July 23, 2014


Volume 9, Issue 4 – July 22, 2014


Alumni Weekend

This past Friday and Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending my first Alumni Weekend at SUNY Canton. There were lots of activities, and the alumni and I enjoyed them all. I was able to meet lots of great people, eat plenty of excellent food, give several speeches, and have a great time. Our alumni are a remarkable group, dedicated to their college and it was wonderful hearing them giving it credit for having been the start of their successes.

The first event I attended was the dedication of the college’s CREST (Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies) Center as Halford Hall, named for college benefactor John Halford. I had met Mr. Halford a week earlier when he was visiting with VP for Advancement David Gerlach and our development staff. Mr. Halford is a remarkable man, building a successful business that started with his Canton 1949 degree in Air Conditioning Engineering Technology. He strongly believes in paying it forward, and has funded multiple scholarships for students from Gouverneur, his home town, and elsewhere. There are more locations named for him than for any other individual on our campus, thanks to his generosity. He is about the same age as my dad and shares a military background with him, so when I introduced him to my father, I wasn’t surprised to see that they quickly became friends. Mr. Halford also has a strong interest in higher education and in sustainability, so naming the CREST Center for him was a great idea.

Halford Naming 2 July 18, 2014Dedication of Halford Hall. Picture by Greg Kie.

Next up was the Half-Century Luncheon, celebrating the Class of ’64. Dale Major, president of the Alumni Society, did a fine job as emcee. I talked about some of the more memorable events from 1964 (the Civil Rights Act, Beatles, Tonkin Gulf Resolution, World’s Fair, movies “Goldfinger” and “Mary Poppins”, and introduction of the mini-skirt), as well as some memorable events on campus that year. These included the “who in the frat has the best legs” contest by Alpha Theta Gamma fraternity (no one would own up to being the winner!), the Frozen Fantasy winter dance, the “A Club” whose duty was to enforce freshman rules during orientation, and the Cantonians vocal group. I then talked about some of my hopes and plans for Canton’s future (expansion of degree programs in key areas, enhancing ties to industry) as well as some things, such as our emphasis on applied learning and producing entrepreneurial students that will never change. I mentioned the admonition from Yogi Berra that “The future ain’t what it used to be”, so we’ll commit to do our very best. Small gifts were given to each inductee.

IMAG04.1Half-Century Luncheon.  Picture by David Gerlach.

Dinnertime brought the Hall of Fame Induction, ably emceed by Randy Sieminski. Before the dinner, I was honored to meet former presidents Earl W. MacArthur (1972-1992) and Joseph Kennedy (1993-2012) and their wives. Both presidents had remarkable legacies at SUNY Canton, and it was wonderful that they were able to attend this event.

In my speech, I mentioned some previous members of the Hall of Fame, including Clement J. Flanagan (our earliest honoree, member of the class of 1909, owner of the Judson Heights Dairy, and later Dean of Alumni), Judy Guyette (three time graduate in 1971, 1977, and 1979, who worked in student activities and after retirement, created an internship assistance program endowment), Lottie Southworth (one of our earliest female faculty members, for whom the library is named), and Peter Nevaldine (who introduced our engineering technology programs, and for whom Nevaldine Hall is named).

It was then time to introduce our seven new inductees: Tom Duda (faculty member who chaired the 1991 reaccreditation process and served on the President’s Commission on Planning), Jean Poticher (College Association Food Service Director who established an endowed legacy scholarship), John Henderson (1952 graduate in Drafting, became president of Jefferson County Community College), Aaron and Darlene Lasher (community leaders, Darlene Lasher created a scholarship in Aaron’s honor), Linda Fay (nursing faculty member and administrator, winner of two Chancellor’s Awards. Honors Convocation is named for her), Betty Evans (advocate for and teacher of special needs students, and created a scholarship in memory of her son Perry, class of ‘75), and T. Urling and Mabel Walker (T. Urling was an engineering faculty member and chair of the Jefferson County Community College Foundation, and Mabel helped start hospice in Jefferson County. Both are co-chairs of the Traditional Arts in Upstate New York’s (TAUNY’s) Evergreen Campaign). Quite a formidable group!

Day two began with a nice breakfast buffet, followed by the annual Alumni Board Meeting. I talked about why it’s important to be an alumni board member, mentioning one of my favorite quotes, from British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: “The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own.” That’s what higher education is all about. The next event (which I only observed!) was the 5K run—as to me participating, maybe next year!

IMAG04.2Watching the 5K Run.  Alumni Weekend pictures by David Gerlach

After a very nice lunch including an ice cream sundae bar, it was time for the 100th anniversary of Pi Nu Epsilon sorority celebration, and their dedication of the Chaney Dining Hall Atrium. The sorority, led by Kelly Obermayer, raised $39,000 to accomplish their goal, and earlier in the day had sponsored a tea for their members. Many sorority sisters were present, decked out in formal outfits complete with attractive hats. Mary Chaney was one of the founders of the sorority, so their dedication of the atrium there had strong ties to their history. Kelly and Barbara Wilder did a great job speaking at the dedication.

IMAG04.3Pi Nu Epsilon Dedication

Also present to lend support were members of Alpha Theta Gamma, who invited me for a quick tour of their fraternity house. The house was originally owned by Dr. James Payson (Director of Canton Agricultural and Technical Institute, as it as then known, from 1917-1918) and the fraternity is devoting substantial effort to fixing it up. In order to attract strong student leaders to join the fraternity, they are sponsoring a number of scholarships.

A North Country wine and beer tasting followed after the dedication. Dinner that evening featured pulled pork or beef brisket, potatoes, and Cole slaw, all delicious. I can see that an ongoing problem here is going to be keeping my weight down!

IMAG04.4Putting together something as complex as Alumni Weekend requires the work of many people. Big thanks to the Maintenance and operations staff for the campus prep work and hanging the Hall of Fame frames, the dining services staff for the great food, the IT folks for the technical support, the Hall of Fame selection committee (Randy Sieminski, Sue Law, Karen Spellacy, Mike Newtown, Peggy Sue Levato, Anne Williams, and I. Art Garno), Mike Newtown for preparing Halford Hall, and Jay Livingston as our night time shuttle driver, and Sue Law for the blessings at all the meals.


Congratulations and thanks to the Foundation, Alumni, Development staff: Peggy Sue Levato, Keith Rosser, Beth Irvine, Jamie Burgess, Stephanie Fay, Amanda Hazelton, Bruce Smith, Anne Williams, and student workers Hannah Seguin and Kaitlyn White. And finally, big thanks to Dave Gerlach, for putting it all together.


Adirondack Challenge!

On Sunday, I drove down to Indian Lake to attend the Adirondack Challenge, an annual event developed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to bring attention and economic development to the Adirondack Mountain region of the state. Adirondack State Park is huge—the largest park in New York, occupying the majority of the state above the Albany-Syracuse-Buffalo line, shaded green on the map.

When I was a boy, I had only gone up into the park as far as Old Forge, the location of an amusement park. Old Forge is actually in the southern part of the park, so my drive was to a whole other part, down very pretty back roads. I left Canton at 9:00 AM, and took state route 68 and 56, which go to Colton. From there, I took route 3 east to Tupper Lake, a beautiful tourist town. I turned south onto route 30, to Long Lake which (in my opinion) is even more beautiful, then to Blue Mountain Lake and by noon, I reached Indian Lake, which is also quite attractive. The weather the whole way was just about perfect—between 68 and 73 degrees, and mostly light clouds. I stopped at some of the more scenic spots (there were so many it was tough to decide!) to take some pictures. Along the way, I was listening to a very beautiful CD of Adirondack North Country recordings that was given to me by Alumni President Dale Major’s fiancé, Shelley Augustine. It was a bit surreal to be listening to a song about Long Lake as I was driving through it.

IMG_0565Tupper Lake

The Adirondack Challenge had several events at or near Byron Park on Indian Lake. There was whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, and other water events. At the park, there were exhibits of New York wines and foods, a watermelon eating contest, a dunking booth, and various bands playing bluegrass and other types of music. There were about 500 people there all having a good time. I stayed until 1:45, and then drove on route 28 to North Creek and up Gore Mountain.

IMG_0572Gore Mountain is a ski resort that also hosts various events in the summer. There was a New York produced wine and beer tasting that began at 2:30, where I met John Ettling (the president of SUNY Plattsburgh). Lots of state legislators were there to support the Adirondack Challenge, including Canton’s assemblywoman, Addie Russell. I had met assemblywoman Russell earlier in the week, when we got together to talk about higher education and economic development for St. Lawrence County. She is a strong supporter of the college, has lots of interesting ideas and is totally devoted to development for the region and serving its citizens. She serves as the chair of the Commission on Rural Resources, and is also on the Agriculture; Economic Development; Energy; and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, among many others. I saw here again at the Halford Hall dedication, so this was three times in four days!

The luncheon began at 3:00, consisting of New York produced sausage, pulled pork, and beef brisket. After lunch there were various awards given for the people who participated in the whitewater rafting competition, with the race between Governor Cuomo and Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin declared a tie—both finishing the course at 19 minutes and 20 seconds. Governor Cuomo then gave a well-received short speech about economic development in the Adirondack region, an area to which he has devoted considerable attention.

After the luncheon, I was happy to see SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher once again. We had a nice chat, and she said she was looking forward to our working to grow the college and promised her support for our efforts. I also met Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney (love that name!), where my home town of Syracuse is located. I’m looking forward to working with her and the various higher education leaders in the county to set up some partnerships.

After the reception, I took the gondola up to the top of Gore Mountain to see the view from there—on a clear day, you can easily see all the way into Vermont. I chatted with the other two people in the gondola on the way up, and found that one, Michael Blanchard, was a SUNY Canton graduate and the other, Meg LeFevre, has two brothers (Matt and Bobby LeFevre) who were CET graduates from Canton. Meg is an editorial coordinator with the Northeast Group. When I reached the top, I met Mr. and Mrs. Sam Wright, also Canton grads. On the way down from the mountain, Laura Cerruti shared the gondola with me. Guess which college she is attending? Yep—Canton. It’s a small world! I left Gore Mountain at about 6:00 PM, and made it back to Canton at about 8:00 PM, exhausted but happy.


Michael Blanchard and Meg LeFevre

IMG_0588Mr. and Mrs. Sam Wright

IMG_0589View from Gore Mountain

IMG_0596Laura Cerutti and someone else’s feet

Special Geology Note

While on top of Gore Mountain, someone pointed out that the area was rich in garnets and with minimal looking around, I was able to pick up a few pieces of garnet schist. For those who don’t know, the garnet is the official gemstone for New York. It turns out that Gore Mountain is also the home of the historic Barton Mines, established in 1878, the oldest family owned and operated mine in the United States. The mines are located in North River, just a little bit north of the ski resort, and the garnet crystals there are the largest in the world. Tours are available from June 30th to Labor Day, so you can find your own gemstones. Lisa and Dallas—I’ll expect a visit any day now—the entry fee is on me!


Orientation Redux

Tuesday and Wednesday of last week featured our second new student orientation. People started on arriving to look around the college on Monday afternoon. Just as I was going home on Monday, a family drove in and I stopped to talk to them. It turns out that they were from Senegal in West Africa, so I asked them who they liked better—Youssou N’Dour or Baaba Maal, two Senegalese musicians I like a lot. The father laughed, reached over to pick up a bunch of CD’s, and showed me they had just been listening to both. He then asked if I had ever heard of Doudou Ndiaye Mbengue, and when said I hadn’t, handed me a CD by him and said I should keep it and enjoy it. He was right—it’s great!

I got the orientation a little after 8:00 AM to talk to parents and students. There were a lot of future criminal justice, business, veterinary science technology, funeral service administration, and nursing majors, as well as many others. At 9:00 AM, I gave the welcome to a large group of students and parents. I also attended the wine and cheese reception in the afternoon, and saw that the parents there were very happy with what they had seen.

Between the two orientations, we welcomed 502 new students and their families to our community. Working effectively with so many students and parents requires a vast number of staff, faculty, and student orientation leaders. Everyone in the Student Affairs and Student Support worked amazingly hard, as did the folks from our dining services, our maintenance and operations staff, information services, College Association staff, our academic advisors, the deans, chairs, and the curriculum coordinators. Just some of the student affairs and student support individuals involved (hope I’m not leaving anyone out!) include Sharon Tavernier, John Kennedy, Sue Law, Julie Parkman, Joanne Fassinger, Tammy Harradine, Melinda Miller, Christina Snell, Erin Lassial, Shelly Smiddy, Betty Connolly, Veigh Lee, Patty Todd and her staff, Troy Lassial, Patrick Massaro, Marianne DiMarco-Temkin, Priscilla Leggette, Kashonda Watson, Michelle Currier, Cori Wilhelm, Tina Demo, Jess Spooner, Rebecca Blackmon, and Bryan O’Connor.

It takes a well-coordinated army to do a great orientation, so special thanks to everyone, especially to Courtney Bish, Lashawanda Ingram, and Molly Mott! Now, back to work for the orientation for non-traditional students (August 18) and for late orientation (August 22-23).


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all involving the word “cup”. Our winner was Jennifer McDonald, the Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education in SUNY Canton’s Physical Therapist Assistant program. Others getting all five right included (all from Canton, except as noted): DianeMarie Collins (president’s office), Karen McAuliffe (Human Resources), Paul Howley (close friend from North Carolina), Robin Gittings, Janel Smith (Institutional Research), Carmela Young, Misty York (English faculty from SPSU), Renee Campbell, Andre Lynch, Bill Prigge (U. Tennessee), Nancy Colyar (Library Director, SPSU), Jamie Garrett (president’s office, SPSU), Diane Muehl (Chair of Social Sciences Dept.), and Najiv Narula (Chemistry). Here are the correct answers:

  1. What the top professional hockey team wins. The Stanley Cup.
  2. Fast food from Lipton—just add hot water and stir. Cup-a-Soup.
  3. What we’ll take for Auld Lang Syne. A cup o’ kindness.
  4. Dome-like structure on top of a building, often found on churches. Cupola.
  5. 1996 Tim Costner and Rene Russo movie about a washed up golf pro. Tin Cup.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Since last week’s questions all dealt with the word “cup”, just to prove that the BLAB is always fair and balanced, this week’s challenge has all answers featuring the word “plate”.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. In baseball, you cross it to score a run.
  2. New Hampshire’s says “Live Free or Die”, whereas Idaho’s says “Famous Potatoes”.
  3. It can be used to replace your top teeth.
  4. Scientific theory describing the large-scale movement of the Earth’s lithosphere.
  5. Estuary between Argentina and Uruguay, also the name of a major Argentinian soccer team.
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