March 22, 2015


Volume 9, Issue 31– March 22, 2015



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In case you have nothing better to do, I’m also now on Twitter. If you want to follow my posts, you can find them at @SUNYCantonPrez.


CONTEST! Why SUNY Canton is the Greatest Place on Earth

Since the last BLAB was during spring break, I thought I’d repeat this item in case you missed it. We’re starting a contest called “Why SUNY Canton is the Greatest Place on Earth”. It’s obvious to all of us that SUNY Canton is the greatest, but we need to capture the story to prove it to the rest of the world!

I’m sure you’ve seen multiple examples of this—a great student project. A transcendent moment in the classroom or lab. A beautiful spot on campus. A great on-campus event. A winning moment in athletics. Cool students, faculty, and staff. Something funny or touching that captures the SUNY Canton spirit.

We want you to submit a picture (or short video clip) capturing part of our story, along with a suggested caption. We’ll number and post the good ones, credited to the people who submitted them, on our new website at You can see a few samples there now to give you an idea of what we’re looking for. The very best submissions will be saved for “milestone” numbers (#50, #100, and so on) and will win big prizes. There’s no limit to the number of pictures and ideas you can submit.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there with your camera and your imagination and start submitting. Just click on “submit a photo” to learn how, and you’re ready to be a part of history.


Save Students Money–Consider Open Textbooks

In these times of rising tuitions and stagnant salaries, it’s always a good idea to think about ways that can save our students some money.  One way is to consider using an open textbook.  SUNY maintains a list of open textbooks which can be found here.  A much larger list can be found at MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching).  To access MERLOT’s list, click here, and scroll down to the section with the headline “How Can I Find Open Textbooks? Easy!”.  More than 2500 open textbooks are available in every discipline.

You will, of course, want to review the quality of the open textbook in exactly the same way you’d review a commercial text.  So give it a look, and perhaps you can help our students make college a little more affordable.


ACE Conference

Last week was a busy one, as it involved a lot of travel and meetings. It started on Friday, March 13, when I flew down to Washington DC for the American Council on Education (ACE) conference. I know lots of first-rate people who are ACE members (and a few who became ACE fellows), and they had a series of sessions for new presidents, so I decided it was high time I attended one of their conferences. I was glad I did. The conference started on Saturday and I was there until Monday.

I got to DC without incident at a little after noon and took a taxi to my hotel. On the drive in, I noticed a very nice Indian restaurant, so after checking in, I took a walk there and had lunch. The weather was so nice that I took a walk to the National Zoo, where I enjoyed seeing the pandas and various other exhibits.


One session dealt with the major education initiatives from the federal government:

  • The Department of Education plans to implement a Ratings Project, which would give ratings to every college in the country on access, affordability, and outcomes.  Whether there will there be three ratings or a composite rating for each college is unclear.  The target date for implementation is August, and no commitment has been given that there will by any peer review of the proposal.  There is some possibility Congress will block this project.  There is a risk to colleges that a bad rating might harm their reputation, based on flawed data and a poor process.
  • The President wants to make community colleges free across the country, based on a model implemented in Tennessee.  Questions have been raised about “why not fund first two years of 4 year colleges”? It’s thought that the proposal won’t get far in Congress, since it will cost $70B over 5 years.
  • Work is also being carried out regarding teacher preparation regulations. The idea is to have states figure out how to do this, basing it on how students progress using a pre-test, post-test model.  How well teacher did (“the value added”) would be used to rate the education program at the college the teacher graduated from.  Final regulations have not yet been issued and will phase in. It would be 4-5 years before there are any consequences.

A session dealt with the Campus as a Safe Learning Environment. Among the major points raised were:

  • Colleges have to be intentional about diversity and embed it in the classroom.  Faculty should be given training on how to teach diverse students.
  • Sexual assault and binge drinking are not problems to be solved—we can’t make them go away.  They are issues to be managed.  We need to be prepared to answer the question “What have you done to manage this, and need a campus plan.
  • Anything bad that happens on our campuses is immediately amplified by social media, often before we’re ready to begin talking.  We need a rapid response plan.  We must have good relations with religious leaders in our community.
  • Have Community Forums to get diverse opinions and to engage the community. Use social media to bring in the community.
  • In every communication, say what you’re trying to achieve.  You can’t communicate enough.  There’s a perception in the public that college presidents only react to crises—they don’t expect you to be ahead of issues.  There’s skepticism about what we say, and that we only tell half-truths.

Another session discussed the Next Generation of Equity. Major points raised there included:

  • Defining equity is complex, and should depend on what’s important to the institution defining it.  Institutions must grapple with what it means to them.  It depends, in part, on institutional mission.
  • Campuses should have metrics that measures progress, broken down by individual groups. Equality is different from equity—you can have same outcomes, but not everyone starts in the same place.
  • Lots of communities have a precise definition of equity, only it’s not always the same one.  One school developed an equity scorecard as a way to start. This allowed looking at measures without tightly defining equity. Belief follows practice.
  • Equity has to be something that everyone owns and has to operationalize.  Too often, diversity and equity are little checkboxes that are off in some corner and don’t really affect the institution as a whole.
  • Too much focus is given to avoidance of risk, rather than achievement of equity.  What else is a presidency for except to take some risks to do the right things?

A really interesting session dealt with the Presidency in the 21st Century. I’m out of room, so I’ll try to talk a bit about it in the next issue of the BLAB. 


Mike Hawthorne of New York Air Brake to Speak

Mike Hawthorne, the president of New York Air Brake, will visit SUNY Canton on Tuesday, March 24. He will be speaking from 5:45-7:15 PM in Neveldine North, room 102. All faculty and staff are invited to attend, and should encourage their students to attend as well. In addition to providing an overview of his company and its products and services, Mr. Hawthorne will describe his career path and the challenges and opportunities he encountered in becoming President.


Prior to becoming the President and CEO in July 2012, Mr. Hawthorne was responsible for all technical and operational functions of the company in Watertown, NY, Texas, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ontario.  He joined NYAB in 1995 as an Electronic Control System Engineer, advancing to Managing Team Leader for LEADER Products in 1996 and TDS Division Director in 2001. He was named Vice President and General Manager of NYAB in January 2012.  Aside from his 18 years at NYAB, Mr. Hawthorne has also worked as a Control System Engineer at Raytheon in Boston, where he was a Miccioli Scholar and member of the Seeker Design Team.  He is innovator with an established track record of identifying opportunities and converting concepts into profitable product offerings.  He is also the recipient of the 2012 Knorr Excellence Award.

Mr. Hawthorne received a B. S. in Electrical Engineering from Clarkson University, an M.S. in Control Systems/Singal Processing from R.P.I., and the M.B.A. from Syracuse University.  He holds more than 23 patents in train control and simulation.


The SUNY Canton Shout-Outs Continue!

Mock Trial

For the past two weeks (March 2-18), SUNY Canton’s Legal Studies program hosted area high school students competing in the St. Lawrence County Mock Trial Tournament. Six St. Lawrence County schools, coached by local attorneys, argued a civil case involving the alleged embezzlement of funds. Participating local high schools included Hammond Central School, Heuvelton Central School, Madrid-Waddington Central School, Morristown Central School, Ogdensburg Free Academy, and Potsdam High School.

Professors Alex and Christina Lesyk organized the event with the assistance of Professor Bill Jones. Dean J.D. DeLong judged the first night of the competition and other attorneys and judges from the local legal community served as judges for the other nights of the competition. Congratulations to everyone who was involved in this rather large effort. I can hear Sam Waterston applauding from here!


Roo-preneurship at Its Best!

Our Business Department recently hosted the 1st Annual Roo-preneur competition at SUNY Canton.  The contest, organized and facilitated by Professor Charles Fenner, drew seven teams and consisted of a redesign of the Raquette River Gift Company’s website, and recommendations for further expansion of the company.  In addition to team prizes, one student, Andrew Lang, was designated as the competition’s best speaker and will represent SUNY Canton in the individual speak-off competition at the 3rd Annual Free Enterprise Marathon at SUNY Plattsburgh on March 6th. The best students from the competition will form SUNY Canton’s team along with Andrew to the Free Enterprise Marathon Product Redesign Competition.


SUNY Canton Wins Award

SUNY Canton received an award last week for increased giving in the State Employees Federated Appeal (SEFA) campaign. Over the past year, we raised $8,013 vs. a little over $5,000 last year.  A breakfast was held at The Best Western Inn for area agencies, and Nancy Rowledge, Associate Director of Human Resources, accepted the plaque for SUNY Canton.  Tina Flanagan was also present and will be working on the SEFA program in the future.  A big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed!


Don’t Forget the Social

Don’t forget to sign up for the wine and cheese social on April 29, from 4:30 to 6:30 PM, in the Mezzanine of the Roo’s House. It’s a chance for faculty and staff to have a casual chat on any issue with me and Presiding Officer of the Faculty Assembly Liz Erickson, or just to hang out! It’s limited to 25 people, so please contact Colleen Sheridan at or at x7870 as soon as possible (not later than April 24).


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia contest dealt with words that start with the letter “Z”. Our winner was Renee Campbell. Others getting all five right included Robin Gittings, Christina Lesyk, my sister Drorit Szafran, Rhonda Rodriguez, Janel Smith, Anne Williams, Barry Walch, and Brett Furnia. Here are the correct answers:

  1. They’re actually black with white stripes, not the other way around. Zebras.
  2. Introduced in 1963, they replaced zones in addresses for mail. Zip Codes.
  3. There are twelve, including Gemini, Cancer, and Pisces. Signs of the Zodiac.
  4. Song from the Disney movie “Song of the South”, the second line is “My, oh my, what a wonderful day.” Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.
  5. African country formerly known as South Rhodesia, its president is Robert Mugabe. (No credit for Zambia, which was formerly Northern Rhodesia).


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge deals with children’s rhymes. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Why Jack and Jill went up the hill.
  2. It keeps (or sends) the doctor away, according to the rhyme.
  3. What Little Miss Muffet ate.
  4. The boy who kissed the girls and made them cry.
  5. They “Sailed off in a wooden shoe—Sailed on a river of crystal light, Into a sea of dew”.


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