February 8, 2016


Volume 10, Issue 16–February 8, 2016



Rain, Rain Go Away

While I’m loving that we only have a tiny amount of snow (total thus far is maybe 4”) at this point up here in the North Country, the amount of rain has been another matter.  It rains a lot, and in fact, is raining right now.  Colder temperatures in some places means that there was an icy mix, and several school districts have delayed their opening.  Two local ones have closed entirely, giving some parents who work at the college no choice but to stay home themselves.  The main roads are all fine—well plowed and treated—but some of the back roads can be bad.  It’s supposed to actually go into the 50’s later today, so the little remaining snow and all the ice should be gone by the time you read this.  Supposedly it will be dry until next Wednesday, when we’re due some snow, but I’ll believe that when I see it.


NYPA Report is Out—1,900 Jobs and $190M in Economic Activity


Nearly a year ago, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) hired McKinsey & Co. to develop an economic plan for St. Lawrence County to help turn around the economic and population decline that has affected the area over the past several years.  McKinsey & Co. consulted with more than 130 political officials, college presidents, economic development experts, and business leaders (including me and several other folks at SUNY Canton) and established an Advisory Board (which I am a member of) that helped create this plan.  We met and debated various strategies over the past year, and completed the final report (ironically) just before Alcoa announced it would close most of its operations in Massena last November.  While an $80M agreement ultimately was reached with Alcoa with support from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Sen. Chuck Schumer that preserved 600 jobs for 3.5 years, this only further illustrated the need for economic diversification in our region.

The final report was officially released yesterday by NYPA’s President Gil C. Quiniones.  It provides a blueprint for creating nearly 1,900 new jobs and $190 million in new economic activity by 2020 in St. Lawrence County. The four main strategies are:

  • Small Business Expansion: Establishing an Entrepreneurship Accelerator, to provide training, coaching, mentoring and other support services to high-potential entrepreneurs. As many of you know, SUNY Canton is seeking funding from several sources to establish such an accelerator on our campus.
  • Agriculture and Agri-Business: Expanding agriculture to a year-round operation through the use of greenhouses powered by clean energy. Also, improving efficiency of dairy operations and a larger focus on niche crops.
  • Advanced Materials Manufacturing: Starting an aggressive marketing campaign to leverage the region’s existing manufacturing base in processing advanced materials to attract new companies. This effort will coordinate with Clarkson’s Center for Advanced Materials Processing.
  • Community Revitalization and Tourism: Funding would be sought to establish a $10 million St. Lawrence County Revitalization Fund, which would provide grants and loans to the county’s villages to improve downtown areas and business. The study also calls for an increase in tourism, especially outdoor activities like fishing, boating and camping.

The full press release about the study, which includes a quote from me, can be found here. A summary pdf of the study can be found here.



How Else is SUNY Canton Helping Improve the Economy?

On February 2, a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new satellite office of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Ogdensburg took place at the Sherman Inn on 615 Franklin Street.  The SBDC’s main offices are located in Wicks Hall on the SUNY Canton campus.  It is one of 1,000 SBDC’s around the country that provides no-cost business consulting and training to more than a million existing and startup small businesses each year, creating and retaining 156,000 jobs.


L-R: Sarah Purdy, City Manager; Michael Brashaw, Chamber Past President; Jen Stevenson, City Councilmember; Wayne Izzo, Chamber Board Member; Michael Thayer, Chamber Board Member; Dale Rice, Director of the SUNY Canton SBDC and Certified Business Advisor; Lenore VanderZee, Executive Director of University Relations at SUNY Canton; Melissa Lalonde, Chamber Board Member; John Wade, Owner of Sherman Inn and Chamber Board Member; Timothy Davis, City Councilmember; Laura Pearson, Executive Director of the Ogdensburg Chamber and James Reagen, Public Affairs Director for Senator Ritchie’s office.

At the SBDC, professional advisors offer free direct counseling and a wide range of management and technical assistance services.  They can help you develop a business plan and to start your small business, including dealing with such issues as benefits for establishing women and veteran-owned businesses, marketing, organizational structure, accounting/recordkeeping, financial planning, exports, cost analysis, financial strategies, training programs, and business expansion.  The SUNY Canton office is open from 8:30-4:30, M-F, and the Ogdensburg satellite office is open Tuesdays from 9:00-4:00.  To schedule an appointment, please call Dale Rice at (315) 386-7312 or email sbdc@canton.edu.



Our Library is $aving Students Money—You Can Help Too


If you haven’t had to buy a semester’s worth of textbooks lately, going to the college bookstore can be an eye-opening experience.  Back in the day when I went to college, the typical text in chemistry or chemical engineering cost about $17.  The most expensive book I ever had to buy was Perry’s Handbook of Chemical Engineering, which was $35—I couldn’t believe a textbook could cost that much!  A few years ago, I went to the bookstore at SPSU to see what they were charging for the freshman chemistry book that I was using in my class, and was stunned to see that it cost $230 new all by itself—more than a full year’s worth of textbooks cost when I was buying them.  I’ve asked a few students at SUNY Canton what a typical semester costs for books, and most respond that it’s over $1,000.

As a result of these high prices, the Southworth Library and our librarians have spent a lot of time over the last few years trying to make textbooks as accessible and affordable to our students as possible.  A large part of the library budget is dedicated to getting textbooks for our reserve collection each year.  Priority is given to buying the highest-priced textbooks and targeting courses with the highest enrollments, to serve the largest number of students while alleviating the most significant financial burdens.  Students rely heavily on this service, and it is not unusual to learn that a student has made the choice whether or not to remain enrolled in a particular course, and sometimes whether or not to remain enrolled in college, based entirely on the cost of the textbooks.  The library also encourages faculty to adopt open textbooks and other open educational resources.

This year something new has been added.  Normally, electronic textbooks aren’t bought for circulation purposes by libraries, because the rules from the publishers as to who can use them are very restrictive.  Cori Wilhelm, the Access Services Librarian, searched to find e-textbooks that could be used more broadly.  After searching every ISBN number on the Spring 2016 textbook list, Cori found 30 course texts that could be bought as e-texts and made available 24/7 online.  This number will grow as they investigate this further as an acquisitions priority in future semesters.  In some cases, the e-text publisher allows unlimited simultaneous users.  In other cases, use is limited to three users at a time, or only one at a time.

A full list of textbooks (including e-texts) that are available at the library can be found here.  Clicking the link in the “Textbooks on Reserve” box will give you a list (in course number order) of the books required for all courses at SUNY Canton.  The first column tells you if we have the book (“Yes”), have an older edition (“OE”), have it as an e-text (“Ebook”), or don’t have it (“No”).  If we have it as an e-text, the title of the book will be hot-linked to the book.

During the first week of the semester, we were happy to learn that providing access to a single e-text cut one student’s $1,000 semester textbook costs by one-third!

Our librarians will continue to encourage faculty to work with them to explore opportunities for using open content or to consider library e-book acquisition in developing new courses or updating existing courses. Faculty can help our librarians and students in this effort.  Here’s how:

Good:  Review the list of books that you require for your courses.  Do you really use all of them?  Weed out the ones that aren’t needed—nothing annoys a student more than having to shell out $50 or $100 for a book, and then hardly using it.  Could any of the books be used in more than one course?  Is there a cheaper alternative version of the book?

Better:  Work with our librarians to see if there is an e-book version of your course text.  If there is, great!  If there isn’t, is there a different textbook that is available as an e-book that would also fit your course’s needs?  Why not switch to that?

           Best:  Before you choose your course textbooks, check out some online sites that offer free digital textbooks.  An article about some of these sites appeared in Campus Technology, and can be found here.  I looked for chemistry e-texts on several of them, and found several that could easily be used as a course textbook or as a supplement, in General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, and non-major’s Chemistry.  If you find one that fits your needs, adopt it.

You can help our students save money and make college more affordable by helping our librarians in this effort.



Never Forget

On Tuesday (February 2), our Student Government Association unveiled a new monument by the campus’ Peace Garden near French Hall. The Memorial Rock is intended as a place of reflection, remembrance, and as a celebration of life. The plaque on the rock reads: “Forever Remembered, Forever Missed.”


Student Government Association Executive Officers (L-R) Devine Pearson, Khaina A. Solomon, Rachel “Nikki” Zeitzmann, Fatizjah Burnett and Lorraine Honeyghan

SGA President Khaina A. Solomon explained the origins of the memorial, saying: “Student Elliot Mullings passed away days after the spring 2014 semester was over, so we began a new academic year with the loss still heavily lingering in everyone’s mind. We felt we needed to a place to grieve or celebrate the lives of those who have passed.” Elliot was a junior in the Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement Leadership program, and was very active and well known on campus. He passed away in May 2014.  “We wanted to give something back to the campus,” Solomon added. “The association has been working on the memorial project for about two years, and with the help of many campus staff members and Northeastern Sign Corporation in Colton, it has come to life.”

The unveiling ceremony included a poem from Mariama Cisse (a junior majoring in Applied Psychology); a song by Rebecca Jean-Baptiste (a junior majoring in Liberal Arts); and short speeches by me and by SGA executive officers Fatizjah Burnett and Nikki Zeitzmann.


One Hop Shop Saves Students Time

At a lot of colleges, in order to pay bills, get financial aid, and take care of the various requirements in order to register for classes, you have to visit lots of different offices which may be located in several different buildings.  Not at SUNY Canton—all of this can be taken care of in a single location—the One Hop Shop.


You may think that since everything is located in one place together, the lines there will be very long.  We just did a study on this at SUNY Canton, and here are the results.  We measured how long it took for students taking a ticket to be served on January 19, 2015, the Monday of the week that classes began—the day the most students came by for the semester.  This was the first year that the One Hop Shop was in full operation.  There were 626 tickets pulled, of which 538 people were served (85.9%).  What happened to the other 88 tickets?  Some students took two by accident (and thus didn’t need the second one) or decided not to wait.  The average length of time that it took students to be served was 17:31 minutes.  That’s not too bad, compared to how long it would take to go to multiple offices, but not good enough.  The longest waits were for talking to someone in financial aid or student accounts, which took 39:48 minutes on average—a long time.  On the day before (Sunday, January 18, 2015), the loads were much lighter.  121 tickets were pulled, with an average wait time of 9:24 minutes.

Now that the One Hop Shop has been operating for more than a year and the various areas have worked on optimizing how to function together more efficiently, we did another study on January 18, 2016, again the Monday of the week that classes began.  There were 668 tickets pulled, of which 614 people were served (91.9%).  This is a higher percentage than last year, indicating that fewer people walked away.  The average time it took students to be served was 7:38 minutes, less than half the time the previous year.  The time it took for students needing to talk to someone in financial aid or student accounts fell to 12:40 minutes, less than one third the time the previous year.  On the day before (Sunday, January 17, 2016), 121 tickets were pulled, with an average wait time of 1:02 minutes.

How good is this?  Compared with other campuses I’ve seen, it’s terrific! Congratulations to our One Hop Shop staff, for working diligently to help students as quickly as possible, to solve whatever issue they have.  You’re doing a great job.




Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s challenge dealt songs with words starting with the letter “w”. The fastest winner was Christopher Sweeney, and our other winners were Terri Clemmo and Nancy Rowledge.  Your prizes can be picked up from my office.

Here are the correct answers:

  1. Most of your body is made up of this, but you can still drown in it.  Water.
  2. Studio that produced all the Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons.  Warner Brothers.
  3. All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased this.  The Weasel.
  4. Napoleon was defeated there, but Abba made it into a hit song.  Waterloo.
  5. Commonly misattributed to Mark Twain, everybody complains about this, but nobody does anything about it.  The Weather.



This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge is about capitols–I name the capitol, you name the country.  The first five winners win a CD, DVD, or whatever else I come up with from the vast Szafran repository of duplicates or good stuff I want to get rid of.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Ottawa.
  2. Stockholm.
  3. New Delhi.
  4. Cairo.
  5. Canberra.
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January 22, 2016


Volume 10, Issue 15–January 22, 2016


 Welcome Back

I hope everyone had a nice Winter Break, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.  I know I did.  We didn’t go anywhere outside the North Country, just stayed mostly at home and had a nice relaxing vacation.  As everyone knows, the weather was abnormally warm, with no snow until a few days after Christmas (and that didn’t last long), and temperatures above 50° on both Christmas Day and New Year’s.  The temperatures have dropped more into the normal range since then, but there’s still not much snow, and we really haven’t had any of the multiple days with a low of -20° that we “enjoyed” last year.


Martin Luther King Day

Monday was Martin Luther King Day, and I gave a short speech on the occasion, welcoming some 50 kids from the Ogdensburg Boys and Girls club who were on campus to celebrate with us.   The program also included a benediction, songs, and poetry, followed by some service work and then fun at the Athletic Center.


It’s interesting how Dr. King had connections with several places I’ve lived.  Georgia, where I lived from 2005 to 2014, is the place where Dr. King was born and grew up, and both the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change are located in Atlanta in a neighborhood called “Sweet Auburn”, which was the center of the Black community during the segregation period.   

The very first mass movement in the modern civil rights period with a goal to desegregate an entire community took place in Albany, GA and was known as the Albany Movement.  It began in November 1961, with the joining together of the major black improvement organizations in the city.  Protesters marched, and by December, more than 500 had been jailed.   To gain more national attention, leaders of the Movement called in Dr. King, who after speaking at a rally and marching in a protest, was arrested.  He accepted bail thinking that city leaders had agreed to some concessions, but this later turned out to be untrue.  When he returned the following summer for sentencing, his fines were paid by a white attorney anonymously, he was released against his will.  In further protests, he was stymied by Albany’s police chief, Laurie Prichett, who arrested protesters in a non-violent way and dispersed them to the small town jails in the surrounding counties.  This kept the protests from being covered by the national media.  Dr. King left the area for more successful protests in Birmingham and considered his efforts in Albany to be a failure, but the Albany Movement succeeded in registering enough Black voters that year that they were able to force a runoff election for a city commissioner position.  The following spring, all segregation laws were removed from the city’s statutes.

New Hampshire, where I lived from 1981 to 2005, has the dubious distinction of being the last state to ratify a separate holiday in honor of Dr. King.  The first time people tried to establish a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday there was in 1979, but the bill was defeated because Dr. King was controversial—some legislators felt he was too left wing or was a communist.  Others couldn’t forget that he was against the War in Vietnam.  Also, the state legislature of New Hampshire is notoriously cheap and did not want to pay for an additional state holiday.

Finally, in 1991, New Hampshire converted an existing state holiday known as Fast Day (originally celebrated as a “day of humiliation” to ask God to “bless us with peace and prosperitie” and to “favor spring and seede time”), replacing it with Civil Rights Day.  The idea of changing Civil Rights Day to specifically honor Martin Luther King Jr. was defeated in 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1997, before finally being passed in 1999.  What is now known as Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Day was celebrated for the first time in January 2000.



Grant Results

SUNY Canton did rather well in the SUNY grant competition.  You may recall that we submitted eight proposals to the competition, all of which made it through round one into the money round.  To date, only the results of grants submitted to the Investment Fund have been announced, and we got two funded from this pool—one for establishing a new Jump Start program this coming summer ($570,000) and one for improving college opportunities for veterans (jointly with SUNY-Jefferson, for $500,000).  A third proposal, to implement a computer-based retention program at the college, seems to have been consolidated into a system-wide proposal for which funding is being sought.  We were the only college in the North Country that had any successful proposal in this fund.  Congratulations to Molly Mott, J.D. DeLong, and John Kennedy for writing these successful proposals, and to Joanne Fassinger for her excellent facilitation and support.

The EOP proposals (we submitted one) will be announced separately in a few months.  The capital proposals (we submitted two) will also be announced separately, but I’ve heard that ours weren’t funded.  We do have a plan B on the business accelerator proposal which we are pursuing and looks promising.  More on this as it develops.


Stand with SUNY and the Governor’s Budget


On Monday, Lenore VanderZee (Executive Director for University Relations) and I went down to Albany for the Chancellor Zimpher’s annual State of the University speech.  The theme of this year’s speech was “Stand with SUNY”, to show that SUNY is preparing students for work and life, and to ask for increased state support for current and future efforts.  She highlighted achievements from the past year, including successes in seamless transfer, expanding diversity, and enhancing degree audit and financial planning for students.  New initiatives included SUNY Path, a set of predictive analytics to identify at-risk students and to guide them to support and interventions; InternShop, a database that matches employers and prospective student interns, and Open SUNY 2.0, to take the system’s online teaching initiative to the next level, including incorporation of prior learning assessment, competency based education, stackable micro-credentials, etc.

Following the speech, we met with various members of the Assembly and the Senate on Monday and Tuesday, to discuss and gain support for SUNY Canton’s budget priorities, as well as to support the “Stand with SUNY” initiative.  The various initiatives we discussed were well received, and will hopefully result in some resources coming our way over the next year.

I wasn’t there to hear it (though Provost Doug Scheidt flew in to attend), but Governor Cuomo announced his executive budget update on Wednesday, and the following items of higher education interest were contained in it.  The Predictable Tuition plan was continued for another year (up to a $300 increse), with authority based with the Board of Trustees.  The SUNY 2020 Challenge Grants and the Investment and Performance Fund will continue with the same funding as last year ($55M and $18M, respectively), as will the additional funds for EOP and EOC/ATTAIN.  New initiatives include a $5M Apprentice SUNY program, $3M for Next Generation NY Job Linkage, and $1M for Community College Community Schools.



NCAA Meeting in San Antonio

After dropping Lenore at the airport on Tuesday evening, I drove to Syracuse, where I was taking a flight at 5:40 the next morning to Atlanta and then San Antonio for the NCAA national meeting.  There was a winter weather advisory for the Thruway, especially for Syracuse, but as I left Albany at 4:45 PM, there was a tiny bit of light snow and everything was otherwise clear.  The weather stayed fine until I passed Utica, whereupon a squall came in with lots of snow and a high wind.  The snow was blowing essentially horizontally, giving the illusion that the car was standing still, making it somewhat difficult to drive.  Fortunately, the Thruway was being continuously plowed and treated, so the going wasn’t too bad.  The squall stopped about five miles from Syracuse, so I was able to get to the hotel by the airport without much trouble.  I was pretty sure that the morning flight was going to be cancelled due to bad weather, but that turned out not to be the case so I got up at 3:30 AM and took the shuttle to the airport.

The flight loaded up on time, but takeoff was delayed for about an hour to allow them to deice the plane.  This was a bit of a problem, because my connection time in Atlanta was also an hour.  Fortunately, the pilot made up a little time on the flight, and the connection gate was in the same terminal as the arrival gate.  I hurried down the corridor and made it to my connecting flight just as they were calling zone 1.  Thus, against all the odds, I arrived in San Antonio exactly on time.  Courtney Bish (VP for Student Life) and Liz Erickson (our Faculty Representative to athletics) had arrived the day befor, and Randy Sieminski arrived that evening, having flown out of Syracuse later that day but missing his connection.

I was staying in the Mariott River Center Hotel, which is where the NCAA had all the Division III school meetings, so that was very convenient.  The Hotel is located on San Antonio’s Riverwalk, which (if you’ve never been there before) is well worth a trip—it’s literally a walk along a river, a few miles long, with hundreds of restaurants, shops, and other attractions there.  Other attractions in San Antonio include the Alamo, various Spanish Missions, and a Japanese Tea Garden, all of which are worth visiting.

The conference had meetings for new presidents discussing athletics-related enrollment management, budgeting, fundraising, and evaluation.  The meetings were generally worthwhile, with some good ideas being presented that we’ll be looking into implementing appropriate parts of in the future.  One of the pleasant things about national meetings is running into friends who are presidents or athletic directors at campuses around the country, and I saw a bunch from my old days in New England and Georgia, as well as several from SUNY.

One disappointment was that both we and Alfred State had both hoped to be accepted into the North East Athletic Conference (NEAC), but it was not to be—they voted not to expand their membership at this time.  We will be working to explore other options, with a goal of getting into a conference by this time next year.

My sister Drorit and her partner Suzanne joined me on Friday afternoon from their home in Houston.  I hadn’t seen Drorit since my inauguration, so it was a really nice get-together, and we had a nice dinner at a Tex-Mex restaurant.  After I attended the voting session on Saturday morning that closed out the conference, we got together again and drove out to the Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo, which was quite beautiful and interesting.



Lunch was at the “world famous” Bombay Bicycle Club.  I don’t know why they call themselves “world famous”, what they have to do with Bombay (since they don’t serve anything Indian on the menu), or what they have to do with bicycles, but the food was good and we enjoyed ourselves.

Afterwards, we drove over to the Japanese Tea Gardens, which were quite spectacular.  There are beautiful walkways between flowers and ponds, going up and down a series of hills.  The location is a popular spot for wedding and quinceanero photographs, and there were several young ladies wearing beautiful gowns doing just that.


I left San Antonio on Sunday morning, taking an 8:00 AM flight to New York City.  When I checked in at the kiosk, I was asked if I wanted to upgrade to first class using mileage or for $99.  I said “yes” on the mileage, but the system responded that no seats were available in first class.  When I got to the gate, I asked the gate agent if that was true, and she said “no—there are two seats available”.  She suggested I call the airline.  When I did, they said I couldn’t use mileage to get one, and to upgrade for cash would cost $600.  I passed on the opportunity, and the gate agent said “let me check if I can do something”.  Several minutes later, when I asked if she had had any luck, she handed me a first class boarding card.  The last time this happened, I was flying from China to Atlanta, and for no reason whatever that I’m aware of, the stewardess came over and asked if I’d like to be in first class.  Needless to say, my answer was “yes”!

I had a three-hour layover at JFK airport, and then the flight was late.  To make matters worse, after getting on the plane, they had to deice it, even though it was barely snowing.  There were lots of planes ahead of us getting deiced, and then it took more time until we were allowed to take off.  All for a 38-minute flight to Syracuse!  It was 7:30 by the time I got my car, and it was snowing a fair bit.  Nonetheless, I-81 was mostly smooth sailing (except when I was stuck behind a phalanx of snowplows for 25 miles), as was US-11, and I was back in Canton at 10:00 PM, stopping at the A-1 for some takeout pepper steak.



Prince Valiant Comes to America

What did I do over the winter break?  Glad you asked!  I spent much of the time just relaxing and catching up on some of my hobbies that I’ve neglected over the course of the year. I found one of the two remaining volumes of Prince Valiant reprints (of a series of 50) that I needed online at a reasonable price—now there’s only Volume 36 to go (currently selling on eBay for $80, which is way too high)! Prince Valiant is a Sunday newspaper comic strip by Harold Foster that has appeared since the 1930’s, telling the story of the deposed king of Thule’s (Norway’s) son, who grows up to become a knight of King Arthur’s round table.  He has adventures all around the ancient world, with the story set roughly in the year 500. It is beautifully written and drawn, and considered by many to be the greatest comic strip of all time.  The strip is still published today, by a different author and artist.  I resolved to reread the entire run over the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, and enjoyed them thoroughly.

There’s an interesting local connection to Prince Valiant’s story.  About nine years into the strip, Valiant has to chase after a renegade Thule navigator who has kidnaped his wife.  The sea chase extends through the Hebrides Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, and ultimately, down the St. Lawrence River to Niagara Falls, where justice is finally done and his wife rescued.  Since winter is coming, Prince Valiant and his Viking allies set up winter camp along the river (perhaps near Canton!), befriending the local Indians.  His rescued wife, Queen Aleta, has their first child there.  I had read this sequence many years ago, but had forgotten it over time.  I especially enjoyed reading it now that I’m living in the location where it took place! I mentioned the storyline in the office when I reread it, and was wonderfully surprised when Lenore VanderZee gave me a framed copy of an original Sunday page of the strip for a Christmas present—the one when they first sailed down the St. Lawrence.  How cool is that?


I also bought the last five volumes of Spirit hardcovers (of a series of 26), completing my set. The Spirit is another great Sunday newspaper comic, written and drawn by Will Eisner, who is widely considered the father of the modern graphic novel.  As to the movie version of it that came out several years ago—forget it.  It was horrible.

DVD acquisitions included 3D versions of some recent superhero movies: The Avengers—Ultron Imperative and Ant-Man, both good and worth watching.  On the other hand, the new (not 3D) Fantastic Four movie?  The less said the better.  We also watched Hotel Transylvania II in 3D, which was excellent in all ways.

Speaking of 3D, I also did some bidding on eBay to expand my collection of view-masters.  While view-masters today are mostly on children’s subjects, originally they were made for adults and sold at tourism attractions, featuring 3D views of the sights.  They were made from the late 1930’s to the present, though the really collectable period runs to the late 1970’s.  In addition to tourist attractions (sets exist for the Adirondacks and the Thousand Islands, for example), packets were also made on all sorts of other subjects, including classic TV shows (Batman, the Addams Family, the Munsters), scientific areas, and amusement parks (Disneyland, Sea World). While none are super-expensive (the rarest ones go for in the $500 range), there are plenty of scarce ones, especially those made in Europe at the view-master plant in Belgium.  I won several rare ones on eBay, including packets for the 1962 Greek Royal Wedding, the Wieze Oktoberfest, and of Oran and the Sahara in Algeria, all of which are pretty obscure and collectable.  It’s absolutely true that everything is better in 3D!




Last Week’s Trivia Contest

There wasn’t one!


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “w”.  The first five winners win a CD, DVD, or whatever else I come up with from the vast Szafran repository of duplicates or good stuff I want to get rid of.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Most of your body is made up of this, but you can still drown in it.
  2. Studio that produced all the Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons.
  3. All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased this.
  4. Napoleon was defeated there, but Abba made it into a hit song.
  5. Commonly misattributed to Mark Twain, everybody complains about this, but nobody does anything about it.
Posted in Uncategorized

December 18, 2015


Volume 10, Issue 14–December 18, 2015


And Still No Snow

There’s no doubt that snow will arrive and stick at some point, but thanks to El Nino, that point hasn’t come yet.  A few days ago on the morning news, they reported that the temperature in Canton was actually warmer than that in Las Vegas!  Yesterday, there were a few snow flurries and there was a little snow on the windshield when I woke up, but the temperature rose to the high 30’s, and it was all gone by lunchtime.  Today, it was 45° when I left the house.  We’re supposed to get a little snow on Friday night/Saturday day, but it’s supposed to warm up a bit after that and all melt away.  Thus far, I haven’t had to break out the heavy coat.

Due to the warm weather, people are predicting that it may snow in June to make up for it.  I doubt it, but we’ll see.




Holiday Giving Trees

In the last BLAB, I talked a little about the Giving Tree opportunities on campus.  Well, one of them was picked up by SUNY for its “30 Days of Giving 2015” Big Ideas blog.  I think we’re Day 21, and  you can see the article by clicking here.


Student Government Association Budget Director Fatizjah Burnett at left

Our student government organized the effort to collect gifts for needy children, with the presents going to the Canton Church and Community Program.  Some 100 gifts were collected.  A second giving tree effort was carried out for the Children’s Home of Jefferson County and St. Lawrence County Foster Children by Delta Omega Epsilon fraternity.



And Pancakes Too!

For the past ten years or so, it has become a tradition that various faculty and staff serve our students with pancakes, sausages, and other comfort food starting at 10:00 PM and ending at midnight, during Finals Week.  So, on December 9th, we all assembled at Chaney Dining Hall, donned our Christmas sweaters, and went to our respective assignments.

12321142_10153689870880211_7289364122144615106_n l-r:  Me, Courtney Bish, Michael Perry, Katy Perry

 Apropos of my abilities, I was assigned to clean tables after students had finished eating!


Katy Perry and me sharing a bucket

Lots and lots of students came out for the food, and a good time was had by all. 12243071_768918875416_7801994966326719992_n

We used to do the same thing back at Southern Polytechnic, so it’s great to see that great minds all think alike.



Chanukah is Over

Chanukah began on the evening of December 6th this year and ended on the 14th.  As usual, we lit son Mark’s favorite chanukiya (a special type of candelabra, also commonly called a menorah), one we had bought the year he was born.  It features Mickey Mouse and Minnie playing the dreidel game in front of a fireplace, surrounded by presents.  For those who don’t know, the dreidel is a four sided top that you spin.  Each side has a Hebrew letter on it:  Nun (standing for the word “nes”, meaning miracle), Gimel (standing for “gadol” meaning great), Hei (standing for “haya” meaning occurred), and Shin (standing for “shahm” meaning there).  Thus, the four letters add up to “A great miracle occurred there”.  [In Israel, the fourth side’s Hei is replaced with the letter “Pe”, standing for “po”, meaning here—“A great miracle happened here”.]


Remember–Hebrew is read from right to left!

The miracle was that the light at the reconsecrated Temple, after the victory of the Maccabees over the Assyrians, burned for eight nights, even though there was only oil enough for one night.  Thus on Chanukah, one lights a single candle on the first night, adding an additional one each successive night until the chanukiya is filled with eight candles (plus the “helper candle, used to light the others, called the “shamash”.


The way the dreidel game is played, is that everyone “antes” a chip, which is often a piece of chocolate covered with gold foil that looks like a coin.  The first player spins the dreidel.  Depending on what letter comes up, you take or give chips from the pot.

Nun: “none”—You do nothing.

Gimel: “get”—You take the whole pot, and everyone antes again.

Hei: “half”—You take half the chips in the pot

Shin: “shtel—Yiddish for “put in”—you put a chip in the pot.

The last person with chips wins.



But Don’t Forget the Parties

Once finals end, there’s still a lot of work to do, but truth be told, a lot of time is also taken up by holiday parties!  The folks in Academic Support Services put on a nice one yesterday.  The party was in the mezzanine of the Athletic Center, and as we came up to the doors, everyone was greeted by the Grinch (played by Terri Clemmo).


The party was a potluck, so there were lots of nice home-made treats.  After eating, there was a package wrapping race, where each team of two had 3 minutes to wrap three gifts, with the winner going to the one who did it fastest and with the most style.


Earlier in the week, we had the Secret Santa party, also a potluck, where everyone opened their gift, and had to guess who gave it to them.  Very few people guessed right!



And Finally

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to everyone!  I hope everyone has a great break and comes back raring to go!




Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s challenge dealt songs with words starting with the letter “h”. The fastest winner was DianneMarie Collins once again.  Others getting all five right included Alan Gabrielli (from SPSU), Debbie Flack, Alan Gabrielli (from SPSU) and Terri Clemmo.  What happened to the rest of you?  This one wasn’t hard!

Here are the correct answers:

  1. Trip just after a wedding. Honeymoon.
  2. You sing them in church.  Hymns.
  3. Wimpy will gladly pay you Tuesday if you give him one of these today.  Hamburger.
  4. Catchphrase from Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator. Hasta La Vista, Baby.
  5. Showy flower also known as the rose mallow, it is the national flower of Haiti, South Korea, and Malaysia. Commonly worn by girls in Hawaii and Tahiti, it is also used in making tea.  Hibiscus.




This Week’s Trivia Challenge

There isn’t one!  The trivia challenge is on vacation until the New Year.


Posted in Uncategorized

December 9, 2015


Volume 10, Issue 13–December 9, 2015



As the Year Winds Down

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving break, doing their duty to eat lots of turkey and generate lots of left-overs.  As to my family, I took Tuesday and Wednesday of Thanksgiving week off to drive my father and mother to Burlington, VT, where my dad was having a small procedure to deal with some skin cancer near his nose.  The trip there was OK, going through the Lake Champlain Islands, which are very pretty, but it was cloudy and we had light snow for the last 90 minutes—not enough to do anything, but just enough to be a little annoying.

We stayed at the American Cancer Society’s house near the hospital, and it was very nice—they provide rooms at no charge for people dealing with cancer for as long as they need.  The rooms consist of a small sitting area with a couch (that opens into a bed) and a chair and TV set, and a bedroom with two single beds with another TV set.  Upstairs, there is a large kitchen where one can store and cook food, and at least for that evening, there were volunteers who cooked dinner (beef Bourguignon!) for the people staying there.  The food was good and the company was great—I met a woman whose daughter was a senior majoring in Physics, and another who was a Funeral Services Administration graduate from SUNY Canton.  Small world!  The operation went well, and we were out a little after noon to eat lunch at a Turkish restaurant downtown (which was very nice) and then to get on the road.  We got to Potsdam at about 4:00 PM, so we stopped and bought a turkey for the next day.  The Thanksgiving meal all came out quite well, and we were thoroughly gorged and had sufficient leftovers for three days.

As to the rest of the Thanksgiving break, I spent most of my time vegging out, listening to music, and bidding on view-masters on eBay (of which an unusual number of packets I needed happened to be on offer, and I bought plenty).  I’m also in the process of reading straight through all 50 volumes of Prince Valiant, arguably the best written and drawn American comic strip of all time.  I always liked the strip when I was young, and like it even better now.



Holiday Time!

We’ve just finished the last week of classes, and are beginning finals week.  One of the nicest parts of this two-week period before the Winter/Christmas break is that there are lots of parties.  We had two really nice ones last Friday—the President’s Holiday Reception for the campus in the afternoon, and the Children’s Holiday Party in the evening.

There was a huge turnout for the President’s Holiday Reception—some folks told me it was the biggest for any such party ever.  The Catering and Concessions Manager, Sean Conklin, and his staff did a fabulous job in decorating the Miller Campus Center rooms.  The layout was excellent too—it was set up to promote mingling, but you could also sit down if you wanted to.


The food was wonderful—large shrimp, beef wellington, lots of veggies, fruit, and desserts, soft drinks, eggnog, cider—the whole nine yards.  Back at my first college, we always used to joke that we could tell how good the college’s finances were by the size of the shrimp at the reception.  Obviously, we’re in very good shape!


Music was provided by A Fine Line, an excellent jazz combo consisting of Bill Vitek (from Clarkson) and SUNY Canton’s own Dan Gagliardi and Mike Magilligan.  A wonderful time was had by all.  One highlight of the party was the announcement of the winners of the Holiday Door Decorating Contest, which were announced about 30 minutes in.  1st place was taken by the Early Childhood Education Program, who had a door featuring Roody, our College mascot, and me as the Elf on the Shelf causing trouble for him.


We had a tie for 2nd place between the Dean of Academic Support Services and Instructional Technologies door (Molly Mott and Janet Livingston), and a student door done by Breanna Van Valkenburgh on the theme of “A College Student’s Letter to Santa”.



Third place was another student door done by Amanda Wilhelm, done based on the movie “Frozen”.


A PowerPoint presentation of all the doors that were entered was shown several times during the party.

The Children’s Holiday Party started at 6:00 PM.  As always, the Early Childhood Education program did a wonderful job setting up the party, which was on the theme of a Pizza Pajama Party.  About 75 children (and an even larger number of parents) came, with the kids all dressed up in their p.j.’s.  Some of the children had been to the party every year since they were little—it’s a big annual tradition up here.  After signing in, each child got to choose a DVD and a toy from son Mark’s never ending stash of such things, and then went around to enjoy some 20 different activities.  Pizza, cookies, and soft drinks were all available, with the highlight of the evening being (of course) a visit from Santa and being able to get your picture taken with him.


I knew about half the parents there and had met many of the children before, so it was a lot of fun seeing them enjoy the games and have fun.  Maureen Maiocco and Christina Martin (the two faculty in the program) did a fabulous job working with the Early Childhood Education majors staffing the party, all in their jammies!


Congratulations to all on making so many children’s holiday brighter.



Holiday Giving Trees

The holidays are a time for giving, and folks at SUNY Canton are generous indeed!  First came the annual State Employees Federated Appeal (SEFA) Campaign, organized by Tina Flanagan and Nancy Rowledge.  There were 82 employees who participated, and the appeal raised just over $10,000!

There were at least two Giving Tree opportunities on campus—one for the Canton Church and Community Program where the gifts were gathered in my office; and a Christmas Gift Donation for the Children’s Home of Jefferson County and St. Lawrence County Foster Children, collected by Delta Omega Epsilon fraternity, and many folks donated to their own favorite charities and houses of worship.


Thanks to everyone who participated—it makes a world of difference.



SUNY Canton Shout Out

Deborah Molinar passed along the great news that on October 17th, Jennifer McDonald (from our PTA program) was inducted into the Academy of Advanced Item Writers for the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.  This is an honor bestowed upon individuals who have written a number of high quality items that have been reviewed and accepted for placement on the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination.   Getting to this level requires a great investment of time and commitment.  Congratulations to Jennifer!

Jennifer McDonald

Jennifer McDonald on the right.


Eating One’s Way Around the World

Back on November 18, there was a wonderful international dinner as part of our International Education Week.  The cooks at Chaney prepared a number of interesting dishes based on recipes provided by our international students.


I brought Jill and Mark to the dinner too, even though Mark’s idea of exotic food is a grilled cheese sandwich (which he in fact got and ate).  When I entered the serving line and saw that the first choice was curried chicken followed up with lots of other good choices (rice with beans, stir-fried veggies…) I was glad I came!


Following the feast, we had the 2nd annual Presidential Foosball Challenge.  Once again I played the winners of the various dorm internal championships, teaming up with the dorm director as my partner.   What was the final outcome?  Not bad for a 60-year old—my side won three out of four, and we weren’t too far behind on the fourth game either.



Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s challenge dealt songs with words starting with the letter “f”. The fastest winner was DianneMarie Collins.  Others getting all five right included Alan Gabrielli (from SPSU), Patricia Todd, Terri Clemmo, and Bob Brown (from SPSU).  Your prizes can be picked up from my office.


Here are the correct answers:

  1. Don’t let it guard your henhouse.  Fox.
  2. Its capital is Tallahassee.  Florida.
  3. Movie monster played by Boris Karloff, it was from a book by Mary Shelley.  Frankenstein.
  4. Lots of people have plastic lawn ornaments of these pink birds.  Flamingo.
  5. High bouncing material invented by Fred MacMurray in two Disney movies (or later, by Robin Williams in a third movie).  Flubber.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “h”.  The winners win a CD, DVD, or whatever else I come up with from the vast Szafran repository of duplicates or good stuff I want to get rid of.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Trip just after a wedding.
  2. You sing them in church.
  3. Wimpy will gladly pay you Tuesday if you give him one of these today.
  4. Catchphrase from Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator.
  5. Showy flower also known as the rose mallow, it is the national flower of Haiti, South Korea, and Malaysia. Commonly worn by girls in Hawaii and Tahiti, it is also used in making tea.


Posted in Uncategorized

November 18, 2015


Volume 10, Issue 12–November 18, 2015



Looking Good in Admissions…

Admissions for next fall at SUNY Canton are looking quite healthy at this point, with applications running well ahead of last year—freshman applicants are up 10.7%, and transfers up 30.4%.  While we have to keep pushing because it’s still early in the game, the attendance at the open houses has been excellent and the prospective students seem very interested in what we offer.  As you can see below, the most recent open house (last Friday) was packed!


Our admissions staff does an outstanding job of recruiting and hosting students.  Our many thanks to all in the admissions area.



Meet the President!

No, not me—he’s met me before.  But last week on November 5, SUNY Canton student Brayden White, a member of the Akwesasne St. Regis Mohawk Nation (Bear Clan), served as a youth delegate at the 7th annual White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, D.C., and took part in a panel discussion with President Barack Obama.


Braden is the fourth from the left.

It all happened very quickly—Braden heard about the opportunity, applied, and was selected.  He flew down to Washington, staying with a relative who lives there.  “The President was very laid-back,” said Braden.  “He’s always so serious on television, but when I met him, we even talked about basketball.”  Braden was one of 24 native youth delegates to attend the conference, and was chosen by the White House to be on a panel to discuss issues with the President.

During the panel, Braden asked President Obama how his administration intends to work with tribal education departments to empower low-income Native Americans to pursue a college degree.  President Obama pledged to work on better communicating federal grant and student loan opportunities to high schools through a collaboration with the Depts. of Education and of the Interior and local school districts. 

The panel was a part of a conference where leaders from 567 federally recognized tribes met with government officials and the White House Council on Native American Affairs. The conference aimed to strengthen relationships with American Indian and Alaska Native tribes.

Braden says that the food was terrific, with people hovering around to make sure everyone had everything they needed.  When it was time to shake hands with the President, Obama leaned in and gave everyone a hug.  This was actually the second time Braden met one of the Obamas—the first was this past summer, when he met First Lady Michelle Obama at the President’s Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) initiative.




Meet Another President

On November 7th, it was time to get on the road and go to Lincoln, IL for the inauguration of David Gerlach as the new president at Lincoln College.  Dave was the Vice President for Advancement at SUNY Canton for many years, and served the College in many other positions before that, ranging from being in charge of admissions, resident life, and athletics at various times, to his humble beginnings as the guy who filled up the milk dispensers at Chaney way back when he was a student.  In all, he worked at SUNY Canton for more than 30 years.

After a reception for the Children’s Museum on Saturday evening at SUNY Potsdam’s president Kristin Esterberg’s house, I dropped Jill and Mark off at home and drove up to Ottawa.  I was spending the night there because my flight to Chicago took off at 6:30 AM.  I talked the folks at the hotel into letting me leave my car there, and at 4:15 AM took the hotel shuttle to the airport.  When I tried to check onto my flight, the kiosk read “see agent”.  When I went to speak to her, she asked for my passport.  I gave her my enhanced New York driver’s license, and she said “You can’t get on the plane with that—you need a passport.”  I asked if there was anything I could do, and she said “No”.  So, I asked when the next flight was (10:30 AM, but you’d have to be at the airport by 9:30 AM), asked if they could change me onto it (they did), and I called the shuttle to take me back to the hotel, got in my car, and drove back to Canton.

After I crossed the international bridge back into Ogdensburg, I called Jill to find my passport and be waiting at the door with it.  She was, and I took the passport, kissed her goodbye and drove back to Ottawa.  I got to the airport at about 7:30 AM, went through immigration (they do US immigration in Ottawa—weird!), and asked the customs agent why my enhanced license wasn’t good on a flight.  “It was,” he said.  “That’s not what the airline told me,” I replied.  His supervisor then came by and confirmed that what the airline had said was right, but I felt a little better since I wasn’t the only person who didn’t know that.  I had enough time to eat a little breakfast, and at 10:30, was on the flight to Chicago.

The flight was fine and even landed a little early, at 11:15 AM.  I ran out of the airport, caught the rental car shuttle, got my car, and was on the road before 11:45 AM.  It’s a long way to Lincoln from Chicago—173 miles—most of it on ultra-boring I-55, which at least has a speed limit of 70.  I was probably doing a little better than that, because I reached Lincoln at 2:07, just a hair late for the inauguration.  I walked into the theatre where the ceremony was being held, took an empty seat, and found myself sitting next to Michael Perry and his daughter Katy, who in turn were sitting next to Lisa, Dave Gerlach’s wife.

The ceremony was wonderful, and both Dave and his principle speaker, our former president Joseph Kennedy, did a fine job with their speeches.  Other SUNY Canton folks at the inauguration included Anne Williams (and her husband Greg), and Dale Major (and his wife Shelley).  Musical interludes were provided by the college chorus, and there was a nice reception afterwards with punch and cake.  Everyone was amazed that I had made it, given my travel complications.

That evening, I was invited to dinner at Dave’s house, which is the college’s president’s house.  The house is quite old and beautiful, with lots of big formal rooms, but also lots of very cool nooks and crannies.  Dave and I had a good time going through it floor by floor and imagining things one could do with various spaces.  I’m sure Dave and Lisa will have a great time putting their own touches on it.

Dave is having a great time at Lincoln College, and from all appearances and comments, is doing a great job as president.  The students already seem to love him and appreciate the changes he is bringing to the college.


After a nice dinner and conversation with Dave and Lisa’s families, I went to the hotel, and hit the pillow early.  The next morning, it was up at 4:00 to leave by 4:30 AM, to try to hit Chicago before the traffic got too bad.  Sure enough, when I got to Chicago, it was  bumper to bumper, but I was able to drop off the car and get to O’Hare airport by 8:30 for my 10:30 flight.

It was a good thing that I had some time, because when I got to the ticket counter, the folks at Delta told me that I had no value left on my ticket—the folks at United had used the return flight to pay for the later flight the previous day.  I went over to the United counter, where they told me I should have known they would do that, since I had a ticket that couldn’t be changed.  I pointed out that they had changed the ticket, and should have told me they were going to use my return flight to pay for it.  The agent said “You should have read the rules.”  I said, “Are you kidding?  There are like 900 pages of rules.”  The agent smiled, said “That’s true…” and then reestablished my ticket.  I went back to Delta, and fortunately they still had seats on the flights I needed, so at 4:00 PM, I was back in Ottawa after changing planes in Detroit.  I hopped in the car, drove back to Canton yet again, and was home by 6:00 PM.



Cross-Country National Champion!

SUNY Canton first-year student Àine McMorrow closed out her rookie season in thrilling fashion as she finished in first place out of the 120-runner field on Friday at the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) National Championships, hosted by Florida College.


Àine covered the 6-kilometer course in 23:34, a full 25 seconds faster than any other runner in the field, to earn SUNY Canton’s first cross country individual national champion. She joins Zach Meade as the only other ‘Roo to earn a national championship (he won the 2014 USCAA Golf national title).

Keara Byrne was the second SUNY Canton runner to cross the line in 46th place (28:03), Jess Nagy the 3rd  ‘Roo in 70th place (30:03), Schnyia Petteys was the 4th Roo in 79th place (31:27), while Kim McCarthy was the 5th, finishing in 82nd place (31:49).

On the men’s side Brandon McCreery led the ‘Roos, finishing 46th (31:20) over the 8-kilometer course.  Luke Ducharme was the 2nd ‘Roo in 77th place (33:25), Matt Fortin in 90th place (34:29), Shawn Deibel 4th for the team in 95th place (34:59), and Ryan Teal 5th for the ‘Roos in 109th place (38:12).

Patti Carpenter and Rachel Youngers were named to the 2015 USCAA All-Academic Team for being sophomore standing or older and carrying a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher.



Other Sports News


In other news from SUNY Canton’s student athletes, Hannah Christiansen was recognized as a First Team Academic All-District 3 honoree by the Division III College Sports Information Directors of America.  She is now under consideration for the Women’s Soccer Academic All-America honors as well.  Hannah is a Funeral Services Administration major and has a 3.95 gpa.




SUNY Canton also hosted the USCAA Women’s Volleyball national championship once again, with its annual banquet held on November 4.  It was a pleasure to be there at the banquet.

Six of our student athletes were honored at the banquet.  Morgan Bills and Robyn Carroll were named USCAA First Team All-Americans, and Kelsy Cornish was named as a Second Team all American.  Morgan averaged 3.41 kills per set while hitting .389 on 669 attempts this season. She ranks second in the USCAA in hitting percentage and fifth in kills per set. She posted a career-high 23 kills with just two errors and a .488 hitting percentage in a thrilling five set win v. Alfred State College on October 25th.  Robyn has been a force defensively for the Roos posting double digit digs in 29 of the Roo’s matches. She was named the USCAA Player of the Week on October 13th and ranks third in the USCAA in total digs (620).  Kelsy led the team with 336 kills averaging 2.78 per set. She has also been equally effective defensive posting 342 digs, 1st in the USCAA in total digs. She is a two-time USCAA Player of the Week earning the honor on September 8th and September 22nd.

Also honored were the four members of the Women’s Volleyball team who were named to the USCAA All Academic Team:  Kiana Archer, Lindsay Bryer, Jenea Shoemaker, and Kelsy Cornish.  Each had a cumulative gpa of 3.5 or higher.


During the nationals, the ‘Roos split on the first day, losing to Carlow University in the opener (25-15, 19-25, 15-17) and beating Berea College (25-22, 25-21).  On day two, they bested New Hampshire Technical College (25-14, 25-14), but lost to Rochester College (18-25, 25-21, 15-17) in an incredibly tight final.  They were eliminated in the quarterfinals after losing to St. Mary of the Woods in a five-game thriller.  The team’s achievements are even more remarkable when considering they played the entire tournament without First-Team All-American Morgan Bills, due to injury, and lost Jenea Shoemaker to an injury during the match with St. Mary’s.  Congratulations to all!



Art at Canton

On Thursday (November 12), the GMMD program had its annual Juried Art Show at the library.  You can still see it—the artwork will be up for a number of weeks.  It was great seeing how artistic so many of our students are—there were excellent drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures, and videos.  I had a chance to meet most of the award winners, including my own personal favorite, Katelynn Gebo, who had created a beautiful portrait on her computer, winning an Honorable Mention.


Congratulations to all the faculty and students participating—it was a great show!




Congratulations also to SUNY Canton sorority Delta Sigma Tau for the classy and moving way they supported the anti-racism efforts at the University of Missouri, by reading a solidarity statement (that they will share with the students in Missouri), and then holding a silent march around campus.  It was an honor to march with them.





Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s challenge dealt songs with words starting with the letter “c”. Our winner was  Terri Clemmo.  Your prize can be picked up from my office.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. It keeps vampires away. A Cross.
  2. In the song, it “came back, the very next day.” The Cat.
  3. Eniac was the first electronic, general purpose one.  Computer.
  4. Mythical creature with only one eye.  Cyclops.
  5. Car that was unsafe at any speed, according to Ralph Nader.  Corvair.



This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “f”.  The first five winners win a CD, DVD, or whatever else I come up with from the vast Szafran repository of duplicates or good stuff I want to get rid of.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Don’t let it guard your henhouse.
  2. Its capital is Tallahassee.
  3. Movie monster played by Boris Karloff, it was from a book by Mary Shelley.
  4. Lots of people have plastic lawn ornaments of these pink birds.
  5. High bouncing material invented by Fred MacMurray in two Disney movies (or later, by Robin Williams in a third movie).


Posted in Uncategorized

November 6, 2015


Volume 10, Issue 11–November 6, 2015



November in the North Country

It’s hard to believe that November is here and that the temperature is supposed to hit 70 today once again.  In response to lots of comments I have received, yes, I am responsible for bringing this up from Georgia.  And yes, you’re welcome.

More seriously, the warm temperatures are supposedly the result of a strong El Nino current in the Pacific, which will result in more rain for California (good!) and warmer temperatures and less snow for us (even better!).  We’ll see if it actually works out that way—it seems that every long term weather prediction turns out to be very wrong.  Except when it’s not.


Semper Paratus

Our own Brian Harte shared a copy of “The Eastwind”, the official publication of the 9th District Eastern Region of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, with me.  The Eastwind is a rather interesting publication, and I mean to more than just those in the Coast Guard.  This particular issue also had an article on winter on an ice cutter, a short piece on Jack Dempsey (one of the most famous boxers of all time) and his role in the Coast Guard during World War II.

The most interesting article, however, was written by Brian himself, about a new flotilla detachment of the Coast Guard Auxiliary being formed at SUNY Canton, as part of the Auxiliary University Program.  Students get a chance to gain education in nautical, aviation, operational training, and homeland security areas.  We’re the 20th AUP established nationally, and possibly the first in New York.  Known as the Spearhead Detachment, the unit provides an opportunity to gain leadership skills while performing safety patrols, teaching boating safety, and conduction vessel safety checks for the public.  Students who participate in this program (which is free!) can also participate in internships and apply for officer candidate school opportunities.  The unit has 22 student members, and Brian is the Unit Officer.

What’s more, Auxiliary Flotilla 092-01-01 (the one Brian is in, which is based in Massena NY) just earned the Coast Guard’s Meritorious Team Commendation, for its “exceptionally meritorious service from August 2014 through March 2015” in establishing the flotilla detachment at SUNY Canton.  The commendation ended by noting: “The detachment effectively bolstered Flotilla 092-01-01’s roster by 147 percent and reflects great credit upon U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Coast Guard.”  Congratulations to Brian, and our 22 student members!  By the way, semper paratus is Latin for “always ready”.


Game Jam!

On October 23rd and 24th, SUNY Canton’s English Department participated as a base camp in the Global Game Jam.  The jam lasted over 15 hours (all evening Friday and all day Saturday) and was held in the Library. Participating students built mobile games in a GPS-based mobile media game platform called ARIS (Augmented Reality Interactive Storytelling).

Game Jam (build in ARIS)

They also, as you might expect, ate lots of pizza and bagels, and interacted (on a video platform called Blue Jean) with base camps all over the world that were building games at the same time.  SUNY Canton’s Game Jam was organized by Laini Kavaloski, a new faculty member in our English/Humanities Department, and Kelly Woosely from IT.


South African Exchange

Last week, SUNY Canton hosted Dean Maurice Ndege, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology at Vaal University of Technology. Vaal UT has 16,000 students, studying in the areas of applied and computer science, engineering and technology, humanities, and management sciences, and is located in Vanderbijlpark, about 50 miles south of Johannesburg, and home to the major iron and steel industry in South Africa.  Vaal UT is part of the South African Technology Network (SATN), which also includes Cape Peninsula UT in Cape Town, Central UT in Bloemfontein, Durban UT in Durban, Tshwane UT in Pretoria, Mangosuthu UT in Durban, and the Polytechnic of Namibia in Windhoek, Namibia.


L-R:  J.D. DeLong, Molly Mott, Maurice Ndege, Mike Newtown, Doug Scheidt, me, and Ken Erickson

Dean Ndege was here to explore some possibilities about Vaal UT partnering with SUNY Canton, including conducting joint research, faculty exchange, and student exchange.  Our goal is to explore exchanging 5-10 students per year in engineering and technology, opening up a fascinating study abroad option for our students.  The meetings went very well, and we will be investigating next steps.


Terminal Degree Lunch

Something new we’ve started is to have an annual lunch for people on campus who are pursuing advanced degrees.  This was a tradition inaugurated by President Rossbacher on my previous campus, so I decided to bring it up north, and we had the first on on October 27th.  There were more than 20 people there, each of which told what degree they were pursuing and why, and how far they had gotten.  I also asked what the College could do to make their path a little smoother.  The most common answer was to allow for some release time, especially toward the end of the degree.  We’ll see what we can do to help.


Around the World

A little later on the 27th, I was one of the judges (with Doug Scheidt, Molly Mott, and Maurice Ndege) for the All Around the World event, where students decorated various spaces on campus to resemble other countries.  Some were more elaborate than others, with students dressed in costumes from those countries, and most even served appropriate food.  Countries represented included Senegal, Jamaica, Greece, Romania, China, Japan, and one other that I’m afraid I’ve forgotten.  It was lots of fun to go around from one to another, and it was tough to pick the winner.  The really hard part was to eat dinner after nibbling at all of the exhibits.



Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s challenge dealt songs with colors in their names. The fastest winner was Debbie Flack.  Other winners include Terri Clemmo, DianeMarie Collins, Alan Gabrielli (from SPSU), Greg Kie, and Rebecca Blackmon.   All win prizes that can be picked up from my office.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Beatles song about an underwater vehicle. Yellow Submarine.
  2. Song about Elvis’ footwear. Blue Suede Shoes.
  3. Prince song about precipitation. Purple Rain.
  4. Fats Domino found his thrill there. Blueberry Hill.
  5. Van Morrison remembers when he used to sing sha-la-la with her. Brown-eyed Girl.



This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “c”.  The first five winners win a CD, DVD, or whatever else I come up with from the vast Szafran repository of duplicates or good stuff I want to get rid of.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. It keeps vampires away.
  2. In the song, it “came back, the very next day.”
  3. Eniac was the first electronic, general purpose one.
  4. Mythical creature with only one eye.
  5. Car that was unsafe at any speed, according to Ralph Nader.


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October 27, 2015


Volume 10, Issue 10–October 27, 2015


Back to Back

This is the time of year that everything gets backed up.  No one wants to schedule anything around Thanksgiving, and Christmas comes soon after that.  As a result, the end of October and the beginning of November are the weeks when everything happens all at once, and it’s a struggle to get it all to fit in.  Fortunately, I have the intrepid Michaela Young working with me to make it all happen as smoothly as humanly possible, and she does a fantastic job.


On Campus…

There’s been a lot going on.  On Tuesday, October 13, we had the Fall Career Fair on our campus.  As usual, it was so large, it needed two spaces to hold it—in the Campus Center, and in the Automotive Lab in Neveldine.  I dropped in at both locations, and the businesses visiting were all happy to be there and all wanted to hire our graduates.  It’s always great to hear from companies that have hired our students because that’s the true mark of success—have the students been well prepared for their chosen avocations?  The universal answer I get when I talk to our visitors is “Yes—your graduates are great.  You need to produce more of them, because we ant to hire more.”  Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make the Fair happen.


Speaking of graduates, that evening, I had dinner with Ken Stanton (Class of ’97).  Ken graduated with a degree in Engineering Science and went on to Clarkson for his B.S. in Engineering and to Virginia Polytechnic Institute for his Ph.D. in Engineering Education.  He has helped design some cool engines, taught at Colorado State, and now runs his own business out there.  When I asked Ken what he attributed his success to, he answered “the foundation I got at SUNY Canton”—a response I hear all the time from our alumni.  I spoke to Ken about our proposed Mechatronics Engineering program, and also talked about how he might be part of it in the future.

On October 14th, we tried something new—instead of the wine and cheese receptions we had been doing the past few years, we switched to P3—Pizza with the president, provost, and presiding officer of the faculty.  We tried to keep what P3 stood for secret for a while, but by the time we held it, everyone knew.  We had a decent turnout of about 15, and had a chance to enjoy each other’s company, eat some good pizza, and then discuss some issues of concern (such as the need for expanded facilities for GMMD and for Physics; that the Automotive program would like to expand, but is maxed out in its facilities; and that some faculty though we need a break between the start of classes and Thanksgiving).  On the latter topic, hey—we had a discussion and vote on that last year, with the majority deciding to leave things as they were.  There is a way to keep the week-long Thanksgiving and still have a short spring break by starting two days earlier.  If folks want to take that one up again, we can certainly look at it.

After the P3, I went home to get Jill and Mark and we came back to campus to participate in the Diverse Discussion “Integration & Culture Shock”.  It was a pleasure to talk with many of our international students and to hear how well they were reacting to our American ways, and if they felt welcomed on campus.  They all commented on how friendly they found our campus environment to be, and how this friendliness (in some cases) contradicted the stereotype they had back home that Americans were standoffish.  We talked about what they missed from home and what they liked over here, and told stories about strange occurrences we had all encountered when traveling.  Jill and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and are looking to more opportunities to interact with our international students

On Thursday night (October 15), I went to SUNY Potsdam for the St. Lawrence County Democratic Dinner.  As a state employee, I can only attend political events as president if I’m comped, which I was.  It was nice to see several friends there, including Tony Collins (president of Clarkson) and June O’Neill (Chair of SUNY Potsdam’s College Council and wife of Ron O’Neill, our own College Council Chair).  The event was very interesting, and both SUNY Canton and Clarkson got a few shout-outs during the remarks.  A few weeks ago, I was sorry to miss the St. Lawrence County Republican Dinner due to a schedule conflict, but I hope to attend next year.

I had to leave the dinner a little early, because the next morning, I had to come back to SUNY Potsdam again for Chemtoberfest, an annual celebration of chemistry they put on for middle, and high school students.  I gave a short talk on sources of color in inorganic chemistry, but had to modify it from my original plans because I thought that the audience was going to be mostly high school students who had taken high school chemistry, but it turned out to be mostly middle school students and high schoolers who hadn’t taken chem yet.  Still, I had a good time, and it was wonderful to see so many students who were interested in chemistry.

Later on the 16th, I hopped in the car for the drive to Saratoga Springs, where the annual Association of Council Members & College Trustees (ACT) conference was being held at the Gideon Putnam resort, a really beautiful place.  The conference mainly focused on how college presidents, college councils, and college foundations can work effectively together.  The panel discussions and presentations (including one on “Stand Up with SUNY” from the Chancellor and one on diversity from Board of Trustees Chair H. Carl McCall) were quite interesting and useful.  I spoke on a panel about the hiring process for college presidents (representing new presidents going through the process, of course).  On the 17th, there was no scheduled dinner, so several of us went downtown to a jazz bistro, where the food and music were both great.

Leaving Saratoga on Sunday morning (the 18th), I headed into Albany and had lunch at my favorite Indian restaurant.  I drove to the airport, parked the car, and managed to get on an earlier flight to Philadelphia and then to Indianapolis, arriving at about 10PM.  I headed downtown the next morning, to meet up with David Penepent for the final visit with the accreditation commission for our Funeral Services Administration program.  I flew out of Indianapolis at 2PM, changing planes in Philadelphia and arriving in Albany at 7PM.  I hopped in the car and drove home to Canton, on nearly empty roads once I entered the Adirondacks.  It was a beautiful and clear night, and I got home at about 11PM.  Whew!

On Tuesday the 20th, we had a meeting with architects on the first stage of redoing Dana Hall.  This stage will consist of changing the building envelope, i.e., the walls, windows, and entryways.  The architects proposed several possible types of materials and some schematics.  We told them which ones we preferred, and asked that they lay out three potential designs, so that we can share them and get some input from the campus community.

On Wednesday, it was in an out day in Albany for the North Country Regional Economic Development Council’s report to the Governor’s taskforce.  I took the 7:30 AM flight from Ogdensburg to Albany, grabbed a taxi, and went to Empire State Plaza, where the presentations were made.  Our region’s presentation was at 11AM, and Tony Collins and Garry Douglas did a fine job of making the North Country’s case.  After hobnobbing a little with folks from the taskforce and from the Research Foundation, I grabbed a taxi and headed back to the airport to catch my 2:20 flight.  Going through security, the agent told me they would have to check my stomach and my right knee.  After running his hands over me there and being told all was OK, I headed to the conveyor belt to pick up my shoes when a woman came over to me laughing, and asked “can I rub your stomach too?”  I told her “yes, if you think it will bring you some luck!”

That evening, I had the pleasure of attending the latest installment of our Living Writers Series, featuring Rahul Mehta.  Rahul read a portion of a short story from his book Quarantine, which is a book of stories exploring the emotions and conflicts associated with being an Indian-American gay man—having cosmopolitan views and trying to reconcile them with a conservative culture.  The reading was engaging, as were his responses to the various questions raised by the audience.  Phil LaMarche does a great job with this series.  If you haven’t attended one yet, you’ve been missing out.



The Big Event—St. Lawrence International Film Festival

Of course, the big event for the past few days has been the inaugural year of the St. Lawrence International Film Festival.  SUNY Canton is one of the cosponsors of the Festival, with many from the college volunteering their time, presenting talks, submitting films, and lots of other such things.

The Festival began Thursday afternoon, with Canton folks meeting at Josie’s for a pizza buffet and to get on buses to Ottawa, Canada, where the opening gala was being held.  It’s less than a two-hour ride, including crossing the border, and having left at about 3PM, we were in Ottawa a little after 5PM.  On the way up, I sat next to Amanda Homi, a singer who specializes in world music, who will be performing at the Festival’s finale on Sunday.  We had a nice time talking about various types of music, and she was kind enough to give me a copy of her CD (“Till I Reach Bombay”), more about which below.

The gala was being held at the Canadian Museum of History, a beautiful location with great views of Ottawa’s Parliament Hill.


After a little time for drinks and hors d’oeuvres, in came special guest celebrity Dan Aykroyd, who was interviewed, posed for pictures, and mingled with the guests.


We then went into a larger social room for more drinks and mingling, and then into the theatre for a screening of the 35th anniversary cut of the movie “The Blues Brothers”.  The movie was preceded by an interview with Aykroyd, which was very interesting.  Among lots of other things, he revealed that his favorite character to play was the father in the Coneheads.  I hadn’t seen the movie in about 10 years, so I’d forgotten some parts of it, and got to enjoy them as if it were the first time.


The audience had a great time, and after the movie, we were all invited to another location in the museum for some snacks and a blues concert.  Dan Aykroyd sat in on a few numbers, proving he still has his chops.  The party broke up at about 11:45, and after boarding our buses home, we got back to Canton at about 2:00 AM.


I had to wake up early on Friday, because I was giving the welcome at the open house.  We had an excellent crowd of prospective students (especially for a Friday).  Our admissions folks did their usual excellent job in welcoming the parents and students, as did the many faculty and student participants.  After doing some paperwork, I joined Doug Scheidt to get some lunch from Curry-Q, a NYC based West-Indian cooking company, whose owner’s son is a member of our Delta Omega Epsilon fraternity, who were sponsoring the lunch as a fund-raiser.  The food was excellent and I hope they saved me any left-overs!  I then went down to the American Theatre to catch Sean O’Brien’s talk on James Bond and Empire, which was very enlightening.

That evening, SUNY Canton hosted the Film Festival’s Block Party, which lasted from 6PM to about 10PM.  The party was held at TAUNY’s (the Traditional Arts of Upstate New York) location on Main Street, and the food, music, and fun were all fabulous.  The main entertainment was provided by uprooted, a bluegrass band made up of Lenore VanderZee, Rosemary Phillips (both from SUNY Canton), Camilla Ammirati, and C.J. Jahnke, who started with cool versions of both Canada’s and the US’s national anthems.


After excellent performances by several SUNY Canton students,


Uprooted took up again and played a nice range of bluegrass music.  The food, provided by SUNY Canton’s food service, earned raves from everyone—excellent sausage and peppers, pulled chicken, chili, and macaroni, not to mention a wide range of deserts including fabulous maple flavored cannoli!  Everything was just about perfect, with about 300 people coming by and having a good time.


As a film festival, there were lots of cool movie premieres and showings each day.  Saturday also featured the annual Canton Phantoms in the Park Halloween parade and party.  It was lots of fun seeing just about every child in Canton dressed up in a cute Halloween costume and marching through town collecting candy.


Sunday began with the Film Festival’s awards brunch at the Best Western Hotel.  We got there a little late and every seat was taken, but the folks were nice enough to bring us a few extra chairs to sit in the back and enjoy the food and proceedings.  In the afternoon, we headed over to SUNY Potsdam for the short film “For the Love of Mambo”, followed by a live performance by Mambo Legends Orchestra leaders John ‘Dandy’ Rodriguez, Mitch Frohman and Jose Madera, each who spent over 25 years working with Tito Puente.  The music was absolutely great!


The Festival concluded with a great closing night party sponsored by SUNY Potsdam.


The St. Lawrence International Film Festival was just great, and I can’t say enough good things about Adam Paul, who organized the Festival and did so many things to pull it together.  I’m really looking forward to next year’s edition.  If  you didn’t come, you missed plenty—make plans now to attend the 2nd Annual Festival next year.



Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s challenge dealt with College Team nicknames. The winners?  There weren’t any.   What happened folks?  Here are the correct answers:

  1. SUNY Canton  Kangaroos.
  2. Syracuse University  Orange.
  3. University of Alabama Crimson Tide.
  4. Duke University Blue Devils.
  5. Yale University Elis or Bulldogs.



This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge will be about song titles with colors in them.  The first five winners win a CD, DVD, or whatever else I come up with from the vast Szafran repository of duplicates or good stuff I want to get rid of.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Beatles song about an underwater vehicle.
  2. Song about Elvis’ footwear.
  3. Prince song about precipitation.
  4. Fats Domino found his thrill there.
  5. Van Morrison remembers when he used to sing sha-la-la with her.
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