October 16, 2018

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 13, Issue 07–October 16, 2018

 

Welcome to the New Revolution, Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

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

  

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

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October 11, 2018

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 13, Issue 06–October 11, 2018

 

 Welcome to the New Revolution

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

There’s No Place Like Home…

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

SUNY Canton in the News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

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

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

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

  1. SUNY
  2. ASAP
  3. CFO
  4. ROFL (on the internet)
  5. P.S.
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October 2, 2018

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 13, Issue 05–October 2, 2018

  

Life in the Garage

On the home front, the weather has turned cooler which has allowed me to work in the garage to clear out the accumulated junk of decades.  I was pleased with myself the last two weekends, where I was able to put a few hours in each day.  I generated several garbage bags full of junk for the trash, two of clothing for the Goodwill, and two now-empty 20-gallon plastic bins.

It’s funny what you can find when you do this—I came across a very nice metal mobile, which was still in its original box with the various original wrapping materials.  I have no idea when we bought it.  It’s now unwrapped and hanging in our sun room and looking very nice.

I also shifted a bunch of boxes from the left to the right side of the garage so that I could get to the various boxes behind them. You see, I am trying to put all of my comics in alphabetical order so I can find any particular issue I may want to get to, and put any new comics I had acquired in the right places.  I did this for the DC and Marvel comics some time ago, but a few weeks ago, I wanted to do it for the Archie, Dell, and Independent lines of comics.  After putting some 12 long boxes of Archie comics with titles that being with the letter “A” in order, I had finally gotten to the “B”s, but couldn’t find two boxes of Betty and Veronica comics.  Moving the various boxes on the left to the other side of the garage solved the problem—there they were behind them, in one stack with two other boxes of Archie comics later in the alphabet.  I then got things arranged properly up to titles that begin with the letter “J”, but was now missing two boxes of Jughead comics.  This time, I had to move about 100 collapsed boxes (like when you buy them at U-Haul) along the back wall to be able to get to the right back corner, where I finally found them.

Part of the reason I have these problems is that between me, Jill, and Mark, we have a lot of things we like and the stuff accumulates.  For example, you’d think that with well over 10,000 CDs in the collection I’d have everything I want, but you’d be wrong.  This past week, I got three new sets in the mail—one, a box set of super audio CDs of the Beethoven symphonies, conducted by Simon Rattle; the second, a set of two Joan Baez CDs of her 75th birthday concert along with a DVD of the same; and the third, a box set of 56 Leonard Bernstein CDs on the Sony label of choral music, which means I now have everything he ever recorded.  I’m looking forward to listening to the Bernstein box, but I’ve got several others I’m working my way through first, so I probably won’t get to it for another six months or more.

 

Trip to Albany

I flew into Albany last Tuesday, because there was a SUNY Presidents meeting on Wednesday.  The flight down was quite cloudy but fairly uneventful.  When we landed, there were three fire engines with their lights flashing in the next landing strip and I wondered what they were doing.  It turns out they were there for us, because our plane was leaking a little oil, and the pilots must have radioed the problem in. We landed without incident though, and it was good to see that the fire engines were there in case we needed them.

A new problem occurred when I tried to call for the shuttle van to take me to the hotel.  The hotel’s automated phone service had something wrong with it and every time I called, I either got no answer at all (and no recording), or I got a menu of options which returned me to the same menu when I chose one, or I got through to a person who put me on hold and no one ever picked up.  After 7 or 8 tries, I was thinking of giving up and just taking a taxi there, but then the shuttle showed up to drop off a few pilots, and I flagged it down.  When I checked in at the hotel and they asked me how things were going, I told them my story. After hearing it, they upgraded me to concierge level, which got me a free dinner and breakfast.  So, it all worked out in the end.

The meeting itself focused on budget issues as well as some new initiatives from the Chancellor to increase the number of endowed chairs in the system and to increase the number of diverse faculty, both of which are worthy ideas. There was also an interesting speaker on the topic of exchange programs with Chinese universities, which has gotten to be somewhat of a political hot potato at the federal level in Washington DC recently.

The meeting broke up at about 3PM and President David Rogers of SUNY Morrisville was kind enough to drop me off at the airport on his way home.  When I went up to the ticketing agent, she said “You’re here a bit early” and asked if I’d like to get on the previous flight, which had been delayed because of bad weather.  “Oh yes!” I said, so she checked me in quickly and took my bag over to the plane while I went upstairs to go through airport security. As I came down the escalator to the gate, I was whisked onto the plane and a minute or two later we took off.  All in all, the whole thing only took about five minutes!  The flight home was interesting—there were scattered storm clouds around us, but the pilot did an excellent job of avoiding them and the flight was mostly smooth.

 

Riding in Cars with Comedians for Coffee

Most of you have probably seen or heard of Jerry Seinfeld’s comedy called “Riding in Cars with Comedians for Coffee” that can be seen on Youtube. Thanks to Morgan Elliott in our Public Relations Office who had this idea, there’s now a SUNY Canton version of it, called “Conversations in Gem Cars with President Z”, though no coffee is involved.

We shot the video a few weeks ago, with me talking to Ibu Smith, who is a junior Sports Management major from Brooklyn, and on our basketball team. Ibu is an extremely nice guy who is really enjoying his time at SUNY Canton and was very easy to talk to. Driving the Gem car was a bit less easy—I’d never driven one before and the first thing I noticed was that it has no power steering, so you really need to wrestle it to make it turn.  I quickly got the hang of it (with the exception of a few jumpy starts) and off we went around campus.

The whole thing was lots of fun and Ibu is definitely the star of the show. If you want to see it, just click below.

 

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest had to do with things related to the Constitution.  Our winner were Nicholas Wildey and Edmund Smith.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prize—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Which single amendment gives us the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to petition the government? First Amendment.
  2. What the first 10 amendments to the constitution are collectively called. The Bill of Rights.
  3. What right does the second amendment address?The Right to Bear Arms.
  4. What governing document did the Constitution replace? The Articles of Confederation.
  5. Which of the following has no official role in amending the Constitution: the House of Representatives, the Senate, the States, or the President. The President.

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

This issue’s challenge has to do with comic strips.

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

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

 

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September 19, 2019

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 13, Issue 04–September 19, 2018

 

On the Road Again

The last week and a half was really busy, with three inaugurations and three remembrance events.  Here’s some of what happened.

 

Inauguration at TC3

Whenever a new president is inaugurated in the SUNY system, we at Canton try to welcome them and extend our support.  In all cases, we send a certificate of congratulations, as well as a certificate indicating that we have planted five trees in their honor in a New York forest.  I’ve gotten a number of very nice thank you notes about this, and I believe that some other campuses may have adopted the practice themselves.  If the inauguration is relatively local and my schedule allows for it, I try to attend the ceremony personally.  If it’s a sister College of Technology, I’ll try to attend if at all possible.

On Friday September 7th, I drove down to Dryden, NY to attend the inauguration of Dr. Orinthia Montague, the new president of Tompkins-Cortland Community College (affectionately called TC3).  The drive down was pleasant and the traffic was fine down to Syracuse, but there was some construction that led to lane closures on Interstate 81 going through the city which, of course, created a bottleneck.  Everyone agrees that the highway needs to be rebuilt, but there has been more than ten years of debate on what the outcome should be, since the highway is only two lanes on each side and there’s not enough room to widen it without tearing down major buildings.  The three main options are a new elevated highway, a tunnel, or a “street-level grid”, with the thru-traffic being diverted onto I-481 going around the city.  All three options are estimated to cost between $1B and $4B and to take from 7-9 years to complete.  In other words, don’t hold your breath!  The congestion eased after that, and it was smooth sailing down to Dryden, which is where TC3 is located.

 

TC3 enjoys a very attractive campus with a substantial main building and everyone there was excited about the inauguration. Visiting delegates like me were provided a nice spread for lunch, and soon it was time to put the robes on and join the procession into the ceremony.  The inauguration began with the national anthems of two countries—the USA of course, but also Jamaica, which is where Dr. Montague was born. The guest speakers came from various places in her past, with several from the University of Missouri-St. Louis (where she started as a student service coordinator and was subsequently promoted to director of student life, assistant vice provost, and associate vice provost and dean of students) and from Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota (where she served as vice president of student affairs and chief diversity officer). I had met the Dr. Montague at a previous SUNY presidents meeting, and was very impressed with her plans for TC3, and I look forward to working with her in the future.  The inauguration finished at about 3:30 PM, so after taking off my regalia, I hopped back into the car and headed back north.

 

Memorial for Ike Cook

From Dryden, I drove back through Syracuse to go to Watertown, arriving at about 6 PM, where I stopped for a quick bite of dinner.  I then drove over to All Souls Church to attend the funeral service for Francis A. Cook at 7 PM.  “Ike”, as everyone who knew him called him, had tragically passed away on September 2 in a UTV accident at the age of 46.  Ike earned his associates degree in Civil Engineering Technology from SUNY Canton in 1993, going on for his bachelors degree at RIT in 1996.  He spent several years as an engineering project manager in Oneonta, before moving back to his home turf (he was born in Adams, NY) in Watertown, where he was a project manager at Bernier, Carr and Associates, and then as a quality-control manager at Chugach Industries at Fort Drum. He started his own company, Blue Line Engineering, with his close friend and fellow SUNY Canton alumnus Jeffrey Turbolino (class of ’96).  The two of them gave a talk as part of our Excellence in Leadership series this past March, which was very well received.

Ike was one of those people who you couldn’t help but like from the moment you met him.  He had an inviting and outgoing personality, which instantly welcomed you into his circle of friends.  I was still about a quarter mile from the church when I noticed that cars were parked on both sides of the road, and as I got closer saw that the parking lot was absolutely full and the line of parked cars extended for another quarter mile. I walked back to the church, where I saw almost 100 people outside in the parking lot, giving a toast to Ike. I later learned that they were mostly members of his fraternity and associated sorority (Delta Kappa Sigma and Delta Sigma Tau) and graduating class from SUNY Canton, paying their respects in the way that Ike would have liked best.  Over the years, he had organized many annual reunions and kept in close contact with them ever since graduation.  Inside the church, there were several hundred additional friends and family members, many of whom told touching reminiscences during the service about what a wonderful father and friend Ike was, and about the good times he shared with everyone at his favorite place in the world, Little Kildare camp in the Adirondacks.

 

Ike lived life to the absolute fullest, a valuable lesson for us all.  Rest in peace, Ike.  You live on in the memories of your family and multitude of friends.

 

Rosh Hashanah

The Jewish high holiday Rosh Hashana(New Year) came relatively early this year, on Monday and Tuesday, September 10-11.  On the holiday, tradition has it that each person’s fate is written in the book of life, and ten days later on Yom Kippur(Day of Atonement), that fate is sealed.  The days in between are known as the Yemei Tshuvah(the Days of Repentance) because sincere repentance, charity, and self-reflection can cancel any harsh fate.

The services were held at Temple Beth-El in Potsdam, the only synagogue remaining in St. Lawrence County, and were quite beautiful.  I had been asked to give the sermon on the first day and I spoke about the origin of the word “Israel”, which comes from the well-known story of Jacob wrestling with an angel in the Book of Genesis, and its relationship to the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

  

Memorial Ceremony for 9-11

I left services a little early on the second day of Rosh Hashanah to come back to campus for the 9-11 Memorial ceremony.  SUNY Canton has had a memorial ceremony every year since 2002, and I’ve attended each year that I’ve been at the College.

I think that everyone remembers where they were when the airplanes crashed into the twin towers, and I remembered walking into the Student Life office at my second college, seeing what was happening on a TV screen, and asking “what movie are you watching?”  It didn’t occur to me that it might be the real thing, but of course it was. It occurred to me that as of next year, this will be a historical event for many of our new first-year students, who will have been born after 9-11.

At our ceremony this year, I said a few words about the importance of memory and Will Fassinger gave the keynote talk.  It’s important to remember those who were lost.  A poem that I have always found to be comforting is ”Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye which I’ll share here:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

 

Trip to New York—Rockland Community College

After a few meetings on Wednesday morning, I drove to Ogdensburg to catch a flight on Cape Air to Albany, and then took a train into New York City.  The flight was just fine and the taxi got me to the train station early enough so that I was able to change my ticket onto a train leaving one hour earlier (and at no charge, which is unusual these days).  It’s a good thing that I did, because the train wound up getting stuck just before the Spuyten Duyvil bridge, which is a swing bridge between the Bronx and Manhattan that can swing open to allow ships to go by.  It had recently been repaired and when they swung it open a little earlier that day, they apparently couldn’t get it to completely close again.  A work crew was called, and the train I was on had to wait until they gave the all clear. It took about 20 minutes (though it seemed longer), and we slowly crept over the bridge (which is actually quite small) and then got into Manhattan without too much additional delay.

The next morning, I walked down to Penn Station to take a New Jersey Transit train to Suffern, home of Rockland Community College (RCC).  All New Jersey Transit trains from Manhattan make their first stop at Secaucus Junction, a very large station that allows you to change onto trains that originate in Hoboken.  There are eight tracks at the lower level and a bunch more at the upper, and trains go pretty frequently to one place or another.  I’d never gone on New Jersey Transit before, but the trains were quite nice and comfortable and the scenery was pleasant for the hour ride up to Suffern, where I arrived right on time.  There weren’t any taxis around, so I used Lyft for the first time in my life and a car picked me up about ten minutes later and took me to RCC with no problems.  RCC is quite large with very nice facilities, and its campus is in a suburban setting of single family homes.

I went over to the building where they were having a luncheon reception and met a number of faculty and staff from RCC.  We were then led to another room where they had put all the regalia, which mercifully was quite cool, because I was beginning to melt due to the heat and humidity that day.  We robed, but I was then taken to a separate robing area in their Field House, where the various delegates, faculty, and staff were assembling.  We then marched to a third building, their Student Center I believe, where the ceremony took place.

RCC’s new president is Dr. Michael A. Baston.  The very first thing you notice about him is that he is one positive and happy guy with a big grin that regularly breaks out on his face.  His positive outlook has certainly impacted the campus quickly, because so many people at the inauguration spoke about it in one way or another.  Dr. Baston began his career as a public interest lawyer, only later turning to education, where he served for ten years as Berkeley’s Dean of Student Development and Campus Life and then became LaGuardia Community College’s Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs for six years before becoming president at RCC. He is an expert on integrating student success initiatives to advance college completion through guided pathways and has written many papers and articles on the subject.

The inauguration ceremony was quite interesting, beginning with an elaborate invocation involving three different clergy representing three different faiths. Dr. Baston’s speech focused on his own personal pathway to the presidency, and his plans to support students and make RCC the top community college in the nation.

  

Chancellor’s Inaugural Gala

The RCC inauguration ceremony had run a little late and I wasn’t able to get a Lyft car back for 19 minutes, making me positive I had missed my train back to the city.  When we reached the train station, lo and behold, a train pulled in at that very minute.  I leapt onto it and paid the Lyft driver from my phone, which is a very nice option.  I was able to get into Manhattan just a little later than the original plan, which was good because I needed to get to my hotel, wash up, change into a dark suit, and go to the Chancellor’s Inaugural Gala (fortunately only four blocks away), all in less than an hour.

The Gala was held in the beautiful New York Public Library building on W42ndStreet.  The event was very nice and well attended, with many of the other SUNY presidents present, as well as three previous Chancellors and many other SUNY supporters.  Several musical and dance performances were given by students from Stony Brook, SUNY Potsdam, Oneonta, Fredonia, Purchase, University at Buffalo, and New Paltz.  The performances were all were quite good, as was the meal and the master of ceremonies, Wolf Blitzer of CNN fame, who is a graduate of the University at Buffalo.  Funds raised at the Gala went to support the SUNY Impact Foundation.

 

Chancellor’s Inauguration

Chancellor Kristina Johnson’s Inauguration ceremony was held on Friday morning at SUNY’s Fashion Institute of Technology.  I took a taxi there, having to walk the last little bit on W. 27thStreet because the street was closed for the event.  The breakfast and robing areas were on the 8thfloor and I had enough time to chat with several of the other SUNY presidents.  We were then called to don our regalia, and marched in campus-founding-order onto the elevator, into another building, and up some stairs to a large theatre where the ceremony was held.  Doug Scheidt was there for the inauguration as well, as a flag-bearer for SUNY Canton in the Chancellor’s procession.

As we walked into the theatre, we were greeted by members of the Stony Brook University symphony orchestra playing Bach’s 3rd Brandenburg Concerto, one of my favorite classical pieces.  It was all I could do to keep from conducting along!  The invited speaker, Robert Freelen, was very interesting, telling a number of stories from the Chancellor’s past, including the time when she was moving into her first-year residence hall at Stanford.  Mr. Freelen (who later became Stanford’s Director of Public Affairs) was the dorm advisor in the room next door.  He heard some banging of boxes and the like as she moved in, but then things got quiet and he heard a knock on his door.  It was Kristina Johnson, who wanted to know if he could lend her a drill, because the dorm rooms were quite small and she wanted to rig up a chain and pulley system so that the beds could be lifted onto the walls when they weren’t in use.  Obviously, Chancellor Johnson was an innovative engineer from the very beginning!

There were a number of other stories including hiding that she had bought a motorcycle from her parents, as well as being a proficient lacrosse and cricket player that supplemented her many professional achievements, which include being a member of the National Academy of Inventors and the National Academy of Engineering, her 118 patents, her induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and her serving in the Obama administration as Under Secretary of Energy.  Her academic background includes being a faculty member at University of Colorado-Boulder, dean at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, and Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Johns Hopkins.

 

Chancellor Johnson’s speech was quite uplifting, focusing on her vision of creating opportunity and impact, and of making SUNY “more than the sum of its many remarkable parts, and the individual campuses better for being a part of the whole.” She talked about several initiatives, including enhanced collaboration between academia, government, and industry, and the launch of PRODI-G (Promoting Retention, and Opportunity for Diversity, Inclusion and Growth), a program to attract and retain an increasingly diverse and inclusive faculty, with a goal of hiring 1,000 faculty with named chairs within the next decade.  She sees SUNY as an engine in the state’s economic growth, which can help the state thrive in challenging times.

The reception after the inauguration had a lot of good food, including some impressively sized shrimp, salads, sandwiches, and some very tasty farm-to-inauguration ice cream courtesy of SUNY Morrisville.

  

The Rush Home

I walked the short distance from FIT to Penn Station and got there at about 1PM.  I tried to get onto the 1:20 PM train to Albany but it was sold out, so I took the 2:20 train which arrived only slightly late.  I wanted to get the earlier one because I had a very tight connection with my flight to Ogdensburg—the train arrived at 5:00 PM, and the flight was at 6:05 PM.  I hopped into a taxi as did two others, one of whom was dropped off downtown and the other, by a nice coincidence, who was also going to Ogdensburg.  The traffic on I-87 toward the airport is always busy on a Friday afternoon so we got caught in the inevitable traffic, and about a mile from the airport exit, she got a call from the airline asking if she was going to make the flight.  Assuring them she would, I called out “tell them I’m with you as well” and she did. Two minutes later, I got the same call and assured them we would be there within three minutes.  We got ticketed and through security in no time, and actually got to the gate with 15 minutes to spare.

The flight was quite nice—clear skies and no turbulence at all, with very nice views of the Adirondacks—and we landed on time.  I rolled into Canton at about 8 PM, exhausted but satisfied that everything planned had been accomplished.

  

Summer Fun

I had promised to write about some of the things I did over the summer, but I’ll have to leave it to my most favorite thing, which was attending a concert in Watertown featuring the double bill of Peter Frampton and The Steve Miller Band.  I joined Joe Rich, our own College Council member and a promoter of the concert (the proceeds support charities in Watertown), his lovely wife Carol, and North Country Community College’s president Steve Tyrell in the VIP section which gave us a very good view of the concert. Peter Frampton was very good, but I was really ultra-excited to be able to see The Steve Miller Band for the first time, since they have been one of my favorite groups ever since I first went to college.  In fact, the very first record I bought at college was a twin album of his “Children of the Future” and “Living in the USA” albums.  Steve Miller did not disappoint and both Steve Tyrell and I were singing along with each song.

 

Another highlight was when we were invited over to possibly meet Peter Frampton.  That didn’t happen, because he was exhausted after his set (the temperature was almost 100° that evening), but one of the road crew brought by one of Frampton’s guitars, which had been given to him and autographed by Steve Miller (who I’m told never meets anyone and doesn’t even want his picture on his album covers).  The roadie asked “Would you like to see the guitar?”  Needless to say, our answer was yes, and then I took it a step further, asking “Would it be OK if I held it?”  “Sure,” he said, so I took the guitar, handing President Tyrell my iPhone to take a picture, which you can see below.  Of course, I returned the favor when President Tyrell held the guitar.

 

All in all, it was a wonderful evening filled with great company and fabulous music.  A big thanks to Joe Rich for making it possible and for all the support he always gives to SUNY Canton.

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest had to do with things related to Disney movies.  Our winners were Stacia Dutton, Kelly DeHaut, Carmela Young, and Terri Clemmo. Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prize—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Donald Duck’s girlfriend’s name. Daisy Duck.
  2. Mickey Mouse’s dog’s name. Pluto.
  3. First full-length movie released by Disney, way back in 1937. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
  4. Movie in which “Be Our Guest” was a featured song.Beauty and the Beast.
  5. Disney’s middle initial was “E”. What does it stand for?  Elias.

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

This issue’s challenge has to do with things related to the Constitution, in honor of Constitution Day.

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

  1. Which single amendment gives us the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to petition the government?
  2. What the first 10 amendments to the constitution are collectively called.
  3. What right does the second amendment address?
  4. What governing document did the Constitution replace?
  5. Which of the following has no official role in amending the Constitution: the House of Representatives, the Senate, the States, or the President.
Posted in Uncategorized

September 5, 2018

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 13, Issue 03–September 5, 2018

 

Who’s Number One? Roos Number One!

SUNY conducts a Student Opinion Survey every three years, where they ask students to evaluate their colleges in 61 areas.  I was really happy about the results from the last survey, done in 2015, where SUNY Canton came in at #1 in three areas critical to our students: Tutoring, Library Services, and Library Resources.  I had seen our raw numbers from the 2018 survey a few weeks ago and almost all of them were a fair bit higher than in 2015, but it wasn’t until now that I saw how we compared with the rest of SUNY.

I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of this year’s results—we were #1 in SUNY in 14 different areas this time (and #2 in 12 other categories), and we were #1 in the Tech Sector in 40!  Here are just some of the results (note that there are 7 Tech Sector Colleges, and 27 SUNY State Operated College that participated):

Area Tech Sector (of 7) SUNY Rank    (of 27)
Academic Advising in Your Major of Program of Study #1 #1
General Academic Advising #1 #2
Faculty/Instructor Respect for Students #1 #2
Non-Teaching Staff Respect for Students #1 #3
Availability of Faculty/Instructors Outside of Class #1 #1
Career Planning Services #1 #1
Help in Finding Jobs During College #1 #1
Residence Hall Services/Programs #1 #3
Study Areas (Not Including Studios) #1 #1
Classroom Facilities #1 #1
Course-related Laboratories (Not Including Studios) #1 #1
Athletic and Recreational Facilities #1 #3
Financial Aid Services (Not Amount of Financial Aid Rec’d) #1 #2
College Tutoring Services #1 #1
Quality of Instruction #1 #2
Availability of General Education Courses #1 #2
Class Size Considering the Type of Class #1 #1
Course Registration Process #1 #2
Availability of Online Courses #1 #2
Access to Computers and Related Technology #1 #1
Computing Support Services (e.g., Helpdesk) #1 #2
Library Resources (Physical Collections, Online Databases) #1 #1
Library Services (Reference Support, Research Assistance) #1 #1
Intercollegiate Athletic Programs #1 #3
Student Government #1 #6
Educational Programs Regarding Alcohol/Substance Abuse #1 #3
Student Health Services #1 #1
Personal Counseling Services (Excluding Academic Advising) #1 #1
Health and Wellness Programs #1 #2
Student Input in College Policies/Plans #1 #2
Your Social Support Network on Campus #1 #3
Campus Openness to Opinions of Others #2 #4
Campus Acceptance of Individual Differences #2 #4
Services to Support Off-Campus/Commuter Students #1 #2
Services to Transfer Students #1 #4
Intra-campus Transportation (campus shuttle) #1 #5
College Bookstore Services #1 #2

It’s always exhilarating to get good news, but the results from the Student Opinion Survey are even more meaningful for a couple of reasons.  First, whenever I speak about the College and say how great it is, I certainly hope that people listen and believe me, but it would also be fair of them to ask “How objective is he?  After all, he’s the college’s president!”  Similarly, while our PR materials are uniformly excellent, people might reasonably think “Well, they work for the college.  What else would they say?”  In the case of the Student Opinion Survey, however, we’re hearing directly from the students, who are an objective and independent voice about how well their college experience is working for them.

Second, the results from the Student Opinion Survey evaluate pretty much every area and function of the College.  Some are about academics, some are about facilities, some are about student support services, some are about business procedures and offices, and so on.  To have done this well on the Survey indicates our success across our whole campus.  I’ve often said that each and every one of us is responsible for student satisfaction, retention, and success.  So—congratulations to everyone!  You’ve done fantastically well for our students, and I couldn’t be prouder!

  

SUNY Canton in the News

I’m happy to tell you that SUNY Canton has also been in the news a lot lately.  Much of the coverage has been about our being the first in SUNY to participate in eSports, which is drawing a lot of attention from some very big places.  For those who don’t know what eSports are, here’s a handy video about our program:

 

Here’s a list of just some of the articles about our eSports program:

  • The Watertown Daily Times showcased our new eSports Arena and first-year student Alyssa Montgomery’s reaction to it on its front page on August 30,here.
  • The very next day on August 31, the Watertown Daily Times had a front-page story entitled SUNY Canton Professors Look to Break Down the Gamer Stereotype with New Study, here, featuring SUNY Canton faculty Barat Wolfe, Janet Parcell-Mitchell, and Christopher Sweeney.
  • The “Tweet of the Day” on the SUNY News Clips for August 28 featured a tweet that had appeared on ESPN’s website, here.
  • The video game website Kotaku showcased our program on July 9 as the first in the SUNY system, in an article entitled Collegiate Esports is Uncharted Territory, so Smaller Schools are Staking Their Claim, along with four pictures of our facilities and students. You can read the article here, which has appeared on Kotaku websites around the world.
  • The website ecampusnews published an article on August 10 authored by our own Director of Athletics, Randy Sieminski, entitled The Explosive Growth of Collegiate eSports (Part 1). Part 2, to be published in the near future, will be by our own Associate Provost and Dean of Academic Support Services Molly Mott, about eSports in academia, focusing on our game design program.  You can read the article here.
  • The Syracuse Post-Standard featured an article on August 21, entitled Is eSports the Future of College Sports? SUNY Canton invests $500K to Find Out, which you can read here.
  • ESPN tweeted on August 17 about our becoming the second eSports program in the country to compete in Fortnite and FIFA. North Country Now featured an article on this titled Fortnite Battle Royale and FIFA Added to SUNY Cantons ‘eSports’ Lineup, here.
  • ESPN’s website published an article titled SUNY Canton Takes a Holistic Approach to Collegiate eSports back on December 15, here.

With all that coverage, how have our eSports teams been doing?  Not badly at all. SUNY Canton just took 2ndplace in a national Collegiate Star League Hearthstone competition on August 25.  Our team was led by Brian Venard, and beat the University of Texas at Arlington, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of California Irvine, and Penn State, before getting beaten in the final by Florida State University.  Not too shabby—they’re only 10 times our size!

Other recent press coverage includes:

  • Our playing an exhibition basketball game against Cornell University on November 8 appeared in an article entitled SUNY Canton to Face Cornell in Men’s Basketball on September 4, here.
  • Our participation in SOAR (Soar into New Experience Through Local Courses at SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton, North Country Now on August 21, here).
  • Our saving students money on textbooks (College Program Saves Students Money on Textbooks, 7 News on August 20, here).
  • The new academic year (SUNY Canton’s Academic Year Starting Earlier This Semester, North Country Now August 21, here).
  • Our own RooAthletics website on August 20 featured an article titled Twelve Hockey Student-Athletes Named AHCA All-American Scholars, here.
  • Our effort to develop an Entrepreneurship Accelerator (SUNY Canton Seeking Downtown Space for Budding Entrepreneurs, appeared in the Watertown Daily Times and the Ogdensburg Journal on August 3, here).
  • Issues related to 3D printing of guns, featuring our own faculty member, Miles Canino (As New York Battles 3D Guns in Court, North Country Residents Share Their Views, in the August 3rdWatertown Daily Times, here).

Coverage like this doesn’t just happen.  It’s the result of hard work from the areas being reported on, from the faculty, staff, and students who supported them, and from our fabulous public relations staff. A big thank you to all—you make us great and then make us look great.

 

President’s Annual Report

Each year, every SUNY president is required to send a report to the Chancellor providing an overview of the previous year.  Since we’re super-cool, we actually prepare our report in two different ways—as a print version (which has a set number of pages) and as a digital version (where we can have some fancier graphics and a more innovative interface).  Ours went in to SUNY yesterday, and you can see a copy of the digital version here.

  

That First Five Minutes

I remember reading somewhere that if you want a publisher to buy your book idea, you have to “hook them” in the first three paragraphs, or else your proposal will go into the reject pile.  Some folks have taken this to an even greater extreme: Back in1920, Ernest Hemmingway is said to have responded to a bet to tell a compelling story in six words, with his answer being “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”  Like most cool stories of this type, this one is apocryphal, with no evidence that Hemmingway ever spoke or wrote about the bet or six-word story.  Instead, it has been alleged that the story was made up in 1974 by Peter Miller, a literary agent, who then published it in a book entitled “Get Published!  Get Produced! A Literary Agent’s Tips on How to Sell Your Writing.”

Hemmingway aside, it is a good idea to get your audience’s attention in the first few minutes, and there’s every reason to believe that this applies to when you’re teaching a class. This week’s Chronicle has an article about this, entitled “Small Changes in Teaching: The First 5 Minutes of Class” by James Lang, which offers some pretty good suggestions.

The first suggestion is to start your class with a question or two that will help students focus on the material.  He cites as examples “What problem is the separation of powers designed to address” and “What forces have eroded the separation of powers” for a class on American Government.

Second, he notes that many faculty start their class with a review of what was covered last time, but suggests that instead of them offering the summary, ask the students to provide it.  He writes “if we want to remember something, we have to practice remembering it.  To that end, learning researchers have demonstrated over and over again that quizzes and tests not only measure student learning, but can actually help promote it.”  I’m a big believer in giving lots of quizzes where any one of them doesn’t count for very much in the final grade.  This helps nudge students to keep up with the course better, and to practice their memory retrieval skills.

Third, he suggests finding out what students already know about the subject, since this “is the foundation on which new knowledge is built”.  Often, students have accumulated fallacies in their learning, which makes it harder for them to learn new things.

Finally, he suggests that each of the first three activities can be improved by having all the students write down their responses.  This allows all students to participate, especially those who are afraid of speaking publicly.

These are pretty simple-to-implement ideas that just may make students more attentive and learn better.

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest had to do with songs about birds.  Our winner were Kelly DeHaut, Greg Kie, Edmund Smith, Kevin Elliott, and Kaitlin Fuller.  Others getting all five right included Kimberly Boyd, Carmela Young, Robin Gittings, Debbbie Flack, Alan Gabrielli (from SPSU), and Michael Newtown.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prize—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. National symbol of the United States. Bald Eagle.
  2. Red breasted bird common in the United States.  Robin.
  3. The Emperor, Rock Hopper, Adélie, and Jackass are all types of this flightless bird.  Penguin.
  4. Fastest bird on two legs, its eyes are actually larger than its brain.  Ostrich.
  5. Pink colored bird whose name means “flame colored” in Spanish or Portuguese, it stands on one leg most of the time, though biologists don’t really know why.  Flamingo.

  

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

This issue’s challenge has to do with things related to Walt Disney and his films.

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

  1. Donald Duck’s girlfriend’s name.
  2. Mickey Mouse’s dog’s name.
  3. First full-length movie released by Disney, way back in 1937.
  4. Movie in which “Be Our Guest” was a featured song.
  5. Disney’s middle initial was “E”. What does it stand for?

 

Posted in Uncategorized

August 28, 2018

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 13, Issue 02–August 27, 2018

 

Welcoming Our New Students

There were a lot of events last week to welcome our new students onto campus. One was a revival of an old tradition—a New Student Convocation—and was held last Wednesday.

The Convocation began with our faculty and staff applauding as the students (who had assembled in the hallway) walked in to the CARC’s Field House, mirroring how we applaud when our students walk out of the Field House at graduation. This was followed by a short speech by Braydon (Sonny) White, our Student Government President, talking about how much his SUNY Canton education has meant to him.  I spoke next, with a short PowerPoint presentation welcoming our new students, reminding them that our motto is “Everyone is Welcome Here”, and telling them the necessary steps to being successful.  The students then did an exercise where they split into groups depending on which attributes (athlete, first-in-their-family student, military, introvert, extrovert…) they most identified with, to meet some students who were like themselves.  All the groups then linked hands to form a continuous chain as they were welcomed into the SUNY Canton family.  The Convocation ended with a group photo (below, taken by the great Greg Kie) and as they left, they received a very cool boomerang keychain (SUNY Canton/Where You Will Always Return) from our Alumni Office.

 

I’d like to thank the many, many, faculty and staff who participated in the Convocation—we appreciate your time and effort on our students’ behalf!

  

And Speaking of Welcomes…

We also welcomed both our new and returning faculty and staff to campus last week (though, of course, most of our staff and many of our faculty worked over the summer too!)  The New Employee Orientation took place on Monday morning.  I spoke briefly to welcome our new colleagues and to tell them a little about the College’s history and mission.

As part of my remarks, to illustrate the importance of reaching out when you see that someone is “on the razor’s edge”, I told a story from when I was in graduate school.

Things weren’t going well for me in the lab, and I was having trouble synthesizing some compounds.  My research advisor came by to ask about the melting point of a compound I had made and when I told him what it was, he replied “That’s not what you told me yesterday!”  We argued about that, with me finally saying “Here, look for yourself—it’s right here in my lab notebook.”  He said, “I don’t care what’s written there—that’s not what you told me!” and then turned to walk back to his office.  I was so aggravated, I took the notebook and threw it at him, at which point he looked back at me, laughed, and said “I guess I really ticked you off!  Come into my office and we’ll talk about it.”  I went in and he told me about the time that he was really frustrated with graduate school, even getting to the point where he loaded up his car with all his possessions, ready to quit and go home. Since it took him until evening to finish, he decided to leave the next morning and went to sleep on his now bare mattress.  The next morning, things didn’t look quite so bad, so he decided to give it another day. And then another.  And then another, until he finished grad school. “And that’s what you need to do” he said.  And that’s what I did, but I never forgot that when I was on that razor’s edge, he was there to pull me back in.  I now advise our new faculty and staff to try to be there when they see someone on the edge, and to reach out to us when they feel that they’re on the edge.

When our VPs spoke about their own areas at the College, several of them spontaneously wove my graduate school story into their own remarks.  By the end of the day the story had gone locally viral. Later in the day, we held a very nice New Employees’ Reception at 11:30, and a New Faculty Dinner at 5:00 PM.

Tuesday began with the traditional UUP Coffee on the plaza, followed by the State of the Campus Address and the first Faculty Assembly of the new year. My address focused on three things: (1) An update on our three major initiatives from last year, (2) An update on the budget and how we are going to keep the College fiscally fit, and (3) A brief discussion about the basic elements of Industry 4.0, and how SUNY Canton, as a college of technology, is (and will be) addressing them.  We will be following up on the last two items at several open discussions to be held a little later in the semester.  My talk was followed by presentations by the VPs and Chief Diversity Officers on achievements and goals for each of the major areas at the College.

At 2:00, I ran down to Neveldine Hall to see the unveiling of our new eSports Arena (which is what they call e-Sports computer labs), which is impressive indeed.  The computers look like something out of Star Wars and combined with ergonomic chairs, wall monitors, and a cool paint job, the place looks great and our students were very excited.

 

The day closed out with a Farewell Party for Keith Rosser, who has worked in our Advancement Office for many years and will be leaving us to become the Comptroller for Clarkson University.  Keith has done many great things at SUNY Canton, one of the more recent being the refinancing of Kennedy Hall Suites, which led to a reduction in our financing costs which allowed us to add $50,000 per year to scholarship aid.  We’ll miss you, Keith!

  

SUNY Canton and the Military

We’re always proud to work with soldiers at Fort Drum or transitioning from the military to civilian life, as well as with their families.  Some of our military students take courses online, some come to our campus after leaving the military, and of course, we also have offered programs on base.

Way back on June 8, I attended a Graduation Recognition Ceremony on base for Nicole Best, who had just completed her B.S. in Nursing.  It was very nice to see her walk across the stage and meet her family, as well as members of the unit in which she served.  Nicole is now off to Alabama, where she will be pursuing her DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) degree.  Congratulations Nicole!

 

This term will also see a new cohort of military students in our Solar Ready Vets program, which already has had more than 100 graduates.  We’re currently talking to folks at Fort Drum about a new program we might offer there, about which I’ll reveal more details as things develop more fully.  In order to let soldiers know about the range of programs that we offer, an ad recently appeared in the Army Times, Navy Times, Airforce Times, and Marine Times. You can see a copy of the ad below.

 

 

 

Office Hours

I think that every faculty member knows how important office hours can be for a student.  Students having trouble in a class can get a difficult concept clarified, get some study tips for an upcoming exam, and get to know their instructor a bit better, just to name a few things.  Unfortunately, many new students never take advantage of their instructors’ office hours because they don’t really know what office hours are all about.

A couple of my friends from previous colleges were talking about this on Facebook and one of them found a delightfully nerdy and funny video from a faculty member, explaining what office hours are for.  They decided that they’re going to share it with their students, and I thought some of you might want to share it too (or you can make your own!), so here it is.

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest had to do with songs about dreaming.  Our winners were Lori Gagnon, Robin Gittings, Kelly DeHaut, Jessica Robinson, and Alan Gabrielli (from SPSU).   Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prize—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Mamas & the Papas: “All the leaves are brown/and the skies are grey.” California Dreaming.
  2. Everyone recorded this, from the Broadway show Man of la Mancha: “To fight the unbeatable foe, to bear with unbearable sorrow, to run where the brave dare not go.”  The Impossible Dream.
  3. Monkees: “Cheer up, sleepy Jean. Oh what can it mean? To a __________ and a homecoming queen.” Daydream Believer.
  4. Eurythmics: “Some of them want to use you. Some of them want to get used by you.”  Sweet Dreams (are Made of This).
  5. Katy Perry: “You think I’m pretty without any make-up on. You think I’m funny when I tell the punch line wrong.”  Teenage Dream.

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

  1. National symbol of the United States.
  2. Red breasted bird common in the United States.
  3. The Emperor, Rock Hopper, Adélie, and Jackass are all types of this flightless bird.
  4. Fastest bird on two legs, its eyes are actually larger than its brain.
  5. Pink colored bird whose name means “flame colored” in Spanish or Portuguese, it stands on one leg most of the time, though biologists don’t really know why.

 

 

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August 20, 2018

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 13, Issue 01–August 20, 2018

 

Welcome Back

This is the opening week of the semester here at SUNY Canton.  I just got back from giving a welcome at the New Employee Orientation, with a reception and dinner to follow later today. Tomorrow is the State of the Campus Address, where many secrets of the universe will be revealed.  Wednesday brings our Opening Convocation for our students, back after a hiatus of several years.  Classes begin on Thursday (which operates as if it were a Monday, class schedule-wise), and continue on Friday (which operates as if it were a Tuesday).  Next week, the days of the week go back to normal. 

Yesterday was a beautiful day, and what better way to enjoy it could there be than to attend a men’s soccer pre-season scrimmage against Finger Lakes Community College?  The game started at 1PM as my father and I sat in our canvas chairs in the shade, under a tree.  It was a bit hot and humid, but there was also a fresh breeze that made it rather pleasant, at least for those of us in the shade!  The SUNY Canton Roos looked quite good, offering a strong offense and a very solid defense.  They played three 30-minute periods, and despite the first period being more or less evenly matched, they seemed very confident.  As it turned out, their confidence was well-founded and SUNY Canton won by a convincing 4-0 margin. Finger Lakes showed some strong moments as well, with a couple of good runs that almost resulted in goals.  After the game, our coaches introduced me to the new players, though they also took the liberty of questioning my allegiance to Chelsea in the English Premier League (who is currently 2-0 in the standings, so there!)  All in all, it was a great start to the year for athletics.

 

Unlucky 13th?

This issue starts the exciting 13thVolume of THE WEEKLY BLAB.  For those who are new, the BLAB is a blog that I have been writing for the past 12 years, beginning on my previous campus.  It’s a way to communicate with the community in a casual way, letting people know what I’m up to, topics that are crossing my mind for one reason or another, giving folks some “heads-up” on things that may be happening, and so forth.  Readers include faculty and staff members at SUNY Canton and at my former colleges, some family members, and various others from the wider community.  There’s a box for comments at the bottom of each issue, but be aware that comments are moderated, so if you don’t want your comments shared with the rest of the world, please indicate that and I’ll be the only one that sees them.

Truth to tell, the BLAB doesn’t actually come out every week, since my schedule usually doesn’t allow for that.  I do try to get it out as often as possible.  I hope you like the BLAB, but if not, the delete key on your computer shouldn’t be too far away.

  

Summertime, Summertime

I hope everyone enjoyed their last few weeks of summertime.  It’s been a relatively hot and humid one, which has kept me from doing some of the “chores” I wanted to do, mainly involving getting the non-DC and Marvel boxes of comics in my garage in some semblance of order. I was determined to finish that up before the students returned, but it proved to be impossible.

Things have been pretty busy this summer, and I’ll talk about some of the things that have occupied my time next issue.  Everyone is commenting on how fast the summer flew by—it seems to go faster each year.  Hopefully that hasn’t been true for everyone and you’ve all had a chance to relax and recharge.

 

Some Volunteers Needed: Cultural Competency Badge

Most of you will recall that one of our major initiatives last year was developing a Personalized Pathways program for our students.  The nine subcommittees have met and made suggestions that are in various stages for moving forward, and some of the first initiatives are set to begin.  One that I’d like to mention here is from the Cultural Competency subcommittee, which has developed a badge that will be offered to students as part of our co-curricular transcript.

The way badges work is pretty simple—the badge has a set of requirements, and students who successfully complete them are awarded the badge, which shows up as an icon on the student’s co-curricular transcript.  Many colleges now offer badges in this sort of way.  Cultural Competency is one of the first two badges to be offered starting this Fall on our campus, with Leadership being the other.

One of the requirements for the Cultural Competency badge is to successfully complete an academic course that has a significant component of its content related to cultural diversity, and we want to provide our students with a list of such courses.  If you teach such a course, and would like it to appear on the list, please drop me an email with the course number and course title.  You do not need to change your course in any way to do this—all that’s necessary is that the course have some significant component related to some aspect of diversity.

Another requirement for the badge is for the student to participate in a Diverse Discussions session, in a reading group, and/or in a film mini-series. We are looking for volunteers who would like to host one of these.  To give some examples, I have already agreed to offer a Diverse Discussion on “Racism and Sexism in Comic Strips and Comic Books” this coming November.  As many of you are aware, I have collected comics since the dawn of time, and have wanted to give a talk on this subject for quite a while.  Another example is to host a reading group, which might consist of several articles or a book on a relevant topic, which might meet for three weeks and discuss the reading(s).  A film mini-series might be identifying three movies that tie in to a relevant theme, showing them (over a three-day period, over a three-week period, or as a marathon), and having a discussion after the films.  Since we want the badge to be inclusive of a wide range of diversities, there are all kinds of interesting potential topics that may correspond to your own interests.  If you are interested in hosting a Diverse Discussion, reading group, or film mini-series, please contact my office or either of our co-Chief Diversity Officers (Lashawanda Ingram and Bill Jones), and we can help facilitate the time and find an on-campus location.

We’ll also have a nice range of college-sponsored activities to support this badge, but having our faculty and staff involved in offering the badge will help make it great.  I hope to hear from you.

 

Be a Nudge

There’s a new weekly newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education that offers tips about teaching, and last week’s issue has an idea that’s pretty simple, but effective.  A faculty member teaching a physiology class noticed that a larger number of her students had failed the first exam, possibly due to a change in teaching style toward more active learning.  The class was large—between 160 and 200 students, and she was concerned about not taking on something new that might increase her workload.  She decided to do something fairly simple: she sent a personalized, supportive email to each student that had done poorly on the exam to let them know she cared.  Interventions of this kind are called “nudges”, since they don’t require students to do anything specific, but rather, try to nudge them in the right direction.

The email stated that the student hadn’t done as well as expected on the exam, but it was still early in the term, and that it wasn’t too late to change study habits for the better.  It also asked if they knew why they hadn’t done well on the exam, and whether they had taken advantage of help that was available (office hours, study groups, etc.)  She sent the email from her own campus email address and personalized it with each students’ name.  The full text of the email can be found here, as well as some reflections by the faculty member on what happened as a result.

The faculty member thought there might be some backlash from the students, but there wasn’t. Instead, she got a number of emails back thanking her for caring, and taking personal responsibility for their low grades.  The faculty member has seen a larger improvement in subsequent grades for the students that got the email.  The key seems to be that the email was supportive but non-judgmental and indicated that the problem wasn’t permanent—the students could still recover and do better.

This seems pretty straightforward to me as a way of letting students know that you care, and possibly improving retention and performance.  Not bad for an email.  Why not try it?

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest had to do with songs about flying.  Our winner was Terri Clemmo.   Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prize—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Peter, Paul and Mary song that starts “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…” Leaving on a Jet Plane.
  2. Tony Bennett song that includes the line “Let me see what life is like, on Jupiter and Mars.” Fly Me to the Moon.
  3. The Steve Miller Band had two songs about flying.Name either one.  Fly Like an Eagle and Big Ol’ Jet Airliner.
  4. Beatles song, also known as “Norwegian Wood”. This Bird Has Flown.
  5. Carpenters song about contacting aliens. Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft.

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

This issue’s challenge has to do with songs about dreaming. I give you the group and a line from the song, and you provide the title. 

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

  1. Mamas & the Papas:  “All the leaves are brown/and the skies are grey.”
  2. Everyone recorded this, from the Broadway show Man of la Mancha: “To fight the unbeatable foe, to bear with unbearable sorrow, to run where the brave dare not go.”
  3. Monkees: “Cheer up, sleepy Jean. Oh what can it mean? To a __________ and a homecoming queen.”
  4. Eurythmics: “Some of them want to use you. Some of them want to get used by you.”
  5. Katy Perry: “You think I’m pretty without any make-up on. You think I’m funny when I tell the punch line wrong.”

 

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