October 3, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 12, Issue 2–October 3, 2017

 

 One Tragedy After Another

The last few weeks have not been good ones across the United States.  Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston and Beaumont, TX areas, with more than 80 people losing their lives, more than $15B already allocated for disaster relief, with total damage estimated to be $180B.  As bad as this was, by all accounts it could have been much worse, given the amount of flooding and the number of buildings and hospitals that had to be evacuated.

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My sister Drorit lives in metro-Houston (and used to live in Beaumont), and I was very worried about what might happen to her.  While I’m relieved to tell you she came through the storm very well, never losing power or having her house flood due to her proximity to three storm drain systems, I know many people were not so lucky and lost everything.  Drorit kept up a regular stream of Facebook posts so we knew she was OK hour by hour, but given the strength of the storm, we were all on pins and needles until it was over.

A few days later, Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean area, causing massive damage to the islands of Barbuda, St. Maarten, St. Martin, British and American Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Cuba.  It then turned to Florida, causing destruction in the Keys and then on the state’s west coast.  While it was quite fortunate that the tidal surge turned out to be much less than anticipated, the evacuation in the state was still the largest in its history.  A total of 124 people lost their lives, and the damage came to more than $60B.

Hurricane Jose missed most land areas and eventually petered out over the Atlantic, but was quickly followed by Hurricane Marie, which devastated the Lesser Antilles (Dominica, Guadeloupe, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), and especially Puerto Rico.  As of this writing, 68 people were killed and there was more than $50B in damage, with much of Puerto Rico still without power, phone service, or fuel.

Yesterday, on waking up, I heard the horrible news about the mass shooting in Las Vegas.  More than 50 people were killed and over 500 injured, making this the worst such incident in American history.  Details are still unknown as to the killer’s motivation.  My father Daniel had just returned to Las Vegas a few days ago having spent the previous month with me in Canton, so I was concerned about his safety, and I also have an aunt and a first cousin who live there (all are well).  I can’t imagine the pain and suffering of all those who lost loved ones or had their friends and relatives injured.

Several SUNY Canton students were affected by these hurricanes and by the shooting.  Some have family on the Caribbean islands that were hit, and many were quite worried until they were able to get in contact with them.  Some students are waiting to hear that their families were able to survive Hurricane Marie, and what the extent of damage was to their families’ homes.  I just learned yesterday morning that one of our student’s father was shot in the Las Vegas tragedy.  He had to have surgery and is hospitalized, but thankfully, I’ve heard that the operation went well.  Our student is leaving soon to be with his family, and our thoughts and prayers go with them.

I’d like to ask everyone to say a prayer of support and comfort for all those who have been lost in or affected by each of these tragedies.  Even when we are lucky enough to have had our family and friends come through them safely, there were all too many who didn’t—who lost loved ones, lost all their possessions, or who are still waiting to find out.  If you would like to take direct action by donating money for hurricane relief, SUNY Strong is collecting funds online here, the Red Cross here, and UNICEF-USA here.

 

 

Playing Catch-Up

It has been really busy for the past few weeks.  The crunch began when I drove down to Albany on Friday, September 15 for the Association of Council Members and College Trustees (ACT) conference.  The meetings were interesting, touching on the SUNY Impact Foundation, an update on Excelsior Scholarships, issues related to shared governance, and a session on how to influence government leaders to better support SUNY.  The ACT conference was followed on Monday by a breakfast meeting in Albany with Hudson Valley Community College’s president (Andrew Matonak) and a lunch meeting in Schenectady with Schenectady County Community College’s president (Steady Moono), both on articulations and working together.

Albany

After the lunch meeting, I drove back to Albany to attend a meeting of the College of Technology presidents, where we went over a white paper we’re preparing for the new Chancellor, Kristina Johnson, to help her know a bit more about our sector.  That evening, the Chancellor threw a reception in her new house for all the SUNY presidents.  She had literally moved in that morning, so it was amazing that she was willing to do this!  The reception was quite nice, and I got a chance to meet and talk to her a bit.  In the immortal words of the Bangles, it was just another manic Monday.

Chancellor

 

I was still in Albany on Tuesday, September 19, for the SUNY Presidents Meeting.  We talked a bit about goals that the Chancellor has, then divided up by sectors to do a SWOT analysis with a person from SUNY Central.  The last session of the day was a report-out of the SWOT analysis, as well as a candid conversation between the presidents and the SUNY folks about how to address some major issues such as insufficient funding, slow degree approval processes, etc.  I drove back to Canton that evening, and the trip back was just beautiful.  After the four-hour ride, though, I was thoroughly exhausted when I arrived at home.

Wednesday was filled with back to back meetings that had accumulated while I was away.  That evening, the high holiday season started with Rosh Hashanah beginning at sunset.  I gave the sermon at services on Thursday, discussing how Rosh Hashanah is different from what most people think it is.  While it is indeed the Jewish New Year, it isn’t the first day of the first month of the Jewish calendar.  The first day of the calendar year actually occurred six months earlier, on the first day of the month of Nissan (which comes in the spring, the first new moon after the vernal equinox).  Confusingly enough, that does not mean we change the year number on the 1st of Nissan—we do that on Rosh Hashanah (which is the 1st day of the 7th month, called Tishrei).  Why?  Because, according to tradition, Rosh Hashanah is the day after the creation of the world was completed, and that’s when counting the years began.  If you think this means that there are two new year’s days on the Jewish calendar, you’re wrong, because there are actually four, but we won’t get into what the other two are here.  So, I’d like to wish a happy 5778 to everyone!  Rosh Hashanah is actually a two-day holiday, so I was in the synagogue on Friday morning as well, though I was on campus for meetings on both Thursday and Friday afternoons.

The following week was filled with more meetings, including catching up with our Union president, having our monthly lunch with the Student Government leaders, a Faculty Assembly meeting, and a co-Chief Diversity Officers meeting.  On Wednesday, I drove my father up to Ottawa, from where he flew back to Las Vegas.  He plans on coming back next May for a long stay—until October.

 

Campus Events

On September 14, SUNY Canton hosted a talk by New York’s Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, who is also the chair of the New York Sate Women’s Suffrage 100th Anniversary Commemoration Commission.  The presentation was very well attended, with well over 100 students there–in fact, we had to set up dozens of extra chairs to handle the crowd.  The talk was very interesting, covering the history of women’s suffrage.  She also gave a strong push for women to become more active in the community in general, and more specifically,  in politics, using her own personal experiences as examples.

Hochul

 

Lieutenant Governor Hochul also gave a shout-out to SUNY Canton about our programs to celebrate Constitution Day, which are seen as the best and most extensive in SUNY.  Our Constitution Day celebration took place a few days after her visit, on September 18.  I wasn’t able to attend this year because I was in Albany for various meetings, but I did pre-record a welcome for those attending, and I heard that the events went very well.  Events included a panel of women legislators and mayors (State Senator Betty Little (R-Queensbury), Waddington Mayor Janet Otto-Cassada, and former Canton Mayor Mary Ann Ashley), moderated by our own Karen St. Hilaire, a Constitution Day trivia contest, a voter registration drive, and historical displays.  My major thanks to everyone who helped plan, organize, and who participated in these events.

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L-R:  Betty Little, May Ann Ashley, Janet Otto-Cassada

On Friday, SUNY Canton hosted the 2nd Annual Sustainability Day Conference on our campus.  The Conference is jointly sponsored by the four Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley.  I hosted a lunch for the various organizers and invited guests at the Alumni House, and then came back to campus to give the official welcome for the Conference.   I heard that the various workshops, presentations, and round-tables were quite good.  The Keynote Address was given by Ilarion Merculieff, on “The Real Human Being and Challenges to Our Survival in Today’s World, and it was an interesting talk, eye-opening in many ways.

Tree Planting

The day concluded with a participatory art event called Convergence—Collective Light on the Grasse River by our own Matt Burnett, a picture of which is below.  My big thanks to all the folks who planned, organized, presented, and attended the various Sustainability Day events.

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Special thanks for coordinating so many different campus events go to Diane-Marie Collins, for handling much of the running around, logistics, and behind the scenes requirements that need to happen for these events to be successful.

Bringing us up to date, I hosted a barbeque for the College’s Steel Bridge Team yesterday evening.  Our team had a fantastic season, coming in 2nd in the Upstate New York Region, and then coming in 7th in the national competition.  They’re a great bunch of students who really work hard and accomplish amazing results.  Congratulations team, and thanks to all the faculty and staff who support and encourage them!

 Steel Bridge

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “Y”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Jennifer Church, Kevin Elliott, Christina Lesyk, Kirk Jones, and Joel Canino.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Others getting all five right included Jason Haggett, my sister Drorit, and Doug Scheidt.

Here are the correct answers:

  1. Children’s toy consisting of two connected circular pieces of wood or plastic, with a string in the middle. Yo-yo.
  2. One of the most popular search engines on the internet.  Yahoo.
  3. In the old days, you let your fingers do the walking through these to find a business’ phone number. Yellow Pages.
  4. You can find almost every old TV show or music clip on this app.  YouTube.
  5. A long haired wild ox, found in the Himalayas.  Yak.

 

  

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

We’ve finally reached the end of our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge being about words starting with the letter “Z”.  What will next time’s challenge be about?  You’ll have to wait to find out since I haven’t figured that out yet.  As usual, the first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Animal that’s either black with white stripes or white with black stripes, depending on how you look at it.
  2. The five-digit number you’ve had to put on letters since 1963 to help the mail move more quickly. The expanded number now has nine digits.
  3. Ruler of the Greek gods in mythology.
  4. The 12 astrological signs.
  5. Rigid airship filled with hydrogen—the most famous met tragedy at Lakehurst, NJ when it blew up.

 

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September 15, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 12, Issue 1–September 15, 2017

 

We’re Back!

Summer is over and the Fall term has begun.  The summer went by in the blink of an eye, in part because of the frequent rain and the high humidity that were present for much of the time.  The weeks before the start of the semester are always very busy, with lots of meetings to make sure everything is planned out for the students’ arrival; lots of last-minute scramble from students trying to finalize their financial aid, housing, schedules, and what have you; and this year, with the complications associated with the new Excelsior Scholarship program. Due to a lot of hard work by a lot of people, things mostly went very well.  The students are all here, classes have begun, the first few campus events have been held, and things are getting even busier.

On the home front, we just got our house repainted in exactly the same colors as it is now.  For the past few days, we’ve had a work crew washing the house, scraping, putting on a coat of primer and then the paint.  They did a meticulous job and I’m very happy with it.  The one problem we ran into is that since my house is on well water, we didn’t have enough water pressure for the sprayers that they used.  Fortunately, our neighbors out back are on the village water lines, and they were kind enough to let us run a line to their water spigot for the two days.

My father, who is now 90, came up for a visit on August 17th and will be staying until September 27.  Flights from Las Vegas (where he lives) to Syracuse, Watertown, and Albany were oddly expensive this year ($600+), but fortunately, flights to Ottawa were quite reasonable at $400, and we were able to find one that only involved one plane change in Philadelphia.  The Ottawa airport is only about 90 minutes from Canton, including the time it takes to cross the border, so it’s actually more convenient to fly there than either Syracuse or Albany.  Anyway, he’s all settled in now, going to SUNY Canton’s gym each morning and impressing our students with how well he can still throw three-pointers.  Every day or so, I run into another student who says “Was that your father I saw down at the gym?  He’s cool!”  We’re back to our family routine, which consists of us arguing about politics, attending SUNY Canton athletic events, and him gearing up to make very large dinners, since he loves to cook.  If you see me gaining weight over the next few weeks, you’ll know why.

 

50th Anniversary

Everyone knows that SUNY Canton was founded in 1906, originally as a state-supported “add on” to St. Lawrence University.  Due to strong enrollment growth at both colleges, a new campus for us was needed.  Several locations in the county were considered, but to make sure that the College stayed in Canton, Edson Martin donated 555 acres of land on a hill overlooking the Grasse River, just west of downtown.

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The governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, turned the first shovelful of dirt in 1965 to inaugurate the new campus, which took three years to construct.  The St. Lawrence Plaindealer newspaper editorialized: “By his words, and above all, by the vigor of his shovel, Governor Rockefeller had made it certain that an expanded ATI [Agricultural and Technical Institute, as we were then known] will rise on its own campus on a hilltop which the Governor declared to be one of the most magnificent sites for a university in the whole of New York State.”

The first building to begin operations on the new campus was Heritage Hall, where female students were housed, in 1966.  Chaney Dining Center also began operations that year.  Students were bused to the old campus for classes.  The remaining operations moved to our new campus with the opening of several additional buildings in 1967.  This makes 2017 our 50th anniversary on the hill.  To help celebrate, we’ve released a new video with images across these 50 years.  It’s definitely great, so give it a look.

 

 

There will be a variety of events throughout the year to look forward to, and I hope everyone in our community will join us in our celebration!  The official announcement of the celebration took place at the State of the Campus program on August 23 (more on that below).

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The first event took place on August 25, which was taking a special 50th anniversary group photograph.  You can see that photo above.

It took a lot of logistics to make that picture happen.  Pat Hanss (Director of Physical Plant), directed the creation of the 50 on the ground, ably abetted by Jason Haggett (Grounds Supervisor), Richard Flanagan (Senior Groundsworker), Eric Sanford (General Mechanic) and Martha Rookey (Maintenance Helper).  Big thanks to all!  I’d also like to give a big thank you to Greg Kie and Morgan Elliott for taking the great photographs and video, and to all who participated in the photograph.

 

 

Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

Each year, campuses submit a President’s Report of their accomplishments the past year to SUNY Central.  Due to the hard work of pretty much everyone on campus, we had a very successful 2016-17, and you can see the expanded online version of the report here.

Also, as has been our tradition at SUNY Canton, we began the year with the State of the Campus Address.  In it, I talked about some of the issues that our College is facing in the coming year, as well as a plan for moving ahead in several key areas.  Our Provost, Vice Presidents, and co-Chief Diversity Officers then spoke about accomplishments in their areas, and their plans for the coming year.  You can see the State of the Campus powerpoint presentation here.

 

 

Busy Campus

Events have begun on campus, and I’d like to mention a few that have taken place.

 

Unity—In Remembrance of Charlottesville

To show solidarity after the horrific events in Virginia a few weeks ago, we held a brief Unity—In Remembrance of Charlottesville ceremony and moment of reflection on campus on August 30.  A letter from me including comments from SUNY about Charlottesville was sent out on August 24th, but I’d like to add something here that I mentioned at the unity event.  As Americans, we should all know that the original motto of the United States (selected by the framers of the Constitution) is E Pluribus Unum, which translates to “out of many—one”.  While the motto’s meaning is usually taken to be “out of 13 original colonies (or out of the many states)—one nation”, another relevant interpretation is “out of many American people (from many different heritages)—one American nation”.

Interestingly enough, this motto is not original to the founding of the United States.  A much earlier form of this motto can be found in Cicero’s De Officiis (44 B.C., translation: “On Obligations”), where he quotes Pythagoras as saying: “When each person loves the other as much as himself, it makes one out of many”.  The first half of Pythagoras’ quote is obviously one form of what we normally call the Golden Rule, a version of which can be found in pretty much every civilization’s and religion’s beliefs.  A more recent and scientific form of the Golden Rule was written by Carl Sagan: “And you are made of a hundred trillion cells.  We are, each of us, a multitude.”

So, in the face of the hatred exhibited in Charlottesville, let’s all stand up to oppose bigotry of all kinds and remember the original motto of America, the Golden Rule, the great mathematician Pythagoras, and the great scientist Sagan, all combined into a single ideal:

When each person loves the other as much as themself, it makes one out of many.   We are many.  We are one.  We are a multitude.  E Pluribus Unum.

 

Softball Team Barbeque

I had the pleasure of hosting a barbeque for the Women’s Softball Team on August 31 to congratulate them on their excellent season last spring.

Softball

Since they were in the national playoffs as the semester ended, there was no time to do it then, so we scheduled it for early this semester.  It was great meeting and hearing a little bit about each of our players, and having a chance to hear what each of them thought the best thing was during the season.  Congratulations ladies!

 

Soccer Match

Speaking of sports, I attended the Men’s Soccer match against SUNY Potsdam on September 5.  I was happy to see such a good turnout for the game, with the first 200 attendees getting a special Roo-Roo-zela (a SUNY Canton version of the horns that everyone was blowing during the South African soccer world cup a few years ago).  Since I used to play the trumpet a million years ago, it was a lot of fun blowing the Roo-Roo-zela and seeing how many different notes I could force out of it!

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The game was very exciting, with Potsdam taking an initial lead, but Canton hung in there and tied it up with about 5 minutes to go.  It looked like it was going to end in a tie, but with 0.2 seconds left to play, Potsdam scored an exceptionally unlikely shot, and we lost 2-1.  It was still an outstanding effort by our players, who have somce gone on to win a few including a 2-0 shutout of SUNY Poly on Wednesday and 4-1 defeat of Southern Vermont.  Great job, guys!

 

OK—I’m out of time.  More next issue!

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “X”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Doug Scheidt, Elizabeth Madlin, Josh Suttles, Janel Smith, and Joel Canino.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Others getting all five right included Greg Kie, Carmela Young, Debbie Flack, Kirk Jones, Patrick Hanss, Jesse Clark-Stone, my sister Drorit Szafran, Amanda Rowley, and SPSU friend Bob Brown.

Here are the correct answers:

  1. Video game console brand made by Microsoft. X-Box.
  2. Superman’s vision of this type is blocked by lead. X-Ray vision.
  3. The original Marvel comic team consisted of the Angel, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Marvel Girl. Wolverine and a whole bunch of others joined later.  X-Men.
  4. Duplicating machine company (two x’s in this one!).  Xerox.
  5. Drug used to treat anxiety disorders (two x’s in this one!)  Xanax.

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

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

  1. Children’s toy consisting of two connected circular pieces of wood or plastic, with a string in the middle.
  2. One of the most popular search engines on the internet.
  3. In the old days, you let your fingers do the walking through these to find a business’ phone number.
  4. You can find almost every old TV show or music clip on this app.
  5. A long haired wild ox, found in the Himalayas.

 

 

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July 27, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 17

July 27, 2017

 

 

 

Summer Hurtles By

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

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

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

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

 

 

Summer Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Meanwhile, Back on Campus

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

  

Engineering Summer Camp

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

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

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

 

TRiO

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

TRIO-Works

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

 

Challenge Coins

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

 challenge-coins1

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

 

  

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

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

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

  1. Video game console brand made by Microsoft.
  2. Superman’s vision of this type is blocked by lead.
  3. The original Marvel comic team consisted of the Angel, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Marvel Girl. Wolverine and a whole bunch of others joined later.
  4. Duplicating machine company (two x’s in this one!)
  5. Drug used to treat anxiety disorders (two x’s in this one!)

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

Posted in Uncategorized

June 27, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 16–June 27, 2017

 

Yes, It’s Been a Long Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Starfish and the Spider

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

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

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

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

The major take-aways from the book are:

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

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

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

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

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

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

  1. First president of the United States
  2. Superheroine whose secret identity is Diana Prince.
  3. The tennis championships are held here, in England, this July.
  4. If one of these grocery stores opened in St. Lawrence county, people would die of sheer happiness.
  5. Mozart’s first name.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

April 26, 2017

I’m Sick of Rain…

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

 

 

New Chancellor

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

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

 

 

Scholarship Celebration

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

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Poster Session

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

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

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

 

 

Student Specialty Awards

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

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The SUNY Canton EMS Squad won an award

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

 

 

Center for Diversities and Inclusion

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

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

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

 

 

SUNY Plenary

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

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

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

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

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

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

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

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

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

April 7, 2016

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 14–April 7, 2017

 

Into Each Life…

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

 

 

Fire Hose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

Chancellor’s Award Winning Students

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

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

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

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

 

And, Speaking of Congratulations…

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

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

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

mock-trials

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

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Edward Bedell (’69)

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

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Dr. Laura Pettler

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

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

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

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

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

March 14, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 13–March 14, 2017

 

So Much For Spring

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

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

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

 

 

Catching Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

And that brings us back to the present!

 

Mascot Madness

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

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

 

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

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

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “T”.  The first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

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

 

 

 

 

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