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.
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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.

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

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

Tree Planting

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

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

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

 Steel Bridge

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

Here are the correct answers:

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

 

  

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

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

 

Posted in Uncategorized

September 15, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 12, Issue 1–September 15, 2017

 

We’re Back!

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

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

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

 

50th Anniversary

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

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

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

 

 

Busy Campus

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

 

Unity—In Remembrance of Charlottesville

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

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

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

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

 

Softball Team Barbeque

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

Softball

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

 

Soccer Match

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

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

 

OK—I’m out of time.  More next issue!

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

Here are the correct answers:

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

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

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

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

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

July 27, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 17

July 27, 2017

 

 

 

Summer Hurtles By

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

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

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

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

 

 

Summer Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Meanwhile, Back on Campus

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

  

Engineering Summer Camp

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

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

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

 

TRiO

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

TRIO-Works

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

 

Challenge Coins

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

 challenge-coins1

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

 

  

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

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

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

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

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

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June 27, 2017

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 11, Issue 16–June 27, 2017

 

Yes, It’s Been a Long Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Starfish and the Spider

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

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

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

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

The major take-aways from the book are:

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

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

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

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

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

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

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

 

 

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April 26, 2017

I’m Sick of Rain…

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

 

 

New Chancellor

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

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

 

 

Scholarship Celebration

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

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Poster Session

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

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

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

 

 

Student Specialty Awards

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

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The SUNY Canton EMS Squad won an award

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

 

 

Center for Diversities and Inclusion

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

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

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

 

 

SUNY Plenary

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

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

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

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

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

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

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

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

 

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

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