THE WEEKLY BLAB
Volume 9, Issue 9 – September 1, 2014
Ice Bucket Challenge
I’m pretty sure that everyone has seen this by now, but last Monday, I participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge to support the fight against ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I was challenged by two people—first by David Gerlach, our Vice President for Development, and then by Tony Collins, the president of Clarkson University. Fighting ALS is a very worthy cause, since ALS is a disease that is extremely debilitating, leading to loss of physical abilities and even death. I still remember seeing the movie Pride of the Yankees and seeing what happened to Lou Gehrig, culminating in his famous speech when he told the crowd he had the disease:
“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest many on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.”
Other well-known individuals with ALS include Dennis Day, Jacob Javits, David Niven, Stephen Hawking, Charles Mingus, Jim ‘Catfish’ Hunter, and Mao Zedong.
I got emails from various people on campus who had seen President Collins’ challenge, asking if I was going to respond. I’ve always admired Lou Gehrig for his accomplishments and character, so participating in the challenge was a very easy decision to make. After some discussion, we decided to do it on Monday so that students could watch. At first I was going to go home and change into something that I didn’t care if it got wet, but when I watched the video of President Collins doing his challenge in a suit, I decided to go with the jacket and tie I wore that morning.
The challenge took place at 4:00 PM in the plaza in front of the Miller Campus Center. Lots of faculty, staff, and students came by to watch and many of them took videos with their phones. The PR folks at Canton also came to film the challenge and the Watertown Times (the main newspaper for the North Country) came to cover the story. We had decided that it would be fun to have Roody, Canton’s mascot, do the honors, so at 4:00 PM I took my place in front of a park bench and Roody climbed up. I gave a short statement about supporting the fight against ALS and challenging my fellow SUNY Canton presidents to participate.
There were two buckets—one 2/3 full of water and the other full of ice. I poured about half the ice into the water and the crowd started chanting “More! More! More!” so I added as much ice as would fit. I handed the bucket to Roody, turned around, put my arms out, and said “OK”. Roody immediately started to pour, not dump, the ice water on me, taking his sweet time doing it! You can watch the video for yourself below.
Afterwards, I dried off a bit and got interviewed by the Watertown Times reporter. When he asked me how much I would donate to fight ALS, I told him I wasn’t sure, since “my assets are frozen!” You can see their coverage by clicking here.
Hopefully my small effort helped spread the word and raised a little money for ALS. Various sports teams at Canton also took up the challenge and the next day, President Kirsten Esterberg at SUNY Potsdam joined in. If you’re reading this and haven’t yet participated, consider this my challenge to you.
At noon on Thursday, I attended and gave a welcome at an awards ceremony for our Funeral Services Administration program students. There were about 40 students present, all dressed up for the occasion. I congratulated them on their achievements and told them about an Art professor I knew at my first college whose research was centered on funerary art of the Italian Renaissance. When I asked her what had made her choose that unusual topic, she gave me the look one reserves for the very foolish and said: “Isn’t how you’ll be remembered one of the most important things in the world?” Of course she was right.
While Funeral Services Administration to some may seem an unusual choice of major, it is of critical importance, since it impacts families at their most vulnerable moment, and preserves the memory of their loved ones. Despite (or perhaps because of) the very serious nature of the field, I’ve found that people working in the area (our faculty included) all have wonderful senses of humor. One joke they like to tell here that I’ve picked up is that since SUNY Canton offers both Early Childhood Education and Funeral Services Administration as degree programs, the College obviously has you covered both coming and going!
Lunch with Karen St. Hilaire
Right after the award ceremony, I dashed off to The Club for lunch with St. Lawrence County’s County Administrator, Karen St. Hilaire and our own Lenore VanderZee (Executive Director of University Relations). We had an interesting and wide-ranging discussion on how the County and SUNY Canton could work together even more closely, especially to promote economic development. She was pleased to hear that we were considering reviving a legacy program in Hospitality Management and was interested in several other of our ideas as well, offering to introduce us to several individuals who might be able to help us bring these ideas to fruition. Ms. St. Hilaire has devoted much of her career to economic development and entrepreneurship, which are important areas for our college. I’m certain that we will be working together closely on a number of issues, and hope we will frequently be seeing her on our campus.
What Does the Fox Say?
Later on Thursday, I met with St. Lawrence University’s president William Fox. While I had met him earlier at a meeting of the Associated College Presidents (the associated colleges are SUNY Canton, SUNY Potsdam, Clarkson University, and St. Lawrence University), this was my first chance for a one-on-one meeting with him. We met in his office and had a pleasant discussion about SLU’s history and how we might cosponsor some activities to give our students more of a chance to interact.
For those who don’t know, SUNY Canton was founded in 1906 as the School of Agriculture, and located on the SLU campus (which was founded in 1856). It was the first post-secondary college authorized by the New York state legislature. We remained on the SLU campus through a number of name changes—to the New York State Agricultural and Technical Institute (ATI) in 1941, and the State University of New York Agricultural and Technical College at Canton (ATC) in 1965. While land for a separate SUNY Canton campus was acquired in 1961 and groundbreaking occurred in 1962, construction didn’t begin until 1965. After moving to our new campus, the old campus became part of SLU.
After our discussion, President Fox showed me around the SLU campus. The original SUNY Canton buildings are still there and one still has its original name, Payson Hall, which is also the name of a building on our current campus. Another of our original buildings is used as their admission office. Many of the buildings at SLU are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The campus also enjoys an attractive new student center.
I look forward to meeting with President Fox again in the future, and to working with him in the future.
Our State Fair is a Great State Fair—Don’t Miss It, Don’t Even Be Late
On Friday, I drove down to Syracuse with Melissa Evans, our new Director of Admissions, and Lenore VanderZee to participate in SUNY’s exhibition at the New York State Fair. Growing up in Syracuse, I had attended the fair pretty much every year I lived there, and always having a great time. It’s a gigantic fair encompassing many buildings and dozens of acres, with tons of exhibits, rides, food venders, and events. An entrance ticket is $10 and parking is $5, which are both quite reasonable. We left at 8:00 AM and after a quick stop for coffee in Watertown, reached the fairgrounds (a little west of Syracuse) at 10:30. SUNY had only gotten a few parking passes which were all gone by the time we got there, so we parked across the street in one of the large lots. It was a short walk to Gate 3, and then a short walk to the SUNY exhibit where Canton had a few tables. Other colleges present that day were SUNY Stony Brook, Downstate Medical, and Schenectady Community College.
I may be slightly biased but I thought our exhibit was the best. It included a “test your reflexes” exhibit designed and built by one of our EET majors as a senior project, a very elaborate solar heating system, several items associated with our veterinary science program (including cutaway models and a hairball from a cow’s stomach!), as well as the usual view-book and informative materials. Our mascot, Roody ‘Roo, also made a guest appearance (as did Stony Brook’s Wolfie), pulling prizes out of his pouch.
Lots of people stopped by—some were alumni, some were businessmen with a relationship to the North Country, many were potential students, and some were people who wanted to know more about the exhibits. It was lots of fun to talk to and interact with the various visitors, especially when they saw the giant hairball and wanted to know what it was. We’d ask them to pick it up and guess, and if they were right, we’d give them a backpack or a T-shirt. When they found out what it was, reactions ranged from “eeww” to “cool”. Several kids went to get their mothers to touch it.
We wrapped up at about 7:00 PM, when the crowd turns more adult and the traffic in the buildings drops off drastically—at night, it’s all about the rides, food, and shows. We packed up the remaining stuff, walked over to the car and after dropping Lenore off at Shoppingtown Mall for some weekend family fun, Melissa and I headed home, talking about future admissions initiatives, arriving back in Canton at about 9:30.
It was a great weekend overall in sports, both professional and at the College. I enjoyed seeing our women’s soccer team get off to a great start, thumping Paul Smith’s College 6-1 in their opener on Saturday in beautiful weather, and then beating Vermont Technical College 4-0 on a rainy Sunday. I didn’t see it since I was coming back from the fair, but on Friday evening the men’s team also beat Paul Smith’s College 2-0 in their season opener. The men dominated throughout, with an impressive 13-0 in differential in shots on goal.
Also on Saturday morning, SUNY Canton held the Kangaroo Invitational Cross Country Meet, hosting teams from SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Plattsburgh, Johnson State College, and Clarkson University. Clarkson won both the men’s and women’s races overall, but the top men’s runner was from SUNY Plattsburgh and the top women’s runner was from SUNY Potsdam. SUNY Canton came in 4th overall. I got to fire the starter’s pistol for both events, and have to admit it was a bit disconcerting to see dozens of runners coming straight at you and hoping they wouldn’t run into you.
We also hosted volleyball against SUNY Potsdam (Friday afternoon), Houghton College (Friday evening), and SUNY-IT (Saturday), winning all three matches in clean sweeps. Fantastic job, ladies!
In professional soccer, my favorite team Chelsea beat Everton by a 6-3 margin, with new acquisition Diego Costa doing quite well, scoring in the 1st and 90th minutes. There was a 10 minute period in the second half when five goals were scored: an Everton own goal and two goals for each side. As a result, Chelsea is now in first place in England’s Premiere League, with main rivals Manchester City losing to Stoke and now in 4th place, and Manchester Union in another tie, still not having won a game and in 14th place. The only other undefeated team is Swansea, and Chelsea will be facing them next Saturday.
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with corn. Our winner was my own sister, Drorit, who lives just outside Houston, TX. Others with all five correct included Terri Clemmo, Rajiv Narula, Patricia Todd, Rhonda Rodriguez, Sarah Todd, Carmela Young, Thomas Sauter, and Desiree LaBoeuf-Davis. Here are the correct answers:
- You get this if you stay out on the beach too long. Sunburn.
- Major purveyor of orange soda. Sunkist.
- Florida’s nickname. The Sunshine State.
- A little further north, it’s known as Petro-Canada. Sunoco or Suncor.
- Great Bill Withers song about an absent love, from 1971—It hit #3 on the US singles charts. His biggest hit was “Lean on Me”. Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
In honor of the New York State Fair, all answers to today’s challenge contain the word “fair”. 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!
- Snow White, Rapunzel, and Hansel and Gretel.
- ________ in love and war.
- 1964 movie starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison about making a Cockney flower girl into a society lady.
- The Simon & Garfunkel song asks “Are you going to” there.
- Someone who deserts you when the going gets rough.