July 21, 2015


Volume 10, Issue 02– July 21, 2015



Last Wednesday on July 15, I turned 60. Or as Jack Benny would have put it, I turned 39 for the 21st time. I know that it’s all a state of mind, but 60 years old is an age I never saw myself as becoming (and still don’t think of myself as being). Ah well, it’s over now. I celebrated by getting a haircut at Bob’s, the local barbershop that also sharpens skates. I look younger with short hair, y’see.

On Thursday, the family and I went up to Norwood for the concert on the green, which featured Julie Budd, a “Broadway songs” type singer who is often compared with Barbra Streisand. Julie was in fine voice, and I enjoyed the performance so much I picked up one of her CDs (“The New Classics” and asked her to sign it. Among the members of the band backing Julie up was our own Professor of Mathematics, Dan Gagliardi. Not getting enough of Dan on Thursday, I heard him again on Friday at the synagogue, where Sharon Veigh Williams and he led a musical Shabbat service.


SUNY Canton Shout-Outs

We’ve had some good news lately, and that’s always worth sharing.

First up, we just heard that our TRiO Student Support Services grant was renewed by the Department of Education for five years, at a little more than $250,000 per year. There was a whole team of folks that worked very hard on writing the grant, including Joanne Fassinger, Molly Mott, Shawn Miller, Julie Parkman, Katie Kennedy, Michelle Currier, Sarah Todd, Brenda Miller, and no doubt some others I should be mentioning. This money goes to help support more than 200 first-generation economically disadvantaged students to access special services, including academic counseling, tutoring, and other similar resources. Congratulations to all involved! This follows news from a few weeks ago that SUNY Canton was awarded $170,000 from New York’s Education Department to support CSTEP, a program supporting students interested in pursuing careers in STEM related fields.

You’ve probably heard this already, but it’s now official: SUNY Canton has completed its probationary period (one year early!) and is now a full-fledged member of NCAA Division III, effective September 1. The application process was led by our own Athletic Director Randy Sieminski, who said:We are thrilled with the NCAA’s decision to accept us as full members of NCAA Division III. It has been a group effort from our coaches, student-athletes, staff, faculty, administration, College Council and numerous departments campus-wide. This is a huge step for our student-athletes and teams as we now become eligible for NCAA postseason competition during the 2015-16 academic year.” SUNY Canton has added five new sports in the last four years, and has increased the number of student athletes from 150 to about 300. Sieminski also thanked the SUNY Canton leaders who helped start the transition to the NCAA, including College Council Chair Ronald M. O’Neill, Dean of Academic Support Services Molly A. Mott, Vice President of Student Affairs Courtney B. Bish, former President Joseph L. Kennedy, former Vice President for Advancement David M. Gerlach, former Vice President for Student Affairs Daniel J. Sweeney and former Athletic Director Diane J. Para. Great job, everyone!

Congratulations also to Kelley Glasgow, a Canton elementary school counselor who is the winner of SUNY Canton’s 2015 Distinguished Citizen Award. Kelley was recognized for her leadership in bringing together various community resources to assist students and their families who may be struggling financially or emotionally. She created the “Golden Bear Pack” program, which provides take-home meals for about 90 students every week, ensuring that disadvantaged children receive meals during weekends and holiday breaks. Congratulations Kelley! 


Marriage Equality

In last week’s issue of the BLAB, I wrote about one of the big items in the news in the past few weeks, the removal of the Confederate flag from the State House in South Carolina. Today, I’d like to say a few words about the recent Supreme Court ruling (Obergefell v. Hodges) about same-sex marriage.


Here’s a brief history of the issue:

In 1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court ordered a trial court (in Baehr v. Miike) to consider whether the state’s denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples “furthers compelling state interests and is narrowly drawn to avoid unnecessary abridgments of constitutional rights.” The court determined that the state had not established any compelling interest in denying same-sex couples the right to marry, and even if it had, it had failed to prove that the statute was narrowly tailored enough to avoid abridging state constitutional rights. Voters in Hawaii then passed an amendment to the state constitution “to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples”, thereby invalidating the first ruling. The US Congress then passed the Defense of Marriage Act, denying federal recognition of same-sex marriages (should they be legalized anywhere). Several states passed constitutional amendments restricting marriage to opposite-sex partners, and in some cases, establishing civil unions for same-sex partners.

The first state to legalize same-sex marriage was Massachusetts on November 18, 2003, taking effect on May 17, 2004. The Commonwealth’s Supreme Judicial Court found (in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health) that denying equivalent rights to same-sex couples violated the state constitution, and that the Commonwealth had no compelling reason to do so. I was living just across the border in New Hampshire at the time, and it was interesting to see the reaction to the ruling. Many people there supported the decision, but there was serious opposition from the Catholic Church and from some of the more conservative legislators. Several attempts were made to reverse the decision, all of which failed. More than a dozen states reacted by passing constitutional amendments or other types of laws restricting marriage to opposite-sex partners.

The tide began to turn in 2008, with Connecticut recognizing same-sex marriages, followed by Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia in 2009. New York followed suit in 2011, as did Maine, Washington and Maryland in 2012.

In 2013, in United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, “as a deprivation of the equal liberty…protected by the Fifth Amendment.” This led to several district and circuit courts overturning bans on same-sex marriage, making it legal in most states. Many of the states chose not to appeal, but several did. The Supreme Court ruled directly on the issue in 2015, making same-sex marriage legal in all states.

Some opponents of same-sex marriage ask: “Where in the Constitution does it talk about same-sex marriage?”, but a better question would be: “Where in the Constitution does it talk about marriage at all?” I wonder if it would have been better if the courts ruled that the states should not be in the marriage business at all, but rather only grant civil unions (which would provide the various tax and legal incentives) to those who want them, leaving marriage as a matter to be handled by religious institutions. The advantage to that would be that the civil unions could be granted to any combination of individuals who agreed to take certain legal responsibilities for each other. The combinations might include same-sex or opposite sex partners, but could also include such things as a three unmarried cousins taking mutual responsibility for each other, a child taking responsibility for an elderly parent, a sister taking responsibility for a developmentally challenged brother, etc. In other words, one’s gender preference would be irrelevant to the issue. That ship has sailed, however.

An interesting question is how peoples’ opinions have changed so rapidly on this subject—not so long ago, the idea of same-sex marriage being legal across the United States would have been branded as impossible, and opposed by a broad majority. Today, a majority of Americans favor it.

When Massachusetts first recognized same-sex marriage, all sorts of dire results were predicted. I believe that the change in opinion came because pretty quickly, people there and in other states began to see that their own traditional marriages were unaffected by the ruling, and opposition to it began to die out. As other states allowed same-sex marriage, people began to see their own friends, family, and neighbors coming out and getting married, which made it all the more difficult to be opposed. Additional court rulings saying that the states had no compelling reason to oppose same-sex marriage added to the momentum of change. The Supreme Court followed, albeit by a narrow 5-4 margin, saying that bans were unconstitutional on the basis of violation of the 14th Amendment.

I think this is one of the cases where the Supreme Court majority got things exactly right, especially in tying the right to same-sex marriage to the 14th Amendment. For those who have forgotten their civics classes, the 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law to all citizens, and was originally meant to enshrine the rights of newly freed black Americans after the Civil War.

Again, some history:

Following the passage of the 14th Amendment, several Southern states passed various laws requiring segregation. In 1896, in the case Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court ruled that the states were allowed to segregate facilities, so long as the segregated facilities were equal for both races. The reality of the situation, of course, was that the separate facilities were rarely equal, but state courts and the Supreme Court itself in multiple cases twisted and turned in order to find some way to say that they were.

It was only in the 1950s that “separate but equal” began to be struck down. The first major case was Sweatt v. Painter, which dealt with a black Texas student who had applied for admission to the School of Law of the University of Texas. No black students were allowed admittance under state law and there was no black law school, so there wasn’t even a pretense of “separate” in this circumstance. The district court gave the state a six- month continuance, during which it set up a black law school at Texas State University for Negroes (now known as Texas Southern University). The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the establishment of the black law school satisfied the “separate but equal” requirement. When the case was appealed to the Supreme Court, they ruled that the separate school did not pass Constitutional muster, both because it was not equal in resources and facilities, but also because of intangible factors, such as its isolation would mean that students would be denied interaction with (white) lawyers with whom they would ultimately have to work. On the same day, in McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, the court ruled that Oklahoma did not provide a “separate but equal” education to a black student pursuing a Doctorate of Education degree who had been required to sit in a hallway outside the classroom door.

The parallel of “separate but equal” to the same-sex marriage issue is easy to see. While several states offered civil unions as an alternative to marriage, it was clearly an attempt to set up a “separate but equal” system for same-sex couples. In some states the civil unions provided all the same state rights as marriage, but in other states they didn’t. In all cases, it was seen as a 2nd class alternative to marriage.

Another argument made against the Supreme Court’s ruling is that the original authors of the 14th Amendment wouldn’t have foreseen it being used to justify same-sex marriage. This doesn’t hold water due to multiple precedents, including the two cases regarding higher education I mentioned above. The original authors of the 14th Amendment wouldn’t have foreseen black citizens being allowed to go to Southern universities and pursue advanced degrees either, and for decades black citizens were denied an equal education in those states. It was a full 82 years after the passage of the 14th Amendment before its “equal protection” was extended to higher education

There are many precedents of courts extending the reach of various laws regarding equality, as the nation’s view of who is truly a full-fledged citizen has expanded. Over varying lengths of time, this expansion has been to the benefit of women, religious minorities, immigrants, and many others. In each case, there has been opposition claiming that there would be dire consequences. In most cases, we are rightly ashamed of the earlier interpretations and decisions that denied rights to these groups. Who today is proud of Plessy v. Ferguson, or sees it as other than a perversion of justice?

The recent Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges is just the latest in a long line of extensions of the principle of “securing the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” [from the Preamble to the Constitution] and extending “equal protection under the law” [from the 14th Amendment] to all citizens. The real shame of it is that due to our own prejudices, the process takes so long and sometimes succeeds only by the narrowest of margins.


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s challenge dealt with summer, with every answer being a song that had the word “summer” in its title. The winner was Kim Woodard from the Registrar’s Office. Others will all five right included Christina Lesyk, and Terri Clemmo.  

Here are the correct answers:

  1. Sam Cooke had a hit with this classic, about “when the living is easy”.  Summertime.
  2. Alice Cooper song about the end of classes. School’s Out For Summer.
  3. Olivia Newton-John sang this to John Travolta in the movie “Grease”. Summer Nights.
  4. Seals and Crofts had a hit with song that dealt with the jasmine in your mind. Summer Breeze.
  5. Summer classic by Eddie Cochran, it has the lines: Every time I call my baby, and try to get a date; My boss says “No dice son, you gotta work late.” Summertime Blues.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge deals with musical hits from the 1950’s. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Elvis’ first major hit, about a place that’s “Down at the end of lonely street”.
  2. His #1 songs from the 1950’s on the R&B chart include “Maybelline”, “School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes the Bell)”, “Johnny B. Goode”, and “Sweet Little Sixteen”.
  3. Dick Clark hosted this television show that started in 1957.
  4. Patti Page had the decade’s biggest hit, with a song about her “dancing with her darling”.
  5. His song, “Poor Little Fool”, was the very first #1 on the newly created Billboard Hot 100 in 1958. His other #1 was “Travelin’ Man”.
Posted in Uncategorized

July 13, 2015


Volume 10, Issue 01– July 13, 2015


Anniversary Time

For those who follow meaningless minutia, this issue of the BLAB marks the beginning of Volume 10. Yes, that means I’ve been writing this sort of stuff for ten years now. It all started as a way for me (back when I was VPAA at Southern Polytechnic State University) to be able to communicate in a regular, but informal, way with the faculty and academic affairs staff there. I later found out that some people at other colleges, as well as down at the Board of Regents had found out about it and were reading it. As you can imagine, I got a bit more circumspect about what I was saying at that point! Anyway, happy 10th Anniversary to the BLAB, and I hope folks still find it pleasant and useful.

Speaking of anniversaries, this past June 20 was Jill and my anniversary—our 39th. We got married in the Bicentennial year of 1976, and had our honeymoon in Israel, where we were on that special July 4. It was a rather interesting day and not just because it was Bicentennial Day, since it was on that day that the Israeli army rescued more than 100 hostages from Entebbe, Uganda in a rather famous operation. Jill, my grandmother, my uncle Reuven, and I were taking a bus up to Tiberius (on the Sea of Galilee) that day for a little tourist fun, and when the others on the bus heard Jill and me speaking English, they kept interrupting to ask “What do you think of our army? Pretty good, huh?” That evening, in honor of the success of the operation, someone placed an ad in the paper, donating one month’s salary to support the army. The idea went viral, and in the course of the next two weeks, I remember hearing that a billion shekels were raised.

Things were a bit quieter than that for this anniversary. We had a nice drive along the river, and went to the Little Italy in Ogdensburg for dinner. When the waitress heard it was our anniversary (son Mark had to tell her, of course), we got a complimentary dessert.



Flags and Flags: Norwood, New York and Charleston, South Carolina



I hope everyone had a good time celebrating the 4th of July with all of its patriotic pageantry. My family and I went up to Norwood, NY, where they have a very nice small town 4th of July Parade, originally held in honor of their volunteer fire department. Firefighters and their engines from around the county all come, and there are floats about other small town things as well. It has grown to be the biggest 4th of July parade in these parts, and it’s America at its best.







In addition to the 4th of July, the past few weeks have focused on a different flag issue as well, starting with the tragedy in a church in Charleston, transforming into a national debate about the Confederate Flag (yes, I know it’s really the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, but everyone thinks it’s the Confederate Flag), and in an astonishing turn, resulting in what I would have thought was impossible.

I know Charleston and South Carolina rather well, having gone to graduate school at the University of South Carolina (USC) to get my doctorate in chemistry. Charleston is an elegant city with beautiful homes along the main waterfronts, where (as the locals tell it) the Ashley and the Cooper rivers come together to form the Atlantic Ocean. The most beautiful architecture in the city is found at The Battery, which looks out over Fort Sumter, which is where the Civil War began. Charleston architecture is well known for its long side porches that catch the sea breeze on those sultry summer days, and their beautiful wrought iron railings. Among the historical sights are the aforementioned Fort Sumter, the Old Slave Mart, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue (the oldest or 2nd oldest in America in continuous use—from 1740), the historic downtown, and many other things. There’s a lot to see there, lots of excellent restaurants, and it was only a 2-hour drive from Columbia, so we used to go down there for visits all the time.


The Battery in Charleston

South Carolina was a funny state to live in for a “Yankee” like me. I was there from 1976 to 1981, living in Columbia, the state capitol, where USC is located. When I told people in New England (where I went to college as an undergrad) that I was going to USC, they reacted like I was stepping off the edge of the Earth. Things were beginning to change in South Carolina—the University had moved well beyond token integration in the late 1960’s, and some black politicians had been elected to the state legislature and to county and local offices. While there was still a lot of racism under the surface (and occasionally above it), there was also a veneer of Southern politeness covering it, and some real change beginning to occur.

The Confederate flag flew over the state house in those days, but it was beginning to become controversial and discussions were beginning to take place about possibly moving it. Lots of people thought that it had always flown there since the Civil War, but it actually only went up in 1961. Ostensibly, it was added to commemorate the centennial of the start of the Civil War, but in reality, everyone knew that it was being kept there as a protest against desegregation. While several other southern states removed the Confederate flag from their capitols over time, the South Carolina legislature continuously refused, which resulted in a substantial boycott led by the NAACP.

In the year 2000, state senator Arthur Ravenel made some derogatory remarks that drew national attention, referring to the NAACP as the “National Association of Retarded People”, and then apologized to “retarded people” for associating them with the NAACP. This became a hot campaign issue, with arguments being raised for and against the flag similar to now. A compromise finally was arrived at later that year, with the Confederate flag moved from being over the state house to being over a Confederate memorial nearby on July 1. To ensure that the compromise would go no further, it was also agreed that it would take a 2/3 vote of both houses of the South Carolina legislature to move the flag again.

South Carolina was the last state to make Martin Luther King Day a paid state holiday, which it also did in 2000 (until then, all state employees had a choice between Martin Luther King Day and three Confederate holidays, which I thought was an unusual compromise). Did the compromise on the flag and the move to make Martin Luther King Day a ‘full’ holiday happen, in part, because of the controversy over Ravenel’s remarks? I always thought so. While South Carolina certainly had its irredeemable racists, it also had many people of goodwill and others who could be reached. Perhaps enough people were appalled by Ravenel’s remarks that year that they felt they had to do something significant to distance themselves from them.

Which brings me to the present day. As everyone knows, on June 18, nine black worshipers were murdered at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, by Dylann Roof. Pictures of Roof posing with the Confederate flag were found on his Facebook page, as were other pictures of a racist nature and a rather elaborate racist screed. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this tragedy was the response of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church community—they immediately forgave Roof and prayed that he would find redemption. Forgiveness shouldn’t be confused here with absolution—no one argued he should be let go and not have to pay for his crime. The forgiveness was a spiritual forgiveness—that he should learn the errors of his ways and repent. Lots of articles and editorials were written about the grace shown by the congregation, and how their lack of hatred was such a singular thing.

Immediately after Roof’s connection with the Confederate flag became known, a movement began advocating that the Confederate flag be removed from the capital grounds. It was led by state representative Norman “Doug” Brannon, a conservative republican, who promised to introduce legislation to remove the flag. State Senator Pinckney, one of the worshipers murdered at the church, was a friend of his. Brannon also said that he was ashamed that he hadn’t proposed the legislation sooner, and that it should not have taken the murders of nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for the legislation to be presented. “It’s tragic. [But] it shouldn’t have taken that, and again, I apologize.”

For a short time, other political candidates were reluctant to join in, but a few days later, Nikki Haley, the state’s governor, called for the flag’s removal to a museum, and was quickly joined by both US Senators from South Carolina and many others political leaders. The movement quickly spread to other states—in Virginia, the governor called for removal of the Confederate flag on license plates, and discussion began on removing it from being part of the Mississippi state flag.

The question was, would there be the necessary 2/3 margin of votes to remove the flag in both houses of the SC legislature? The backlash against removing the flag began, and robocalls went out arguing against the removal. What would come next, the call asked? The bill quickly passed the Senate 20-3, and after some delay in the house, with multiple dozens of amendments introduced, passed there by a sufficient margin. Governor Halley signed the bill, and the Confederate flag came down Friday morning, July 10.

What was responsible for this dramatic change in sentiment in South Carolina? A lot of newspapers and TV news reports said it was a result of the murders of the nine worshipers, but I think that may be incorrect. I think it was a result of the grace and forgiveness shown by the survivors and the families of those murdered—a grace and forgiveness that positively screamed for a moral response. I think that the grace that was displayed broke through the defensive wall that a lot of white South Carolinians had surrounded themselves with. Their argument that the flag was about heritage, not hate, no longer mattered. They couldn’t bear to be inside that wall any longer, and had to make an unmistakable moral response.

So often today we make arguments that come down to money or politics. It’s so rare when something happens that transcends—when we see a moral wave that can’t be resisted. There’s a lesson in this, about harnessing the power of grace, forgiveness, kindness, and moral suasion. We need to do it a lot more often, to deal with the issues that divide us. What might we be able to accomplish if we did?

On the Today Show Friday morning, Governor Halley said: “I don’t want this to go away quickly. I want people to remember what today feels like and know that anything is possible with us.”

Anything is possible with us. A good thing to remember.



Down to New York Again

I took the week of June 29 off for vacation. On Sunday, July 5, it was travel time to go to New York for a meeting of the SUNY Social Media Responsibility Committee that I co-chair. I had procrastinated in booking my travel, always figuring that if worse came to worse, I could drive down to Poughkeepsie, leave my car there, and take local rail into the city. Since it was 4th of July weekend, things were pretty heavily booked, but I lucked out and got the necessary seats.

I left at 6:00 AM to drive to Ogdensburg, where I caught the Cape Air puddle jumper to Albany. The flight was about 90 minutes late, due to a pilot in Nantucket having an ear infection, leading to a cascade of flight changes. I had left 2 hours for the connection in Albany, where I had to take a taxi to the Amtrak station in Rensselaer to catch the train to New York. The late flight made this a tight one, but I caught a taxi right away and got to the train station just as the train was being called. The ride to New York was very pleasant, with some very pretty Hudson River views along the way. I stayed at my sister-in-law Ellen and her partner Etta’s apartment in Greenwich Village, which is one of the nicest locations in the city. They had kindly left some cold beer for me, and I found a nice Thai restaurant nearby for dinner.


The Social Media Responsibility Committee met the next morning at the SUNY Office in the East 50’s, which was an easy subway ride. The meetings went will, with representatives from Yik Yak, Facebook, and Tumblr giving their views on how safety issues involving their sites should be handled. It was interesting to hear things from their perspective, including examples of positive ways in which their social media sites are used by students. The meeting broke up at about 3:00 PM, and I walked over to the Korean consulate to speak to the consul about forming relations between SUNY Canton and some Korean colleges, and inviting folks from the consulate to the College for a visit and talk. Dinner that night was at a Mediterranean restaurant that was pretty good.

On Tuesday morning, I met with folks from the Institute of International Education about bringing in students from Brazil (of which at least two will be here this coming fall) and other places in South America. After the meetings, I walked over to Grand Central Station, had some lunch, and took the shuttle over to Penn to catch my train home. The train left on time, but due to track work, got into Albany about 50 minutes late. After catching a taxi and getting to the airport, that only gave me about half an hour to get my ticket, go through security, and get to the gate. In Albany, that’s plenty and I was there with 20 minutes to spare. Other than the right engine not wanting to engage for multiple tries (which was a bit disconcerting), the flight was uneventful and I got home right on time.


Economic Development

I’m a member of a number of economic development boards for the North Country, and immediately upon returning from New York, it was time for their meetings. On Wednesday evening, the Economic Development Study for St. Lawrence County Advisory Board was meeting in Massena at the NYPA Vistors Center. The next day, it was a quick drive to Lake Placid for a meeting of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. While some of what’s happening is confidential at this point, I can note that the directions we’re moving in as a College are well in tune with the economic development needs of this region, and with the plans from these agencies.



Last Week’s Trivia Contest

There wasn’t any.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge deals with summer—every answer is a song that has the word “summer” in it. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Sam Cooke had a hit with this classic, about “when the living is easy”.
  2. Alice Cooper song about the end of classes.
  3. Olivia Newton-John sang this to John Travolta in the movie “Grease”.
  4. Seals and Crofts had a hit with song that dealt with the jasmine in your mind.
  5. Summer classic by Eddie Cochran, it has the lines: Every time I call my baby, and try to get a date; My boss says “No dice son, you gotta work late.”


Posted in Uncategorized

June 10, 2015


Volume 9, Issue 37– June 10, 2015



I’ll Be Off to Las Vegas…

I’m leaving later today to go to Las Vegas. The sad news is that my Uncle Nathan passed away at 90 years old, and I’m going to his funeral. He led a full life, and a eulogy (in part written by my sister, Drorit) is below. Warning: there are some details regarding the Holocaust that are frightening.


 Nathan Szafran

My uncle, Nathan Szafran, died in the early hours of Friday June 5, 2015, in Las Vegas, NV at the age of 90. He had gone into the hospital a few days earlier seriously ill but had rallied back, and we hoped all would be back to normal. It was not to be, and while sitting up, seemingly better, a heart attack did him in. He is survived by his loving wife, my Aunt Shirley; his brother Daniel (my father); his daughter Karyne and son Barry; grandchildren Nicole, Jacob, Katie, Joshua, and Kristen; and great grandchildren Damian and Isaiah.

Nathan was born in Strykow, Poland (a small city northeast of Lodz) in 1925. The family was large, consisting of father Hersh Icek Szafran (for whom I am named—Hersh is German for “deer”, and Zvi is Hebrew for “deer”); mother Fayga Riwka Hecht (for whom my sister Drorit is named); and seven children: older brother Barish (for whom my cousin Barry is named); younger sisters Kajla Frymet and Sura Pesa (both of whom my cousin Karyne is named for); and younger brothers Daniel, Shimshon, and Moshe (for whom my son Mark is named).


Hersh Icek was a metal worker who made milk cans, stoves, pipes, and farming equipment for the local farming population. He was also a roofer. Fayga Rivka helped with the business by going into the large nearby city of Lodz to get metal, had a vegetable garden, and cared for the children. Nathan attended primary school until the fourth grade when he had to leave school to work with his father. A few years later, in 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland, starting World War II.

The Nazis established a small ghetto in Strykow, but people could leave it during the day to work. Eldest brother Barish returned in 1941, having been a prisoner of war. Hersh and the older boys laid roofs for the German barracks and built stoves to heat them. The family was ordered to move to another small ghetto in Bzeziny. Men from 18 to 20 were told they could to go to a camp to work. Barish signed up to go and was never seen again. The Nazis took the younger children Moshe (10) and Shimshon (12), saying that they were going to be sent to a special school to learn a trade. After the war, the truth was discovered—the boys were murdered in mobile vans. The remaining family was transferred to the Lodz ghetto, where they were forced to live in a single room. Hersz, Nathan, and Daniel were forced on a truck, supposedly headed to another work camp. While in motion, Hersh made a commotion to divert attention, and Daniel and Nathan jumped off the truck, probably saving their lives. That was the last time they saw their father.

When the Lodz ghetto was liquidated in 1944, the remaining family was packed into cattle cars and taken to Auschwicz. All were murdered on arrival, except for Nathan and Daniel, who were tattooed (with consecutive numbers) and forced to do slave labor. In the spring of 1945, they were transferred to Sachenhausen. As the Russian Army approached the prisoners were forced to go on a death march to Germany. During the march, they came across some Red Cross volunteers who gave them food and clothing. The Nazi guards ran off and Nathan and Daniel escaped. They made their way to a displaced persons camp behind the American lines. In 2001, Nathan gave testimony at the Shoah Foundation about his experiences during the Holocaust.

Nathan immigrated to the United States in May 1950 and settled in Syracuse, NY. He was drafted into the United States Army and served in Germany during the Korean War period.


After discharge, Nathan returned to Syracuse where he met his wife, Shirley. They were married on August 24, 1958 and ultimately celebrated 56 years of marriage together.


Nathan worked multiple jobs to support his family, and then started his own successful business as a home contractor, performing painting services in the Syracuse area. My parents, sister and I moved from Israel to Syracuse in 1959, reuniting the family. Since Nathan was older than my father, he was, in effect, the family patriarch. I always had an especially close relationship with him, from the minute we came to the US and I first met him when I was four.

Nathan and Shirley’s children Karyne and Barry were born in 1959 and 1961, respectively. For many years, we lived two houses apart, getting together several times every day for one thing or another, as one big family. When I was a teenager, I’d work on one of Nathan’s painting crews in the summer to earn money for college. Throughout the years, we’d always get together in the summer, for Thanksgiving, and for the winter holidays. I’d have to be careful about what I’d say when we got together—I remember one time my Aunt Shirley made a Boston cream pie for dessert. When I said that I liked it, for years afterwards, there would be a Boston cream pie waiting for me every time I visited. Uncle Nate arguing about politics, so he, my father, and I would often have three-way debates.

Upon his retirement in 1995, he and Shirley moved to Las Vegas, where my parents joined them a few years later. In later years, Nathan enjoyed traveling to Poland each summer to visit Strykow for several weeks, where he had many wonderful and loving friends. Nathan was always passionate about family, taking his grandchildren on trips and having the family gather for holidays.


Nathan was loved by all who knew him. He loved life, and lived his own to the fullest. He will be buried at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, on Friday, June 12, 2015. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to honor Nathan’s life and spirit, to the Holocaust Survivors Group of Southern Nevada, P.O Box 371434, Las Vegas, NV 89137.

Rest in peace, Uncle Nate. You will be missed.



Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia contest dealt with June, but not necessarily the month. Our winner was Bill Prigge, Assistant Dean for Administration at University of Tennessee’s College of Pharmacy. Others getting all five right included Drorit Szafran, Virginia Bennett, Paul Howley, Jamie Sovie, and Julie Cruickshank. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Someone who gets married during the most popular month for weddings. June bride.
  2. Johnny Cash’s second wife. June Carter Cash.
  3. A type of beetle, also a song by the B-52’s. June Bug.
  4. The mother’s name on “Leave it to Beaver”. June Cleaver.
  5. Actress who played Timmy’s mom on “Lassie”, she was also the mom on Lost in Space. June Lockhart.



This Week’s Trivia Challenge

No contest this week. The challenge will return next time.


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June 3, 2015


Volume 9, Issue 36– June 3, 2015



Things Have Been So Busy Lately…

I always think that once graduation is over, things will quiet down and I’ll be able to catch up with all the stuff that’s accumulated over the course of the semester. Each year, that becomes less and less true. Yes, some things go away, but new things take their place. Things have been extremely busy the past three weeks, keeping me from generating a new issue of the BLAB. At least that’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.



My first SUNY Canton Commencement (the college’s 107th) was on Saturday, May 9. I can’t believe that it has been almost a month since then. The day began with a College Council Meeting at 8:00 AM, which went well. Commencement was at 10:30 AM, and since it is the single commencement for the year, it was very large indeed—more than 1100 students having completed either a certificate, an associates degree, or a bachelors degree; more than 400 students walking; and more than 1500 parents and family members present.

The large numbers meant that every seat was filled, all the bleachers were filled, and some folks had to stand around the sides of the field house where the ceremony was held. What’s more, since so many people were trying to come onto campus at once, those coming from the direction of Ogdensburg (requiring a left turn onto campus) were backed up on Route 68 quite a ways, since there was pretty much constant traffic turning right onto campus coming from everywhere else. Needless to say, all the closer parking spots were quickly taken, and lots of folks had to park further off. Our campus police did an outstanding job, and shuttles were available to bring in folks from the farther off lots.

The ceremony itself was very nice, albeit long. It began with an outstanding rendition of the National Anthem by student Noelle Murray, and a welcome from Ron O’Neill, the Chair of the College Council. Three faculty, Jill Martin (English), Pamela Quinn (Dental Hygiene), and Stephen Frempong (Electrical Engineering Technology) had won Chancellor’s Awards and gave brief speeches, as did Dan Gagliardi (Mathematics), the winner of the Distinguished Faculty Award. The top bachelors degree student (Alyssa Baker, CET) and the top associates degree student (Christopher Dwyer, EET) gave talks, as did the President of Student Government (Melissa Cummings). The Northstar Award was given by students to Johanna Lee, the college’s Director of Tutoring Services. The keynote speech was given by former congressman William “Bill” Owens, who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in recognition of his advocacy for the North Country and his devoted support of SUNY Canton.

The students then lined up by school, marching across the stage to receive their degrees, shake hands, and get their pictures taken. As you might expect, there was lots of cheering and excitement. After some closing remarks, the ceremony was over. Refreshments were served in the ice arena, and I spoke to a few reporters who had come to cover the graduation. A few minutes later, it was back to the field house for the Nurses’ Pinning Ceremony, which also drew a huge crowd—more than 100 nurses graduating, with lots of family in attendance.

I drove home to pick up Jill and Mark, and then drove down to DeKalb Junction, where one of the graduates, Pierre Nzuah, was having a party. Pierre is an exemplary student who came from a very poor family in a village in Cameroon, came to Canton, participated in everything that could be participated in at the college, and graduated as a Chancellor’s Award winning student. Pierre is back in Cameroon now, and will be starting graduate school at Clarkson in the Fall. The party was great, complete with lots of African and North Country food, and lots of wonderful company.


All in all, it was quite a day!


And Then…Recognition Day!

The following week it was time for the end of semester meetings. These included meetings of advisory boards, an Executive Cabinet meeting, a Strategic Planning Committee Meeting, a meeting of a search committee, a meeting with the Village Board, and many others. Wednesday (May 13) also featured the Student Affairs Division Barbeque.

Friday (May 15) was my first Recognition Day, an annual event where faculty and staff who have served the college for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years are honored, as are retirees and Emeritus faculty and staff. The President’s Meritorious Service Awards are also presented at Recognition Day, and were won by Kathy Limoges (secretary in the School of Business and Liberal Arts Deans Office) and Randy Sieminski (Director of Athletics). Between the various awards, several “name that tune” competitions were held between faculty and staff, featuring tunes that would have been popular in the year they started working at SUNY Canton. The final round was between Ron O’Neill (representing the staff) and me (representing the faculty). Recognition Day was a really upbeat time and lots of fun.



On Wednesday, May 13, the College had a Farewell Reception for David Gerlach, our Vice President for Advancement, who will be leaving SUNY Canton after 30 years to become the President of Lincoln College in Illinois. The Reception was packed with people wishing Dave well, including former college President Earl MacArthur, during whose administration Dave both graduated and was first hired. Later that evening, a dinner was held for Dave and his wife Lisa, during which Randy Sieminski presented a powerpoint “roast” featuring some of Dave’s greater (and more dubious) moments on campus. Thanks for a great 30 years, Dave, and we only wish you the best at Lincoln!



Off to Boston and then Albany

On Saturday (May 16), the family and I hopped in the car and took off for Boston for my cousin Danielle’s Bat-Mitzvah. Going to Boston from Canton is a real pleasure, because the ride is so beautiful. After driving on US 11 to Rouses Point (a small village north of Plattsburgh) through some nice North Country scenery, you cross into Vermont on a scenic bridge at the north end of Lake Champlain.


You can pick up I-89 soon thereafter, but I usually go through the Lake Champlain Islands on US 2 instead, since it is only about 20 minutes longer that way and the route is so scenic, with nice lake views on both sides of the road. Picking up I-89 a bit north of Burlington, it’s very pretty mountain scenery all the way through Vermont and northern New Hampshire. We checked into our hotel in Nashua, NH, and after resting for an hour, took off for Newton, MA where the Bat Mitzvah was held.

Danielle is the younger child of my 1st cousin Ifat Bejerano, who is in turn the oldest child of my Aunt Dina (whose proper name is Alexandrina—wow!), my mother’s youngest sister. My Aunt Dina and Uncle Ze’ev had come over from Israel for the event, and my sister Drorit had joined us, flying up from Houston. Danielle did an outstanding job at the ceremony and with her speech. The party afterwards was great too.


L-R:  Yaniv Bejerano (father), Stav (brother), Danielle, and Ifat (mother)

On Sunday, we went to Ifat’s house for a family brunch, and then got back on the highway, driving to Albany. After dropping me off at my hotel for the upcoming SUNY Presidents Meeting, the rest of the family drove back to Canton.

On Monday, I met with Senator Patti Ritchie to discuss things going on at the College. It was a beautiful day in Albany, so after the meeting I took a tour of the State Capitol building (which I had never done before—it’s well worth seeing).


Flag used to wrap President Lincoln’s casket on his funeral train–on exhibit at the     State Capitol.

I then took a walk up to the main park, where there’s a cool statue of Moses and a lot of tulips were in bloom. After enjoying the park and sunshine for a while, I ambled down to Lark Street for a (you guessed it!) Indian buffet for lunch. I spent most of the rest of the day doing paperwork on my computer in the hotel room.


Tuesday began with an early morning meeting with Assemblymember Addie Russell to discuss what we’re doing at the college, followed by a quick hop down to SUNY central for the Presidents Meeting. Most of the meeting was focused on how we can increase graduation rates and attract more students to SUNY, to try to meet the Chancellor’s goal of increasing the number of graduates to 150,000 per year. After the main meeting, the “new” presidents then met for an afternoon session on how the New York and SUNY budget process works, which was very enlightening. SUNY Potsdam President Kristen Esterberg was kind enough to give me a ride to the airport (I had no car—the family had taken it back to Canton on Sunday, remember?), and I caught the 6:15 flight to Ogdensburg, with my father picking me up there to come home. Whew—talk about exhausted!

Back on campus on Wednesday, it was time for more meetings on various topics. Memorial Day weekend came up quickly, and I was able to enjoy a little downtime, unpacking boxes in the garage each day. The garage is still about 60% full of unpacked items, which I hope to finally finish off unpacking over the summer.


Off to Boston Again!

Believe it or not, on Tuesday morning, it was back into the car and back to Boston again, this time to attend the NAFSA conference on attracting and serving international students. We went via the same route as before, enjoying nice weather the whole way. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Natick, MA (about 15 miles out of Boston) because the hotels in Boston are fantastically expensive, and this particular Hampton Inn is both quite nice and located conveniently to everything. I took commuter rail into Boston the next day—there’s a station in West Natick, about 2 miles from the hotel, and the trains run pretty much hourly into South Station, a short 10 minute walk from the conference.

The conference began in the afternoon with a plenary session. As it finished and I was walking out, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Diane Rigos and Cynthia McGowan, two chemistry faculty from Merrimack College who I had hired, back in the days when I was Chair of the Chemistry Department there. I was wonderful to see them and catch up a little, and I was then off to a reception and dinner for presidents and provosts attending the conference. I took the train back to West Natick for the night.


L-R:  Cynthia McGowan, me, and Diane Rigos at the NAFSA Conference

Thursday, it was back into Boston for the Presidents’ Day events at NAFSA. The talks were quite interesting, and there exhibits for study abroad from pretty much every country around the world. After finishing with the talks and exhibits, I took the train back to West Natick, picked up Jill and Mark, and drove to Harvard MA (not where the University is—the town of Harvard is in the north-central part of the state) to visit some old friends from back when we lived in Manchester NH. It was wonderful seeing John McGarry, his wife Nancy, and most of their children that evening—they’re among the nicest people I know, and I’ve had some of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever been involved in with John over the years. All the children are grown up now, with the youngest son (Andrew) engaged to be married this September.

After returning to West Natick for the night, we left for home on Friday, stopping in Worcester to visit Jill’s parent’s graves to pay our respects. We then went to That’s Entertainment, a comic book store I’ve done business with since I was in college, and then had lunch. We left Worcester at about 1:00, and going through Albany and the Adirondacks, got back to Canton at about 8:00.

And Wrapping Things Up…

This week began with a mini-retreat to discuss how graduation had gone, and how we might make it a bit shorter. This was followed by a Strategic Panning Committee meeting, where we focuses on outcomes metrics that should line up with our required SUNY Excels metrics. Tuesday began with a Deans Cabinet Meeting, and included a preparatory meeting for our upcoming Alumni Weekend events.


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia contest dealt with May, but not necessarily the month. Our winner was Christina Lesyk. Others getting all five right included Bill Prigge and my sister, Drorit Szafran. Here are the correct answers:

  1. What April Showers bring. May Flowers.
  2. Spider-man’s elderly aunt (first and last name, please). May Parker.
  3. Ship that the Pilgrims sailed on.
  4. When one of the spouses is old and the other is much younger. May-December marriage.
  5. Billy Joel song that includes the lines: “I may be crazy, But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for, Turn out the light, Don’t try to save me. You May Be Right.



This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Staying with last time’s theme, this week’s challenge deals with June, but not necessarily the month. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Someone who gets married during the most popular month for weddings.
  2. Johnny Cash’s second wife.
  3. A type of beetle, also a song by the B-52’s.
  4. The mother’s name on “Leave it to Beaver”.
  5. Actress who played Timmy’s mom on “Lassie”, she was also the mom on “Lost in Space”.
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May 7, 2015


Volume 9, Issue 35– May 7, 2015


Summer is Nearly Here…

The weather here in the North Country has taken a sharp turn for the better. Two weeks ago, we had possibilities of snow. For the past several days, it has been in the 70’s and 80’s and positively summerlike. While it will probably get a bit cooler in the near future, for now it looks like we’ve skipped spring entirely and gone directly from winter to summer. One spring-like feature that is happening with a vengeance is that the pollen count is quite high, and my eyes are itching and I’m sneezing to prove it.   I thought I was rid of that leaving Georgia (where the pollen count can be astronomic in spring) but here it is back again. Judging by the color of my Toyota Matrix (normally indigo, but it turns “day-glo” green when lots of pollen is on it), the count is actually much lower here than in Georgia, but I seem to be more allergic to it. It just goes to show you—you can’t win.

Semester Winding Down

This week is finals week here at SUNY Canton, and graduation is this Saturday. Our student life folks have been outdoing themselves with extra end-of-semester activities, including having a Spring-Fest (I wasn’t able to attend since I was totally booked with other activities, but I saw the really great T-shirt designs), a great student awards ceremony, and lots of fun events on the plaza (including an ice cream soda social, a barbecue, lots of good music, and so on).

There have been lots of departmental end-of-semester events too, with several more to come on graduation day itself. Leading off, on April 30, was the Veterinary Technology pinning ceremony. Our Vet-Tech students, faculty, and staff are a really great bunch with a fantastic departmental comraderie that reminds me of my earliest days as a faculty member. The program is housed in Newell Hall, a really attractive building with very nice classrooms, lab and animal spaces, and offices. The pinning was an upbeat ceremony, followed by a reception and group photograph.


The pinning was followed by a tree planting by our Veterans Association. The Association conducts this ceremony to honor veterans who have been and continue to be active in the SUNY Canton community. This year’s honorees were Tom and Nellie Coakley, both US Army Veterans who served in Viet Nam, and who are strong supporters of the college. The Coakleys are a really wonderful family, and were very touched by the ceremony. A few weeks ago, the Coakley’s honored me at my inauguration, when the display sign in front of their store (Ace Hardware and Carpet One) said “Congrats Dr. Zvi Szafran—SUNY Canton President”.

At noon, I gave a short speech at the Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society inauguration ceremony. Chi Alpha Epsilon recognizes students who achieved honors “the hard way”, having started college in developmental, SSS, or Educational Opportunity Programs. Its purposes are to promote continued high academic standards, to foster increased communication among its members, and to honor academic excellence achieved by those students. We all know people for whom everything seems easy. People who seem to finish the race without even working up a sweat. While we all like to cheer for the person who crosses the finish line first in a race (and that’s fine), too many people don’t realize that not all of us start our race in the same place. What is a 60-yard dash for some is a 2000-yard endurance trial for others. What’s great about Chi Alpha Epsilon is that it recognizes the students for whom the race was longer and tougher, who still reached the finish line with great achievement. To me, that’s one of the very best meanings of the word “honors”. The ceremony itself was very touching, and I was very proud when a number of students asked me to pin them and to pose for some selfies.


That afternoon, I got to fire the starting pistol at the annual Roo Run/Walk. The weather was great and there were lots of participants and plenty of prizes. A little later, I welcomed a group of potential students from New York City who had come up to visit campus by bus. I had a chance to talk to several of them then and the next day, and I’m looking forward to seeing them this coming fall.

The day ended with the final installment of SUNY Canton’s great Living Writers Series, with guest Daniel Torday. Mr. Torday is the winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award, and his latest novel, “The Last Flight of Poxl West” was published in March and has become a national bestseller. He was featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, and was recently interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air. The talk was great and I had a chance to chat with Mr. Torday afterwards. He’s a really pleasant and interesting guy. I’m now the proud possessor of an autographed copy of his latest book, which I plan to enjoy reading this summer.

Phil LaMarche from our English and Humanities Department is the director of this series, and does an exceptional job. Speaking of which, both Phil and his wife Carolyn (our volleyball coach) were this year’s Vice President’s Award honorees given to a faculty or staff member at the student award ceremony mentioned earlier.

IMG_1088L-R:  Courtney Bish, Phil LaMarche, Me, Carolyn LaMarche and two very cute kids!

May 1 began with Admitted Students Day, with our band (Lenore VanderZee, Rosemary Phillips, Dan Gagliardi, and me) playing some tunes, and a little later, me giving a welcome. The turnout was huge—more than 120 families present, coming from as far as Long Island. The session was a lot of fun, and our admissions folks do an outstanding job in organizing things and answering every possible question. It was great meeting so many future students.

Later that day, I had lunch with the Student Government Association’s executive board—both the new officers and the outgoing leadership. Our SGA is a great group—funny, caring, and committed to the college and their classmates. It’s always a pleasure to see and talk to them, and the new group looks like it will be equally great as the current one.

On Saturday, SUNY Canton hosted the New York State North Country Region Special Olympic Summer Games. There was a huge turnout in the Field House, and the parking lot was full. There were teams from all over the North Country, and our own student athletes and other student volunteers acted as buddies for all the participants. After the parade of athletes and a series of opening remarks (including some by the athletes themselves) and awards, I got to declare the games officially open. The events were very cool, and the athletes were fantastic.

IMG_1079 IMG_1083   

SUNY Canton Shoutouts

Congratulations to our Dental Hygiene students, who have won the national Student Member Community Service Award from the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA). The award will be presented at the ADHA’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee in June.

Our sophomore level students were selected for this prestigious award as a result of their  community outreach project with the 2nd grade classrooms at Bellamy Elementary School in Rome, NY (where our dental hygiene program is located).   The three-month project was spearheaded by Lindsay Argyle, an adjunct instructor in the dental hygiene department (and a SUNY Cortland graduate student), and Kasey Penoyer, the program’s community health instructor. A total of 112 children participated in educational activities, which included learning proper brushing and flossing technique as well as how to make healthy food choices to achieve good oral health. Twenty-one of the children also had parental permission to participate in a dental screening at SUNY Canton’s teaching clinic for the placement of pit and fissure sealants and a topical application of fluoride.  Dr. Terrence Thimes, Chief of Dental Surgery at SUNY Upstate’s Dental Residency program and two of the residents from there were on hand to examine the children and offer their support in this collaborative project.

Access to dental care is a growing concern in today’s society.  Through this project, the hygiene students offered their services to a population with unmet dental needs.  The children not only received free preventive dental care but also became more comfortable interacting with oral health care professionals. It was a win-win situation for all involved parties. The SUNY Cortland Foundation, GC America, Dentsply, Patterson Dental and Ultradent all contributed clinic supplies to support the outreach program.  Congratulations to our Dental Hygiene students!  

Congratulations also to Tony Beane, a professor in SUNY Canton’s Vet Tech program and also a master gardener, for his fine work in assisting the Canton Free Library’s Grounds Committee in spring cleanup of the library grounds.  


Congratulations to SUNY Canton’s Early Childhood Club for the school supply donations to “Against All Odds—Outreach for Learning”, a charity set up by our own graduating senior Pierre Nzuah to assist poor children in Cameroon wanting to go to school.   Pierre, also from Cameroon, knows how hard it can be to get an education when you come from a poor family—he has worked extremely hard all of his life to accomplish his educational goals. Now that he’s graduating, he wants to “pay it forward” and help others who are in similar circumstances so that they can succeed. Way to go all!


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia contest dealt with elephants. Our winner was Christina Lesyk. Others getting all five right included Carmela Young and Brett Furnia. Here are the correct answers:

  1. What an elephant never does.  Forgets.
  2. Famous French elephant in children’s stories—he first appeared in 1931 in a book by Jean de Brunhoff.  Babar.
  3. Military commander of Carthage, he led an army including elephants from Iberia over the Alps into Italy during the Second Punic War.  Hannibal.
  4. In the Beatles song, “He went out tiger hunting with his elephant and gun”.  Bungalow Bill.
  5. Ganesha.  The Hindu elephant-headed G-d.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge deals with May, though not necessarily the month. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. What April Showers bring.
  2. Spider-man’s elderly aunt (first and last name, please).
  3. Ship that the Pilgrims sailed on.
  4. When one of the spouses is old and the other is much younger.
  5. Billy Joel song that includes the lines: “I may be crazy, But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for, Turn out the light, Don’t try to save me.


Posted in Uncategorized

April 27, 2015


Volume 9, Issue 34– April 27, 2015


Winding Down?

After Inauguration Week’s many activities, you’d think that things might wind down a bit, but that didn’t prove to be the case. The Monday and Tuesday after inauguration were filled with meetings that had accumulated since we couldn’t do them the previous week.

Among these was the first Strategic Planning Meeting, ably chaired by Liz Erickson. Our first task in the strategic planning process is to review where we are relative to the major outcomes identified in the current plan. Liz divided our rather large group into subcommittees, each being tasked to look at one of the outcomes, detail what has been accomplished (gathering any documents that may exist about it), what’s left to do, let us know if the outcome is still valid for us, and suggest metrics for how it may be measured in the future. Please be aware that someone on a subcommittee may contact you for information in the future if you’ve been involved in one of the outcome issues. We’ll be reviewing the results at our next meeting, and then moving ahead to establish tactics for accomplishing our remaining goals. We’ll report on our progress periodically.

On Tuesday, several folks from campus met with representatives from the St. Lawrence County BOCES program. About 45% of the students in the county take at least one course at the BOCES technology centers, and their programs line up very nicely with ours. Our goal is for their students to become even more familiar with our college, and we want to set up the smoothest possible transition process so that their graduates can matriculate into our degree programs. The meeting went very well, and we established some of the things we need to do to make this smooth transition process a reality.


Trip to DC

On Wednesday, Lenore VanderZee (our Executive Director for University Relations) and I flew down to Washington DC for SUNY Day. The flight out of Watertown to Philadelphia left at 7:30, which meant that we had to leave Canton at 5:30 AM. Yech! After a short layover, the connecting flight to DC took off on time, and we were in DC a little before noon. The rooms at the Hampton Inn weren’t ready yet, so we had lunch in a nearby Mediterranean restaurant. By the time we finished, the rooms were ready, so we checked in and headed off to the first meetings, which were in the Rayburn Office Building. As we were walking there, we passed by the Mall behind the Capitol Building, and were wondering why there were a lot of people looking at something (we had no idea what) across the reflecting pool. We moved a little to the left to go around a group of people and passed in front of a huge bank of cameras and microphones, which was a bit disconcerting since they weren’t for us—I kept expecting President Obama or some other major official to show up at any second. The Capitol Police were everywhere, and we later found out that someone had flown a one-man helicopter onto the Mall, thereby calling all the security forces into alert.

We got to the meeting just in time and had a chance to meet some of our New York congressmen, as well as a group of SUNY students doing political internships in DC. The Chancellor had asked several presidents to speak about how their campuses do applied learning and how this leads to student success. I got to represent the Colleges of Technology, which was an easy and pleasant job, since applied learning is in our bones—we’ve been doing it since our founding in1906.

That evening, SUNY had a large reception at the Newseum (a cool place—worth a visit if you’re in DC), where several of the colleges (including us) had tables set up showcasing what we do. Several other congressmen and their aides came to the reception including Charles Rangel. We met lots of folks there, and the reception ended at about 8:00. We then joined President Esterberg and another colleague from SUNY Potsdam, and went out to dinner at a very nice Indian restaurant.

Thursday morning, it was back to the Newseum for breakfast and several presentations from the Chancellor.


Chancellor Nancy Zimpher

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer both came by to address our group.


Senator Charles Schumer

I had to break away from the meeting at one point to walk back over to the Rayburn Office Building, because I had a meeting with our own congresswoman, Elise Stefanik. The meeting went very well, and I was really impressed with Congresswoman Stefanik’s excellent memory—she remembered when she and I first met, last fall before she was elected in November. Since then, she visited our campus and saw several of our programs and their facilities last January. Unfortunately, I was in Florida at the time visiting alumni. I invited her to come back and visit us again, and to speak to our students, which she agreed to do next fall.

Walking back to the Newseum, there were large crowds in the street as well as various marching contingents for Emancipation Day, a unique DC holiday celebrating when the slaves in the capitol were all purchased from their owners and set free.


There were a few more presentations and discussions, and we then walked over to another office building to have a more individual campus visit with the Senators’ staffs. Dinner that evening was at a very nice Thai restaurant. The next morning, we left at 5:30 AM to go to Reagan International Airport to catch the 7:20 AM flight to Philadelphia, and after an almost 2 hour layover, got on to the connecting flight to Watertown. We got back to campus at about 3:00 PM, when I hustled to get last week’s issue of the BLAB out before the weekend.


The Amazing Chemistry Race

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of giving a talk at The Amazing Chemistry Race, an event for students from the Northern New York section of the American Chemical Society. The event was coordinated by our own Nicole Heldt, ably assisted by Rajiv Narula and a group of volunteers. Events included two rounds of Chemistry Jeopardy, one for several high school teams, and one for teams from SUNY Canton, Potsdam, and Plattsburg (we came in 2nd, with Potsdam repeating last year’s win). I then gave my talk, entitled “History of Chemistry—37,000 Years in 45 Minutes”, which was a lot of fun. The students then broke into teams for the race, which consisted of going to several locations on campus to do various chemistry tasks. My congratulations to Nicole and all other organizers for a job well done!


Holocaust Remembrance Day

On Sunday morning, April 19, my father (who is an Auschwitz survivor) went to the synagogue in Potsdam to talk to the students in their Hebrew School about his experiences during the Holocaust. He’ll be speaking to students at the Middle School on May 6 as well. That afternoon, we all went back to the synagogue for a remembrance service and to hear Eva Kuper, a Holocaust survivor who was saved as a little girl at the last possible second from being sent to the Treblinka Death Camp, and hidden through the war by a nun at a home for blind children. After the war, she was able to reunite with her father and moved to Canada in 1948. Through a series of coincidences, she was able to find out the nun’s name (Sister Klara Jaroszynska) and reunite with her in 2005 on a visit to Poland. A movie “Three Miracles, One Hope: Eva Kuper’s Holocaust Story” was made about her life. You can read a bit more about her here in a story that appeared in the Watertown Daily Times. She was a fascinating speaker and it was a privilege to meet her.


Honors Convocation

One of my favorite events of the year is when we can recognize the students who have reached a bit higher and farther, winning various honors awards. Our annual Honors Convocation was held on Wednesday, April 22, and it was just great. This year’s convocation was named for Rosanna Moser, a retired faculty member who began teaching at SUNY Canton in 1983 in the Secretarial Studies program, which later became the Office Technology program. She helped develop new courses in Computer Information Systems, served as Business Department Chair, and organized Professional Development Week at the college. She received the College Council’s Distinguished Faculty Award in 2007. It was a pleasure to meet Rosanna and talk to her during the Honors Luncheon. The award ceremony was held in the afternoon, and it was great to recognize and shake hands with all the student winners. 


Rosanna Moser


SUNY Canton Shout-Outs



We’ve had a number of great athletic results lately. First off, our baseball and softball teams had a pair of no-hitters in back-to-back games on March 28th and 29th. Our pitchers were Derek Harkin and Kelsey Morgan, respectively. Harkin was recognized as the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Honorable Mention National Pitcher of the Week, while Morgan was honored as both the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Pitcher of the Week, as well as the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) Pitcher of the Week.

Several other student-athletes also recently received awards for their achievements on the diamond as well. These include:

  • Seth Douglas ­ Empire 8 Player of the Week ­ STORY
  • Shannon Dowling ­ ECAC Upstate Player of the Week ­ STORY
  • Kaitlyn Tibbetts ­ ECAC Upstate Rookie of the Week ­ STORY
  • Kelsey Morgan ­ ECAC Upstate Pitcher of the Week ­ STORY
  • Kelsey Morgan ­ USCAA Pitcher of the Week ­ STORY
  • Derek Harkin ­ NCBWA Honorable Mention National Pitcher of the Week ­ STORY

Speaking of baseball, a SUNY Canton alum recently signed a professional baseball contract. Gerardo Torres, a 2013 graduate of Canton and two-year member of the baseball team, recently signed a contract with the Grays Harbor Gulls of the Mount Rainier Professional Baseball League (MRPBL). You can read the story here.

During Inauguration Week, our student-athletes also celebrated Division III Week, which celebrates the impact of athletics and of student-athletes on the campus and surrounding community. During the week, every Division III school and conference office is encouraged to conduct a type of outreach activity that falls into one of three categories: academic accomplishment; athletic experience; or leadership/community service/campus involvement.

Congratulations to all our student athletes and their coaches for their fine achievements!


Funeral Services Administration

While in DC at the SUNY reception, I ran into Peter Brusoe, who told me about one of our alums, Peter J. Rose (’04), who lives in Canajoharie and has been a licensed Funeral Director since 2005. He is a member of Our Lady of Hope Roman Catholic Church, where he serves on the Pastoral Council; a member of the Mass Fatalities Taskforce of Montgomery County and the National Funeral Directors Association; a member of the New York State Funeral Directors Association, serving on the Continuing Education & Convention Committee, and a 2014 Graduate of the Leadership Academy. Recently, he’s started an essay contest to help local youth is a great ambassador for our Funeral Services Administration program. Congratulations, Peter!


High Mileage

Jerry Bartlett, SUNY Canton’s Learning Systems Manager, traveled to Ohio on April 17 to compete in Green Grand Prix, a competition aimed at promoting a cleaner environment. The race, which has been held for 11 years now, is sponsored by Toyota and is sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America. Jerry entered the race for the first time last year. How did he do? He won it on his debut, chalking up an impressive 217 mpg. How did he do this year? He beat his own record, of course, winning again with 250 mpg. You can read more about it here. Congratulations Jerry, and let us all know your secret!


Me, Jerry Bartlett, and Molly Mott, with Jerry’s cake and award


Law Enforcement Day

On April 20, the Criminal Justice Department chose “Emerging Issues in Homeland Security” as the theme for its 5th Annual Law Enforcement Day. The keynote address was made by Cynthia Storer, a member of the sisterhood of CIA intelligence analysts whose work led to locating Osama bin Laden in a safe house in Pakistan, and whose work with the CIA was featured in the HBO documentary “Manhunt: The Search for bin Laden.” Other activities included presentations by Elson Irizarry (Coast Guard Investigative Service), Curt Tennant (U.S. Customs and Border Protection), and Tim Losito (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Congratulations to Paul Bowdre and Lisa Colbert, who did an outstanding job of organizing this year’s event, and to Will Fassinger as the event photographer.


 Tim Losito, (ICE), Cynthia Storer (former CIA Analyst), and Elson Irizarry (U.S. Coast Guard)



Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia contest dealt with dogs and cats. Our winner was Alan Gabrielli, a faculty member from SPSU. Others getting all five right included Brett Furnia and Robin Gittings. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Seuss classic about trouble at Sally and her brother’s house, first published in 1957. The Cat in the Hat.
  2. Song by Baha Men, it won the Grammy in 2001 for Best Dance Recording. Who Let the Dogs Out.
  3. A particularly stealthy thief, especially one that gains entry undetected. Cat Burglar.
  4. Rock band named for what indigenous Australians do on freezing cold nights. Songs include Eli’s Coming, Mama Told Me (Not to Come), and Joy to the World. Three Dog Night.
  5. 1965 comedy western starring Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin. Cat Ballou.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Staying with the animal theme, this week’s challenge deals with elephants. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. What an elephant never does.
  2. Famous French elephant in children’s stories—he first appeared in 1931 in a book by Jean de Brunhoff.
  3. Military commander of Carthage, he led an army including elephants from Iberia over the Alps into Italy during the Second Punic War
  4. In the Beatles song, “He went out tiger hunting with his elephant and gun”.
  5. Ganesh.


Inauguration Trivia Contest

When speaking at my inauguration, Liz Erikson challenged the audience to her own version of the BLAB’s Trivia Contest, with the questions all dealing with the word “president”. Our winner, with 4 out of 5 correct, was Patti Todd. Congratulations Patti! Here are the five answers:

  1. The American President
  2. United States Marine Band (‘The President¹s Own’)
  3. All the President¹s Men
  4. Happy Birthday, Mr. President
  5. Dead Presidents


Posted in Uncategorized

April 17, 2015


Volume 9, Issue 33– April 17, 2015

It Was the Best of Times…

Last week was as fantastic a week as I’ve ever experienced. Naturally, a major part of the appeal is that the events were done in honor of my inauguration, but I’ve attended many inaugurations in the past and there is no question in my mind that this was the very best of them. And it’s not just me saying that—I’ve heard the same comment from lots of other folks.  


Inauguration week began on Monday (April 6) with a Campus Kick-Off, held in the Underground Lounge. There was beautiful singing and playing by Kasey Cunningham, one of our students, wonderful food from our College Association, and a blessing for the week of activities by Rabbi Rappaport. Something many people know is that my inauguration was held during Passover, which added a few complications. First, I couldn’t eat any bread or similar product that rises when cooked, since such foods are forbidden on Passover. As a result, Steve and Sue from our food service had to provide some food that was kosher for Passover, as well as regular food. Not everyone who’s Jewish follows these food restrictions for the entire eight days of the holiday, but I thought it was important that we allowed for people who do follow them. Second, the first two days and the seventh and eighth days of Passover are full religious holidays, meaning (among other things) that you’re not supposed to travel on them. Since the inauguration ceremony itself was on Friday, April 10, the seventh day of Passover, no rabbi could travel to Canton to do the benediction. That’s why we had the blessing at the beginning of the week at the kick-off. Rabbi Rappaport, who is the rabbi for Syracuse University’s Hillel (Jewish student’s organization), was kind enough to travel all the way from there to our campus to give the blessing and say a few words, and I can’t thank him enough for doing it.

inauguration kickoff April 06, 2015[1]

That evening, Mr. Sung Lee, Director of Business Operations at Welch Allyn (an international manufacturer of high-quality medical instruments headquartered in Skaneateles Falls, NY) gave an excellent presentation as part of our Leadership Lecture Series that I described in last week’s BLAB.  


On Tuesday, I got a chance to look at some of the History Timelines that various departments and offices placed all around campus. I’ve seen at least five different versions, focusing in on different areas and perhaps there were others. They were all very cool and informative. At noon, I attended the Faculty/Staff Publication Displays in the Library, which also included research presentations by our students and faculty. The librarians had prepared notebooks with our faculty/staff’s pictures on their covers, which contained journal articles that they had written. Books that our faculty/staff had written were displayed alongside. I’m not sure how they did it, but as a surprise for me, alongside my notebook of publications, our librarians had managed to turn up a hardcopy of my PhD thesis—probably the only copy in existence that isn’t on my own bookshelf. I know that you’ll all take advantage of the opportunity to go and read it! The research presentations were wonderful, and when I asked them some questions related to their work, they were well prepared to answer them. I’m told that the faculty/staff publications display will become permanent, so if all of your work didn’t appear, please get the library copies so that they can be proudly shown to our community. I know I’ll be doing that.

Inauguration Week 6x4-2

I then went on a walking tour of the campus, where several programs had presentations and displays. Unfortunately, I only had two hours before the next event, and there were so many presentations that I couldn’t get to some of them. First up was the Early Childhood Education program, who had a wonderful display of children’s educational games that our students had developed. Each student had a large display about the theme and learning aspects of their game, as well as a sample of the game itself.


Next was the Sports Management program, which did a mock television broadcast, showing off their excellent production facilities in Wicks Hall. Also in Wicks Hall, I saw the laboratories associated with our Physical Therapy Assistant program. I have to admit that while I knew we had programs in these two areas, I had (up until then) never seen their facilities. I was extremely impressed with the high-quality resources that our students get to use.


Down in Neveldine Hall, I saw a very nice display produced by our Graphic and Multimedia Design program students. Our students in the program are doing some very cool things, among which were creating a greeting card company (including the cards themselves as well as advertising and marketing materials), creating a comic book (a copy of which is now in my collection) and creating a set of superheroes based on SUNY Canton students, designing hats and caps, creating a photographic collection and starting up a photography business, and creating a video about their program.


Also in Neveldine, I saw the Auto Engineering lab, where students were working on restoring a 1955 Lincoln Premiere (see the March 5 BLAB for details, here), among many other things. It’s a fantastic facility, far beyond anything we’ve had on any of my previous campuses.


I had to cut off my tour at this point, because it was time for the Roos Rising Parade. I got to ride in one of the campus GEM cars as it went around campus, past the residence halls as large groups of students joined in, all carrying banners and wearing special T-shirts.

Inauguration Week 6x4-6

As the parade went by Chaney Dining Hall, my wife Jill and my parents (who had arrived slightly late) jumped into other GEM cars and off we went, down to our athletics field for a Women’s Lacrosse game against Clarkson. Our mascot Rudy was there to encourage the crowd. It obviously worked, since SUNY Canton beat Clarkson 13-11 (though my father said it was because he was there).

Inauguration Week 6x4-14

At the game, the athletics staff gave me one of the greatest gifts ever—a bobblehead doll with my face and soccer jersey on it!   That evening, I attended a Scholarly Activities Celebration in Cook Hall. There were so many presentations (by both faculty and students) that there had to be two parallel sessions, which was too bad since I wanted to see them all. I bounced back and forth between the two and thoroughly enjoyed all the talks.


Wednesday was “Pay it Forward”, a day of service for the campus. Students, faculty, and staff were all engaged in various activities to serve our community. My own contribution was doing a chemistry magic show for Canton pre-K through 4th graders. The show was held at the high school’s auditorium and there were about 500 children present. While the children loved all the experiments, which included making fireballs, exploding some hydrogen balloons, starting a fire with water (and then putting it out with the same water), clock reactions, and freezing lots of things in liquid nitrogen (-400°F! That’s cold!), their favorite reaction was one of the simplest: an oxidation-reduction reaction where a liquid changes from colorless to blue (and back) when you shake it. I told them my favorite color was blue and shook the bottle, turning the liquid blue, and then told them “The chemicals don’t always behave, so let me know if the blue color goes away.” Every time it did, the children would start to yell, and I’d invite one of them onto the stage to shake it and make it blue again. Everyone wanted to be chosen. After a few times, I invited our mascot Rudy to try, saying “Even a kangaroo can do chemistry!” After that, the principal of the elementary school gave it a try. We had tons of fun, and I’m sure that at least a few of the children will want to become chemists in the future.


There were lots of other outreach activities. One of my favorites was done by our Criminal Justice student organization, whose contribution was to fingerprint children (I got mine done too), and later in the day, to present a K-9 bullet-proof vest to one of our local police forces—the ninth such vest that they’ve raised money to donate. Pretty cool!

K-9 Vest April 08, 2015-4

That evening, the mayor of Canton Mary Ann Ashley and the village board held a reception for me at the TAUNY (Traditional Arts of Upstate New York) Center. The big surprise was that they arranged for four students from the theatre program at the high school to appear dressed as the major Archie comic book characters: Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead, in honor of my once-upon-a-time appearance in an Archie comic book many years ago. The reception was wonderful, with excellent deserts all prepared by the culinary arts students from BOCES. A second big surprise was that we got a little snowstorm that evening, dropping 2-3 inches of very heavy, wet snow in about two hours. By 8:00 PM, though, it turned to rain and by the next evening, most of it was gone.  



On Thursday, I was asked to come visit the Development Office to see one of the College’s major benefactors, John Halford. I found out that he was making a leadership gift to the College in honor of my inauguration and challenging our alumni to match it. How great is that? Afterwards, I called my parents (who are friends with Mr. Halford) to join us at the Cascade Diner for breakfast with several of the folks from the Development Office. About half an hour later, it was time to eat again, since I was having lunch with the Student Government Association Executive Committee, where we honored students and staff. First up was the student who did the preliminary design for my presidential medallion, Austin Rdzanek. The design was contributed to by Lorette Murray, from our P.R. Office. Next up were the two students who won the Dr. James M. Payson Speaking Prize Competition, Pierre Nzuah and Rachel (Nikki) Zeitzmann.   I also met with the students who are running for SGA leadership positions next year.

medallion award April 09, 2015 Pierre award April 09, 2015 Nikki award April 09, 2015

After a quick meeting with Liz Erickson about our upcoming Strategic Planning effort, it was down to the Field House for a walk-through of the inauguration proceedings and a sound check. I got home a little early, because guests were beginning to arrive—my sister Drorit was coming up from Texas; Jill’s sister Ellen and her partner Etta from New York City; Jill’s cousins Meryl and Mark and Meryl’s son Joshua from Massachusetts; SPSU colleagues Nikki Palamiotis, Raj Sashti, and Dianne Summey from Georgia; and Merrimack colleague Ted Long (he was the VPAA when I was the Dean of Science and Engineering there) from Maine all came by. It was absolutely great to see them all, and our College Association had absolutely filled the house with food so that we could stuff them all!


Things started well on Friday, with me being able to sleep a little later than normal. I had planned on dropping into the office for a few minutes to handle some last minute details, but after showering and getting dressed, things began to go wrong. First, all the water in the house shut off. We thought it was because everyone in the place had been taking showers and the tank was empty, but after half an hour, we still had no water. I called Grants Plumbing and they said they’d send someone over as soon as possible. I went outside to look by our well head, and then noticed that the floor was wet in the outside room where our septic system head is. So, we had to call to get the septic system pumped out. When the plumber came, it turned out to be a clogged filter. When he changed it, the water came on, including the upstairs shower that had never been turned off when the water went off. The hot water went on the bathroom floor, and the steam set off the smoke detector (which was good, since it immediately told us something was going on). Due to strong support from Peggy Sue Levato, we were able to get all the stuff addressed that morning.

I was finally able to go over to the breakfast that had been arranged for my long-distance and family guests. In addition to the folks who had come by the house on Thursday night, I was happy to see some of my longest-term colleagues—Mohan Singh, Diane Rigos, and K.C. Swallow, all members of the Chemistry department I had hired and worked with for many years at Merrimack College (my first college); Bob Brown and David Stone, both SPSU colleagues; and Alan Gabrielli, who I had gone to graduate school with in South Carolina and who in the ultimate “small world” scenario, went on to become the Dean of Arts & Sciences at Southern Polytechnic. Breakfast was wonderful, but afterwards I had to run back to the house to make sure that everything was all right.


I then dashed back to the College to meet with reporters from Watertown Channel 7 and Time Warner Cable. I ran in to say hello to the faculty and staff who were representing other colleges in the procession. These included our former Acting President Joseph Hoffman, President Esterberg from SUNY Potsdam, President Fox from St. Lawrence (Tony Collins from Clarkson also attended the inauguration, but knew he would arrive too late to march), Joe Petrick (the Student Life VP when I was at New England College), and several others representing various SUNY campuses.

Hoffman - Szafran[1]

Chancellor Nancy Zimpher arrived at that point, and we both went up to the Mezzanine to prepare to march, joining several others who were already there. We then all got into line in our appropriate places for the inaugural procession. There were about 600 people in the audience, and as everyone took their seats, I was the last one to march onto the stage

Lenore VanderZee did a great job as emcee, and all the speeches went really well—the invocation by Mayor Ashley, the welcome from Ron O’Neill (chair of our College Council and the Search Committee), Liz Erickson speaking for our faculty, the two fabulous student speeches by Pierre Nzuah and Nikki Zeitzmann, and Dale Major (representing our alumni), and Chloe Ann O’Neil (representing our College Council). My wife Jill, who had been wrestling with all the issues that plagued us in the morning as well as son Mark’s panic attack because of the big crowd, was able to rush in at the last moment to give her remarks. She was really nervous, but did very well and got a huge round of applause.


My longtime friend (and former president of Elizabethtown College) Ted Long gave a great keynote speech—it meshed with my speech perfectly, which was remarkable considering that we had done nothing in advance to coordinate them. It’s always been that way—we have a similar view of the academic world and have always worked very well together. There were several musical interludes during the proceedings, courtesy of jazz combo A Fine Line, consisting of Bill Vitek (a faculty member from Clarkson University) and Dan Gagliardi (a Math faculty member at SUNY Canton). The songs were chosen to tie in with me in various ways, including a fine jazz version of the Ray Charles classic “Georgia”, and a personal favorite, “Mr. Ghost Goes to Town” with the words modified at the end to say “When Zvi Szafran Comes to Town”. I’ve seen A Fine Line many times, and they’re always fantastic.

The Chancellor then gave her speech (also great!) about the importance of higher education and how SUNY Canton can play a leadership role in the Technology sector and across SUNY. She then called me to the podium to formally inaugurate me as the fourth president of SUNY Canton. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I have to say that it was quite a thrill when she put the medallion of office around my neck and made it official.


It was then time for me to speak. The first thing I wanted to do was to thank the three co-chairs of the Inauguration Committee, Michaela Young, DianeMarie Collins, and Julie Parkman, who were called up to the stage and given small gifts. I also thanked the other members of the Inauguration Committee, everyone else who had participated in the week’s activities, my fellow Associated College presidents, and Ron O’Neill and Chancellor Zimpher, who were responsible for hiring me.


Starting the speech, I pointed out that inaugurations had an interesting duality—everything about them comes in twos. We look to the future, but also back to the past. Keeping with this “comes in twos” themes, I quoted from Dickens’ famous novel A Tale of Two Cities (saying that these are the best of times and also the worst of times for higher education) and from C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures (saying that SUNY Canton needs to be the College that can bridge between the sciences/technologies and the liberal arts to provide an applied education that also has context).

Focusing on how SUNY Canton is the type of college that makes a real difference to our graduates, our current students, to our community, and to the future of our region, I closed with a modified verse from a song by the group Timbuk 3:

We go to SUNY Canton, we love our classes,

We have these crazy teachers, they wear dark glasses.

Things are looking great, and they’re only getting better.

We study real hard, get good grades.

The future’s so bright, (and at this point, everyone in the platform party put on sunglasses) We gotta wear shades!

After a lot of applause, the recessional began. I walked through an honor guard of student athletes, shaking hands with all of them, and then welcomed the faculty procession as it came out. Lots of folks congratulated me and commented on how wonderful the inauguration had been.

I caught my breath, and it was then time for RooFest—the party after. The food was absolutely great, the music provided by Ben Amatucci, a student, A Fine Line, and Impromptu was fantastic, and I had a wonderful time shaking hands, having selfies and official pictures taken, and meeting everyone. After about two hours, the party closed with us forming the no-name band that plays at orientations, made up of Lenore VanderZee, Dan Gagliardi, and me, with Bill Vitek sitting in, playing a few numbers. The last number was our version of the full song The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades with SUNY Canton lyrics.



Saturday morning brought an Admitted Student Day event, where the no-name band played again, and I gave a welcome speech. Through the rest of the weekend, it was time to say goodbye to everyone who had come, and to think back on the previous week’s activities.  

Thanks a Million!

I don’t even know where to begin to thank everyone who did so much to make last week’s inauguration activities so wonderful. I’ll try to thank everyone below, but please forgive me if I’ve missed someone—it wasn’t intentional. My greatest thanks to:

  • The Inauguration Committee co-chairs, Michaela Young, DianeMarie Collins, and Julie Parkman
  • The other Inauguration Committee members: Theresa Corbine, Melissa Cummins, Daron Ellis, Emily Hamilton-Honey, Pat Hanss, Feng Hong, Sue Law, Priscilla Leggette, Pam McDonald-LaChance, Al Mulkin, Lorette Murray, Nancy Rowledge, Randy Sieminski, Lenore VanderZee, John Vandevere, Anne Williams
  • The Inauguration Honorary Committee members: Betty Connolly, Joan Eurto, Linda Fay, Pauline Graveline, Art Hurlbut, Deb Lowry, Ron and June O’Neill, Linda Pellett, Senator Ritchie, Wes and Janet Stitt, and Josephine Swift
  • Matt Mulkin, for many things but especially designing the program and timeline
  • Our PR Team – for designing the invitation, and taking care of press releases, promotion of events, media coordination
  • Theresa Corbine and the entire IT Staff
  • Pat Hanss, Walt Holmes, and the entire M&O Staff
  • Our fabulous Grounds Crew
  • Steve Maiocco, Sue Law, and Food Service Staff
  • John Vandevere and Staff
  • Randy Sieminski, the Athletics Staff, and our student athletes
  • Priscilla Leggette, the SGA, CAB, and all our students who participated in the events
  • Jim Hamilton – my fantastic assistant for the chemistry magic show
  • Chief Alan Mulkin and all the UP Officers
  • Nafeesa Johnson and our Student Ambassadors: Devine Pearson, Julian Shaw, Cole Tallerman, Steven Gonzalez, Jordan Edwards, Bessida Ouedraogo, and Shaquille Longford
  • Michelle Currier, Mike Magilligan, and the Library Staff for the great faculty/staff research exhibition and coordination of the events in the Library
  • The Scholarly Activities Celebration Committee
  • Raj Sashti, for organizing the Leadership Series.
  • Julie Parkman, Katie Kennedy, and Terri Clemmo for coordinated the Payson Speech Contest
  • Our Vice Presidents (Courtney Bish, Dave Gerlach, and Shawn Miller), Provost (Karen Spellacy) and Deans (J.D. DeLong, Ken Erickson, Mike Newtown, and Molly Mott), for supporting all of the activities
  • So many volunteers for so many things – Nancy Rowledge, Tina Flanagan, Terry Waldruff, Erin Voisin, Christina Martin, Natasha Flanagan, Karen McAuliffe, Renee Campbell, Rebecca Blackmon, Colleen Sheridan, Amanda Rowley, Tammy Harradine, Brenda Mullaney, Janet Livingston, Anne Williams, Julie Parkman, Will Fassinger, Lashawanda Ingram, Chad Delosh, Al Mulkin, Amanda Deckert, Nafeesa Johnson, Julia Radley, Scott Quinell, and David Rourke
  • Nick Kocher, Priscilla Leggette, and Patty Todd
  • Mayor Ashley and the Village Board for the Community Reception
  • Our Color Guard: Laura Difrenza, Shannon Perham, and Thomas Sanford
  • Dan Fay for serving as Macebearer
  • Lenore VanderZee for fantastic emceeing
  • Tony Beane for his great version of the alma mater
  • Moriah Cody for her wonderful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner
  • Dan Gagliardi and Bill Vitek from A Fine Line
  • Impromptu (Bruce Hanson, Richard Todd, Mark Darou, and Chris Riordan)
  • Ben Amatucci for his wonderful playing and singing during the RooFest
  • Our Great Speakers: Ron O’Neill, Mayor Mary Ann Ashley, Liz Erickson, Pierre Nzuah, Rachel Zeitzmann, Dale Major, Chloe Ann O’Neil, Jill Szafran, and Ted Long
  • Our other College Council Members – Tom Sauter, Joe Rich, Marie Regan, Roger Sharlow, and Melissa Cummins
  • Chancellor Nancy Zimpher
  • Rabbi Rappaport, for the blessing at the Inauguration Kick-Off
  • The College Association
  • The College Foundation
  • Our Fabulous Faculty and Staff

Wow! That’s a lot of people!    

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

There wasn’t one!  

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge deals with dogs and cats. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Seuss classic about trouble at Sally and her brother’s house, first published in 1957.
  2. Song by Baha Men, it won the Grammy in 2001 for Best Dance Recording.
  3. A particularly stealthy thief, especially one that gains entry undetected.
  4. Rock band named for what indigenous Australians do on freezing cold nights. Songs include Eli’s Coming, Mama Told Me (Not to Come), and Joy to the World.
  5. 1965 comedy western starring Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin.


Posted in Uncategorized