February 13, 2018

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 12, Issue 7–February 13, 2018

 

Catching Up

The theme of this issue of the BLAB is catching up.  I’ve let a few weeks slip again between issues of the BLAB, so there’s some news to catch up on.  Also, I’ve been able to catch up with some old friends, on some reading, and on some music.  So, catch up it is.

February is birthday season in the Szafran household.  On February 8, my father Daniel celebrated his 91st birthday.  He’s out in Las Vegas during our cold weather, and every time I talk to him he reminds me of how perfect the weather has been out there lately.  Here, not so much—we haven’t had that much snow, but we did have some ice this weekend, so scraping off the car Monday morning was a bit of a hassle.  It’s sunny now, and the weather report calls for tomorrow to be in the 40’s so much of it will all melt off.  Anyway, my father is very active out there, going to the synagogue each morning for prayers, followed by exercising at a local gym.  He’s still shooting 3-pointers and pulling other people in to exercise with him.  A friend of his got him a Fitbit for his birthday, so I’m sure I’ll be hearing how many steps he’s taken each day.  It’s great that he’s in such good health and is enjoying himself.

My son Mark’s birthday was on February 9, and we celebrated by going to his favorite local fast food restaurant, Dairy Queen, which reopened that day after being closed for much of the winter (as they do each year).  We’ve been binge-watching the television show Monk lately and finished the final episode on Saturday.  It was a great series, with almost every episode worth watching.  What’s funny is that I remember watching it religiously the first time it came around, but I had no memory of the final episode whatsoever, so I’m wondering if I ever saw it.  Anyway, all his friends wished him a happy birthday, he got several cards and gifts, and several people took him out during the week, so he was happy as a clam.   

Jill and I caught up with the TV show Riverdale this weekend, which seems to be getting more popular with the public, but less popular with me as the plots get more and more ridiculous.  Jill is doing a lot of watching of the winter Olympics, since she loves the figure skating.   I’ve watched nearly none of the Olympics coverage, spending my time instead listening to two good boxed sets of CDs I’ve picked up recently—one is the complete recordings of the pianist Aldo Ciccolini on his major label (Erato), and the other is recordings of almost everything Antonio Vivaldi ever composed.  Ciccolini is one of the best pianists of the 20th century, well known for his exquisite style—he’s a favorite of other pianists.  I especially like that he has an unusually broad repertoire, especially of French composers who are recorded relatively infrequently.  The clarity and sound quality on the discs is uniformly excellent.  I bought the Vivaldi set (on the Brilliant Classics label) despite having tons of recordings of his music already, because it got really good reviews.  Many of the reviews said that the recordings, even his best-known works, were a revelation and I have to agree—they’re great and very true to the composer’s original intent.  The Ciccolini set has some 56 discs in it (I’ve gone through the first 15 thus far), and the Vivaldi one 66 discs (I’ve gone through 45 of them), so it’s going to be a little while before I finish.  There are half a dozen additional boxed sets awaiting their turns thereafter.

 

State of the University

Chancellor Kristina Johnson gave her State of the University address on January 22, so I flew down to Albany with Lenore VanderZee (Executive Director for University Relations) on Sunday afternoon in order to be there to hear it.   Doug Scheidt (Provost) and Geoffrey VanderWoude (Director of Planned Giving) drove in for the address as well.  There was a breakfast honoring Chancellor Johnson Monday morning, held in the new Albany Capital Center, which is very nice.  The Chancellor’s speech touched on four major themes: the need for an individualized education path for all students; increasing research innovation, outreach, and entrepreneurship within SUNY; increasing use of renewable energy and sustainability in the system (wanting to move toward zero net carbon); and increasing partnerships and philanthropy.

After the speech, Lenore, Doug, and I met for lunch at Jack’s Oyster House with SUNY Canton’s former acting president Joe Hoffman (who is now interim provost at SUNY Maritime) about ways that SUNY Canton and SUNY Maritime might be able to work together to do a program focused on river pilots for the St. Lawrence River.  It’s always good to see Joe and the discussion went well.  That evening, it was back to the Albany Capital Center for the Legislator’s Reception, where we met with a number of legislators and business people.  After returning to Ogdensburg the next morning I stopped back at the College for a while but had to go home to pack because I was going on yet another trip the next day.

 

Florida Trip, Part II

After the debacle with my return flight from Florida earlier in the month, I had some concerns about my second trip, but they were unfounded—both the trip down and back came off without a hitch.  I left on Wednesday January 24, flying from Ogdensburg down to Sanford, FL and arrived there on time, with Peggy Levato (our Director of Alumni and Development) picking me up at the airport.  We drove from there to The Villages, which is a rather large (more than 100,000 people!) set of properties meant for retirees.  A fair number of our alumni live in the area.  We checked in to the TownePlace Suites by Marriott where I’ve stayed before—it’s very nice—and I was promptly upgraded to a two-bedroom suite, since the hotel was filled with performers from the Helsingborg, Sweden Symphony Orchestra, who were performing the next evening.

That evening, we went out to dinner with John and Rosella (’68) Valentine at a very nice fish restaurant, Eaton’s Beach Restaurant.

The place is very popular, and we had seats along the wall (more like a set of nice garage doors) nearest to the lake.  It was a cool evening, so the doors were closed, but I’m told they open them when the weather is warmer.

L-R: Peggy Levato, Rosella Valentine

The food was excellent, as was the conversation—the Valentines had recently returned from a trip to England, and John had assembled a CD with pictures and music related to the trip.  We also talked about the College and about music—John and I are both lovers of opera, and discussed some upcoming performances and some recordings I had purchased since I saw him last.  The Valentines are really nice people and have been strong supporters of SUNY Canton for many years.

On Thursday, we drove down to Leesburg to attend an alumni gathering at the Olive Garden Restaurant.  It was nice speaking to everyone and hearing their SUNY Canton stories and catching them up on what’s been happening at the College.  Present at the gathering were Eugene Christopher (’61), Gordon and Connie Myers, Gordon Ahners (’59), and John and Rosella (’68) Valentine.

That evening, I was able to join my close friend and colleague Mono Mohan Singh, who lives in the Villages only six miles from where we were staying.  I drove over to see his house which was quite nice, and we went from there to a very nice rib restaurant nearby.  I’m usually not a big rib fan, but Mohan spoke well of it, so I agreed to give it a try.  I’m glad I did, because the food was first-rate.  I hedged my bet by getting the half rib, half chicken combo and it was very good, but the ribs were indeed the best part.  I worked with Mohan for about 15 years while I was at Merrimack College and even after I left for New England College.  Together with Ron Pike, we co-wrote several books and many papers on Microscale Chemistry, and we were co-founders of the National Microscale Chemistry Center.  Mohan’s daughter Pam is a lawyer and will be getting married this spring.  Mohan now has grandchildren from his sons Nick (who has two daughters) and Bill (who has a son).  Both Nick and Bill were students of mine when I was at Merrimack.  We caught up on old times and family stuff, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him again.  Plans are for Mohan to visit Canton this coming summer.

 

On Friday, we were off to Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille in Ocala for another alumni gathering.  Along the way, I picked up a rental car, since Peggy was going to Tallahassee for another alumni visit, but I was heading to Sanford to go home the next day.  Harry’s is another nice restaurant, and it was great to see Louis (’57) and Evelyn Harmin, Fred (’50) and June Snizek, and Joseph and Connie Parisian (both ’50).  Everyone was very interested in what was new at the College, especially about the new majors and eSports.  After the gathering, I drove up to Sanford to spend the night, taking the flight back to Ogdensburg at 1:20 PM and arriving on time at 4:20.

 

 

Entrepreneurship Accelerator

As we all know, the North Country is a small place where (like on the old TV show “Cheers”) everybody knows your name.  On Thursday, February 1, a group of us from SUNY Canton went over to the site of the old Jubilee Grocery to look at the building as a possible site for the entrepreneurship accelerator we are trying to establish and to see how much it might cost to transform the site into what would be needed.  Someone must have noticed us being there and we quickly got a phone call from the Watertown Daily Times wanting to find out more.  You can read the article they wrote here, which details that we are in the very, very preliminary stages of discussion and investigation.  A lot of people have responded positively at what we are trying to do with the accelerator, and an editorial supporting it appeared collectively in the Watertown Daily Times, the Advance News, and the Journal of Ogdensburg a few days later, which you can read here.

 

Women’s Ice Hockey Game at Potsdam

When I spoke to SUNY Potsdam’s President, Kristin Esterberg, a few weeks ago, she had an excellent idea: if our schedules permit, whenever SUNY Canton plays SUNY Potsdam, we should both attend, going to the campus hosting the game as the other’s guest.  Since the next time this was happening was on February 6 at Potsdam, I went over there to attend the Women’s Ice Hockey game.  President Esterberg met me at the door and we walked through their athletic center to the hockey arena, which is quite nice.  The attendance was rather small and the game did not start off too well (from Canton’s point of view), with Potsdam scoring four goals in fairly rapid succession in the first period.  Things settled down in the second period, with Sydney Jordan scoring her eighth goal of the season at 16:27 minutes in.  Brooke Susac, goalie, made 29 saves for Canton, keeping the Bears scoreless in the 2nd and 3rd periods.  The team has gone on to split with Becker College, losing the first game 1-0, but winning the second 4-1.

  

This Just In

By now, everyone knows that SUNY Canton has added eSports to its intercollegiate athletic lineup, the first college in SUNY to do so.  I’m proud to report that Rob Snow, our Head Coach, tells me that our brand-new team now has its first win under its belt, defeating the University of Maine Farmington in League of Legends, defeating them in game 1 in a sweep, and securing the win in game 2 after an uphill battle.  Congratulations!

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest had to do with songs about Upstate New York.  Our fastest responders with all five correct were Robin Gittings and Terri Clemmo.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.

Here are the correct answers:

  1. Frank Baum from Chittenango wrote the book, and Harold Arlen from Buffalo composed this theme song sung by Julie Garland in the movie “The Wizard of Oz”. The Wizard of Oz.
  2. In the Broadway show 42nd Street, a couple goes on their honeymoon here, with the lyric “To ______ in a sleeper, there’s no honeymoon that’s cheaper, and the train goes slow. Ooh-ooh-ooh.”  And no, it’s not the city that they’re shuffling off to.  The lyric goes “To Niagara in a sleeper, there’s no honeymoon that cheaper, and the train goes slow.  Ooh-ooh.  Off we’re gonna’ shuffle, shuffle off to Buffalo.”
  3. In the Grateful Dead’s song Truckin’, while going to this upstate major city, the lyric goes “Been thinkin’, you got to mellow slow. Takes time, you pick a place to go, and just keep truckin’ on.  Buffalo.
  4. In the folk song “Erie Canal”, the lyric goes: “Get up mule, here comes a lock, We’ll make _______ ‘bout six o’clock.” It’s a small city, just past Utica.  Rome.
  5. Name of Bob Dylan’s song about professor Jeffrey Owen Jones (who taught film at the Rochester Institute of Technology) that starts off: “You walk into the room with your pencil in your hand; You see somebody naked and you say, “Who is that man?”; You try so hard but you don’t understand; Just what you will say when you get home. Because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is; Do you Mr. Jones?  Ballad of a Thin Man. 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

This issue’s challenge, in honor of St. Valentine’s Day, will be snarky songs about love. As usual, the first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Carly Simon wrote this song about a big-headed ex. Who’s the guy?  She hasn’t told.
  2. Kelly Clarkson had a hit with this song about how “We started out friends, It was cool, But it was all pretend.”
  3. The Corrs had this revenge song, starting “You bored me with your stories, I can’t believe I endured you for as long as I did.”
  4. Very cool song by Soft Cell with lyric “I love you though you hurt me so, Now I’m going to pack my things and go.”
  5. The J. Geils Band summed it up with their anti-homage to Valentine’s Day, with lyric “And so it goes, Till the day you die, This thing they call love, It’s gonna make you cry.”
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January 19, 2018

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 12, Issue 6–January 19, 2018

 

 

Florida Trip

January is usually a heavy travel month, since there are fewer scheduled events due to the holidays and classes not starting until January 22.  This month is no exception, and the travel began with a trip down to Florida to meet with alumni.

I flew out of Ogdensburg on Allegiant airlines, which flies directly from there to Sanford, FL.  Sanford is fairly near Orlando, but its airport is much less busy, making it convenient to use.  It’s a full-size aircraft that carries some 150 people.  Since there are no jetways in Ogdensburg, you have to walk up a zig-zag ramp to get on the plane, but that wasn’t any problem.  I wound up being in Zone 5, which meant I was almost the last person on the plane, but there was no-one else in my row, so I could easily spread out, and I had a luggage bin pretty much all to myself.  The flight down was pleasant enough—the seats could be a bit more comfortable but they were OK, and you have to pay for any food or drink ($2 for a soda).

The plane landed almost exactly on time, and as I got off the plane, my phone received a text from the ever-intrepid Peggy Levato (our Director of Alumni and Development) that she was waiting in the texting lot to pick me up, and to let her know when I got off the plane.  I texted her that I was here, and just as I walked out the terminal door, she pulled up in the car.  The weather was rainy for the first few days—a downpour had ended just before I landed, and it rained periodically thereafter.  After stopping for a light lunch at a local Chinese restaurant, I checked into the hotel, near the Daytona Beach speedway.  That evening, we had dinner at the River Grille restaurant in Ormond Beach with Richard (’51) and Marcia McCormick, parents of our own Director of Facilities Planning, Mike McCormick.  They are delightful people and strong supporters of the College, and rightfully proud of the many successful facilities projects Mike has overseen on our campus.  The restaurant was very nice—it had an old-fashioned sort of feel and food was quite good.

The next morning, we drove to New Smyrna Beach to have breakfast with Carol Roche (’80) at her home.  Carol has a lovely house, painted on the inside in pastel colors, with many decorations that come from Nantucket, MA where she grew up.  The breakfast was excellent, since Carol is a very good cook and is always looking for new and interesting recipes.  Carol is an accountant and still has many clients in the North Country, as well as in Florida.  She has gone out of her way to help students in the years since she graduated.  From there, we drove a short distance to have lunch at Blackbeard’s Inn with John and Anne Goetze.  John was the Director of Facilities back when we made the transition from the old campus to our current campus, and knows a lot about the history of the College, which was interesting to hear. He has also held several other positions at SUNY Canton, and is a strong supporter.  The restaurant was very good, and I had a delicious red snapper there—a type of fish I’ve always liked but rarely run into.

From there, it was off to Norwood’s Eatery & Treehouse, where we had an alumni reception.  Many of the folks present live in the area, but some were from the North Country vacationing there.  It was really nice to see Joe (SUNY Canton’s 3rd president) and Dine Kennedy there.  They looked tan and fit, and I’m told exercise regularly at the local Y, a practice I should no-doubt adopt.

Other alumni and friends attending included:

  • Lewis and Janice Badura (both ’61)
  • Bernie Regan (our Foundation Chair, and class of ’65)
  • Richard (’51) and Marcia McCormick
  • John and Rosie Bartholomew
  • John and Anne Goetze
  • Gil White (’68) (Foundation Board Member)
  • William (’69) and JoAnne LaPierre (William is a professor emeritus from the Auto Tech program)
  • John and Chris (’93) Gray (John is the founder and managing partner of Gray & Gray and Associates, and Chris is a Foundation Board Member)
  • Carol Roche (’80)
  • Robert (’70) and Paula (’71) LaPierre (John is the Comptroller of the Adirondack Medical Center)
  • Harley (’54) and Patricia Burger, and
  • Carl (’57) and Betty Wenner

The reception was held outdoors in the “treehouse” part of the restaurant, which is very cool, and the rain held off throughout.  There were very nice hors d’oeuvres of various kinds, and I gave a short talk about what’s new at the College that was well received.  It’s always nice to be able to meet our alumni and hear about their days at Canton, and the many things that they’ve been able to accomplish since graduating.  The reception broke up at about 8PM, and from there I was off to Stuart, FL with Geoffrey VanderWoude, SUNY Canton’s Director of Planned Giving.  When I got to my room in the hotel, I was thoroughly exhausted, but not so much so that I didn’t have a little carrot cake for dessert first at the hotel’s bistro.

Friday morning, we drove down to Fort Lauderdale to have lunch with Doug Zeif (’13), who has made a major name for himself in the hotel and hospitality industry.  He is currently the principal at Next! Hospitality Advisors, and was recently a speaker in our Excellence in Leadership lecture series.  Doug teaches online courses in the hospitality area for us, and we’re exploring other ways he might be able to be involved in some of our future activities. We ate at the Kaluz Restaurant, which has outside seating, and we sat at a very nice table overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.

While we were eating our lunch, the wind managed to catch our table’s umbrella just right, sending it flying into the air pole-first, and hitting a lady the next row in.  Everyone was scurrying around trying to make sure she wasn’t hurt, and making sure that the other umbrellas were anchored down so that it wouldn’t happen again.  They never replaced our umbrella, which was a problem when it started to rain at the end of our meal, so we had to dash under an awning.

That evening, we met with John Maines (’77).  John is a journalist and database editor for the South Florida SunSentinel newspaper.  He has written multiple articles about growth and development, many making correlations from databases and leading to greater public safety.  He is the co-winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service.  Geoffrey kept the name of the restaurant secret for me, leading me to suspect it might be an Indian restaurant, and I was right.  It was very nice to see John again and we had a nice discussion about the current state of the newspaper business and what might be done to improve it, and how politics was being covered in South Florida.  John will be receiving an honorary degree from SUNY Canton this Spring at Commencement.

We checked out of the hotel on Saturday morning and made the trip up to Sanford to catch our flight back to Ogdensburg.  The first thing to go wrong was just as we walked into the terminal, I got a phone call from my father, telling me he had been robbed—his laptop computer and iPhone had been stolen.  I quickly called Verizon to stop service on the line, and “froze” the phone on the “Find My Phone” app.

As I was doing this, I saw Gil White across the waiting area and waved hello.  We all got on the plane and it took off on time (1:23 PM), but when they tried to land in Ogdensburg three hours later, the airport said they couldn’t land because they needed another 30 minutes to clear it from the snowstorm from that morning and the previous night.  We circled the airport for the 30 minutes, but they then reported that the airport said it would be two hours before we could land.  The pilot announced we would be landing in Syracuse and refueling there and would then proceed back to Ogdensburg.  After sitting on the ground for more than an hour, I got a phone notification that the flight was rescheduled to leave Sanford at 6:59 PM (of course, we had already left on time) and would get to Ogdensburg at 10PM.  I showed this to the stewardess, who said they hadn’t gotten this message, but in any event, if we didn’t leave in the next 30 minutes, they’d have to take us off the plane since we had sat on the runway so long.  About 45 minutes later, they made an announcement that someone on the plane had a medical issue and we’d have to wait for the paramedics.  They came onto the plane via a set of stairs about 15 minutes later, accompanied by firetrucks, an ambulance, and a maintenance vehicle.  After discussing the matter with the family for about 20 minutes, a paramedic went off the plane and came back with a wheelchair, taking the person and two members of their family off the plane.  After waiting for the firetrucks and ambulance to leave, we finally taxied to another location at the airport—an exit door near baggage—and were allowed to get off the plane at about 7:15.  We had to go down a set of icy stairs and were told that the baggage would be brought out on the adjacent carousel, and they had arranged for busses to take us to Ogdensburg.

After waiting for a while for the baggage, we heard the terminal manager talking to the airline headquarters in Las Vegas asking when the buses were schedule to come (9:10 PM, we were told), and asking why they hadn’t notified the terminal that the plane was being diverted there.  The bags finally came off the plane at about 8:00, and we decided that we would rent a car and drive.  We got the last car at the airport from Enterprise, and Geoffrey (driving), Gil, and I got to Ogdensburg at about 11:15.  One more problem—my car had a snowdrift behind it, more than a foot of snow in front of it, and about a half-inch of ice covering the windshield.  Even with the blowers and heater on full blast, it was so cold out (-5°F) that they could only make a little headway.  After about 15 minutes, I could clear enough to see a little, and pulled the car forward onto a plowed area.  After about 15 minutes more, I was able to clear enough ice off to drive (Gil and Geoffrey left at this point to drive to Potsdam), and finally got home to Canton at 12:15!

The next morning, I called the customer service number they emailed me asking “How was your flight”.  When I told them all that had happened, they quickly agreed to refund my ticket.

 

More Coming Up!

On Sunday, I’ll be off to Albany again for the Chancellor’s State of the University speech, and the Business Council’s Legislative Reception afterwards.  I come home on Tuesday morning, and then turn around and leave again on Wednesday through Saturday for alumni visits to a different part of Florida than before.  That wraps up January, and February only has a quick trip into Albany at this point.  March?  Well, that’s a different story.

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest had to do with songs about New York.  Our fastest responders with all five correct were Robin Gittings, Mary James, Terri Clemmo, Alan Gabrielli (from Georgia!), and Kevin Elliot.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.

Here are the correct answers:

  1. Frank Sinatra 1980 song that says “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” New York, New York.
  2. In the Drifters and George Benson both had massive hits with this song, saying “The neon lights are always bright” there. On Broadway.
  3. Simon and Garfunkel’s 1966 song, saying “Slow down, you move too fast, You got to make the morning last.” The 59th Street Bridge Song.
  4. According to Duke Ellington, the quickest way “to go to Sugar Hill, way up in Harlem”. Take the “A” Train.
  5. Rolling Stones song with lyrics: “Friends are so alarming, My lover’s never charming, Life’s just a cocktail party on the street, Big Apple, People dressed in plastic bags, Directing traffic, Some kind of fashion.” Shadoobie!  Shattered.

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

This issue’s challenge will continue a series about songs, this time being songs connected to Upstate New York. There are a lot fewer of these than about New York City!  As usual, the first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Frank Baum from Chittenango wrote the book, and Harold Arlen from Buffalo composed this theme song sung by Julie Garland in the movie The Wizard of Oz.
  2. In the Broadway show 42nd Street, a couple goes on their honeymoon here, with the lyric: “To ______ in a sleeper, there’s no honeymoon that’s cheaper, and the train goes slow. Ooh-ooh-ooh.”  And no, it’s not the city that they’re shuffling off to.
  3. In the Grateful Dead’s song Truckin’, while going to this upstate major city, the lyric goes “Been thinkin’, you got to mellow slow. Takes time, you pick a place to go, and just keep truckin’ on.
  4. In the folk song Erie Canal, the lyric goes: “Get up mule, here comes a lock, We’ll make _______ ‘bout six o’clock.” It’s a small city, just past Utica.
  5. Name of Bob Dylan’s song about professor Jeffrey Owen Jones (who taught film at the Rochester Institute of Technology) that starts off: “You walk into the room with your pencil in your hand; You see somebody naked and you say, “Who is that man?”; You try so hard but you don’t understand; Just what you will say when you get home. Because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is; Do you Mr. Jones?”
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January 9, 2018

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 12, Issue 5–January 9, 2018

 

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year over the break, and is well rested up for the beginning of the Spring semester.  I really didn’t do very much over the break—mostly rested, read a bunch of books, and listened to a lot of music.  Mark has gotten into the old TV show “Monk” recently, so we’ve all been binge watching that.  I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed the show when it was first broadcast, so I’m thoroughly enjoying seeing it again, and since I’m remembering almost nothing about the individual plots of most episodes, it’s like it’s a new show to me.  We also watched a number of movies that have been accumulating.  One of the most interesting was “The Walk”, a semi-documentary about the guy who walked a tightrope that he snuck up between the twin towers in New York City (obviously the original event happened before 9-11, but the movie was made well after, using CGI).  We watched the 3D version of the movie which was really something—it gave you a bit of the feeling as if you were walking the tightrope yourself and seeing what he saw.

The weather was pretty crummy here over the break, as it was over much of the country.  We had a cold snap where the low temperatures hit -18 to -20°F for a week, warmed up a little for two days, and then dropped again as the so-called cyclone bomb hit the east coast.  We’re now in a warming trend—the temperature has been above freezing (barely) for two days, and it’s actually supposed to approach 50°F on Thursday and Friday.

 

In the middle of the night during the cold snap, our house’s boiler decided to stop producing heat.  Jill woke up at about 3:30 AM and noticed that it was getting cold, so she woke me up and I went into the basement to see what happened.  The boiler was getting power, and the lights indicated that the four zones in the house were all calling for heat, but the boiler temperature was only about 50°F.  I called up Grants Plumbing’s emergency number and no doubt woke up Eugene from a sound sleep, but he was very pleasant about it and came to the house about 20 minutes later.  What we found was that the boiler wasn’t getting enough intake air, because the intake pipe had some moss and leaves in it—possibly a nest of something.  He cut through the PVC inlet pipe, cleaned out the line, and put a sleeve on it to reattach the line, and the boiler started up and started heating the place.  He told me if it happened again, just loosen the sleeve, separate the pipe, and let it pull in air from the basement.  Sure enough, the next night the same thing happened, and so I did what he suggested and all is well.  We’ll see if it’s worth replacing the PVC line or whether I’ll just keep taking the inlet air from the basement, which seems to be working out fine.

 

Presidents Meeting

Just before the break, on December 13-15, I was down in NYC for a SUNY Presidents meeting.  This time, I decided I was going to fly out of Ottawa, Canada, since there are direct flights from there a few times a day to Newark Airport.  It had been snowing a little so the drive up to airport took a little longer, but nothing serious.  The plane left a little late, but was otherwise fine.  I took the airport shuttle bus into Manhattan, which let me off about 5 blocks from the hotel I was staying at.  The bus normally costs $17 each way, but the ticket agent asked me if I was a senior citizen, and said their definition of it is anyone over 62, which is exactly my age, so I got a round-trip ticket for $18 total—not bad.  So, I’m now officially a senior citizen.  I walked to the hotel, checked in, and walked over to SUNY’s NYC office for a meeting between the presidents of the Colleges of Technology and the Chancellor.  We talked about several issues common to our sector, most of which were related to strategies to help offset our higher than average costs for keeping current with technology.  After returning to the hotel, I found that there was an Indian restaurant around the corner, so it shouldn’t be hard to guess where I had dinner that evening.

 

The Presidents meeting started the next morning, and it focused on the topics of “Campus Climate”, “Increasing our Research and Outreach Enterprise”, and “Crisis Communication”, each of which was discussed by a panel of presidents.  I was on the last panel, and talked about the crisis communication issues that arose during our Yik Yak incident back in 2014.

There was also a very interesting speaker on “Leadership Before a Crisis”, giving five main recommendations, each accompanied by an African proverb.  The five recommendations and proverbs were:

  • Ask how the crisis intersects with your campus values, and recognize that there are no quick fixes. “When spider-webs unite, they can even tie up a lion”.
  • Create a culture where everyone is listening and hearing all communities on the campus. “In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams.”
  • Create a great value around collaboration instead of competition. “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”
  • Leadership matters. “An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.”
  • Leadership, if well expressed, is contagious. Have a positive attitude.  “However long the night, the dawn will break.”

 

State of the State

On January 2, I was off to Albany for the Governor’s annual State of the State message.  I had breakfast at the hotel, which was a good thing, since if you’re going to attend the speech, you have to go through security, and can’t leave thereafter.

The main foci of the speech were about making New York State a leader in ending discrimination and sexual harassment of women, standing up for unions, advocating for more infrastructural work (and pointing out that New York is the national leader in advanced infrastructure, even when people say that various projects couldn’t be done), and saying that the Federal Government is at war with New York (especially regarding the new tax bill’s capping deductions for property, state and local taxes), and that the State would be taking steps to block and address this.

 

There wasn’t a whole lot about higher education in the speech, but there is a push for more transparency in student loans (and appointing a state omsbudsman for this), as well as advocating for establishing food pantries on all state college campuses (SUNY Canton has had one for several years).  After the speech, several SUNY presidents and I met with the State’s Assistant Secretary of Education to discuss several of these issues.

 

Higher Education in the News—and It’s Not All Good

Higher Education is in the news a lot lately, and not always in a good way.  A lot of people seem to be questioning whether sending a child to college is a good investment for families, why our graduations rates aren’t as high as they should be, and lots of other issues.

A recent poll (taken June 8-18, 2017) by the Pew Research Center showed that among Republicans, the percentage saying that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the way things are going in the country rose a small bit from 32% (in 2010) to about 37% (in 2015-6), and then spiked upward to 58% in 2017.  Over the same period, among Democrats, the percentage saying that has dropped from 22% to 19%.  On the other hand, also in a Pew Research Center poll (taken May 25-June 29, 2016), similar majorities of both parties (89% of Republicans and 87% of Democrats) said that their education from a four-year college was useful in developing skills for the workplace, and 53% and 52% respectively said it was very useful [similar positive results were obtained for a four-year college education leading to job opportunities and to personal growth].

Let’s look at some of these issues one by one.  Questioning whether college is a good investment makes absolutely no sense at this point in time.  All the data point to that college has never been a better investment than it is now.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics (click here for the reference), based on 2015 results (the most recent available), the average salary of someone 25-34 who worked full time, year-round, with a high school diploma was $30,500, while that for someone with a bachelor’s degree was $50,000.  The unemployment rate for high school graduates was 5.4%, compared to bachelor’s degree graduates at 2.8%.  The relative difference in earnings between the two categories, 64%, is the largest it has ever been since this began to be tracked in 1973, and its rate of growth is increasing.  So, you are more likely to get a job with a bachelor’s degree, and it will pay you significantly more.  Having a bachelor’s degree correlates with lots of other things too—likelihood to own a house, to be healthy, to be happy, etc.—because having more resources leads (on average) to better outcomes.

Of course, to get that bachelor’s degree, you have to graduate.  On average, the graduation rate at public universities of first-time full-time students in a bachelor’s degree program was 59% among students who started their education in 2009 and finished by 2015 (click here for reference), though this number varies widely by type of college—it is higher at selective state universities (80.3%) than at open admissions ones (34.6%)—and also varies by many other factors (ethnicity, gender, family income, etc.).  Students fail to graduate for lots of reasons, some of which are beyond our control (death in family, financial issues, moving to join friends, weaker home high school, etc.) and some of which reflect where colleges can do better (simplifying procedures, eliminating superfluous requirements, stronger student support, more effective responses to outcomes assessment results, etc.).  Graduation rates are highly complex and there are no simple or quick fixes, but there are ways that the rates can be continuously improved.

In some cases, negative views occur because of misunderstandings about how colleges work. I remember an article about Title IX issues and sexual assault which drew a reader comment saying in effect “Why don’t colleges give victims of sexual assault a choice of a campus-based procedure and a court-based procedure?  The campus-based procedure would allow for a faster resolution and would let colleges issue no-contact orders or suspend students who were found to be responsible so that they would no longer be on campus.”  Of course, all those suggestions are exactly what most (if not all) colleges ARE doing.  The article actually correctly said what colleges were doing, but the responder either didn’t read the article, didn’t understand the article, came in with a pre-perception that was unshakeable, or was a troll/bot.

Another common complaint is that colleges raise costs because there is now more money available.  The argument goes that as additional financial aid is made available to students by the government, colleges will respond by raising costs to soak it all up.  The colleges, in turn, are accused of spending the increased revenue on inflated faculty salaries, hiring bloated staffs, building climbing walls, and other such things.  While I can’t claim that no college has ever squandered money foolishly because they could get it, that’s not the way budgeting works anywhere that I’ve ever been.  In my experience, faculty salaries are not inflated—they’re almost always lower than salaries for equivalent backgrounds in the private sector. Are college staffs bloated?  No doubt at some places, but every place I’ve ever been at has been quite lean in its operations, with net increases in staff positions most likely occurring to address some federal or state mandate (Title IX, sustainability, etc.), often unfunded.  Faculty legitimately complaining about low salaries often point the finger at the increasing number of staff, without understanding that this is happening because of mandates that the college has no control over.

Besides the mandate issues, here in New York, state colleges do not set their tuition rates (that’s done by the state government in Albany), and don’t negotiate with labor unions about salaries and benefits (that’s also done in Albany.  When salary increases are approved by the state, funding isn’t increased to cover the costs—we have to find the money within our current budgets).  Thus, it’s quite common to see a tuition increase completely eaten up by a small salary increase, leaving the college with less money for programs and support than it had in the previous year.

So, the reality in Higher Education is often different than what people think or what’s reported in the press.

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest had to do with songs about winter.  Our fastest responders with all five correct were Robin Gittings, Terri Clemmo, and Kevin Elliott.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.

Here are the correct answers:

  1. Song that begins: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose.” The Christmas Song.
  2. What you’re doing when “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening.” Walking in a Winter Wonderland.
  3. Beatles song with lyrics: “Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting.” Here Comes the Sun.
  4. The Mamas & the Papas song with lyrics: “All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray, I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day.” California Dreamin’.
  5. Anne Murray song with lyrics: “Spread your tiny wings and fly away, and take the snow back with you, where it came from on that day.  Snowbird.

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

This issue’s challenge will continue a series about songs, this time being songs about New York. As usual, the first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Frank Sinatra 1980 song that says “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”
  2. In the Drifters and George Benson both had massive hits with this song, saying “The neon lights are always bright” there.
  3. Simon and Garfunkel’s 1966 song, saying “Slow down, you move too fast, You got to make the morning last.”
  4. According to Duke Ellington, the quickest way “to go to Sugar Hill, way up in Harlem”.
  5. Rolling Stones song with lyrics: “Friends are so alarming, My lover’s never charming, Life’s just a cocktail party on the street, Big Apple, People dressed in plastic bags, Directing traffic, Some kind of fashion.” Shadoobie!
Posted in Uncategorized

December 11, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 12, Issue 4–December 11, 2017

 

Monthly Blab?

As mentioned last issue, it has been increasingly difficult getting the Weekly Blab out this term, given the rapid pace of things happening.  I’ll keep trying to get it out as often as possible.

 

Lots of Good News

Things have been going very well for SUNY Canton lately.

 

PIF Funding

To start with, we’ve gotten four major proposals funded by the SUNY Performance Improvement Fund (PIF).  These proposals are as follows:

  • Funding to develop a model co-curricular transcript. We’ve wanted to develop a co-curricular transcript for a few years.  To do it effectively, we needed to have funds to both buy some necessary software and to hire someone to handle the logistics of implementing it.  This funding will be used to cover the costs of the new hire for two years.  The initial phase of the implementation will take place this Spring, with a goal of having students able to print out copies of their co-curricular transcript by the end of the semester.
  • Funding to develop an online Sustainable Construction degree. SUNY Canton has offered an associates degree in Construction Technology for many years.  This proposal allows us to extend the program to a bachelors degree (we will still offer the associates) that focuses on the topic of sustainable construction.  The second two years of the program will be offered online.  The funds will be used to hire a faculty member in the area of sustainable construction.
  • Funding to develop an online Industrial Technology Management and Logistics degree. SUNY Canton has offered a bachelors degree in Industrial Technology Management for many years.  This proposal will allow us to also focus on logistics—a critical area in all aspects of business.  The funds will be used to hire a faculty member in the area of logistics.
  • Funding for Online Enhancement. Our goal with this proposal is to bring online students fully into the life of the College.  We will do this by providing essentially all student support services to online students that face-to-face students are able to access.  Some examples of this will include providing access to programming from student life, being able to join most student clubs and organizations, and providing a way for online students to participate in athletics.  The funds will be used to hire campus life coordinator for online students to support this effort, and to fund software and equipment that will be needed.

The amounts granted in the four proposals were essentially the amounts we requested, which is very good indeed.  We expect to hear about funding for our fifth proposal, which will support replicating our Solar Ready Vets program and equipment on campus, and supporting our Alternative Energy degree program by the end of the semester.

We’re also part of an additional PIF proposal to fund promotion of the Tech Sector.  This proposal was submitted by all the Colleges of Technology through SUNY Morrisville.

 

Athletics

NEWHL

We’ve had some good news on the athletics front as well.  Our women’s ice hockey team has been accepted for membership into the NorthEast Women’s Hockey League (NEWHL), starting in Fall 2019.  Other members of NEWHL include Buffalo State, Cortland, Oswego, Plattsburgh, Potsdam, and joining at the same time as we are, SUNY Morrisville.

NAC

We also just heard that we were accepted as full members into the North Atlantic Conference (NAC), and will begin competing there in Fall 2018.  This will cover 12 of SUNY Canton’s 15 NCAA Division III sponsored sports, including baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, softball and women’s volleyball. Membership in the NAC will allow our students opportunities for post-season NCAA competition.  Other members of NAC include Univ. of Maine at Farmington, Husson University, Johnson State College, Lyndon State College, Maine Maritime Academy, U. of Maine at Presque Isle, and Thomas College.

Women’s golf will continue competition in the Empire 8 Conference, and Women’s ice hockey will continue in the Colonial Hockey Conference in 2018-2019.  And before you ask, we haven’t forgotten about the Men’s Ice Hockey team—we are in the process of applying for conference membership for them as well.

 

New Degree Programs

We’ve also had two additional degree programs approved by State Ed. in the past few weeks.  SUNY Canton is now authorized to offer a B.S. degree in Cybersecurity and a B.B.A. in Early Childhood Care and Management, both to being in Fall 2018.  We’ve gotten some nice press on both these programs, with the most recent being an editorial in the Watertown Daily Times, thanking us for launching the Early Childhood B.B.A, writing:

Officials at SUNY Canton are responding to this situation with a worthwhile plan. Beginning next academic year, they will offer a new major covering education and management to enable students to eventually open their own day care centers, according to the NCPR story… We commend SUNY Canton for its efforts to address a lingering problem in our community. People regularly look to local institutions of higher learning to tackle vexing issues, and school officials earn an A for the answer they’ve given for this one.”

Childhood-Care

 

So What Else is New?  eSports!

As many of you will recall, at the State of the College address earlier this fall, we announced that we were moving forward with three major initiatives, one of which was making our athletics programs more comprehensive and contemporary.  We’re implementing greater leadership training opportunities, stronger retention and graduation efforts, and have (as reported above) joined new conferences in most sports.  We are now happy to announce that as of next semester, SUNY Canton will begin competing nationally in eSports, by becoming the first New York State team to join the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE), the most prominent nationally recognized organization devoted to collegiate video gaming.

2017_eSports_Roody_logo

Our launching of eSports ties several of our current strategic directions together.  First, we now offer several degree programs related to online gaming, including Game Design and Development, Graphics and Multimedia Design, and Technological Communication.  Second, we are working to integrate our online students more fully into the life of the College.  eSports will allow online students to participate in our intercollegiate athletics programs.  Third, this fits with our goal of having all students have a broad range of opportunities to participate in athletics.

We are planning on converting a space in Neveldine to an eSports gaming lab, to be ready as near the beginning of the Spring semester as possible, depending on how long it takes to get specialized computers.  We’ve gotten a lot of press on our eSports announcement too, the latest being a nice report on Watertown’s Channel 7 news, which you can see by clicking here.

 

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest had to do with songs about railroads.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Terri Clemmo, John Jodice, Jennifer Church, DianeMarie Collins, and irishrover120.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.   Also getting all five right was Dan Gagliardi.

Here are the correct answers:

  1. In the children’s song, I’ve been doing it “all the live-long day”. Working on the railroad.
  2. Glenn Miller had a huge hit about this Tennessee train, where “Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer, than to have you ham an’ eggs in Carolina.” Chattanooga Choo Choo.
  3. Where the Monkees told you to take the Last Train to.  Clarksville.
  4. According to Count Basie and Duke Ellington, the train you take to get to Sugar Hill way up in Harlem. The “A” Train.
  5. Name of the song where Simon and Garfunkel were “Sitting in a railroad station, got a ticket to my destination.” Homeward Bound.

  

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

This issue’s challenge will continue a series about songs, this time being songs about winter. As usual, the first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Song that begins: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose.”
  2. What you’re doing when “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening.”
  3. Beatles song with lyrics: “Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting.”
  4. The Mamas & the Papas song with lyrics: “All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray, I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day.”
  5. Anne Murray song with lyrics: “Spread your tiny wings and fly away, and take the snow back with you, where it came from on that day.
Posted in Uncategorized

November 7, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 12, Issue 3–November 7, 2017

  

Travel Here, Travel There

I tried really hard to get an issue of the BLAB out a few weeks ago, but the past month has been super crazy in terms of travel, conferences, and other stuff, so this issue will be a bit long, and let’s just get right to it.

The month began with me driving down to Lake Placid on October 3 to welcome the state-wide Human Resources group meeting to the North Country.  It has always been my experience that folks who work in HR are among the nicest people in higher education.  Almost all are motivated by wanting people to be treated fairly, wanting to be helpful, and wanting their respective colleges to be successful—three excellent motivators.  This group was no exception, and I enjoyed meeting a number of them and giving a welcome to the area.

 

Montreal, Back Home, and Montreal Again

On October 10, I drove up to Montreal to participate in the Conference of the Americas on International Education (CAIE), sponsored by EduCanada, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan), four Montreal universities, and several other organizations.

Driving up to Montreal wasn’t too complicated—I left at 2 PM on November 10, crossed the border just north of Massena on the bridge to Cornwall, Ontario, and from there it was just taking the 401 east, which becomes Quebec Autoroute 20.  When I hit the suburbs, it seemed that every highway in Montreal was under construction simultaneously, meaning lots of places where the road was reduced to a single lane and traffic was backed up and very slow.  This added a bit more than an hour to the 2 hours and 15 minutes the trip should have taken with normal traffic, but all in all I got to the hotel before it got dark.  The hardest part was actually figuring out what parking entrance I should take for the hotel—there were three of them side by side, the first two going to an underground mall and the third being hidden by a sculpture on the sidewalk.  I checked in, and the conference began with a reception that evening on the terrace of the Palais des Congrès de Montreal—a combination shopping mall and meeting facility.

Montreal 1

Montreal at night from the Palais de Congrès balcony

The reception and the conference were interesting in that they were held in four languages—English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.  Very few people were there from the U.S., but there were a lot of folks from Ontario, Quebec, Mexico, Central America, and South America.  During the sessions, headphones were provided so that you could hear a translation if the speaker was speaking in a language you weren’t fluent in.

I had a chance to meet some interesting people, and there was a meeting of the non-Canadian participants with representatives of the U.S. Consulate in Montreal to discuss international issues.  I gave a talk about Internationalization of Higher Education on the third day of the conference.  Several of the colleges involved expressed an interest in working with SUNY Canton in various ways, which we will explore.

International Group

Montreal is always a nice city to visit and the hotel was well located—there were lots of good restaurants nearby, and it was right next to the Place des Arts and the Musée d’art contemporain.  There was a very large shopping mall under the hotel, and there were many interesting sights along the St. Lawrence river nearby.

Montreal 2

Montreal from my hotel window

When I left on Friday afternoon at 5:00 P.M., I thought the traffic was going to be a nightmare but it turned out to be just fine—no traffic jams and smooth sailing.  I stopped for dinner in Massena and got home at about 8:30.

On Saturday morning, I spoke at the Admissions Open House which had a nice crowd of students there.  In the afternoon, I went to an event honoring Canton’s Army Reserve Unit (the 366th) for its many achievements.  I was proud to be there, and they were kind enough to give me the unit’s challenge coin.  In the evening, I attended the Canton Fire Department and Rescue Squad’s Annual Appreciation Dinner, where I had the pleasure of seeing SUNY Canton’s EMS Squad win a special award.  They’re a great bunch of students, faculty, and staff who do a lot to keep our community safe.  In their first eight months of operation, they responded to more than 100 emergency calls and 14 event standbys.  They have also worked with Colton Rescue and Tau Phi Zeta (the Vet Tech honor society) to learn pet CPR.  Congratulations team!

EMS Award

On Sunday, it was back to Montreal for the 4th Inter-American Meeting of Technical and Technological Institutions of Higher Education (EIESTEC) conference, which was sponsored by the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education (OUI-IOHE) and the Quebec Collèges d’enseignement général et professionnel (CÉGEPs).  That’s a lot of acronyms!

The CÉGEP colleges are the first step in the Quebec higher education system, consisting of essentially the 12th grade and the first two years of college.  They offer two tracks—one that corresponds to liberal arts (two years in length), and one that corresponds to technology (three years in length, one of which is liberal arts).  Most of the CÉGEP colleges offer programs in French, but some offer them in English as well.

I gave two talks at the conference, a PowerPoint on Best Practices in Internationalization in the Americas on Monday, and a commentary on Recognition of Acquired Competencies on Tuesday.  Both went well, and drew a lot of interest in working with SUNY Canton.  On Tuesday afternoon, I went on a visit to two CÉGEPs in St. Jean sur Richelieu, a place I’d visited many years earlier where by sheer luck, I had run into a major ascension of the International Hot Air Ballooning Association, which was quite spectacular.  We returned to Montreal at 6:00 PM, and I hightailed it for home (again, no traffic), stopping for dinner at a nice restaurant in Cornwall.

 

A Few Days in Canton

Wednesday and Thursday were filled with meetings.  On Wednesday, I enjoyed saying a few words and helping cut the ribbon for our newly renovated Cyber Café, located in the Southworth Library.  It looks great, with both long and high tables for students to eat and use their laptops on, and will be open five nights a week from 7-10 PM for those needing a late snack.  We also plan to hold small concerts and events there at night in the future.  On Thursday afternoon, I spoke briefly at the Tau Phi Zeta honor society induction ceremony for new members.  It’s a wonderful organization that the first national chapter of the society was started at SUNY Canton.

I had to run from there to our new Digital Design Lab open house and ribbon cutting ceremony, where I also gave a brief speech.  The new lab is a great facility that will serve our new Game Design and Technological Communication degree programs, as well as our Graphics and Multimedia Design program.  The room was packed with students from the College and also from the community, wanting to see our cool computers, facility, and virtual reality set up.

Digital Design Lab

L-R: Doug Scheidt, Mike Newtown, Roody, me, J.D. DeLong

 

Niagara Falls and Those Disappearing Railroad Blues

After a quiet weekend, it was off to Niagara Falls on Monday, October 23 to speak at the SUNY 4th Annual Applied Learning Conference.  Since there’s no good way to get to Niagara Falls from Canton, I drove down to Syracuse’s Amtrak station, left my car there, and took the train to Buffalo.

The station in Syracuse is convenient enough, being just off I-81 near where my father used to work, and it hosts Amtrak, Greyhound, and Trailways, as well as the local transit buses in Syracuse.  There’s plenty of parking, and the station itself is a long rectangle with Amtrak on the far left side and the buses on the right.  There’s a variety store and a sub shop there too.

While the station is quite functional, it’s a long way from the older art deco style New York Central train station (which itself replaced two earlier ones).  Before it was built, train tracks used to go at grade level through downtown, causing considerable snarling of traffic as Syracuse grew.  The tracks were then elevated, and they and the new station began service in 1936.  The station was big and beautiful, three stories high, and had ten tracks to serve all the passenger and freight trains that came through.

Syracuse NYC Station

Syracuse’s 1936 New York Central station

Things had changed by the time I was a small boy.  In 1962, railroad traffic had declined considerably, and the station was closed, being too expensive to operate.  The tracks were torn down (except for the one closest and the one furthest from the building, which are being restored) to make room for Interstate 690, and the trains moved to a smaller and less elaborate station at the freight yards in East Syracuse.  When I was 12, my grandmother came to the U.S. from Israel, flying into NYC and taking the train up to Syracuse.  I remember us picking her up at the East Syracuse station, and while waiting, visiting the newsstand and finding Marvel comics there, which I had never seen before (my local drugstore newsstand didn’t carry them).  I picked up my first issue of the Fantastic Four that day, skipping over Spider-man #18, since the cover said “The End of Spider-man” and I figured if it was the last issue, why buy it?  Little did I know about hype at that tender age!  The East Syracuse station was replaced by the current one in 1999, which has a single track for passenger trains—the westbound ones are switched onto that track, and then off it after loading.

Back when I was in high school, I worked at the then Greyhound station in Syracuse, which occupied the bottom floor of the art-deco New York Central railroad station from 1964 to 1996.  It was still quite nice, though the upper floors were sealed off.  Today, the station serves as the home to Time Warner cable.

Amtrak trains are quite comfortable and pleasant for travel, but once you go west from Albany, they’re frequently delayed by freight traffic.  The train I was taking actually went through to Niagara Falls and Toronto, but I was afraid it would be too late to pick up my rental car (the Niagara Falls location closed at 5PM), so I got off in Buffalo instead at Exchange Street station.  The trip to Buffalo was quite nice, and went through a lot of beautiful fall scenery, arriving in Buffalo at about 4:15 PM, just a little late.

Today, Buffalo has two Amtrak stations, both puny compared to the heyday of train travel.  The station in Depew (a suburb) is just a small brick square building with a fair amount of parking available.  I figured the Exchange Street station would be more imposing, but it is even smaller.  Buffalo’s Central Station is no longer used (though there are plans to restore it for other purposes) due to its large size and cost of operation, which is a pity because it is a smaller version of Grand Central Station in NYC and was quite beautiful in the past.

Buffalo Central Station 1

Buffalo’s Central Station, no longer in use and overgrown with weeds

Buffalo Central Station 2

Buffalo’s Central Station Interior–very similar to Grand Central Station

As it turns out, Niagara Falls has a beautiful new train station built around the old border customhouse, so I was sorry that I wound up missing it.

The attendant at the Exchange Street station didn’t know if Enterprise Rent-a-car picked up at the station, but I assured her that it did, and after about 30-minutes wait, someone finally got me and I picked up my rental car and drove to Niagara Falls. After checking in to the hotel, I drove over to a restaurant to had dinner with President Murabito from Niagara County Community College, who after which gave me a tour of NCCC’s beautiful facilities for Culinary Arts, which were only a block or two from the hotel!

The next morning, I walked over to the Conference and Event Center, which was across the street from the hotel.  After a light breakfast, I was part of a panel discussion consisting of Presidents Heath (SUNY College of Optometry), Nye (Finger Lakes Community College) and me, speaking on how applied learning has been implemented on our campuses, along with opportunities and challenges.  The talk was well received, and quite a few people came up to me saying how far ahead we are at SUNY Canton in this area.  The conference’s keynote address was given by Dr. Amelia Parnell, VP for Research and Policy at the National Association of Student-Affairs Professional Administrators (NASPA).  She gave an excellent talk on “Unlocking the Potential of Applied Learning Experiences: 5 Key Steps”.  After lunch, I took a quick walk down to the Falls—I had just enough time to walk there, take a few pictures, and come back—and then got into my rental car to drive to Buffalo’s airport.

Niagara Falls

 

 

SUNY Days in DC

The flight left on time at 5:40, and I wound up sitting next to Marc Cohen, the President of the Student Assembly for SUNY and a member of the Board of Trustees.  We had a nice chat on the flight, and arrived in Washington DC at 7:00 PM.  I asked Marc if he wanted to split a cab with me, but quickly found out how old-fashioned I was—he used his iPhone to get a Lyft car, which arrived about a minute after we got to the pick-up zone.  We were at the hotel by 7:20, where I checked in.  Marc was tied up with a call and was going to skip dinner, so we went our separate ways.  I texted Lenore VanderZee (SUNY Canton’s Executive Director for External Relations) to see if she wanted to go, and she had arrived just a little bit earlier, flying from Watertown to Philadelphia, and then to BWI, taking a Lyft from there.  We found a nice Indian restaurant (what else?) only a few blocks away, and had a very nice meal.

The meetings began the next day, with a small get-together in the morning, followed by our going over to the Cannon House Office Building to meet with our own congresswoman, Elise Stefanik.  Congresswoman Stefanik is always quite welcoming, and we had a good discussion about where SUNY Canton is going, how she and her staff might be able to help us, and about the status of various legislation (Financial Aid, DACA, etc.) that will affect higher education.  She was called away for a floor vote on the Tax Bill, and we talked a bit longer with a Patrick Hester, her Senior Legislative Assistant.

Rep. Stefanik adjusted

L-R: Lenore VanderZee, me, and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik

After the meeting, we departed for the Senate Office Building, and joined colleagues from SUNY Farmingdale, SUNY Alfred, SUNY Maritime, and SUNY Morrisville to have a meeting with Senator Schumer’s staff, on basically the same subjects.  After stopping for some coffee and to sit down a little, we then went over to the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center for an Alumni and Congressional Reception.

Capitol

The reception was quite nice, and afterwards, we took another Lyft car to go to the same restaurant as the night before, since we had enjoyed it so much.  This time, not only did the restaurant have excellent food once again, but it had a good jazz/R&B combo providing entertainment!  What could be better?

The next morning, it was back to the Capitol Visitor’s Center for talks by several congresspersons, Senators Gillibrand and Schumer, the Chancellor, Board Chair McCall, and several others.

Chancellor

Chancellor Kristina Johnson

The talks finished around 1:30, so we all went back to the hotel, got our suitcases, and several of us shared a Lyft over to Reagan Airport for the flight back to Syracuse.  The flight didn’t leave until 5:50, but that just gave us a chance to chat, meet up with a bunch of SUNY people (including SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum and and SUNY Morrisville President Dave Rogers) and people-watch.  While sitting there, we saw Senators Lindsay Graham (South Carolina) and Rand Paul (Kentucky) walk by, and no doubt a few more that we didn’t recognize.  The flight took off just a little late, and arrived in Syracuse at 7:30 PM, where I bummed a ride from President Rogers to the Syracuse Amtrak station, got my car, stopped in Watertown for a bite of dinner, and got home about 10:30.

 

Back Home for a Few Days…

I had a breakfast meeting the next morning (October 27) at 8:00 with our Student Government Leaders.  It’s always great to meet with them and get the student perspective on things, and I told them about what we had learned in DC about some student issues.  This was followed by a Campus Leadership meeting at 10:00, where V.P. of Student Affairs Courtney Bish, Director of Residence Life John Kennedy, Athletics Director Randy Sieminski, and Director of Facilities Planning Mike McCormick presented metrics and gave talks on plans for their respective areas.  At noon, I attended a luncheon to thank our various Faculty Athletic Liaisons, followed by a few more meetings.  The next morning, we had another Open House for students.  The Band (Dan Gagliardi on vocals and bass, Lenore VanderZee on vocals and guitar, Rosemary Philips on vocals and mandolin, and me on rhythm guitar) played for about 40 minutes while people visited the various tables representing the academic programs, financial aid, student services, and student organizations.  I gave my usual welcome speech, and then went home to rest for the remainder of the weekend.

 

One More Trip—This Time to Maine

On Monday morning (October 30) at 8:05 AM, Randy Sieminski, Courtney Bish, and Patrick Martin (Asst. Athletic Director and Compliance Director) drove to the house to pick me up for our road trip to the University of Maine at Farmington, where we were visiting the North Atlantic Conference (NAC), looking into the possibilities of membership.  MapQuest said the trip should take about seven hours, and under normal circumstances, that might have been true.  The night before, there had been a lot of rain in Canton, with wind gusts up to 50 mph.  It was only sprinkling when we left, and the weather actually improved a bit as we neared Plattsburgh.  We took the ferry over to Burlington, and the water was really choppy, but otherwise fine.  The weather held across Vermont, and we stopped for lunch in St. Johnsbury at a nice restaurant.  When we entered New Hampshire, we saw that they had gotten the worst of the same storm we had, with winds there reaching 80 mph.  There were uprooted trees everywhere, with various trucks clearing away the debris, lots of trees being held up by leaning on power lines, and in some places, lines down and electricity out.

When we got to Gorham, NH, we had to detour north, because a small bridge on U.S. Route 2 was blocked.  There are no alternative east-west roads anywhere near there, so we had to swing 45 miles north on State Route 16, through Berlin and Errol up to Rangely, ME before being able turn south again to get to Farmington, adding about 1.5 hours to the trip.  While heading north, we saw more uprooted trees, though it was also quite beautiful up by the lakes, forests, and mountains of northern NH and Maine.  Our hotel, fortunately, still had electricity even though half the state of Maine didn’t.  When we went out to dinner that night, we had to check to make sure the restaurant had power too.  The restaurant was very nice and the food was good, but the service was incredibly slow.  Even though there were tables open, we had to wait a small while to be seated.  It was a bit weird—waitresses came by regularly to go into a back area to get something, and some came by periodically to wipe down the tables (sometimes three different times!).  It was a long while before they took our order, and by the time the food came, we were the only ones in our seating area.  When we finished and left, we were the only people there except for those at the bar.

We got together to go over our presentation and have lunch, which we ate at a nice Thai restaurant near the campus, and then it was time to do the presentation for real at the college’s Student Center.  The presentation went well, and the discussion afterward was promising.

On the way back home, we called to find out if U.S. 2 had reopened, and were pleased to find out that although it was only one lane at a time, the road was no longer blocked.  The ride home was therefore much faster than on the way there.  We saw a few trick-or-treaters out for Halloween on the way, and stopped for dinner just north of Burlington, getting some subs.  The ferry ride was so smooth I didn’t even realize we were moving until we were nearly in Plattsburgh.  I got dropped at home at about 9:30 PM, which wasn’t too bad.  The rest of last week was filled with meetings, and that brings us right up to date!

Fortunately, there isn’t too much travel coming up in the rest of November or December.  I’ll be going to the SUNY Diversity Conference in Albany from November 29-December 1, and then to New York City for a SUNY Presidents Meeting from December 13-15, but that’s it until the New Year.  January will be all travel again, though.

 

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest 

Last time’s contest finished the alphabet with word that begin with the letter “Z”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Joseph Leroux, Joel Canino, Jennifer Church, Patrick Hanss and Christina Lesyk.  Stop by my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Others getting all five right included Doug Scheidt and Michelle Connolly.

Here are the correct answers:

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

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Since we’ve finally reached the end of our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge will start a series about songs, this time being songs about railroads. As usual, the first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. In the children’s song, I’ve been doing it “all the live-long day”.
  2. Glenn Miller had a huge hit about this Tennessee train, where “Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer, than to have you ham an’ eggs in Carolina.”
  3. Where the Monkees told you to take the Last Train to.
  4. According to Count Basie and Duke Ellington, the train you take to get to Sugar Hill way up in Harlem.
  5. Name of the song where Simon and Garfunkel were “Sitting in a railroad station, got a ticket to my destination.”

 

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October 3, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 12, Issue 2–October 3, 2017

 

 One Tragedy After Another

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

hurrican_harvey-1920-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Playing Catch-Up

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

Albany

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

Chancellor

 

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

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

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

 

Campus Events

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

Hochul

 

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

constitution2017-1

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

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

Tree Planting

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

lights on the grasse 2 1_

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

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

 Steel Bridge

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

Here are the correct answers:

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

 

  

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

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

 

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September 15, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 12, Issue 1–September 15, 2017

 

We’re Back!

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

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

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

 

50th Anniversary

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

50

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

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

 

 

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

50-group

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

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

 

 

Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

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

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

 

 

Busy Campus

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

 

Unity—In Remembrance of Charlottesville

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

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

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

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

 

Softball Team Barbeque

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

Softball

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

 

Soccer Match

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

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

 

OK—I’m out of time.  More next issue!

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

Here are the correct answers:

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

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

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

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

 

 

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