April 8, 2015


Volume 9, Issue 32– April 8, 2015



It’s Sometimes Tough…

It’s sometimes tough to get the BLAB out on a weekly basis, since so very much is going on. As almost everyone knows, this week is my inauguration week, so I’m going to wait until next week to reflect on that and tell about everything that went on, for those who couldn’t make it in person. For now, I’d like to encourage everyone who can to participate in the many great activities that are taking place, and to come to the inauguration ceremony itself on Friday (April 10) at 2:00 PM, and to the big party and RooFest that starts at 4:00 PM. And at the very end of it, at 5:30, our four-person band will play a few numbers, including one that’s a surprise and will tie in to the end of my inaugural speech. Now who’d want to miss that? Hope to see you there!



Leadership Lectures

We’ve been hosting a Leadership Lecture Series, bringing business leaders on campus periodically this semester. Raj Sashti identifies these leaders and coordinates their coming here, and has also done some fundraising to help pay for the costs—dinner with the speaker, accommodations (when needed), gifts, etc. On March 24, we hosted Mike Hawthorne, president of New York Air Brake, an international company in the railroad industry, headquartered in Watertown, NY, who gave a great talk.


On April 6, our guest was Sung Lee, Director of Business Operations at Welch Allyn, an international manufacturer of high quality medical instruments headquartered in Skaneateles Falls NY, whose presentation was also excellent.


At these talks, the business leaders tell us a bit about their own company, but the main part is where they talk about the path they took to reach their leadership positions, and the main attributes a leader should have—their formula for success. It’s interesting that the paths taken by the three business leaders we’ve hosted so far have been quite different—it’s obviously true that the adage “There are many paths to success” is accurate. All the talks have been well attended, and our students have shown a lot of interest in how to succeed in business.



Go West, Old Man

Much of my time the past 10 days has been taken up by travel—I was away for a week, during which I went to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Albany. My trip began at 5:30 AM on March 25th, when I left Canton for Ogdensburg to catch a flight to Albany. I needed to get some money (I only had about $12 in my wallet), so I stopped at the bank. Unfortunately, the ATM in the drive through wasn’t working (it had a software problem), and my card wouldn’t open the door for the ATM in the front. I figured it really wasn’t a problem—these days, I hardly ever use cash, because you can charge anything.

The flight from Ogdensburg to Albany was fine. While the plane is a little bitty eight-seater, it’s still reasonably comfortable—so much so that the last three times I’ve flown this route (including this trip), I’ve fallen asleep for almost the entire flight. I got breakfast in the terminal, got onto a USAir flight to Philadelphia, and then caught another flight to Las Vegas.

The purpose of the Las Vegas trip was two-fold: my parents (part of the year) and my uncle, aunt, and a cousin (all year) all live there, and I wanted to see them, especially since my Uncle Nathan had just celebrated his 90th birthday. The second reason is that I was also doing a few visits to SUNY Canton alumni in Nevada. A friend of my father’s picked me up at the airport, and a few minutes later I was in my parents’ apartment. The next day, we all went out for dinner to re-celebrate my Uncle’s birthday.


L-R:  My Uncle Nathan, my father Daniel

On March 27th, I got together with Geoffrey VanderWoude, a member of our development office, and went to see Barbara Wilson (’81), Theresa Witherell (’92), and Robert Witherell (’91) at the Cheesecake Factory. We had a nice conversation and a nice dinner, talking about their time at SUNY Canton and about what’s going on at the college now. As a fan of the Big Bang Theory TV show, it felt a little funny eating at the Cheesecake Factory (believe it or not, it was my first time there ever), given that’s where the character Penny works. No, I didn’t see her there!


L-R:  Geoffrey VanderWoude, Barbara Wilson (’81), me, Theresa Witherell (’92), and Robert Witherell (’91).

The next day, Geoffrey and I met with Michael Janssen (’91) and his partner Michelle at Delmonico’s restaurant at the Venetian Casino on the strip. We had gotten there a fair bit early, thinking that finding a parking spot would be difficult, but as usual when you give yourself enough time, we found one right away. On our way through the casino, a well-dressed man walked up to me, shook my hand, and said it was really nice to see me. I said “It’s nice to see you too”, and after we parted, Geoffrey asked me who the man was. “I have no idea,” I said. After finding the restaurant, we sat down and people-watched for a little while, and talked to a Canadian couple who sat down a little later because they were tired. They were surprised to find out I knew where Sudbury (their home town) was. I’ve never been there, but I came within a few miles of there on a drive from Las Vegas to New Hampshire ten years earlier. Michael and Michelle came a few minutes later, and dinner at Delmonico’s was great. The restaurant is world-famous for steak, so of course that’s what we had. They’re a lovely couple and a lot of fun to talk to, and strong supporters of the our Steel Bridge Team.


Saturday was a day with the family, and we all had dinner at my cousin Karen’s house. She has a nice Spanish type house that you see all over Las Vegas, complete with an enclosed back yard with pool and outdoor barbeque area—very nice.

Sunday, it was time to leave and fly to Phoenix. Peggy Sue Levato met me at the airport, and we went to the hotel, a Marriott not far from there. After checking in and washing up a little, Peggy, Geoffrey (who had flown there a day earlier), and I went to visit Bobbie Burnham (’46) and her partner, Richard Randol at their home. They’re a great couple and Bobbie was just delightful and full of energy. They showed us their beautiful home and showed us some lemons they had grown, one the size of a softball. We went out to dinner nearby at an Italian restaurant, and had a great time reminiscing and talking.


Monday began with breakfast with Dean Rowland (’66), a SUNY Canton grad who majored in hotel management. Dean is an interesting guy, who has also acted in some shows and is a good singer.


Peggy, Geoffrey, and I hit the outlet malls that afternoon, all doing our share to stimulate the Arizona economy! Dinner that night was in Sun City with Barbara Wilder (’53) and her husband Fred (who is an SLU grad). Barbara made us dinner (a delicious chicken piccata), after showing us around their lovely home with beautiful cacti in the back yard. Lots of homes in metro-Phoenix have dispensed with lawns, going for colored gravel and beautiful cacti and other desert flowers and trees instead. We had a really pleasant conversation, and Fred told me he was a history buff, especially about Vermont’s role in the Civil War.


Lunch on Tuesday was with Wayne Barkley (’50) and his wife Barbara, Bob Styring (’70) and Jon Richardson (’67), all interesting people, two of whom are now in the real estate game in Phoenix. Jon used to work for the Atlanta Braves and their farm teams and the Baltimore Orioles (including when they won their world series in 1983) , and is interested in helping with our Sports Management program.


L-R:  Peggy Levato, Barbara, Wayne Barkley (’50), me, Bob Styring (’70), Jon Richardson (’67) and Geoffrey VanderWoude.

That evening, we went to a really beautiful and interesting place called the WigWam Resort, where we had dinner with Jon Richardson and Chuck and Linda Goolden. Chuck, as many of you know, is a member of our Foundation Board, and has done tremendous service for the college, helping us grow our endowment.


L-R: Geoffrey VanderWoude, Jon Richardson (’67), me, Chuck & Linda Goolden, and Peggy Levato.

Wednesday, April 1, it was off to the airport early, for a flight to Charlotte, NC and a very tight (30 minutes) connection to Albany. Fortunately, I was able to sleep much of the way on the Charlotte flight, where I might have gotten one of those snack packs, but they were sold out by the time the cart got to me. After landing in Albany, I took a taxi to the Hilton, where I was staying. It’s a nice hotel, located downtown, which was good because I was absolutely starving—I had left before anyone was serving breakfast, and had no time to get anything to eat when changing planes. I took a quick walk down to Jack’s Oyster House, an Albany restaurant institution, and had a nice meal.

The next morning, it was off to the Egg Performing Arts Center in Albany for the Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence. I met up with our own two winners, Pierre Nzuah, and Danielle St. Denis, and we took our assigned seats at the staging area (alphabetically by college name) among the 250 or so students and campus representatives there for the ceremony. We all then filed into the main hall for the event, filling in the seats in the same order as had been in the staging area. After a presentation and some introductory remarks from Chancellor Zimpher, each row was called in turn to go onto the stage, where an announcer read the name of the each college’s campus representative (me for SUNY Canton). The students were then called to be congratulated by the Chancellor and the representative.


When the last SUNY was called (Westchester!), the ceremony was done and there was a buffet lunch, where the award winners were able to get together with their family and friends.

I had to dash off at noon to go back to the hotel, and take a shuttle to the airport. The driver of the shuttle was kind enough to make a special trip for me, but when I went into my wallet to give him a tip, I saw that I had spent every cent of US currency—I had nothing left! I apologized, but fortunately, I had some Canadian bills, so I apologized again, gave him a nice tip in Canadian dollars, and told him he needed to visit the North Country so he could cross the border and spend it. I caught the 2:30 PM flight back to Ogdensburg, and was back on the campus by 4:30 PM. Whew!

The trip was great, and it was wonderful seeing family, meeting so many alumni, and seeing our students get their awards. My only regret is that I had to miss the Living Writers Series talk by Bill McKibben that was held on Thursday, while I was in Albany. I’ve heard that it was just fantastic, drawing a huge crowd of 700. Mr. McKibben, an environmental activist and author spoke about the dangers of global warming to a packed house in the CARC.



Friday was an all-meeting day, trying to catch up on everything since I was away, and trying to finish by 4:30, since Passover began that evening, and we were all invited to a Seder (the formal meal one eats for the holiday) at a friend’s house.



Tweet, Tweet

Here’s a reminder that 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.




Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia contest dealt with children’s rhymes. Our winner was John Jodice, from our help desk. Others getting all five right included Rajiv Narula, Marcie Sullivan-Marin, Nancy Rowledge, Rhonda Rodriguez, Janel Smith, Christina Lesyk, my sister Drorit, and Brett Furnia. Here are the correct answers:

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



This Week’s Trivia Challenge

I’m too tired to write one! The Trivia Contest will return next issue.



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One Response to April 8, 2015

  1. Sheng'hong Tang says:

    Wow, our president has really a busy life. Have a good rest! Meanwhile, congratulations on President Szafran’s Inauguration happening today! I feel very sorry that I am absent for such a great occasion of SUNY Canton’s Presidential inauguration. I feel sad that I cannot stay with my dear colleagues to share this big happiness. Anyway, I send my congratulations from here in China to our dear President Zvi Szafran. I send my regards from here in China to my dear colleagues at SUNY Canton.
    Missing all of you!
    All the best!

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