May 7, 2015


Volume 9, Issue 35– May 7, 2015


Summer is Nearly Here…

The weather here in the North Country has taken a sharp turn for the better. Two weeks ago, we had possibilities of snow. For the past several days, it has been in the 70’s and 80’s and positively summerlike. While it will probably get a bit cooler in the near future, for now it looks like we’ve skipped spring entirely and gone directly from winter to summer. One spring-like feature that is happening with a vengeance is that the pollen count is quite high, and my eyes are itching and I’m sneezing to prove it.   I thought I was rid of that leaving Georgia (where the pollen count can be astronomic in spring) but here it is back again. Judging by the color of my Toyota Matrix (normally indigo, but it turns “day-glo” green when lots of pollen is on it), the count is actually much lower here than in Georgia, but I seem to be more allergic to it. It just goes to show you—you can’t win.

Semester Winding Down

This week is finals week here at SUNY Canton, and graduation is this Saturday. Our student life folks have been outdoing themselves with extra end-of-semester activities, including having a Spring-Fest (I wasn’t able to attend since I was totally booked with other activities, but I saw the really great T-shirt designs), a great student awards ceremony, and lots of fun events on the plaza (including an ice cream soda social, a barbecue, lots of good music, and so on).

There have been lots of departmental end-of-semester events too, with several more to come on graduation day itself. Leading off, on April 30, was the Veterinary Technology pinning ceremony. Our Vet-Tech students, faculty, and staff are a really great bunch with a fantastic departmental comraderie that reminds me of my earliest days as a faculty member. The program is housed in Newell Hall, a really attractive building with very nice classrooms, lab and animal spaces, and offices. The pinning was an upbeat ceremony, followed by a reception and group photograph.


The pinning was followed by a tree planting by our Veterans Association. The Association conducts this ceremony to honor veterans who have been and continue to be active in the SUNY Canton community. This year’s honorees were Tom and Nellie Coakley, both US Army Veterans who served in Viet Nam, and who are strong supporters of the college. The Coakleys are a really wonderful family, and were very touched by the ceremony. A few weeks ago, the Coakley’s honored me at my inauguration, when the display sign in front of their store (Ace Hardware and Carpet One) said “Congrats Dr. Zvi Szafran—SUNY Canton President”.

At noon, I gave a short speech at the Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society inauguration ceremony. Chi Alpha Epsilon recognizes students who achieved honors “the hard way”, having started college in developmental, SSS, or Educational Opportunity Programs. Its purposes are to promote continued high academic standards, to foster increased communication among its members, and to honor academic excellence achieved by those students. We all know people for whom everything seems easy. People who seem to finish the race without even working up a sweat. While we all like to cheer for the person who crosses the finish line first in a race (and that’s fine), too many people don’t realize that not all of us start our race in the same place. What is a 60-yard dash for some is a 2000-yard endurance trial for others. What’s great about Chi Alpha Epsilon is that it recognizes the students for whom the race was longer and tougher, who still reached the finish line with great achievement. To me, that’s one of the very best meanings of the word “honors”. The ceremony itself was very touching, and I was very proud when a number of students asked me to pin them and to pose for some selfies.


That afternoon, I got to fire the starting pistol at the annual Roo Run/Walk. The weather was great and there were lots of participants and plenty of prizes. A little later, I welcomed a group of potential students from New York City who had come up to visit campus by bus. I had a chance to talk to several of them then and the next day, and I’m looking forward to seeing them this coming fall.

The day ended with the final installment of SUNY Canton’s great Living Writers Series, with guest Daniel Torday. Mr. Torday is the winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award, and his latest novel, “The Last Flight of Poxl West” was published in March and has become a national bestseller. He was featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, and was recently interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air. The talk was great and I had a chance to chat with Mr. Torday afterwards. He’s a really pleasant and interesting guy. I’m now the proud possessor of an autographed copy of his latest book, which I plan to enjoy reading this summer.

Phil LaMarche from our English and Humanities Department is the director of this series, and does an exceptional job. Speaking of which, both Phil and his wife Carolyn (our volleyball coach) were this year’s Vice President’s Award honorees given to a faculty or staff member at the student award ceremony mentioned earlier.

IMG_1088L-R:  Courtney Bish, Phil LaMarche, Me, Carolyn LaMarche and two very cute kids!

May 1 began with Admitted Students Day, with our band (Lenore VanderZee, Rosemary Phillips, Dan Gagliardi, and me) playing some tunes, and a little later, me giving a welcome. The turnout was huge—more than 120 families present, coming from as far as Long Island. The session was a lot of fun, and our admissions folks do an outstanding job in organizing things and answering every possible question. It was great meeting so many future students.

Later that day, I had lunch with the Student Government Association’s executive board—both the new officers and the outgoing leadership. Our SGA is a great group—funny, caring, and committed to the college and their classmates. It’s always a pleasure to see and talk to them, and the new group looks like it will be equally great as the current one.

On Saturday, SUNY Canton hosted the New York State North Country Region Special Olympic Summer Games. There was a huge turnout in the Field House, and the parking lot was full. There were teams from all over the North Country, and our own student athletes and other student volunteers acted as buddies for all the participants. After the parade of athletes and a series of opening remarks (including some by the athletes themselves) and awards, I got to declare the games officially open. The events were very cool, and the athletes were fantastic.

IMG_1079 IMG_1083   

SUNY Canton Shoutouts

Congratulations to our Dental Hygiene students, who have won the national Student Member Community Service Award from the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA). The award will be presented at the ADHA’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee in June.

Our sophomore level students were selected for this prestigious award as a result of their  community outreach project with the 2nd grade classrooms at Bellamy Elementary School in Rome, NY (where our dental hygiene program is located).   The three-month project was spearheaded by Lindsay Argyle, an adjunct instructor in the dental hygiene department (and a SUNY Cortland graduate student), and Kasey Penoyer, the program’s community health instructor. A total of 112 children participated in educational activities, which included learning proper brushing and flossing technique as well as how to make healthy food choices to achieve good oral health. Twenty-one of the children also had parental permission to participate in a dental screening at SUNY Canton’s teaching clinic for the placement of pit and fissure sealants and a topical application of fluoride.  Dr. Terrence Thimes, Chief of Dental Surgery at SUNY Upstate’s Dental Residency program and two of the residents from there were on hand to examine the children and offer their support in this collaborative project.

Access to dental care is a growing concern in today’s society.  Through this project, the hygiene students offered their services to a population with unmet dental needs.  The children not only received free preventive dental care but also became more comfortable interacting with oral health care professionals. It was a win-win situation for all involved parties. The SUNY Cortland Foundation, GC America, Dentsply, Patterson Dental and Ultradent all contributed clinic supplies to support the outreach program.  Congratulations to our Dental Hygiene students!  

Congratulations also to Tony Beane, a professor in SUNY Canton’s Vet Tech program and also a master gardener, for his fine work in assisting the Canton Free Library’s Grounds Committee in spring cleanup of the library grounds.  


Congratulations to SUNY Canton’s Early Childhood Club for the school supply donations to “Against All Odds—Outreach for Learning”, a charity set up by our own graduating senior Pierre Nzuah to assist poor children in Cameroon wanting to go to school.   Pierre, also from Cameroon, knows how hard it can be to get an education when you come from a poor family—he has worked extremely hard all of his life to accomplish his educational goals. Now that he’s graduating, he wants to “pay it forward” and help others who are in similar circumstances so that they can succeed. Way to go all!


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia contest dealt with elephants. Our winner was Christina Lesyk. Others getting all five right included Carmela Young and Brett Furnia. Here are the correct answers:

  1. What an elephant never does.  Forgets.
  2. Famous French elephant in children’s stories—he first appeared in 1931 in a book by Jean de Brunhoff.  Babar.
  3. Military commander of Carthage, he led an army including elephants from Iberia over the Alps into Italy during the Second Punic War.  Hannibal.
  4. In the Beatles song, “He went out tiger hunting with his elephant and gun”.  Bungalow Bill.
  5. Ganesha.  The Hindu elephant-headed G-d.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge deals with May, though not necessarily the month. 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. What April Showers bring.
  2. Spider-man’s elderly aunt (first and last name, please).
  3. Ship that the Pilgrims sailed on.
  4. When one of the spouses is old and the other is much younger.
  5. Billy Joel song that includes the lines: “I may be crazy, But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for, Turn out the light, Don’t try to save me.


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