THE WEEKLY BLAB
Volume 9, Issue 3 – July 15, 2014
Thursday was my first new student orientation at SUNY-Canton, and I have to say that I loved every minute of it. As everyone up here knows, to enter the campus, one turns onto Cornell Drive, the main campus road, from Main Street (Route 68). The road then splits to circle the campus, with the academic and administrative buildings and their parking lots to the left, and the residence halls to the right. As I drove up to the split, several of the orientation leaders were standing there to welcome the new students and wave them toward the left to the orientation parking spots—a really nice touch. I rolled down the window to say hello, and then drove down to park the car. It was an absolutely beautiful day, cool and sunny, as I walked to the College’s athletic center (which everyone calls either the ‘Roo’s House or the CARC). After shaking hands with several students and orientation leaders, I went inside.
There were two lines for check-in and several stations of coffee, juice, water, and food (fruit, bagels, and pastries). I introduced myself to several more students and their parents, asking where they were from and what they planned to study. The most common major that was mentioned was criminal investigation or some other form of criminal justice, as well as business, veterinary science, engineering technology, and mortuary science. About half of the students were from the northern half of the state (at or above the Albany-Syracuse-Buffalo line), with the other half being from New York City or its suburbs. There were a few out of state students too—I met one from New Jersey and one from Pennsylvania. A lot of the students wished me good luck when they found out that I’d been at the college for only a week.
The athletic center has lots of first-rate facilities, including a field house (with a track and several basketball courts), a hockey arena (it’s the north, after all!), a swimming pool, exercise room, offices, meeting rooms, a large open meeting space with a fireplace, and many others. There’s even a snack bar, inevitably named “Joey’s”. Everyone (about 280 students, 400 people in all) was brought into the field house and sat on the bleachers. The podium and microphone were in the middle of the field house, seemingly miles away, so I decided to use a hand-held microphone instead to do the welcome.
I talked about how education is a partnership, with both the College and the student needing to do their parts for the partnership to work. Our part consists of what I like to call our “Ten Commitments”, which are basically ten promises to our students about what they can expect from us. The students’ part of the partnership was broken down into five parts: being an active learner, getting help when they need it, being a person of integrity, taking advantage of their new independence, and harnessing the power of their own dreams. I closed, as I have at countless orientations at my previous colleges, with the story of the philosophy professor and the jar of rocks. If you’ve never heard this story, you’ll just have to show up at a future orientation! The welcome was well-received, with several parents and students telling me that they enjoyed it.
The parents and students then separated, with the students doing “get to know each other” exercises and the parents going to a question and answer session. I attended the latter and the parents’ concerns mostly dealt with health insurance, dispensing medication, and housing. Both the students and the parents were well-engaged with the orientation.
Later in the day, I rejoined the students for lunch. The dining hall offers lots of different choices and I opted for teriyaki beef over rice and vegetables, which was quite good. It was back to the office for some paperwork, and I joined the parents at 3:30 for a little wine and cheese. Many of the parents left at this point, and at 5:30, the students gathered for a barbeque. I can’t remember when I’ve seen such perfect weather, and the barbeque took full advantage of it. The food was a nice range of picnic favorites—hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage with pepper and onions, salad, watermelon, and cookies. There were lots of carnival games and a volleyball game going on simultaneously. I met more students as well as some of the student life staff and some of the coaches. One coach then went off with a group of students to go kayaking on the Grasse River, which flows alongside the campus—pretty cool. I’ll have to learn how to kayak, because it looks like a lot of fun.
I went home for a few hours, and then returned a little before 9:00 PM to see the orientation leader skits, held in the residence hall being used for the orientation. As I parked and walked to the residence hall, just to make the evening complete, two deer walked across the lawn just ahead of me. Unfortunately, they ran off before I could get a picture. The skits were well attended and very well done—they were slightly edgy and very funny, dealing with a number of situations that students will likely encounter during their first year. I was laughing as two of the students “introduced” themselves during one of the skits (“Hi, I’m Frank with a capital F”… “Hi, I’m Drrl—that’s Darryl without the vowels”). Forty minutes later, it was time to say good night.
In the second day of orientation, the students met with their departments and advisors. I had various meetings so I didn’t attend myself, but I heard that it went very well. A little later, I worked with two of the public relations folks to make a “please attend” video inviting folks for Alumni Weekend next week. If you’re interested, you can see the video below.
I saw a few more students and parents just before lunch, and that completed things. My compliments to Courtney Bish, Dean of Students and Chief Student Affairs Officer, and the whole student affairs crew for their fine work in organizing and holding the orientation. It was first-class all the way.
Town and Gown
On Tuesday, I attended my first Potsdam/Canton Town-Gown Alliance Meeting. Between Potsdam and Canton, which are small towns 10 miles apart, there are four universities: SUNY-Canton and St. Lawrence University in Canton, and SUNY-Potsdam and Clarkson University in Potsdam. The purpose of the meeting is for the four universities to work together more, to work more closely with the community, and to encourage students to be more involved in the community. Warren Anderson from Clarkson, the chair of the committee, introduced me to the group. Lots of worthwhile ideas were proposed, and two subcommittees were established. The meeting was interesting, and I’m looking forward to working together with the folks at the other three colleges. My first opportunity came at the end of the meeting when I was invited by Marsha Sawyer, Director of St. Lawrence University’s McNair Scholars Program, to talk there in a few weeks about graduate school opportunities in Chemistry.
And on the Weekend…
On Friday night, my parents and I went into Potsdam to attend services at what I’m told is the only remaining synagogue in the county—Temple Beth El in Potsdam. There used to be synagogues in Ogdensburg and in Massena, but as is the case in so many small towns, they couldn’t sustain themselves. The Adath Israel synagogue building in Massena has now become the Chamber of Commerce. It dates back to 1844, when it was built as the Emmanuel Congregational Church. It became a synagogue in the 1920’s when the church moved into new facilities. The building housed the synagogue for many years, but the local Jewish population dwindled and the synagogue became inactive. Interestingly, the Emmanuel church moved back in 2007, when fire damaged their church. They moved back to their renovated church in 2009, and the building has been empty since.
The synagogue in Potsdam is named Temple Beth El, which coincidentally was also the name of the synagogue my family attended when I was growing up in Syracuse. When we pulled in to the parking lot, there were only two other cars there, but the person conducting the service came out of one of them. Ultimately, 15 people were there for the service including us, including a couple from Montreal who were visiting their daughter, who is a faculty member at Clarkson, as is her husband. The service was very pleasant, and the others in the congregation were quite friendly. We wound up staying for more than an hour after the service, talking about various things (such as the Middle East situation, and which are better—New York or Montreal bagels), and getting to know each other. I’m looking forward to going again.
On Saturday, my parents and I went to the Potsdam Summer Festival. It was quite nice, with a couple of downtown blocks closed off to traffic. Lots of stores had specials out on the sidewalks, and there were various flea markets and food stands as well. There was also a small bandstand set up in the middle of the blocked off road, and we listened to several groups play—some rock, some jazz. Later that evening, we went to dinner with VP of Development David Gerlach and his lovely wife Lisa at Jake’s, a very good bistro type restaurant in Hannawa Falls (which is about 6 miles south of Potsdam). The restaurant is brand new and has an outdoor seating area with wonderful views of the Racquet River. The company was great and the food was good too—everyone except me had salmon, and I had Mediterranean shrimp over pasta. The drinks were served in mason jars, which I’ve seen done before at another restaurant, but can’t remember where for the life of me.
Sunday was pretty rainy, the first bad weather day in a week. No problem though, because we were staying in anyhow to watch the World Cup. I’m a huge soccer fan and my father and I had been watching all the games up until now. I had hoped for a Germany-Netherlands final (my favorite team Ivory Coast having been eliminated earlier), but the Argentina-Netherlands semi-final had been a purely defensive affair, with both sides determined not to lose, rather than trying to win. The semi-final’s regular game ended in a 0-0 tie, as did both overtime periods. The game then went to penalty kicks, which Argentina won. Frankly, given how cautious they were, I didn’t think either of them deserved to win. The other semi-final has now become notorious, with Germany blowing Brazil out 7-1. Thus, the final was between Germany and Argentina, with Netherlands beating Brazil 3-0 in the consolation match.
The cup final was quite good, with both teams playing well and attacking hard. The 0-0 tie at the end of regular time hid the fact that there were quite a few close calls for both Germany and Argentina, including one that went in the goal but was called back for off-sides. Germany finally scored in the second overtime period, on a beautiful cross by Schurrle (who plays for my favorite regular season team—Chelsea, in the English Premier League) to Gotze, who deftly chested the ball and slammed it into the corner on the fly. Gotze is only 24, and was an 88th minute substitute, so this was without a doubt the highlight of his life. It was the first time that a European team had won the cup when it was held in the Americas. Given the popularity of the World Cup this time, lots of folks are wondering if soccer will have finally crossed over to become a popular sport in the US. We’ll see, but I’m not holding my breath.
This Just In
I was just at the Rotary meeting in Canton today and had the pleasure to find out that the winner of the “Service Above Self” scholarship was Geniveve Hopkins-Better, who will be attending SUNY-Canton this fall. Yes, it’s spelled that way. Geniveve will be majoring in management, and is hoping for a career where she will be able to travel. Welcome to SUNY-Canton, Geniveve!
Just so the folks at SPSU don’t think they’re the only ones with a big rock on campus, here’s SUNY-Canton’s big rock, located in our Gerald E. Roselle Academic Plaza.
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
Last week’s contest had questions all involving the word “second”. Our winner, getting them all in the fastest time was Bill Prigge, who is the Assistant Dean for Administration at the College of Pharmacy at University of Tennessee’s Health Science Center. Lots of others got all five right, including Alan Gabrielli (Director of U-Teach at SPSU), Maureen Maiocco (Chair, Early Childhood, Canton), Jonathan Thompson (lecturer, Canton), Rhonda Rodriquez (visiting instructor in English, Canton), Heather Lauzon (secretary, Accomodative Disability Services, Canton), Kelly Carter (sustainability coordinator, Canton), Patty Todd (Director of Health Services, Canton), Stacia Dutton (instructor, Computer Information Systems, Canton), and Rajiv Narula (asst. prof. in Chemistry, Canton). Here are the correct answers:
- A common cause of cancer, even if you don’t use cigarettes. Second hand smoke.
- Love is lovelier then, according to the song. The second time around.
- You share a grandparent with them. The question should have said “you share a great-grandparent with them”, but most people knew I was looking for second cousin as the answer.
- Musical expression meaning “to play a subsidiary role”. Second fiddle, though there were a few other acceptable answers,such as “second string”.
- The entropy of the universe or any other isolated system never decreases. Second law of thermodynamics.
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
In honor of the World Cup, this week’s challenge has all answers featuring the word “cup”. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO firstname.lastname@example.org since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!
- What the top professional hockey team wins.
- Fast food from Lipton—just add hot water and stir.
- What we’ll take for Auld Lang Syne.
- Dome-like structure on top of a building, often found on churches.
- 1996 Tim Costner and Rene Russo movie about a washed up golf pro.