looked at each other, it was a mutual love at first sight.  Mark would always call her ‘my Mona’.

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We always took our vacations together, going all over the U.S., Canada, and Israel on trips.

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When Mark, who is developmentally challenged, was studying for his Bar Mitzvah, she helped teach him the Hebrew alphabet so that he could read the prayers.  I remember we were driving on vacation in Maine and Nova Scotia, with my parents in one car and us in the other, and Mark insisted on riding in their car.  It was Mona who taught him the blessings over the Torah on a single morning as were driving toward Halifax through the power of pure love.  When he successfully completed his Bar Mitzvah ceremony and realized he was finished, it was Mona that he immediately ran to first—to kiss and hug her.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the synagogue.

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After retirement, my parents lived in Las Vegas during the winter months and Syracuse as the weather got warmer.  Each spring, they would drive from Las Vegas to Houston to see Drorit, then to Marietta, GA to see my family, and then to Syracuse to spend the summer with their friends.  Every October, they’d do the reverse drive.  When I became President at SUNY Canton, they came up from Syracuse to help me move in, planning to stay for two weeks.  They wound up staying until December, because they enjoyed it so much.  We bought a house together in Canton which had a wing for them with their own bedroom and bathroom.  They were in Canton for my inauguration.  When the post-inauguration party ended with me playing the guitar with three colleagues in a college band we had formed to play at Open House events, she came over after we finished, and said I had reminded her of her father when he played the guitar.

Simona loved to dance with my father.  Over the years, they would dance at every ceremony and event they were at.  When we went on a cruise together, they danced every night.  They were so good at it, people would stop their own dancing to watch them, and people all over the ship were talking about them.  At my inauguration, the local newspapers published a picture of them dancing together.  The plan was for my parents to spend the cold months in Las Vegas and the warm months in Canton and we did that for two years, but Simona’s health failed her then and she could no longer travel.

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The hardest part about my mother’s decline was her almost total memory loss.  She could remember some of the past, but not what had happened even one minute earlier.  As memories faded, the last things she remembered were that she had been a teacher for a long time, her appreciation for languages and music, and her love for my father.  She would only let my father take care of her, but fortunately, she would often mistake me for him so she was willing to go places with me and to let me help her.  I flew out to Las Vegas to see her as the end approached.  I still could see the endless love between my parents as my father cared for her.  In a final blessing, she had some lucid moments during the visit when she told me (in Hebrew) how she had loved being a teacher.  We were even able to speak a little French to each other.

I will always remember her as the vibrant, loving, and brilliant woman she was, who gave me my love of chemistry, music, education, and teaching.  She’s reunited with her parents in heaven now, and I can see her listening and dancing while her father sings, waiting patiently and watching over us until it’s our time to join her.  Rest In Peace, Ima.

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

    1. President of the United States.  Barack Obama
    2. TV show where the host gave everyone a car.  Oprah.
    3. Newspaper listing about someone who died.  Obituary.
    4. Japanese art of paper-folding.  Origami.
    5. Ancient Greek epic poem attributed to Homer—it’s the sequel to the Iliad.  The Odyssey.  

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

 

The trivia contest will return next week.

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October 20, 2016

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 6–October 20, 20216

 

That Was the Week That Was

It’s been a busy past two weeks filled with lots of interesting activities.  I’ll try to hit some of the highlights here.

First up was going to temple for the Jewish High Holidays, namely Rosh HaShana (the New Year) on October 2-4 and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) on October 11-12.  There’s only one temple in St. Lawrence County, in Potsdam, and services there are always very nice.  Unlike most secular holidays, Jewish holidays always begin and end at sundown, so Yom Kippur began at sunset on the 11th and ended at sunset on the 12th.  On both, the services are extra-long, and include the blowing of the shofar (a ram’s horn) and on Yom Kippur, a full-day total fast, special prayers of repentance, and asking to be absolved of one’s sins.  If you’ve never heard a ram’s horn being blown, it’s quite a treat—there are various varieties of horn blasts, the last one being the tekiya g’dola (literally, “big blast”) where the person holds the note for as long as they possibly can without fainting.   There are several less known holidays after Yom Kippur too, so the complete High Holiday period lasts more than a month.

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On Wednesday the 5th, SUNY Canton hosted our first Excellence in Leadership presentation of the year, featuring our own congresswoman, Elise Stefanik.  Congresswoman Stefanik has the distinction of being the youngest woman ever to be elected to congress, so she is certainly well qualified to speak about “Next Generation Leadership”—the importance of attracting younger people to government service.  The talk was quite uplifting, and audience had lots of questions and was quite appreciative.

 

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The next Excellence in Leadership presentation was the very next day, and featured alumnus Rick Patri (’91), who spoke on his experiences as an entrepreneur.  Rick is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever talked to—he is full of ideas and is a very clear, out-of-the-box thinker.  He has a deep understanding of social media, and uses it extensively in his various businesses, the latest of which is Lucky Tackle Box—a subscription service for fishermen that sends you a box full of lures and baits every month.  His website has all kinds of how-to videos, a blog, and various support services.  Rick also talked to a business class earlier in the day.  There were a lot of interested students eager to follow his example of how to grow a business.

October 7th-9th was Family Weekend, featuring a range of very cool activities including a mind-reader, an a cappella choir, and a chance to stuff your own Pokemon.  The weather was pretty lousy with intermittent rain.  I was supposed to have driven down to the Flaming Leaves Festival in Lake Placid for an alumni event, but the weather kept the attendance down to only a hardy few, who were well served by our excellent Advancement staff.

On Monday, October 10th, we had a very well-attended Open House program down at the CARC Field House.  I got there a little before 9:00 AM and at first, I thought I had gotten the location wrong since I was almost the only person there.  The place quickly filled up and the Open House actually started at 9:30, with lots of tables set up for prospective students and their families to explore our various degree programs, student organizations, financial aid, athletics, and just about everything else at the College.  Our little band consisted of Dan Gagliardi (Mathematics, on bass and vocals), Rosemary Phillips (Legal Studies, on guitar and vocals) and me (on rhythm guitar and fortunately for the crowd, not on vocals).  We played our usual repertoire of songs and had a lot of fun doing it.  The program began at 10 with our mascot Roody pulling various people out of the audience to teach them some dance steps (ending with him dragging me in to do that too).  This was followed by Melissa Evans (Director of admissions) performing a crowd fashion adjustment, consisting of giveaways of SUNY Canton T-shirts and hats to people wearing other colleges’ logos (we can’t have that at an Open House, can we?), and a giveaway of a bag of goodies to the family who had come the shortest and the longest distance.  After that, I gave the welcome to everyone, and the program ended with the audience being dismissed by major to learn more about our programs.

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Synagogue in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Finally, on Monday October 17, we hosted a very nice watercolor art exhibit by Prof. Jay Waronker from Kennesaw State University on Synagogues of Sub-Saharan Africa.  The talk he gave was very informative, talking about the architecture of these buildings, as well as what they were used for in the past during the colonial period or in the 1960’s, and what they are used for now.  The paintings are still up in the library for the next few days, so there’s still time to see them.

Each of the campus events takes an army of people to help set them up, advertise them, and work with the folks who come.  My deepest thanks to everyone who helped out—you’re all terrific.

 

 

Recent Activities on Diversity at SUNY Canton

SUNY Canton is a diverse college, and our credo is ‘Everyone is Welcome Here’.  It’s critically important that we respond to the needs and aspirations of our diverse community in a variety of ways.  We’ve already had several events on campus this semester, starting with the three vigils that took place the first week and including a student open forum, all sponsored by our Student Government and our Co-Chief Diversity Officers, Lashawanda Ingram and Bill Jones.  Many more events and discussions are planned during the rest of the year.

There were several interesting events on diversity that took place last week on October 13.  The first was a workshop titled Diversity Affairs: Building our Capacity for Greater Inclusion, which was offered to SUNY Canton faculty and staff.  The workshop was led by the Reverend Dr. Jamie Washington, one of the top national experts on this subject.  Dr. Washington, president of the Washington Consulting Group located in Baltimore, has worked with more than 300 organizations over his 30-year career.  The workshop was well attended, with about 50 people participating including me.

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Dr. Washington talked about how to have productive conversations about diversity and how to recognize that we’re all complex combinations of different attributes—race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ability, etc.  Whenever we enter any room or conversation, our attributes come into the room with us and become part of the context of what happens next.  What’s important is that we also enter the room with an open mind, welcome all different perspectives (though welcoming does not necessarily mean we need to agree with those perspectives or change our own), provide a space where people feel free to share their thoughts without fear of retribution or being attacked, and even allow ourselves to have fun and laugh at ourselves.  He made the point that depending on what attribute we’re focusing on, we may be in the privileged group, or we may be in the non-privileged group.  The goal is to take steps to bring the two groups closer together in action and in understanding.  The workshop was very well received by the audience, and everyone enjoyed participating in several activities to raise awareness of various aspects of diversity.

Dr. Washington also presented a talk focusing on similar themes (Building Capacity for Leadership) for students and the general public that evening.  The audience was moderate in size but quite enthusiastic.  I’m glad I attended both events, and learned a lot.

Also taking place on October 13 was a four hour symposium titled Enough is Enough: Understanding the New College Anti-Sexual Assault Law and Building Partnerships, sponsored by Renewal House and the SUNY Canton University Police.  Renewal House is an organization in town that offers support to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in St. Lawrence County.

There were three sessions at the symposium:

  • Understanding the Requirement in Education Law 129B “Enough is Enough”
  • Developing Community Collaborations, and
  • Understanding the Needs of LGBTQ+ Students and Students of Color.

 

The first and last sessions were led by Michelle Carroll, the Campus Coordinator for the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA), and the second session by our own Amanda Rowley and Renewal House’s Campus Advocate, Angelica Soto.

The symposium was well attended by a mix of students, faculty and staff, all of our SUNY Canton University Police, and police from the Village of Canton and from SUNY Potsdam.

I’ve mentioned that we will be opening our Center for Diversities and Inclusion on campus soon.  At this point, we’re waiting for the furniture to arrive (it should be any time now), and then as soon as we can arrange it, we’ll have a grand opening.

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest 

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “N”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were DianeMarie Collins, Patrick Massaro, Douglas Scheidt, Patricia Todd, and Christina Lesyk.Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Also getting all five were Carmela Young, Drorit Szafran, Kevin Elliott, Melinda Miller, Kelly Carter and Alan GabrielliHere are the correct answers:

  1. The Empire State. New York.
  2. Organization that holds most of the major car races.  NASCAR.
  3. Kind of energy or power produced from uranium.  Nuclear.
  4. Country in which the highest peaks of the Himalayas are found.  Nepal.
  5. Streaming service that provides movies and some television shows online.  Netflix.

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “O”, several of the questions for which were contributed by Alan Gabrielli, who thinks my last two quizzes were too easy.  The first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. President of the United States.
  2. TV show where the host gave everyone a car.
  3. Newspaper listing about someone who died.
  4. Japanese art of paper-folding.
  5. Ancient Greek epic poem attributed to Homer—it’s the sequel to the Iliad.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

October 7, 2016

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 5–October 7, 20216

 

That Was the Week That Was

The end of last week was busy, but fun.  On Friday morning, after my usual weekly meeting to go over my schedule and answer questions from various people with the ever efficient Michaela, I hopped in the car and drove over to Clarkson University, where I was participating in a symposium on sustainability sponsored by the four Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley.  President Tony Collins provided a very tasty lunch at his house for Dr. Peter Bardaglio (the symposium’s keynote speaker), the sustainability officers from the four colleges in the St. Lawrence Valley, and me.  After eating and a nice conversation, we walked over to the student center. 

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After an opening and welcome from the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, I was part of the Presidents Panel, which was moderated by North Country Public Radio’s David Summerstein.  I’ve met David before on several occasions, and very much enjoy his radio show (The Beat Authority, Fridays from 3-5 pm) which focuses on very cool worldwide dance music.  David asked us a number of questions about how we defined sustainability, how we were implementing it on our campuses, and what the challenges were in trying to change the culture so that there would be a greater awareness of issues related to sustainability.  The panel went very well, and I enjoyed participating.  Among the 100 or so people in the audience were several from SUNY Canton, as well several friends of mine from the community.

After saying a few hellos, I had to run back to the car to drive to Fairport NY (not far from Rochester, about 4 hours away), where I was attending the annual SUNY Association of Council Members and College Trustees meeting.  The weather was OK when I started, but it began to cloud up along the way, finally turning to a light rain about an hour before Fairport.  The first part of the trip was along Route 11 down to Syracuse, and the traffic was moving nicely.  When I got onto the Thruway, however, just outside Auburn, traffic stopped completely for a short while, and then only inched forward.  After about 20 minutes I got to the cause of the delay—there had apparently been a traffic accident, and there were two crews moving the damaged vehicles onto trailers—and things were pretty much cleaned up by the time I got there.  Other than the rain, the rest of the trip was uneventful.  I got off the Thruway, passed a few shopping malls, and pulled into the hotel at about 6:30, just in time to check in and get to the dinner at 7:00. 

It’s a funny thing—I grew up in Syracuse, so you’d think I’d have been to the Rochester area lots of times, it being so nearby, but I’ve never stopped in the area before.  I’ve gone by Rochester on my way to other places many times, but I’ve never actually been in Rochester.

The conference was held at the Woodcliff Hotel and Spa, which is a very nice place.  It has beautiful grounds including a very large swimming pool, a beautiful interior, and my room was large and attractive.  The food at the dinner was very good, and I got the chance to renew acquaintance with several college council members and trustees who I’d met the year before.

There were several updates, talks, and tool-box sessions on Saturday, but the highlight was the ACT Scholarship Luncheon.  SUNY Canton student Francesco Palumbo was one of four statewide winners of the ACT Scholarship, and the four were an impressive bunch, all having excellent scholastic achievements and having plans to go on to do great things.  I sat at the same table as Francesco’s family, and there’s no question where he gets his friendly personality from—they are among the nicest people I’ve ever met.

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The winners of the ACT Awards, joined by Marc Cohen (SUNY Student Representative to the Board of Regents, left).  Francesco Palumbo is on the right.

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Francesco thanking the ACT after I introduced him

That evening, I took advantage of the area and went to a local Indian restaurant about 4 miles away.  I have to say that the “Deluxe Dinner for One” was magnificent—a mixed grill of tandoori chicken and shrimp, chicken tikka, and vegetables; a side dish of chicken curry; basmati rice; and naan.  A mango laasi drink was included, as was some kheer (rice pudding) for dessert.  I did my best, but couldn’t finish it all!

The conference concluded on Sunday morning with a session on the Educational Opportunity Program and a business session.  I drove home, stopping in Syracuse for lunch.  What kind of restaurant?  An Indian restaurant, of course, just off of Electronics Parkway that had a nice buffet.  I was still well stuffed when I got back to Canton.

 

 

Great Stuff 

  • Did you know that one of SUNY Canton’s online degree programs was selected as #1 in the country? It’s true—our B.S. program in Emergency Management was selected as the best by the Emergency Management Degree Program Guide.  Several others of our online programs are also in the top ten in the country in their areas, and our online programs in general were rated in the top 50 in the country!

 

  • Back on September 15th, we had a ribbon cutting for the official open of our Financial Literacy Center. Located in Cook Hall, the Center offers several programs that should be of interest to students: free tax-preparation assistance, money management guidance, and loan repayment advice.  The Center is sponsored by Alesco Advisors, Prof. Daniel G. and Linda L. Fay, North Country Savings Bank, SeaComm Federal Credit Union, St. Lawrence Federal Credit Union, and the SUNY Canton College Foundation.

 

 

Art at SUNY Canton

We’re starting up an Art Exhibit series at SUNY Canton, hopefully to begin with about two exhibits a semester.  Our first exhibit will feature watercolors by Jay Waronker on the subject of Synagogues in Sub-Saharan Africa.  These synagogues are located in many countries, including Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.  Waronker, a Professor of Architecture at my previous campus of Southern Polytechnic State University, noted “Most people are inclined to look at Africa as this homogenous place, but there is tremendous diversity from country to country, synagogue to synagogue.”  You can read more about his work here.

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Watercolor of synagogue in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

The exhibit and artist’s talk will begin at 6:00 PM on October 17 in the Southworth Library.  Refreshments will be served.  A similar exhibit and talk on Synagogues in India will be presented at Congregation Beth El in Potsdam on October 16 at 2:00 PM.

 

 

Articles Worth Considering

Each issue of the BLAB, I’ll try to include a link to an article that I’ve read recently that makes an interesting point that I think is worth considering.  If you have an opinion about the article, positive or negative, I’d love to hear it.

Here’s this week’s article, titled “How Humanities Can Change the World”, about how studying the humanities can help people avoid racism and anti-Semitism.  You can read it here.

 

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “M”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Robert Snow, Stacia Dutton, DianeMarie Collins, Carmela Young, and my sister Drorit.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Others getting all five right included Suzanne Cotton and Julie Cruickshank. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Leader of the Three Stooges. Moe Howard.
  2. In the nursery rhyme, she became famous for sitting on a tuffet and being scared of a spider. Little Miss Muffet.
  3. She played Hannah Montana and “popularized” twerking. Miley Cyrus.
  4. He said “I will return” when evacuated from the Philippines during World War II; also the name of the administration building on this campus. Douglas MacArthur.
  5. Famous painting of a woman with a demure smile that hangs in the Louvre. Mona Lisa.

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “N”. Everyone with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. The Empire State.
  2. Organization that holds most of the major car races.
  3. Kind of energy or power produced from uranium.
  4. Country in which the highest peaks of the Himalayas are found.
  5. Streaming service that provides movies and some television shows online.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

September 28, 2016

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 4–September 28, 2016

 

 

A Fast Week

It’s been a pretty non-stop past week for me.  On Monday I was in the hospital for a routine test, where the goop that you have to drink in preparation is much worse than the test itself.  Those who have had this will instantly know what I’m talking about, and the rest of you will find out when you turn 50 or 60.  The folks at Canton-Potsdam Hospital provided top-notch care.  The doctor was great and not surprisingly, the nurses that assisted me were all graduate of SUNY Canton, so I knew I was in good hands.  It’s really great to know that both major hospitals in the county (CPH and Claxton-Hepburn in Ogdensburg) are of such high quality—I’ve had nothing but good experiences with both.

Tuesday through Thursday consisted of non-stop meetings on one thing or another, and on Friday, I flew to Las Vegas for a quick visit to see my parents who have a condo there.  It was great to see them.  Back in August, they celebrated their 63rd anniversary, which is quite an accomplishment.  My mom has some serious health issues, but my father is giving her lots of loving care and I’m hoping for the best.  I left at noon (Pacific Time) on Monday, flying to Detroit and then Ottawa, and arriving at 10 PM (Eastern Time).  The airport in Ottawa Ontario is the nearest major airport to Canton, and it always seems weird going into Canada to travel to another point in the United States.  Between customs and the drive from Ottawa back to Canton, it was midnight when I finally got home.

This week, it’s lots of meetings again on Tuesday through Thursday, and then on Friday I’m off again, this time driving to the Association of Council Members & College Trustees (ACT) meeting in Fairport NY, where one of our students will win a major award (see below).  I’ll be back on Sunday.

 

Constitution Day

Last Friday, SUNY Canton celebrated Constitution Day with a full slate of very cool activities.  The morning included a Constitution Trivia Contest (complete with red, white, and blue cupcakes) led by Hannah Ralston and Rachel Santose at the Southworth Library, featuring a visit from George and Martha Washington (Nico Auguste and Molly Mott)!

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There was also a voter registration drive there which registered an additional 70 students to those who registered at the drive the previous Wednesday at the student activities fair.  Volunteers at the drive included Rosemary Phillips, Emily Hamilton-Honey, Nikki Zeitzmann, Marela Fiacco, Hannah Ralston, Patrick LaPierre, Stephanie Petkovsek, Christina Lesyk, Rachel Santose, Jill Martin, Jennifer Waite, Barat Wolfe, Karen Spellacy and Diane Muehl, plus a few additional student volunteers.  Rock the Vote Frisbees were donated by our UUP Chapter’s David Hartle and Lynn Snow.

I wasn’t able to attend the Trivia Contest since I was at Clarkson University attending a North Country Regional Economic Development Council meeting during the morning, but I rushed back to host a lunch for NY Supreme Court Judge Vito Caruso.  It was really interesting to meet with Judge Caruso in a relaxed atmosphere and talk about how similar our childhoods were and about some of the more unusual events in our lives.

Judge Caruso gave his formal presentation at 1:00 PM on the subject “The Constitution—Its Origins and Its Future”.  The talk was well attended by an appreciative audience of legal and political dignitaries, two chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and SUNY Canton students, faculty, and staff.  It was a very engaging talk, giving the history of the development of the Constitution, as well as some interesting comparisons between the Federal Constitution and the New York State Constitution, which actually predates it.

At the end of the speech, after entertaining several questions from the audience, Judge Caruso was presented with a proclamation from State Senator Patty Ritchie’s representative, Jim Reagan. 

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I also gave Judge Caruso a certificate of appreciation from SUNY Canton.

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The speech was followed by a reception on the Roselle Plaza, at the end of which Judge Caruso was presented with a proclamation from Assemblywoman Addie Russell.

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I also had the pleasure of having dinner at the Alumni House with Judge Caruso, Steve Button (from the County Attorneys Office, who had arranged to bring the judge to campus), and several of the judge’s associates and their spouses.

It takes a veritable army to put together an event of this magnitude, so here is a listing of the folks involved, and I hope I’m not leaving anyone out:  School of Business and Liberal Arts faculty members Stephanie Petkovsek (chair), William Jones, Alexander Lesyk, Christina Lesyk, Rosemary Phillips and Dean Jondavid DeLong; VP for Advancement Anne Sibley and her staff; Executive Director for University Relations Lenore VanderZee; Assistant to the President Michaela Young; Special Events Coordinator DianeMarie Collins; Library Staff Rachel Santose and Hannah Ralston; Priscilla Leggette from Student Affairs; Student Government Association President Nikki Zeitzmann; Director of Dining Services Susan Law, Catering and Concessions Manager Sean Conklin, and Executive Chef Steven Maiocco; and Senior Media Relations Manager Greg Kie and Publications Coordinator Matt Mulkin.  Financial support for the event was provided by the offices of the Provost (Doug Scheidt), VP for Student Life (Courtney Bish), VP for Administration (Shawn Miller), VP for Advancement (Anne Sibley), Student Government, and my office.  Thanks to everyone involved!

 

 

Congratulations to…

palumbo

Francesco Polumbo, a junior majoring in Sports Management and member of SUNY Canton’s Baseball team, who has been chosen to receive the State University of New York Association of Council Members and College Trustees annual award for Excellence and Student Initiative Scholarship.  The ACT Award focuses on a student’s academic achievements and service to their campus and/or community.  The award includes a $1,000 scholarship for Palumbo and an additional $250 donation in the student’s name to the charity of his choice. Palumbo said his charitable donation will be made to Canton High School’s Golden Bear Booster Club.  The award will be presented on Saturday, October 1, 2016 at The WoodCliff Hotel in Rochester, NY.  You can read more about Francesco here.

 

early-childhood-conference

The Early Childhood Education program, who co-hosted the annual Early Childhood Fall Conference together with the St. Lawrence Child Care Council on our campus on Saturday, September 17.  The two have collaborated and hosted this event for 10 years, which is attended by early care and education providers from our county and beyond, and offer a variety of workshops and presenters each year.  SUNY Canton student volunteers included:  Alexandria McIntosh, Alexis Ezidore, Molly Atkinson, Morgan Morse, Savanna-Lin Boadway and Katie Miller. Also in attendance were 6 SUNY Canton EC Alumni, who are all working in the field of ECE in child care centers, Head Start programs, and self-employed family child care home providers.

 

 

Articles Worth Considering

Each issue of the BLAB, I’ll try to include a link to an article that I’ve read recently that makes an interesting point that I think is worth considering.  If you have an opinion about the article, positive or negative, I’d love to hear it.

Here’s this week’s article, titled “Economists Offer Unconventional Wisdom on Student-Loan ‘Crisis’ ”, about two books that say the stories in the media on the ‘crisis’ in student loans are misfocused.  You can read it here.

 

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest 

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “L”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Jennifer Church, followed by Farren Lobdell, Paula Tufo, Debbie Flack, and Nancy Rowledge.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Others getting all five right included Greg Kie, Amanda Rowley, Kim Woodard, Erwin Zahler III, Julie Cruickshank, Alexander Lesyk, Michaela Young, Lenore VanderZee, Douglas Scheidt, Megan Warren, and Carmela Young. Here are the correct answers:

 

  1. Pop singer whose hits include “Poker Face”, “Paparazzi”, and “Born this Way”. Lady Gaga.
  2. Popular TV sitcom star born in Jamestown, NY. Other characters on her first show included her husband Ricky Ricardo, and neighbors Fred and Ethel Mertz.  Lucille Ball.
  3. Disney animated movie with main characters Simba, Mufasa, Pumbaa, and Timon. Hakuna Matata! The Lion King.
  4. Adirondacks location where two Winter Olympics were held. Lake Placid.
  5. Song you sing to young children as they go to sleep.  Lullaby.

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “M”. Everyone with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Leader of the Three Stooges.
  2. In the nursery rhyme, she became famous for sitting on a tuffet and being scared of a spider.
  3. She played Hannah Montana and “popularized” twerking.
  4. He said “I will return” when evacuated from the Philippines during World War II; also the name of the administration building on this campus.
  5. Famous painting of a woman with a demure smile that hangs in the Louvre.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

September 20, 2016

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 3–September 20, 2016

 

 

How It’s Going

This is the time of year when everyone I meet asks how it’s going at the college, so let me answer that question.  We’re starting the fourth week of classes, with the first college-wide evaluation of how students are doing due now via our early warning system to see which students are engaged and which students aren’t.  We’ll be analyzing the results and reaching out to students having difficulty to offer help.

We haven’t seen the official census enrollment numbers yet, but it looks like we’re up a little bit in enrollment—the residence halls were running about 43 ahead of last year, and that’s a good sign.  Everyone is commenting about just how nice the first-year students are.  While our students have always been friendly and pleasant, this year’s class is exceptionally nice and everyone has noticed.  The average high school average of the new students is up a full point, too.  This obviously doesn’t just happen—it’s the result of a lot of hard work by our excellent admissions staff, and the many others who help them in their work.

The college is looking great too, with lots of improvements having been carried out over the summer by our always excellent buildings and grounds staff.  If you want a list of all the improvements, you can read them here.  We just did two ribbon cuttings to formally open the Rendezvous Café and Roo’s Court, and everyone is talking about how good the food is and happy about the expanded range of choices.  This is just part of the planned upgrades for our food service, and thanks to the fine folks working in our College Association.

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We’re getting a lot of good press and have done well in the rankings.  In the U.S. News & World Report standings, we’ve moved up from #44 on the Regional Colleges—North list to #23, which is a darned good rise.  Our degree programs continue to have top accreditations and lead to great jobs, and we got a clean sweep on our recent Middle States report.  We’ve been designated ‘Military Friendly’ again, and we’re in the top 10 for several online programs and for pet friendliness.  Our library and tutoring services are #1 in SUNY.  All of this is due to our excellent faculty, superb student support staff, and captured by our top-notch public relations folks.  A lot of last year’s accomplishments were summarized in this year’s President’s Report, and you can read the digital version of it here.

Of course, it takes a lot of people make our college a conducive place for students to live and learn.  Our great student life staff make sure that there are lots of quality programs on campus for our students to enjoy outside of class, and make sure that our residence halls are nice places to live.  Our Athletics staff help our student athletes to reach their full potential, and our athletic teams proudly represent our College.  Our campus police make sure everyone is safe and secure.  Our student government officers help keep our students active, and let us know the student pulse on things. Our grounds crew keep the campus looking nice, despite the mess we all make.  Our Advancement folks raise money for scholarships, keep our alumni connected, and even found time to grill hot dogs at our residence halls for our students all week.

As a result, because of all of you and your hard work, I’m able to tell everyone we’re off to a fine start and to hear them tell me what a great place SUNY Canton is.

 

 

Congratulations to…

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Charles Fenner, a faculty member in Business Administration, who competed in the “CapsimCore Professor Challenge against faculty across the country who acted as CEOs of manufacturing companies, making decisions about product lines, marketing tactics, and production.  How well did he do?  He came in 2nd­­ in a field of 240 (including faculty from Duke, Georgia Tech, U. Florida, and Pepperdine), which is pretty darn awesome.

 

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Courtney Bish, our Vice President for Student Life, who was recently selected to attend the 2017 NCAA Division III Athletic Direct Report Institute in Nashville, Tennessee this January.  Across the entire country, only 43 participants are selected through a nomination process, so the competition was high. The Institute focuses on improving the relationships between ADRs and their presidents, athletics directors and conference commissioners, and on enhancing the effectiveness of the ADR at the campus, conference and national levels.

  

 

9-11 Memorial

On Monday, September 12th, our Criminal Justice student organization did an exceptional job organizing a memorial ceremony for the 15th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.  The ceremony was held at 7:30 PM at Roselle Plaza, where a gigantic American flag suspended from two firetrucks’ extended ladders served as the backdrop.

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The ceremony started with a bagpiper and military honor guard, followed by a prayer given by Minister Pedro Morales, from the 1st Baptist Church in Parishville, NY.  I gave the welcome for the event and read a poem by Billy Collins (the poet laureate of the Unites States at the time) that was first read before a joint session of Congress held in NYC one year after the attack.  This was followed by a wonderful and moving talk by Rob Parcel, a first-responder during 9-11.  After Minister Morales gave the benediction, the audience was invited to attach names of persons they wanted to honor to flags that lined the plaza.  We all then walked to our memorial tree by Payson Hall, and affixed a memorial wreath to end the ceremony.

It is critically important that we always remember those who were lost on 9-11, and the many first-responders who risked their lives, running toward danger, trying to rescue and protect.  The poem by Billy Collins is called The Names, and is full of haunting imagery about how the names of those killed are now part of the very fabric of the city.

 

The Names

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.

A fine rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,

And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,

I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,

Then Baxter and Calabro,

Davis and Eberling, names falling into place

As droplets fell through the dark.

 

Names printed on the ceiling of the night.

Names slipping around a watery bend.

Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.

In the morning, I walked out barefoot

Among thousands of flowers

Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,

And each had a name —

Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal

Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.

Names written in the air

And stitched into the cloth of the day.

 

A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.

Monogram on a torn shirt,

I see you spelled out on storefront windows

And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.

I say the syllables as I turn a corner —

Kelly and Lee,

Medina, Nardella, and O’Connor.

 

When I peer into the woods,

I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden

As in a puzzle concocted for children.

Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,

Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,

Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.

 

Names written in the pale sky.

Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.

Names silent in stone

Or cried out behind a door.

Names blown over the earth and out to sea.

 

In the evening — weakening light, the last swallows.

A boy on a lake lifts his oars.

A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,

And the names are outlined on the rose clouds —

Vanacore and Wallace,

(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)

Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.

 

Names etched on the head of a pin.

One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.

A blue name needled into the skin.

Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,

The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.

Alphabet of names in green rows in a field.

Names in the small tracks of birds.

Names lifted from a hat

Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.

Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.

So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.

 

 

Articles Worth Considering

Each issue of the BLAB, I’ll try to include a link to an article that I’ve read recently that makes an interesting point that I think is worth considering.  If you have an opinion about the article, positive or negative, I’d love to hear it.

Here’s this week’s article, titled “Why Are We Ambivalent About Ambition”, about how we often get nervous when we find out that a faculty member wants to take on a leadership role.  You can read it here.

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “k”.  Our fastest responder with all five correct was Jamie Garrett, followed by Jennifer Church, Julie Cruickshank, Karen Spellacy, Greg Kie, Carmela Young, Janel Smith, Alan Gabrielli, Thomas Locke, Bruce Hanson, and my sister Drorit Szafran.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Our mascot Roody is one.  Kangaroo.
  2. Superman was born here. Krypton.
  3. They say the grass is blue there, but they drink a lot of bourbon there too.  Kentucky.
  4. Based in Rochester, it was once the biggest manufacturer of film. Kodak.
  5. According to the Glenn Miller song, “I got a gal” there.  Kalamazoo.

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “L”. Everyone with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Pop singer whose hits include “Poker Face”, “Paparazzi”, and “Born this Way”.
  2. Popular TV sitcom star born in Jamestown, NY. Other characters on her first show included her husband Ricky Ricardo, and neighbors Fred and Ethel Mertz.
  3. Disney animated movie with main characters Simba, Mufasa, Pumbaa, and Timon. Hakuna Matata!
  4. Adirondacks location where two Winter Olympics were held.
  5. Song you sing to young children as they go to sleep.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

September 6, 2016

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 2–September 6, 2016

 

The Semester Begins!

Fall semester has begun and it looks like we’re off to a good start.  The new faculty arrived for orientation on Monday August 22nd and Tuesday August 23rd.  I gave a brief introduction to the College at the first session, and got to meet them at several events, mostly involving food!  Our new faculty look like a great bunch—friendly, interesting, and well-prepared with interesting backgrounds.

The first new student orientation session was on August 22nd as well, and was aimed at transfer students. I give the introduction at these sessions, letting the students know the ten things they can count on us for (our “Ten Commitments”) and the five things we are counting on them for.  I end by telling them a story about the Philosophy professor who filled a jar with rocks in his classroom.  Some of you may have heard this story before, but I give it a SUNY Canton twist.

The orientation for new first-time students was on Friday August 26th, and WOW!  It was beyond a full house.  I got there about 45 minutes early and the lines, dividing up the students by the first letter of their last name were already very long.  When I went into the field house, the bleachers were already more than half full.  I quickly spotted some of the staff working the orientation and asked if we had some folding chairs to put out, because we were going to need them!  Ultimately, we had full bleachers and about 150 students in the chairs.

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The students were very engaged and attentive, and when I gave them my phone number to call in the event they had a problem they couldn’t solve any other way, my phone started ringing as several students tried the number to see what would happen.  Everyone laughed as I told them to stop calling so I could finish my speech.

On Wednesday August 24th, the senior staff at the College and I gave the annual State of the College Address.  If you missed it, you can see the PowerPoint presentation here.  While this will be a tight year budget-wise (since there is no tuition increase, and there will likely be a pay raise that the campuses have to pay for—no additional state money for this), the College is in strong fiscal shape.  We went over last year’s successes and some of our plans for the coming year.  I thought the presentation went very well, and I hope you all agree.  A reception for our new faculty followed the orientation.   

Later that evening, there was an awards dinner for the students in our Jump Start program.  I sat at a table with several young ladies, mostly from New York City, and we had a nice chat about the program, their college plans, and what they liked to do in their spare time.  Afterwards, awards were given—some serious, some more humorous.  The students were very nice and friendly, and I’ve run into several of them since then at other programs.

Classes began on Monday, August 29th and everything seems to be going very smoothly.  Everyone is commenting on how nice this year’s group of students are, and how engaged they are in their studies.

On Tuesday, August 30th, Art Garno (Director of the CREST Center), Doug Scheidt (Provost) and I went down to Fort Drum in Watertown for the graduation ceremony for the 4th cohort of the Solar Ready Vets program we are running there.  I think we’re the largest site for this national program—we’ve had almost 100 graduates so far, and the total number across the whole country is about 300.  The ceremony was very nice and the graduates were mostly in their full dress uniforms, complete with ribbons and medals.  I chatted with a few of the graduates and they were unanimous about how good the program was, and how great the instructor, Kevin McAdoo, was.  There’s one more cohort to go, which is just about to start up and already has a large number of enrollees.  

 

Three Vigils

Our new co-Chief Diversity Officers and folks from our Student Affairs area worked together to have three vigils on campus, one each on August 30th, September 1st, and September 2nd.  The first was in memory of those who lost their lives in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub shootings on June 12th.  The second was in memory of black citizens who were killed in several terrible incidents this past summer.  The third was in memory of police officers who were killed in several terrible incidents that followed, also this past summer.

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All three vigils were held at the Memorial Rock near French Hall, and drew large, respectful groups of students, faculty, and staff.  Lashawanda Ingram, one of our co-Chief Diversity Officers, thanked the participants for coming, and introduced what the various parts of the vigils were going to be.  The first part in each case was a prayer from one of our campus ministers (Rev. Brian Drury and Rev. Fred Sykes).  This was followed up by short talks by me and by Prof. Bill Jones, our other co-Chief Diversity Officer.  Lashawanda then invited the participants to share with the group by saying a single word describing their feelings about the event being remembered.  The words ranged from anger to fear to sadness to anguish.  The group then shared a moment of silence for healing.  The program for the vigils ended with a closing prayer.  Many of the participants also stayed behind a few minutes longer to talk with each other. 

It’s really hard to know what to say at events like these.  Words seem insufficient to capture the feelings and emotions associated with such tragedies.  On the first day, to answer the questions of why we held the vigils, I told the story of the woman in ancient Greece who had died after a difficult life and was being ferried to the afterlife.  Charon, the ferryman, moved by the woman’s sad story, offered to let her drink a cup of water from the River Lethe, the river of forgetfulness—the last river crossed before entering heaven.  The woman asked if she would forget her pains from life, and Charon answered “yes, but also your joys”.  She asked if she would forget her failures, and Charon answered “yes, but also your successes”.  She asked if she would forget those who had betrayed her, and Charon answered “yes, but also those who loved you and who you loved in return”.  In final understanding, she declined the drink and said “I choose to remember everything”.  We must all be like this woman and choose to remember everything—to learn, to pay respect to the dead, and to do what we can to ensure that such tragedies never happen again.

 

 

SUNY Canton in the News

As many of you know, SUNY Canton has been named one of the top ten pet-friendly colleges in America.  The demand for space in the pet wing of our residence halls has been increasing, so this year we designated a second pet wing.  All 140 spots in the two wings have filled.  Well, the Syracuse Post-Standard picked up on this news, and published a very nice article entitled “What’s it Like to Live in a College Dorm That Has 100 Cats?” on August 29, which featured Syracuse-area resident Christina Romanoski, who is majoring in Veterinary Technology at SUNY Canton and is also a resident assistant in the hall, and our Director of Housing John Kennedy.  You can see the full article here.

Speaking of Syracuse, the New York State Fair was held there this week.  No, I didn’t go this year, but SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher did on SUNY Day, September 1, and gave a short talk about the high quality and low cost of the SUNY system.  During the talk, she mentioned that at various locations at the fair, you could pick up some swag from the various SUNY colleges, and then held up a pair of SUNY Canton sunglasses!  You can see that historic moment here—it’s at about 2:30 into the video.

 

 

Articles Worth Considering

Each issue of the BLAB, I’ll try to include a link to an article that I’ve read recently that makes an interesting point that I think is worth considering.  If you have an opinion about the article, positive or negative, I’d love to hear it.

Here’s this week’s article, from a blog called ‘Cult of Pedagogy’ by Jennifer Gonzales.  The article is called “The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies” and it talks about lots of good ways to get more out of discussions in your classroom.  Some of the strategies will be familiar, but there were definitely some I hadn’t heard of before, so it’s worth a look.  There are lots of other articles on the blog for teachers.  The advice is for all levels—elementary, middle, and high school as well as college.  You can see the article here.

  

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “j”.  Our fastest responder with all five correct was  Janel Smith.  Others with all five correct included David Penepent, my sister Drorit, and a colleague from SPSU, Alan Gabrielli.   Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository. Here are the correct answers:

  1. It starts the year.  January.
  2. Two atom bombs were dropped there to end World War II.  Japan.
  3. Superman’s cub reporter friend. Jimmy Olsen.
  4. He started on Welcome Back Carter, and later moved on to Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction, and Get Shorty. John Travolta.
  5. Dolly Parton begged her: “Please don’t take my man…Please don’t take him even though you can.”  Jolene.

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “k”. Everyone with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Our mascot Roody is one.
  2. Superman was born there.
  3. They say the grass is blue there, but they drink a lot of bourbon there too.
  4. Based in Rochester, it was once the biggest manufacturer of film.
  5. According to the Glenn Miller song, “I got a gal” there.

 

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