THE WEEKLY BLAB
Volume 9, Issue 19 – November 18, 2014
It’s been two weeks since the last BLAB and we’ve now officially had some snow in Canton. I’m told it snowed last Thursday, but by the time I returned to Canton on Friday (see below for where I was), it was gone. It snowed again overnight going into Sunday, leaving maybe half an inch on the roof and on the cars, but by 9AM it was all gone again. The forecast is for some more snow this week, but we’ll have to see if it is any significant amount. It’s snowing pretty well today, but so far, nothing is sticking to the streets.
For those not from the area, Canton gets much less snow on average than Syracuse, even though Syracuse is more than 100 miles further south. That’s because of the lake effect—areas around the south and east of Lake Ontario get lots of additional snow due to moisture from the lake. There are some areas that get hit harder than others, including a belt from Oswego to Syracuse to Morrisville, and another further north from Parish to Adams to Watertown. Canton is generally colder than those locations—temperatures below zero are not uncommon during winter—but gets less snow.
On the Road to North Carolina
The reason that there wasn’t a Blab last week was that I was on the road visiting with alumni in North Carolina. You might not think that a small college in the North Country has many alumni in North Carolina, but you’d be wrong—we have quite a few, several of whom told me they live there because they finally got tired of the cold weather up north. Having previously lived in South Carolina (during graduate school) and in Georgia (for the past nine years), I’m quite familiar with North Carolina and have been there previously many times. I have good friends in several locations in the state, but my time was pretty solidly booked up and I didn’t have a chance to see any of them this trip.
The trip began on Sunday morning, when David Gerlach, Canton’s VP for Advancement, picked me up at the house to go to the Watertown airport. Watertown is about 75 minutes southwest of Canton and is a small city of some 40,000. The airport is quite small, with one gate and three flights out daily on USAir, all going to Philadelphia. The planes are DASH-8 propeller planes, which seat about 50 and are pretty comfortable. Some advantages of a small airport are that you don’t have to get there too early and the parking is free. We got to the airport at about 11:30 and checked in. The first question to consider was whether to check my bag, one of the annoyances of modern life. I’m not currently a USAir frequent flyer, so I’d have to pay $25 to check it and then wait for it at baggage when we got to Raleigh, our final destination. My bag is sized to fit into most overhead bins, so I usually just take it with me. After going through security, the agent decided the bag was too large for the plane’s bins and gave me a gate check, saying I could pick up the bag planeside in Philadelphia.
The flight to Philadelphia was smooth until the very end, where we had a bit of turbulence just before landing, though nothing serious. I got my bag and we changed terminals for the Raleigh flight. We were both a bit hungry, so we stopped at a restaurant and asked if they’d be able to get us our food within 15 minutes. They said yes, but ultimately we only got the salad within the first 30 minutes and had to quickly switch to a “to go” order to make our connection. Since we were among the last ones on the flight, I was told that the overhead bins were filled and was given another gate check for my bag. As soon as the flight took off and the seat belt sign was extinguished, we got out the food—still warm! The flight to Raleigh was uneventful and the bags came off the carousel pretty quickly. We got the rental car and drove to Southern Pines, staying at the Springhill Suites hotel.
Monday, we went to meet our first alumni couple. We got there a little early, so we had a chance to look around Southern Pines. I was a bit surprised when I saw the street names—New York Avenue, New Hampshire Avenue, and so on—until I found out that Southern Pines was a resort town originally catering to tourists from New England and the northeast. We went into a furniture store that had formerly been a theater and had a chance to look at the Amtrak (formerly Seaboard) train station, half of which is now the local tourist office. We met up with Phil Scalia (Class of ’60) and his wife Geralen, going to lunch with them at Dugan’s Pub in Pinehurst. Pinehurst is a golf resort and Phil and Geralen gave us a quick tour of the area after lunch—very pretty. We talked about Phil’s experiences at the college and how he had wound up in North Carolina, and I told him about what was new at Canton and about some of our future plans. Later in the day, we drove down to Lumberton to meet Don Betz (Class of ’66). Don is currently the head of a five county water district, and was formerly the mayor of Wilmington, NC, a fairly large city. We had dinner at Adelio’s Restaurant, where the food was very good and both the waiter and owner liked to talk to the customers. Don is an interesting guy, and I enjoyed hearing about his pathway into politics and experiences in water quality management. It was late by the time we got back to the hotel in Raleigh, and I was thoroughly zonked.
Tuesday was Veterans Day and appropriately enough, we got in the car for a drive down to Fayetteville, home of Fort Bragg. We met up with Gary Goulden (’78) at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, a very cool place with a really interesting main exhibit about the history of the airborne and special operations units of the army.
After lunch in town at Pierro’s Italian Bistro, Gary (who works in military logistics) gave us a tour of Fort Bragg, one of the largest military bases in the US. Even though we only saw a small part of the base, it was still gigantic—parts of the base looked like a very large university, parts were storage depots for military equipment, and we saw two different airports.
We then returned to Raleigh for a big alumni gathering at the Tribeca Tavern in Cary. About 30 alumni came, representing the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. After a bit of mingling, I gave a short talk about my history and the future plans we are developing. The alumni were quite engaged, asking lots of questions. Dave then asked a representative from each decade to get up and say a few words about their experiences at the college. Despite the wide span of time encompassed by our alumni, their stories were strikingly similar. Each, in turn, told about how SUNY Canton was the starting point for their success, due to the applied nature of the college and the strong support they had received from the faculty and staff. I was quite touched when one person after another handed Dave a check or a pledge, all seeing the importance of “paying it forward” so that future students can get the same kind of support that made such a difference. It was a pleasure chatting with our alumni and hearing their individual stories, as well as about their strong support for the college.
Wednesday began with breakfast with Sylvia Paro (’64). It was interesting to hear about her career pathway starting from her degree in Food Service Management to becoming a licensed dietician, getting a graduate degree, and traveling all over the country with Continental Management Consulting until she retired. Dave and I were really pleased to hear that now that her constant cross-country travel has ended, Sylvia will be able and willing to serve on our Canton College Foundation Board.
We then met Carol Sue Rosenberg (’53) and her husband Paul for lunch at the Weathervane Restaurant. Carol Sue is another graduate of the Food Service Management program at Canton, and went on to become a licensed dietician. They are strong supporters of the College, and are in the process of creating an endowment to support student scholarships.
Dinner that evening was with Philip Morrissette (’56), who got a degree in Drafting at Canton, and then got degrees in industrial engineering and business. More recently, he has taught business courses at North Carolina State. We then returned to the hotel and a little later, had some drinks with two more recent alums, Roger Rush (’90) and William Blasko (’99). Roger is now working at Sysco (a food distribution company), and Bill is at Cisco (the networking company). Since both were also Alpha Theta Gamma brothers, there’s obviously a bit of job-related cosmic synergy going on.
On Thursday, we had breakfast with Dennis Yaddow (’64) and his wife Sharon at Brig’s Great Beginnings. The restaurant was fun, with lots of goofy signs about eggs and breakfast related ephemera around the place. Dennis was a graduate of our Air Conditioning Technology program, and worked for Thermo Industries for many years. Even in my short time at Canton, I’ve met lots and lots of successful graduates from this program who have gone on to do big things.
We had been scheduled to meet additional alumni for lunch and for dinner that day, but due to a scheduling error on one’s part and a family obligation on the other’s, we got the rest of the day off. What do you do if you’re in Raleigh with some time on your hands for an afternoon? You look for an Indian restaurant, of course, at least if you’re me! The first place we went to had closed, but there was a second Indian restaurant close by which turned out to be rather good. Dave had never had Indian food before and was a bit cautious, but bravely tried a number of things and found that he liked quite a few of them.
Friday, it was up before the crack of dawn to return the car, get to the airport, go through security and make a 7:00 AM flight. Everything went fine and we arrived in Philadelphia a little past 8:00 AM. We had some time to kill, so Dave introduced me to a game called Civilization which is pretty slick. I had some fun learning how to play it and the time passed quickly until our connecting flight back to Watertown. That flight was fine as well, though when we landed in Watertown, I was surprised to see a couple of inches of snow there. When we drove back to Canton, we found there was no snow whatsoever.
We got to the College about 2:00, and promptly went into an Executive Cabinet meeting at 3:00. When it ended, I went home, ate dinner, and collapsed.
On Saturday, the day after coming back from North Carolina, SUNY Canton had its third Open House of the season. This was the biggest one yet, with more than 500 people scheduled to be there. I got there a little before 8:00 AM, to be with the band as we set up. Our band grew to four people this time: Lenore VanderZee (Executive Director for University Relations), Dan Gagliardi (Mathematics), and me from before, joined by new member Rosemary Phillips (Legal Studies). We played for about 45 minutes while visitors came in and talked to our deans and staff from admissions and financial aid.
The bleachers were packed with parents and students, and it was then time to begin the presentations. After Melissa Evans (Director of Admissions) gave her intro, it was my turn to give my pitch as to why SUNY Canton is the perfect place for all students. I always end these presentations with a story about a graduate who dies and goes to heaven, but is sent to hell instead. It’s a funny story with a punchline that people don’t see coming—about 10% of the audience gets it immediately, with the laughs spreading to the other 90% about 15 seconds later. This time, after about a minute when all the audience had finished laughing, one of the admission recruiters broke into loud laughter saying: “I just got it!” That started a second round of laughs.
After a few other brief presentations by our Dean of Academic Support Services and from Financial Aid, the audience was then dismissed by major for the academic part of the day. A little later, I went down by the covered bridges (where we were serving hot chocolate and letting people take pictures with Rudy ‘Roo, our mascot) to meet parents and students. In all, it was a great event with a wonderful turnout.
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with superheroes, in honor of our theme for Advising Week. For those who didn’t see it, there was an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about “Which Marvel Superhero Would Make the Best College President?” Given our superhero theme, I just had to respond with a letter to the editor stating that SUNY Canton was way ahead of them, which they posted. If you want to read it, click here.
Our winner was Christina Huie Lesyk, an adjunct faculty member at Canton, who was the first to get them all right. Others with all five correct included Desiree LeBoeuf-Davis, John Jodice, Nicholas Kocher, Lenore VanderZee, Rajiv Narula, my 2nd cousin Joshua Szafran, Alan Gabrielli, Rhonda Rodriguez, Kevin Elliot, and Janel Smith. Here are the correct answers:
- Planet that Superman is originally from. Krypton.
- She’s the emissary to man’s world from the Amazons. Wonder Woman.
- Wields the mighty hammer Mjolnir, which only the worthy can lift. Thor.
- He and his shield were frozen in an iceberg from the end of World War II until the early 1960’s. Captain America (Steve Rogers).
- Very cool 2000 movie starring Bruce Willis and Samuel Jackson, directed by M. Night Shyamalan about a Philadelphia security guard who slowly discovers he has superhuman abilities. Unbreakable.
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
In honor of my trip to North Carolina, this week’s questions all have to do with the south. 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!
- A pretty girl.
- Largest religious denomination in the south.
- Ray Charles song that’s the state song of Georgia.
- Town in North Carolina where Sheriff Andy Taylor lived.
- 1991 Movie starring Kathy Bates (Evelyn), Jessica Tandy (Ninny), Mary Stuart Masterton (Idgie), and Mary-Louise Parker (Ruth). It’s a story about the friendship between the four women, and also about the murder of Ruth’s abusive husband.